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Vancouver Budget Wedding:
Dawn + Ben

August 13th, 2012 by Jeannine

Vancouver Budget Wedding: Dawn + Ben

Today’s real wedding post is extra special to me because my husband and I were actually guests at this wedding. I remember it being beautiful, elegant, and a lot of fun! I also remember the day they got engaged. It happened to be on the same day our group of friends got together and one of the girls noticed the ring on her finger! It turns out, Ben recreated their first date at English Bay and proposed just hours before meeting up with us! We definitely had something to celebrate that night.

Dawn and Ben are approaching their 3rd anniversary on August 30th. They had a traditional Christian ceremony at the the Coquitlam Alliance Church, followed by a formal reception at the SFU Diamond Alumni Centre, which 130 guests attended. Dawn was quite the practical bride and made many elements in their wedding to help keep their costs below $15,000.

Almost all of their DIY items revolved around photos that meant the most to them. Their invitations and thank you cards are prime examples of this. For their invitations, Dawn put one of their engagement photos on the front of their card with a border, printed the inside wording on linen paper and used a damask stamp and silver ink to add a touch more elegance. It turns out, they couldn’t decide on 1 photo for the front so they chose 4 and made 4 different cards! Now I’m curious to see what the other photos looked like!

For their thank you cards, they chose a photo from their wedding and wrote “thank you” using a photo editing program and had them printed out. At the wedding, they took photos with the guests at each table and included a copy of the photo in the thank you card. It was a nice touch and made for a thoughtful keepsake for all their guests.

Dawn even made each table’s centerpieces and table numbers. Their table numbers were simple to make, they were simply photos from their engagement shoot, edited with the table number on it. The vases for their centerpieces and the tea light holders were  bought at a Christmas decoration clearance sale at Superstore. In it, they submerged orchid stems and beach rocks in water. They also found some deep purple tea light holders and charger plates from Ikea to match their Eggplant Purple and Silver colour scheme.

Her wedding favours were little tea cups, which she packaged in Chinese take-out boxes and wrapped them with a wide ribbon and handmade tag. They were lovely! Dawn recommends ULine for Chinese take-out boxes and wide ribbon.

Dawn and Ben made the guests do something different for the kissing game. Instead of clinking glasses, she made us make animal noises before they got up and kissed. It was funny, it was a hit, and helped make the night more memorable. Something else that was unforgettable was their entrance at the reception. They entered Canucks-style with white towels (napkins) waving in the air. It was awesome!

A Few Words With Dawn…

During the planning stages, how did you imagine your wedding?  Did the final result live up to expectations?
“We imagined our ceremony to be intimate and personal for ourselves to remember. To help make it personal, we had people who were really important to us take part in the ceremony in some way. We wanted our reception to be laid back and personal for us. We also imagined it to be somewhat elegant without being too stuffy. We wanted it to be fun. The final live results exceeded our expectations. Everything went so smoothly, and we couldn’t have asked for better. The tasks that had been delegated or that we had completely entrusted to people were all taken care of. (e.g. chair covers, cake on time and as we envisioned, roast pig delivered on time, lights for the dance floor…)”

Why did you choose the SFU Diamond Alumni Centre as your venue?
“We were looking for something other than a golf course setting, but still something within our budget. We both love nature – mountains, trees and water. Ben graduated from SFU and thought it would be a good idea to check it out since they offered a special price for Alumni. We loved it as soon as we saw it – we were there on a sunny day and loved the view of the water over and past the trees. We also loved the natural wood beam ceilings – so natural! It also worked well because of it’s proximity to where we were holding our ceremony, it was a central location for our guests, and it worked well into our budget.”

What personal or unique touches did you have for your wedding?

“The White Towel Entrance – Ben is a HUGE Canucks fan. It only seemed fitting that we entered the reception with the white towels waving. The Playoffs music always stirs excitement and anticipation, and what better music to have when entering into your own reception?!”

Why did you choose to give away teacups as wedding favours?
“We love tea. While traveling in Malaysia the year before, we visited many Chinese tea shops to check out their teas and tea sets. Then we got the idea to give out tea cups for favours. Something that guests could take home and use, but also something that we enjoy ourselves. We found teacups small enough that we would be able to pack into our luggage and ended making a wholesale order. We  looked for an easy but durable way to wrap them so that they would survive the trip to the reception without breaking. We found perfect white take-out boxes and silver ribbon from ULine.”

What did your guests think about your wedding?
“From the feedback we got, they had a good time and really enjoyed the food. From the pictures we got from our photographer, it looked like everyone was having fun.”

What did you splurge on and what did you save on? Why?
“Ben’s suit. He had always wanted a tailored suit for work just because they fit so much better. So instead of spending to rent a suit, we decided to spend a little (well a lot more) and splurge on a tailored suit that he could wear for other occasions.

We saved on our decorations and by DIY many of our items. My cousin didn’t like the iPod idea for music so he offered to be play the music since he had some DJ equipment. Renting speakers and lights for the dance floor was also very reasonable. We also didn’t spend on things that we were not too important to us like transportation. As for the bridesmaid dresses and shoes, we went to the boutiques in the mall instead of specially ordering from a bridal boutique.”

If you could’ve done something differently, what would it be?
“Don’t think we would have done anything too differently. No regrets, it’s been done and it was a great memorable day for us.”

How did you manage to keep everything below budget?
“Wedding Spreadsheet and discipline! Ben had created an excel workbook that linked everything from our budget to timeline as to when things had to be done. We also budgeted our wedding from the very beginning. Having the spreadsheet helped us reallocate $$ from one item to another if an item cost more or less than we expected.  We also had to be creative and ensure that we could still have the setting/atmosphere we wanted using less expensive things and methods.”

After planning a wedding, what one advice would you give to future brides?
“Use a wedding spreadsheet to budget and discipline yourselves…. And have fun, often take mini holidays from wedding stuff.”

Dawn and Ben’s Wedding Vendors

Ceremony venue: Coquitlam Alliance Church
Reception venue: SFU Diamond Alumni Centre
Wedding Dress: Madison – “From  shop beside Angeline Bridal on Hastings”
Bridesmaids Dresses: Le Chateau
Jewelry: Necklace – purchased from same place as the dress; Earrings: Melanie Nicole Designs
Suit: JP Tilford – Harry Rosen
Photographer: Chris Loh Photography
Flowers: GJ Flower House in New Westminster
Hair and Make-up: Vanessa Chavez & Cristina Pellegrino (friends of the bride)
Invitations: DIY
Cake: Thrifty Foods – Port Moody
Decorations: Ikea, Superstore, Hand-Me-Downs
Wedding Favors: Teacup wholesale in Ipoh Malaysia
Music for ceremony/reception: Put together by Jon Boey (Dawn’s cousin)
Transportation: n/a
Wedding planner/coordinator: Ourselves, Maria Ruiz (ceremony)
Officiant: Justin Yap (Ben’s Brother in law)

Photos courtesy Chris Loh Photography, centerpiece photo by Vancity Bride

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  • August 31st, 2012 at 7:11 am
    Lilia says:

    Thank you for sharing about this beautiful wedding! Everything about Ben and Dawn’s wedding was perfect…right down to the perfectly gorgeous summer weather!

    Happy Anniversary, Ben and Dawn!

  • November 1st, 2012 at 11:44 pm
    Marcia Yu says:

    Beautiful photos and a great story! I’ll also be having my reception at the Diamond Alumni Centre next year and am very excited! I’m curious to know which chair cover company Ben and Dawn used as it wasn’t posted in the Vendor’s list.


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