Off-season weddings offer everybody savings

Getting married in the wedding off-season may require umbrellas, but brides and grooms can save a lot of money. - photo by Vincent Wong—Visionnouvelle Photography
Getting married in the wedding off-season may require umbrellas, but brides and grooms can save a lot of money.
— image credit: photo by Vincent Wong—Visionnouvelle Photography

During the summer months, it’s hard to find a park without a wedding party posing for photos under the sun. Hotels, banquet halls and restaurants are replete with jubilant couples celebrating their big day.

But for prospective brides and grooms looking to get much more value for their hard-earned dollars, off-season weddings are a great alternative. And the savings extend to well beyond the costs of the venue rentals, food and beverages.

Lucy Chan, a professional wedding planner for Richmond’s Key Events and Weddings, said while hotels don’t change their rental rates between seasons, they are more willing to negotiate with clients when demand for room space is lower.

Depending on a couple’s budget, and what they plan to serve their guests, in some cases a hotel will lower their venue rental rate, wave other costs, or expand or upgrade menu options.

Couples shopping between Richmond hotels for the best deals will find hotel managers more willing to provide incentives for their business.

Whether it’s waved fees for linen rentals, or upgraded dinner menu items, or a reduction in rental rates, those are all potential savings during slow seasons when hotels face the alternative of idle event space.

But it’s not just the time of year that can save couples; the day of the week can too.

Couples opting to have their weddings on a weekday, rather than on the traditional Saturday or Sunday, may find more alternatives, and a greater willingness among hotels to compete for their business.

Chan is in the midst of organizing a wedding for an upcoming Monday for a couple, though that date wasn’t selected to save money. Rather, it was a feng shui master who pointed them in that direction.

Couples considering a large wedding with many out-of-town guests might also want to take into consideration the costs incurred by their family and friends.

An off-season wedding means better airfare and hotel deals too.

Another potential way to save money—and reduce stress while increasing wedding day enjoyment—is to hire a professional wedding planner.

While the cost for an extensive consultation at Key Events begins at $500, Chan said this can go a long way to reducing the stress a prospective bride will feel as her big day approaches.

Generally, a wedding planner’s services for an average-sized wedding is about $2,000, Chan said, but a lot of that investment can result in equal amount of savings elsewhere.

Whether it’s reducing hard costs through vendors, or saving the time spent comparison-shopping between businesses, or reducing the stress felt by couples overwhelmed by organizing their wedding, Chan said couples have often expressed delight at their decision to hire her.

At this time of year, right after the start of the year, Chan is often called upon for her expertise by couples who want to get married in a matter of weeks.

“Every year we have someone like that, couples giving us six or eight weeks notice,” she said.

Hiring someone who does wedding planning for a living is almost essential in making this a reality.

She said wedding planners know precisely who they can turn to for all of the necessities.

Hiring a wedding planner to work on the big day itself can also save a lot of headaches, Chan said.

She recalls a wedding where 260 people had RSVP’d, but the party grew to more than 330 people when a group intending to surprise the bride and groom showed up.

This all happened at a Richmond restaurant, and the manager had to scramble to look for chairs and plates, going so far as to borrow them from other restaurants.

The dinner service had to be delayed until everybody was there, and the couple was greeting guests for more than two hours.

While dinner didn’t start until 9:30 p.m., the event was a success, with the food preparation delayed in the kitchen until everyone was seated. The grateful couple said they couldn’t have pulled it off without her, and what went down that night spun off into other wedding services for guests.

“It all turned out great.”

Chan said she understands that couples on a tight budget want to minimize costs. But sometimes hiring a wedding planner is worth every penny, not only in terms of dollars, but in terms of time and stress.

She’s a firm believer that a couple deserves to completely enjoy their wedding night without all the aggravation that might come with wedding planning and sweating the minor details.

There was one time when a couple’s flowers arrived, and not only were they the wrong colour, but they were the wrong type.

That error was quickly remedied, but she said that can be enough to put an already-stressed-out bride over the edge.

“It’s almost like an insurance policy. A couple should enjoy their big night, not worry about flowers and the timing of food service.”

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