Wedding venues and ideas on a small budget in Canberra?

By 1 March, 2012 31

Hello all

I am getting married next November, and while we want to keep the wedding small and casual but nice, we both have large families and would be looking at around 90-100 people.

We are also saving for a house and I have returned to work part-time after having our second baby, so we arent looking at spending a fortune.

I am looking for a nice venue in or around Canberra, something with an outdoor ceremony would be lovely, and either an airy room or marquee style reception. Any recommendations?

I am also going to be ‘DIYing’ most things, so any recs for websites etc to check out would be great!!

Dresses…oh gee, I am looking at getting my dress made as this seems to be the cheaper option…any comments on this?

THANKS :)

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31 Responses to Wedding venues and ideas on a small budget in Canberra?
#1
Jurls10:02 am, 01 Mar 12

Flint in the Vines out at Murrambateman. We had a small ceremony (22 people) followed by a small sit down lunch a year ago and it was lovely. There’s a minimum spend to book the place out but with that amount of people it wouldn’t be a problem. Kate’s really helpful at working within your budget and helping suggest options. My other tip is to get married on a Friday. I found that potential venues were considerably cheaper if you booked them out on a Friday as opposed to a Saturday or Sunday.

As for dresses, I got married in blue and my dress was actually sold as a bridesmaids dress. It cost me $350. I felt that the traditional wedding dresses were way overpriced in comparison so this worked really well for me. Might be an option if you don’t want a traditonal white dress with all the trimmings etc.

Good luck, stressful times organising a wedding. :D

#2
dtc10:22 am, 01 Mar 12

The food and drink is going to be your biggest expense – $100p/h+++. Don’t go for a sit down 3 course dinner – either drinks and finger food or perhaps find a cheap caterer if you really want to feed people (eg I have been to weddings where they served noodle boxes, finger food and drinks – works perfectly fine). Or have an early afternoon wedding plus afternoon tea with champers and wine.

Outdoors is usually the cheapest location – within Canberra there is, of course, Commonwealth Park, Nara Park, the National Botanical Gardens, National Carillon and the Sculpture Gardens. I have also seen lots of weddings on the beach or headlands down the coast, which presumably were fairly cheap venues (I assume there is a permit fee or something). There are naturally risks with outdoor weddings and you will have to then get everyone to a venue for the reception.

Anyway, my key tip is this: the guest do not care how much money you have spent on the wedding. If they get snooty about it then ignore them, they aren’t truly friends or are the relatives you probably don’t care about anyway. The guests want to see you happy and smiling and not stressed. No one remembers the food or the wine (so long as they arent starving), they remember the ceremony and the ‘feeling’.

#3
madamcholet10:23 am, 01 Mar 12

Mr Cholet and I got married at Lanyon Homestead. It’s a beautiful old property on the Murrimbidgee just past Tuggers. Outdoor ceremony onder 100 year old trees, lovely sit down meal – outdoors as well. They do now have a marquee although it’s not great looking to be honest. We signed our names in the registry on the verandah of the house on a table that belonged to the original owners.

Our wedding was casual – no dress code, I wore trousers (shock horror!), no photographer, (but the nicest photo’s from everyone who was there), no music, no video, handmade invites, no pressure to buy presents, no formal wedding cake, informal seating on long tables as opposed to family based…..sort of helps you to conclude that everyone was there for us and not what we provided them. But what was provided for them was a beautiful location,especially as the sun went down over the mountains and river, good company and nice food and wine with which to wish the happy couple well. All up it cost us $1500 – and that was the venue, food & service and alcohol that we brought ourselves as back then it was not licensed, & we are still married BTW! I still get teary thinking about it!!! You do have to take into account that we only had 20 people including ourselves tho’

Hope it all goes well.

#4
Skidd Marx10:36 am, 01 Mar 12

Don’t mention the “W” word when getting quotes for caterers etc and receive an instant saving of 66%.

If you can find somewhere that will let you organise your own grog and food then you’ll save a bomb.

#5
Spectra10:40 am, 01 Mar 12

The Botanic Gardens is a lovely outdoor venue, not particularly pricey and you’ll have no problem fitting that many people in some of the locations available.

For the dress, check out some of the people on eBay who will make you a dress to measure which is pretty much identical to what you get in stores here, at a tiny fraction of the price.

#6
pink little birdie10:42 am, 01 Mar 12

I went to a wedding a couple of weeks ago and I think the most expensive thing was the celebrant.

The Wedding dress was off ebay $150. The bridesmaids were allowed to choose their own long black dresses with a maximum spend of $150.

The reception was held in a hall where the bride and her close friends and their partners helped decorate. the centre pieces and table decorations came of ebay. There was a wedding decorator who was able to get the stuff cheap from America so the bride paid for the stuff but the Wedding decorator got to keep the stuff (in return for helping).
The cake was cupcakes made by the maid of honour (then woolies when it got hard). The catering was a spit roast catering people and the entertainment was a jukebox.
Flowers were fake but still nice.

The wedding was on a beach (in NSW) but most of the prep work was done in Canberra.
I think around $250 to decorate the room for 50 people and it really wasn’t too much work to decorate the room by our selves.

#7
Skidd Marx11:19 am, 01 Mar 12

I forgot to mention – as an alternative to a pricey DJ, for $200 Happy Days Amusements in Mitchell rents big speakers + disco lights which you can plug your iPod into. Just make an wedding playlist and you’re away. It worked well for our wedding.

#8
qbngeek11:28 am, 01 Mar 12

We got married at Grazing out at Gundaroo a few years ago. They were relatively cheap then and the food and service was fantastic, but I am not sure what it is like now. We also got to have our recption in the old stable which I beleive is notw a cellar door. That is a shame because it was fantastic.

