How We Planned Our $1400 Debt-Free Winter Wedding

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debt-free wedding

Your Winter Wedding Day Doesn’t Have To Be A Bucket Of Debt

I know it sounds crazy but we had an intimate, inexpensive DIY winter wedding day and zero debt when we woke up in the morning.

We planned our special winter wedding around what we could afford and without all of the frills.

Our friends and family did not even blink an eye when it came to our non-traditional white wedding.

There was no large wedding venue, no buffet tables, midnight snacks, or chairs covered with cloths and bows.

As you read on I’ll explain to you how we planned our $1000 winter wedding and how special our day was.

Marriage Debt Is Real Debt

The number one marriage killer is debt and that can be debt brought into the marriage or creating debt together.

This is why I always suggest talking about finances as a couple before you tie the knot or move forward with a relationship.

Some of you might say that debt means nothing when you are in love and perhaps that is true but just wait and see.

Once the lovey-dovey honeymoon phase is over and you realize how much debt you have it hits you like a tonne of bricks.

Should You Go Into Debt For Your Wedding?

The answer is no you should not take on more wedding bling than you can afford.

Mrs. CBB and I were both on the same page when it came to saving money for our winter snow wedding.

Yes, we gave our special day a theme as it was a beautiful winter wonderland the day we got married.

How To Finance Your Wedding

When planning for your wedding there are four ways couples can get money to afford a wedding.

  1. Save up cash as a projected expense in your budget (you should have an idea of how much you can afford based on your debt to income ratio.
  2. Borrow money from a financial institution in the form of a bank loan
  3. Put all of the wedding debt on a credit card
  4. Financial gifts from family or friends

How to save money to pay off our Winter Wedding Debt

Provided that you’ve both planned your wedding around how much you could afford there should be no wedding debt.

Too often couples believe that they need to have the most expensive and glamourous wedding in the world.

In a way, it almost seems as if weddings have become a day to pretend you are Royal or wealthy when you’re broke and in debt.

This is why when you mention the word wedding to anyone dollar signs take the front seat.

Weddings are very expensive depending on how far you take them from start to finish.

For example, a small intimate wedding vs. a large venue wedding will not come with a comparable wedding bill.

Non-Permanent Resident Canadian Wedding

I was not a permanent resident in Canada when Mrs. CBB and I got married but here on a 6-month travel Visa.

Planning a wedding with me being in the UK and here in Canada would have been tough but we did it.

When I landed in Canada I stayed for 4 months to plan our wedding, get married, and learn as much as I could about Canada.

You would have laughed if you saw me trying to count coins at the grocery store. I had no clue.

I opened a Presidents choice bank account before I left which was under Mrs.CBB since I didn’t have any credit history in Canada.

Permanent Resident Application

Once we were married I had to go back to the UK and wait until I was a permanent resident of Canada.

The paperwork we had to do for the permanent resident application was massive.

We spent weeks working on it and getting letters from family and friends to prove that we were a legitimate couple.

Actually, I brought with me everything we needed from the UK during my 4-month stay.

By doing that we saved time by not having to mail my portion of the application to Canada.

Included in the package we sent was every receipt including our flight receipts.

In 114 days from the time we mailed my permanent resident application in I was accepted as a PR.

It was the happiest days of our lives but then the big work had to start on my end.

Packing, selling assets including my house, and working to earn money while I waited for my Canadian PR card.

Getting Married In Canada

This is why we chose an intimate wedding with 12 people at my wife’s parents’ house.

We did not have our wedding at a venue as the costs were far too much even for a small gathering of people.

My family could not afford to fly to Canada for our winter wedding so we had two laptops set up with Skype.

They were able to watch the entire wedding from the UK and they even dressed up as if they were at the wedding.

I was very thankful for that opportunity as it made us feel that my parents, sisters, and our nieces and nephews were with us.

No Income = Frugal Wedding Plans

Some couples won’t wait until they have money set aside for a wedding and just shop till they drop on wedding ‘stuff’.

I call it stuff because most of what is out there for weddings is not necessary.

I can compare it to buying too many items before the baby is born only to realize he/she has no interest.

The focus on a wedding is the couple so opting for a minimalist wedding may save you money.

During my 4-month Visa, there was no money coming in as I was not working or allowed to work in Canada.

Savings Websites To Cut Wedding Costs

When Mrs. CBB would go to work I was online searching for frugal savings blogs in Canada.

We laugh about that now because that’s how we got started with looking for discount codes, rewards, and couponing.

Using cashback websites such as Rakuten is a massive help for DIY weddings which I wish we had available at the time.

I felt I was using my time wisely while she was at work by sourcing savings outlets available to Canadians.

After dinner each night we started to plan our winter wedding event.

Creating The Wedding Budget

The first thing we did was decide on a wedding budget and since I was not working we needed it to be small.

