Amber and Ryan's wedding

Back in 2007, when I went official with cHill Wedding, I got an email from a bride named Amber. She needed help with her wedding. Amber and Ryan had already been engaged for a while, but she was having a hard time planning. They were paying for the wedding themselves, and they had a budget of $10K and didn't know where to start. All they knew was that they wanted to get married in 2009.

So, we had over a year to plan, but we got to work. I knew a $10K wedding for 100 guests was not going to be an easy task. They also had a few criteria: ceremony and reception at same location, ceremony indoors, plenty of free parking, good food, and an antique looking venue.

Fast forward to February 2009, Amber and Ryan finally got hitched at the beautiful Columbia Station - our first wedding of the year. And what a great way to start off our season!

February 19, 2009, Amber and Ryan had their ceremony at Robert Ryan Catering's Columbia Station. Columbia Station is a restored train station, with a main ballroom and a club room (for cocktail hour). There even was a restored caboose on the property which was used for the bridal suite. Plenty of free parking (check), indoor ceremony space (check), and same location for ceremony and reception (check), and finally great food (check)! It really was the perfect spot for them.

Amber and Ryan really amped up their style with their wedding attire. Amber wore a beautiful Mon Cheri gown, with was accented with lots of sparking crystals and a beautiful train. The dress was also made unique by adding a lace-up back. The girls all wore different dresses in navy. Ryan work a white tux while the groomsmen wore black with navy vests and tie.

Friends and family was a big theme throughout the wedding. Ryan had his niece and nephews as a huge part of the wedding party. Amber had her sister, cousin, and a friend she knew since she was child as bridesmaids. Pictures of Amber and Ryan growing up, with their family and friends, were spread out on the cocktail tables, and served as decoration for the club room, and also stirred up great conversation.

The cake was designed and created by her friend, an aspiring pastry chef. She also made some pastry desserts to accompany the chocolate fountain station.

Amber used to work with Mike Trotter at Wham Jam, so Mike provided the music entertain all night for free!
The officiant was her bridesmaid's father, who is a minister.

Flowers were a huge part of Amber and Ryan's wedding. Flowers are expensive, but Tammy from Domenic Graziano's really came through! All the personal flowers were discounted since they were my clients (FYI, Domenic Graziano will give a 10% off personal flowers for all cHill Weddings clients). Later in the planning process, Amber received another discount for recommending the floral company to her friend. She used that to spruce up her bouquet with some bling.
A huge money saver was the cylinders. She rented them free of charge from cHill Weddings, and Tammy used them to create two different centerpieces. Half submerged pink dendrobium orchids with clear gems, and illuminated with pink LED lights. The other was a spray of delphiniums with curly willow, also with clear gems and blue LED lights (lights are hard to see in pictures).
The unity candle was gifted by a friend, but Amber and Ryan hadn't planned on incorporating the unity candle ceremony, so we placed it behind their wedding arch as a backdrop in the deep window sill.
The wedding was beautiful, full of love and happiness, and it was the first wedding I cried at for a long time. Amber and Ryan - planning their wedding was a labour of love. After one and half years of planning and getting to know them, I was so happy to see them married, but also sad I wouldn't be working with them anymore. They were both very involved with the planning, but were also the most relaxed couple on their wedding day. My favorite quote from Amber weeks before the wedding was, "I trust you and Tammy with my flower set up. If all I care about at the wedding is the flowers, then I have issues. " All Amber and Ryan saw were each other, but the flowers did turn out beautifully.

So the overall wedding turned out to be out $13,000 (including flowers paid for my Ryan's mother). Here is the breakdown:
Wedding Planner: cHill Weddings $900 (2007 pricing)
Photographer: Barbara Leidy Photography, LLC. $795 for 3 hours
Flowers: Domenic Graziano $1,200
Venue/Caterer: Columbia Station $7000
Transporation: Wolfington (courtesy of Ryan's boss - free)
DJ: Mike Trotter - free
Officiant: Pastor Bruce Eglinton-Woods - Free (+donation to his church)
Misc (gratuities, hair, nails, makeup, bridal party gifts, votive candles from Ikea, etc): approx $3,000
Some tips to save money on your wedding:
  • Get married during the months of January-April. Off-peak months vary by venue and vendor.
  • Don't be afraid to negotiate. The worst they will say is no. We were able to negotiate the fee of the ceremony chairs - Free!
  • Hire a photographer for only a few hours to capture your ceremony and reception decor, and for portraits. Barbara Leidy was booked for 3 hours, but she ended up working at least 4 hours because she's great like that. Most photographer would only do this during off-peak season.
  • Work with your florist on substituting flowers to bring down costs. For example, instead of snapdragons, use stock.
  • If your friends offer a lending hand, in exchange for a gift, don't be afraid and go for it (if you trust them)!
  • Hire a wedding planner, or at least a Day of Coordinator!

all images courtesy of Barbara Leidy Photography, LLC.

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