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Abbotsford Budget Wedding:
Heather + Benn

September 24th, 2014 by Jeannine

 
Abbotsford Budget Wedding: Heather + Benn

My latest Vancity Bride Heather and her hubby Benn just celebrated their 1st wedding anniversary last August 17th (Happy Anniversary you two!) They have been dating for 2 years when they decided it was time to take the next step and shop for an engagement ring. They narrowed it down to 3 choices, and Heather was patiently waiting for Benn to pop the question (and find out which ring made the cut). She had a very good feeling that he was going to do it during an upcoming road trip to Prince George, with a stop at her parents’ place in Williams Lake. They planned to take a leisurely drive, stopping at various places to take in the scenery, and Benn would choose an appropriate place along the way… well, Murphy’s Law decided to rear its ugly head. They realized they forgot something very important that they had to go back to Vancouver and start the road trip over.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

They are now 3-5 hours behind schedule. Heather was stressed because they were going to be late for dinner, and Benn was stressed because his proposal plan seemed to have gone down the toilet. He kept asking Heather to stop “to eat their sandwiches” at certain rest stops along the way but she seemed to be one step ahead and refused to be proposed to at some random location. This kept on going along the trip until they reached the 108 Mile rest stop, an hour away from their destination. It ended up being the perfect location though, the sun was setting, there was a cute heritage village and a covered bridge where they decided to stop to have a snack. It was there that Benn got down on one knee, pulled out a diamond ring (her first choice no less), and asked her to marry him. Needless to say, all the stress melted away as Heather happily said yes.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

Heather and Benn tied the knot last summer. Like many brides, Heather found wedding planning to be overwhelming. They wanted something casual and fun, where people can eat, laugh, have a beer and just enjoy each others’ company. She was amazed at how her family and friends came together to help pull off the best day of their lives. Photography, decor, live music, even the cake, were all thanks to their very generous friends and family. This helped keep their budget low (at $8,000) but also showed how much love was in their lives and how much everyone supported them. This “community wedding” was exactly what they were looking for. They celebrated with 80 of their closest friends and family at a lovely heritage home in Abbotsford, ate great food, played lawn games (her dad made a bean bag toss board game and they brought a bocce ball set), drank local craft beer, and shared some good times. What more can a couple ask for on their wedding day?

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

A Few Words With Heather…

What did you give away as wedding favors? Is there a reason why you chose them?
“Small take out boxes with spiced nuts. I chose this because I saw it on Pinterest, it’s something I love and knew I could make. I’d been to 3 weddings in the past year and a half, and while I knew there was a flip flop shaped bottle opener with Jamie and Bree 2011 on it somewhere, I had never used it and probably never would. I did, however, eat the little plastic box of M&Ms from a different wedding. My thinking was that my guests aren’t going to be sentimental about MY wedding. They should get a little reward for themselves for coming here rather than a Heather + Benn focused knick knack.”

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

What did your guests think about your wedding?
“It’s hard to say, because even if someone didn’t like it, they wouldn’t have told me!! PS, this is also the greatest realization I had along the way. I was torn between two dresses and realized Uh, no one’s going to tell me anything other than I look beautiful. No one is going to come up to me and say You chose wrong And that applied to everything about my wedding. That day was a turn-around moment for me. I was suddenly able to make decisions, because whatever!! It’s my damn wedding! No one’s going to tell ME anything negative! Woo hoo!

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler That being said, I think guests had a good time. I think the best part of our wedding was not any one thing. It had a great vibe. Everyone was walking around, drinking, eating, and chatting. It wasn’t formal. There weren’t assigned seats. Everyone was free to sit with whomever they wanted. There weren’t speeches or announcements. There was lots of food and all of my people are friendly, happy, lovely people, and we all just hung out. We really didn’t do a lot of the things you’re supposed to. We didn’t have a first dance, we didn’t do much decorating, as the venue was an outdoor park / heritage house so it was already beautiful. I didn’t think streamers or twinkly Christmas lights would have added much. We didn’t throw anything at anyone (though this was mostly due to the lack of single people there – I would have been throwing the bouquet to 2 girls my age and one older cousin and my aunt – I thought I’d save them the awkwardness). Much to my eternal shame, I forgot to do the Thank You Everyone speech, so there was not a single speech. This was where I got what I wanted. Everyone I loved in one place, just hanging out, sharing a glass of wine and a laugh.”