Although we both had money it was going towards buying me a vehicle and the downpayment on our house.

The winter wedding was a no-brainer for us as it was ideal for someone like me who is not a fan of big weddings.

Once we knew that we wanted to spend around $1000 for our wedding budget we got to work planning the event.

In a book we bought at the Dollar store we started to document what we both wanted at our winter wedding.

Below is a list of everything we wanted and what we paid for.

Bridesmaids and Groomsmen

They were given the opportunity to pick their outfits and it didn’t have to be a fancy dress.

We had two bridesmaids and one groomsman which made this fairly simple for planning.

Talk about less stress for the ladies.

As for the guys we all wore suits which was pretty simple and they did not match which was even cooler.

It’s ok to be different when you get married.

Flowers For Your Winter Wedding

wedding flowers

If you want flowers at your wedding this comes with a big price tag so visit a flower shop to get ideas and estimates.

We went with flowers that were blooming in pots my father-in-law had in the house. Each winter he brought in his flowers from outdoors to keep them alive.

It was perfect as it lit up the venue for us for zero cost. For example, when my FIL died the flowers for his casket and one stand cost us just over $700.

Whatever the occasion flowers can cause a hefty dent in your wedding budget based on what you want and how much you choose.

Costs: zero

Winter Wedding Bouquet and Groom Buttonhole

One of Mrs. CBB’s friends is huge into crafts and made her bouquet as a gift for her.

She bought flowers from the Dollar Store and a green wrap from Micheals and it looked simple and elegant with white, blue, and silver.

For myself, she made me a pin with a blue rose and white and silver accents which is called a buttonhole or boutineer.

Costs: Free


Wedding booze

The alcohol was purchased by my father-in-law so no costs to us.

He didn’t go overboard but bought a bottle of vodka, rum, whiskey along with a case of beer and juices.

There was also homemade wine that he made.

Costs: free

Winter Wedding Decorations

diy winter wedding decor

We didn’t go hell for leather on wedding decor and we kept it simple.

A quick trip to the Dollar store and we found some items that we could use on the fireplace mantel.

Now we have them in our upper-level bathroom and it looks quite lovely.

A vase filled with white stones and white and silver decor and a mason jar that was whitewash painted.

Cost: Vase only with the decor was $15 and the mason jars were donated by my sister-in-law

Winter Wedding Dinner Buffet

This is where we opted for a Chinese food buffet for our winter wedding dinner.

We changed out of our wedding attire and into something casual as we all drove over to the Chinese restaurant.

There was a private room ready for us and the guests were able to order drinks and eat as much as they wanted.

We thought we were picking up the tab for the wedding buffet by my sister-in-law paid the tab as her wedding gift to us.

When we went back to the house there was a large wedding cake for us with coffee and ice-cream.

This was paid by the family and it was a Costco Cake for $20.

Cost: Zero

Winter Wedding Dress and Shoes

snow wedding

Since we weren’t having a traditional wedding Mrs. CBB didn’t want to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a wedding dress.

She went through the Sears Catalogue and found a beautiful dress that was worthy of being a wedding dress.

For $89 she looked beautiful walking down the aisle or should I say, hallway.

Her wedding shoes were white and she picked them up on sale at Sears as well for $14.99

Costs $120.72

The suit, tie, and shoes

I was also not interested in renting a tux or buying a suit for a few hours that I would be in it.

On a trip to Value Village, I scored my wedding suit and tie for $40.

I also bought a pair of men’s dress shoes for $10.99 from The Goodwill store.

Costs:  $58.65

Wedding Rings

cheap wedding rings

My wedding ring was purchased from a kiosk at our local mall for $20.

Unfortunately, after 8 years of marriage, I lost the ring while I was on a job site.

I was upset about that but Mrs. CBB said don’t worry and ordered me a new men’s wedding ring from Amazon for $25.

It was perfect and looks something like this which is a great price at $12.99.

Her wedding ring I purchased from a seller on Kijiji for $200 and had it fitted at the jewellery store for another $40.

It’s a simple wedding band which is what she wanted to compliment her engagement ring.

Costs $25 and $240 = $265

Photographer and Videographer

wedding photographer

We did not hire a photographer or a videographer for our wedding which was a huge savings.

A friend of ours at the wedding wanted to take photographs for us so we let him.

They turned out great and gave him $50 for his help.


The minister we located through a friend in the city where we got married.

We went to his house to talk about what he was going to say at the wedding as well our part.

It was pretty painless to be honest and the cost to have him come to the house was only shy of $200.

Who can perform a marriage in Ontario?