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

What did you splurge on and what did you save on? Why?
“The Splurge: The best thing we did was free alcohol. We kept it fairly reasonable by only having beer and wine. That way we didn’t need a ton of different cups, no ice, no mixes (although we had a few cans of soda around – still, no cups / limes / muddled mint required) and no one had access to hard liquor, so we didn’t end up with really drunk people. It really didn’t cost that much, maybe $700. We got 2 kegs of beer from Storm Brewing on Commercial Drive. Their prices were so low compared to the bigger breweries that it was suspicious. And they were so cool and relaxed about things. Bring the keg back by… I dunno… Wednesday? Whatever works for you. If we’re not here, just call my cell. I live around the corner and I’ll come by. I work on the Drive as well, and I have to say, that sort of attitude is the norm there, and it is glorious. With so many tiny breweries around town now, this is absolutely the way to go for alcohol at a wedding. Plus it gave the guys somewhere to stand. There was never fewer than three men standing around the keg, presumably talking about man things.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

The other splurge I suppose, was the party rental place. It wasn’t really a splurge as much as it was my only option. You have to have tables and you have to have chairs and the weather forecast changed from sunny to possible rain, one week before the wedding, so I also had to add on a bunch of tents. In the end, even though it didn’t rain, the tents were amazing. We also had a bagpiper lead us down the aisle. I would have paid her anything as our bagpiper bailed a few weeks before the wedding. But in the end she was ridiculously reasonable, as in half of what I would have paid the other guy as he was travelling to be there. So I tried to splurge and it just worked out in my favor anyways. Things honestly just turned out better than I had imagined, mostly by accident and through no actual planning of mine.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

The Savings: I saved EVERYWHERE. I sacrificed fanciness in a lot of places for the sake of my budget. It was a choice we had to make. We had a very finite amount of money, and I had a ridiculous spreadsheet that kept us on track. Would I have liked a few more expensive things? Sure! But we pulled off the best wedding we could with our resources. I wasn’t about to go into debt for this. I wanted a fun honeymoon!

  • Benn designed our wedding invitations and we had them, as well as our thank you cards, made by Vistaprint, an online publisher, rather than a brick and mortar place. They were just great! I can’t say enough good things about them. We got suckered into some extras and have our Benn’s design on mugs and mouse pads around the house.
  • I paid for all the bridesmaid dresses, having found them on Etsy for $80 each. The girls sent her their measurements, and she sent us some dresses. One was particularly difficult as my maid of honour was pregnant so we were guessing at how big she’d be. We were wrong and had to do some creative pinning, the day of the wedding, but the Etsy lady adapted her dress to fit a pregnant belly, so that was AMAZING, still at $80. The quality was FANTASTIC. I can’t get over how nice these dresses were.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

  • Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler My dress was $99. It was from David’s bridal and I’d never seen it in person, or tried it on. But they discontinued it, and put it on sale, so I bought it online, with the thinking being “If it doesn’t fit, whatever. It’s $100. I can go buy another one.” But it was exactly what I wanted. I knew I wanted a tea length dress, and at the time, there were very few options. I’d been to dress boutiques, and they’d usually have one to show me, and offer to alter another dress for extra money. BAH.
  • Plates and cutlery were disposable. Fancy disposable, but still. It was cheaper than renting the dishes from the party place and made clean up amazingly fast
  •  My photographer, Andy, was likely the biggest savings. I paid her what I could, and paid for her accommodations, but she gave me the world’s biggest friend Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler discount. The best part of that is that Andy is back in my life!! We actually see each other again, after realizing at the wedding “Oh Yah!! We’re awesome together! This is why we were friends!!” But her photography style is so cool too. I never felt posed or awkward. She just kinda hung around, being invisible, and caught REAL moments. The times when we were actually staring at each other with love, not trying to pretend to do that for the camera.
  • The caterer. Very small company; they don’t advertise or anything. You sort of just have to have a connection. $25 / head for appetizers and dinner. WHAT. That’s less than a restaurant. And that was buffet style, not plated. They were fantastic. They set up an appy table while we did the ceremony on the front steps of the house, so when it was over, everyone walked over to the other lawn and enjoyed a huge spread of nibbles. I was one of 3 or 4 parties they did that day, with mine being the last, and they were still incredible. I didn’t have servers or a bartender per se. They had a team and those people ran around, refilling things, but they weren’t passing trays of food around.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

  • Music: Friends and family and Itunes. We didn’t hire a band or a DJ. In the 3 weddings I’d been to recently, none of the DJs were good and they were all expensive. We rented a few mics and a few speakers from Long & Mcquade for virtually nothing.  Benn spent 3 months carefully crafting 8 hours of music we liked, including 2 hours for before the ceremony, 6 hours for dinner / after. His uncle pressed play and stop for us. After dinner, Jordan, Jess, Kevin and after a few drinks, Johanna, got up there and serenaded us with some songs. It was perfect. Like a guitar around a campfire.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