Registered marriage officiants

The following persons registered with the Office of the Registrar General as a marriage officiant under the Marriage Act can perform a marriage in Ontario:

  • a person duly recognized by their religious body as entitled to perform religious marriages in Ontario, or
  • a person who belongs to, and is duly recognized as entitled to perform marriages by a band, First Nation, Métis or Inuit organization or community or Indigenous entity located in whole or in part in Ontario. –
  • civil marriage officiants

    The following can perform civil marriages in Ontario:

    • a municipal clerk and/or their delegate authorized to perform civil marriages in Ontario
    • a judge
    • an Ontario case management master
    • an Ontario justice of the peace

    Contact a local city hall, town hall, or municipal office to find out if they provide civil marriage services.

We had to pay for a marriage license and a marriage certificate which cost us close to $225.

The fee for a Licence is $125.00, Canadian funds. (Cash or Canadian Debit ONLY). Once issued, a marriage license is non-refundable and only valid in Ontario for 90 days.Source

Costs: $225 plus the minister $200 = $425

Winter Wedding Gifts

Wedding Bomboniere

The wedding gifts or wedding Bomboniere that we decided on giving each guest were personal as it was a small wedding.

We purchased a set of 4 glass photo holders in wooden frames to be used as coasters with our photos.

The Dollar store had a clear wrap for a dollar and some coloured string.

The labels we ordered online for around 15 dollars as we only needed a few.

Included was Hersey’s Kisses in each wrapped wedding gift and we bought 4 bags on sale for $1.99.

We bought our wedding coaster sets from a place in the mall called the Kitchen Store.

At the time we paid $12.99 each plus an additional $20 to print the photos.

The wrap and string cost us $3.50

Costs: $263 for the gifts, labels, chocolates, wrapping products.

DIY Winter Wedding

Creating a wedding budget that is reasonable is one of the most important tasks a couple can make before planning a wedding.

It’s so easy to get caught up in wedding bling that by the end of it all the wedding price tag could cost you a whopping 5 figures.

Are you worth it? Sure you are, but can you afford it? If the answer is no then don’t do it.

A wedding is no different than any other consumer debt because it is created by you.

You are in the front seat driving the debt into your lives by making decisions that don’t match your finances.

Winter Wedding Colours

If you plan on a small intimate wedding with a winter wedding colours theme you are in luck.

Our winter wedding colours were dark blue, white and silver which we both fell in love with.

I wore a blue suit and Mrs. CBB a dress that looked similar to a wedding dress that she ordered from the Sears catalogue. RIP.

You wouldn’t have guessed that I found my blue suit with a white and silver tie from Value Village, but I did.

Winter Wedding Wonderland Decorations

It was easy to come up with inexpensive winter wonderland wedding decoration from searching on Pinterest.

There are so many DIY wedding decor projects that you can do for a winter wedding.

Where We First Met

This is a question that we got all the time and our response was at the airport.

We laughed about it because it was true as we met at Toronto Pearson Airport.

I was shaking with a nervousness that is so hard to explain.

Falling in love with someone across the world was a big deal and one that comes with decisions.

So, I came to Canada to visit for 2 weeks and stayed with Mrs. CBB at her house.

It was an amazing two weeks after talking online for almost a year.

Total Cost Of Our Winter Wedding

After we total it up we spent $1397.00 so a bit over budget.

However, both of our parents gave us $1000 which paid for the wedding costs that we had left to pay, and our hotel reservation for the night.

Plenty Of Fish Dating Website

We met on a dating website called Plenty Of Fish which was pretty popular at the time.

With both of us just going through relationship breakdowns that year, we thought there was no harm in dating again.

It was Mrs. CBB who contacted me first and I was astonished at how beautiful she was.

Although it took me 2 days to answer her back, I’m glad I did.

It didn’t take long for us to cancel our Plenty of Fish dating website as we were talking exclusively every day.

The time change was challenging but we made it.

So, yes people do and can meet online and live happily ever after.

A Wedding Doesn’t Need To Put You Into Debt

Before I go, just a reminder that weddings don’t define who you are as a couple.

Plan your wedding, save for your wedding and try and come out the other end with little to no wedding debt.

I understand not everyone will be gifted cash like we were that helped pay for the wedding but we did not receive gifts.

This is how we were able to pay our mortgage off in 5 years and are now completely debt-free since 2013.

I can assure you being debt-free feels far better than having a Royal wedding we couldn’t afford.

A frugal wedding day vs. a lifetime of debt freedom was a no-brainer for us.

We will be celebrating our 12th year of marriage this December and still love our winter wedding choices.

Discussion: Do you have wedding debt to pay off? Did you go overboard for your wedding? What would you change if you could go back?

I’d love to hear your wedding stories so please leave your comments below.


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One Comment

  1. Oh wow, this was definitely a budget wedding. Congratulations on your wedding and congratulations on saving so much money! This was really inspirational to read and see how you have been able to save and cut costs for everything. I love how you were also searching for savings blogs to see how else you could cut costs. This was very interesting to read. Congratulations!

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