  • The Venue. Tretheway House at Mill Lake in Abbotsford. After looking into a ton of venues in Vancouver, we just couldn’t afford anything we liked. We preferred outdoors, and Vancouver Parks board is a bit difficult to navigate, and in wedding season, the good spots are booked up well in advance. The rules for drinking and eating are difficult, and there aren’t a lot with kitchens that can be used. We really wanted to have the ceremony and reception in the same place, for ease of planning as well as cost, and setting up a dinner in a Vancouver Park is next to impossible. Luckily, my sister-in-law knew about Tretheway House. For $300 I had 2 days of exclusive access to the Heritage house itself, where many of our pictures were taken, use of as many of their tables as I needed (which saved me a lot on the rentals. I ended up being able to cancel half of my table order), all their lawn games, the Carriage house, which had bathrooms and a kitchenette, and was big enough to accommodate the dinner buffet comfortably, and all of the grounds. It’s closed off to the public, so was more private than a Vancouver park would have been. It’s run by a team of volunteers, who were outstanding, and they’re not for profit, so they don’t have this long list of secret fees and extra charges. It also backs onto Mill Lake Park which has this gorgeous little walkway out onto the lake, just perfect for pictures.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

  • Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler Desserts: We made everything. I tested about 20 different cake and icing recipes in the year before the wedding and we ended up making 3 different types of cupcakes. I spent a bit along the way, buying more expensive cupcake liners that would keep their colours, and buying/learning to use an icing bag etc., but in the end, the wedding cake/cupcake ran around $150. We also made lemon bars (because I love them), fruit cups, the world’s greatest brownies, my mom made Mochi manju (Japanese red bean paste inside mocha) and Benn’s mom made Mennonite pastries that I can’t spell. The caterers were so cool about letting us do that. I suspect that normally they wouldn’t have, and would have wanted the work, but I was their last client and they were able to leave earlier than if they’d been preparing it, so I think it worked out for everyone.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

  • DIY – When you have more time than money, it’s just the way to get things done. We made our bouquets out of fake flowers from Michaels, on a day when they were having 40% off everything. I know, it’s so cheesy and gross. BUT, no one knew but us, and I have a perfect bouquet forever. It’s in my cedar chest J We wrapped them with the same ribbon as was in the centerpieces and they were really quite beautiful. We skipped fresh flowers entirely, with paper flowers and silk flowers and that was a HUGE savings, plus we were able to make them well ahead of time, and throw them in a box. No coordinating of another vendor and timing for the day-of delivery. Those are the things that kill a budget.

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

  • No rehearsal dinner – I don’t really understand this one. Running through the ceremony, sure. But hosting a huge dinner the day before you host a huge dinner? Who needs that stress and cost?

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

If you could’ve done something differently, what would it be?
“I think I would have had an open mic speech section. Nothing formal, but if people wanted to say something they could. In all the running around that day, it totally slipped our mind until people started to leave that we hadn’t addressed everyone. As far as budgeting goes? I really have no regrets. I loved my wedding. I was so so lucky, and so many things just turned out for me. I planned a much worse wedding than I received. And I really do feel like I was given this wedding. Everyone around me handed me small parts of the whole and it turned out so much better than I ever expected.”

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

After planning a wedding, what one advice would you give to future brides?
“Small vendors and exploiting your friends! Start ups and little guys are the way to go. They’re looking to build client bases and get experience, and they’ll give you a way better deal than the first thing that shows up on Google, and you’ll get better service anyways. Don’t be a bridezilla to them either. You’re begging for their help, not demanding their service. They’re people, and they’re fantastic at what they do and you should tip them well and be grateful that they’re willing to help. And when you depend on your friends and family, it’s a much more rewarding experience. It drew all of us closer. Learning to accept help was the best thing I got out of this. Well, and my husband. And cake.”

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

Heather & Benn’s Vendors:

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler Ceremony & Reception venue: Tretheway House at Mill Lake
Catering: Amy Tate
Wedding Dress: David’s Bridal
Bridesmaids Dresses: harsuccthing on Etsy
Tux: Leading Man Tuxedo
Photographer: Andy Scheffler
Flowers: DIY from Michaels
Hair and Make-up: DIY makeup and her bridesmaid Annette did hair Annette did hair
Jewelry: Heather wore her own jewelry, bridesmaids wore necklaces given to them by Heather
Invitations: Vistaprint and designed by Benn
Cake: DIY
Decorations: DIY
Wedding Favors: DIY
Music for ceremony/reception: ITunes, laptop, rented speakers and mics from Long & McQuade, Family + Friends with talent
Transportation: Own vehicles
Wedding planner/coordinator: me, Kendall my sister in law, my bridesmaids and my mothers
Beer: Storm Brewing
Officiant: Pastor John Crawford

Heather & Benn - photo by Andy Scheffler

All photos courtesy Andy Scheffler
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Comments

  • September 28th, 2014 at 7:09 pm
    Pink North says:

    Wow!

    Just goes to show that with a little creativity, you can have an amazing wedding on a shoestring. I guess $8000 isn’t really a shoestring but…

    Great coverage of this!

     

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