#9
Keijidosha11:45 am, 01 Mar 12

I second Jurls’ suggestion of Flint at Murrumbateman. They have an nice outdoor space for the ceremony and a tasteful indoor dining area. The food is great and not overly expensive.

That being said, having a wedding with 90-100 guests is going to make it difficult to keep costs down.
If you have no intention of reducing the number of guests then there are some budget-friendly options for your ceremony and reception:

- Have the ceremony in a public space (the Carillion et. al) and the reception catered at someone’s house, or a community hall. (The pavillion at Hall Village showground is a nice space in a quaint location)
- If you know someone with a country property, ask if you can have wedding there. Hire a huge marquee for the reception that can also serve as a backup space for the ceremony if the weather turns sour.

Skidd Marx said :

I forgot to mention – as an alternative to a pricey DJ, for $200 Happy Days Amusements in Mitchell rents big speakers + disco lights which you can plug your iPod into. Just make an wedding playlist and you’re away. It worked well for our wedding.

Good suggestion. An alternative for under $300 is to buy a portable all-in-one PA system off eBay with an iPod dock on the top. I bought one and it has turned out quite useful on many occasions.

#10
buzz81912:05 pm, 01 Mar 12

I got married halfway through last year, it was only a small ceremony, but as far as spaces go the Japanese Peace Gardens behind the Hyatt in Canberra is an awesome place, great little gazebo to hold the ceremony etc. and It is free, just have to put in an application throught the National Capital Authority and your sweet.

#11
neanderthalsis12:08 pm, 01 Mar 12

As for dresses, Mrs Neanderthalsis bought hers at Rosies in Fishwick, brand new, good quality, nice design, but last seasons stock for around a quarter of the price of a ‘new’ one for our wedding in Nov last year. It required some alterations which added another $150 to the cost, but still came in cheaper than a sweatshop made Vietnamese one.

For the reception we booked out our favourite restaurant with a set menu, which again worked out cheaper than your normal wedding offerings.

In all, the wedding cost less than the honeymoon.

There are plenty of cheap options for weddings that don’t make it look ‘cheap’. Just be prepared to do a lot of it yourself or pressgang family and friends.

#12
sarahsarah12:52 pm, 01 Mar 12

I’m getting married next Friday and I will second the comment about getting married on a weekday instead of a weekend. Some places wanted to charge 10-30% extra for a Saturday and 10-50% extra for a Sunday. Our guests seem pretty happy to be having an extra (extra) long weekend thanks to the Canberra Day holiday as well :)

Make sure any venue that you pick doesn’t have nasty hidden fees like cake cutting fees or force you to have only a set package. One venue we looked at we loved but quickly discarded as they wanted to charge us $4.50 per guest for “cutting up” our cake. They wouldn’t even need to cut them anyway as they are cupcakes but they refused to budge on the price. I understand there are costs but it seemed excessive and their refusal to be flexible turned us right off them. Ask lots of questions (noise restrictions and overtime fees, what can’t you have in the venue (e.g. candles), parking options, toilet facilities (people + alcohol = lots of pee!)) and write it down unless you have an eidetic memory. Talk to the functions co-ordinator as well as they usually have ideas about squeezing every cent out of your tight budget provided you get a good one!

I also saved money by making my own bouquets and boutonnieres from fabric flowers I made myself. For all my supplies it cost me $170 which was a far cry from the $300 – $800 quotes I was getting from some florists. At least I’ll have something that isn’t half dead by the end of the day. I’m a souvenir kind of person so having a keepsake at the end pleases me also! :)

Of course with any DIY you do need to factor in the time it takes for your projects which is a hidden “cost” in itself. Not sure how well versed you are with crafty projects but as a general rule I’ve found that if you take the amount of time you will think it will take and then double it you’ll have a rough idea how long a new project will take. As I said, depends on your crafty level and the people you can rope into helping. And DO enlist help! You’ll need it!

Buying things second hand and online can save you a bundle but you need to be realistic and not have a perfect image of how it must be – with second hand kit especially. Also with buying any shoes or dresses online check their return policy! No point buying those amazing shoes online if you can’t get your hoofer into them and there’s no recourse for returns!

I bought my bridesmaid dresses for $100 USD each (think it was about $94 AUD) through Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/) but they were a free size and my BMs aren’t oddly shaped. You can find lots of beautiful (and cheap!) handmade things on their site but beware – as with any place with people spruiking their wares there are some real overpriced doozies too!

DIY Sites:
http://www.polkadotbride.com/category/made/
http://offbeatbride.com/filed/wedding-diy
http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/272429/diy-weddings
http://www.onestylishbride.com/category/diy-center/

Shop around if you want a wedding photographer. My partner and I were happy to spend a bit on photos as it’s one of the few tangible things we’ll have of the day but we managed to find a photographer who will give us every unedited photo she takes as well as 5 edited images per hour of coverage (6 hours) for $2000. I am more than happy with this as I edit photographs myself and know what to do with them. (http://amandabrierley.wordpress.com/) No prints but we didn’t want them and the digital copies we get are ours to do with as we please. Aside from on selling them of course but then why would we! Some photographers only give you a certain number of photos, charge out the wazoo for extra prints for family and/or have strict terms and conditions about what you can do with your own photos – all the while charging from $4000 – $8000 (or more) just to show up on the day. It just seemed like madness to me.

Sorry for the essay but I wanted to share a few of the things we’d found in our wedding planning travels that hadn’t occurred to us before we’d started. Good luck with it all!

#13
Skidd Marx1:03 pm, 01 Mar 12

sarahsarah said :

I’m getting married next Friday and I will second the comment about getting married on a weekday instead of a weekend. Some places wanted to charge 10-30% extra for a Saturday and 10-50% extra for a Sunday. Our guests seem pretty happy to be having an extra (extra) long weekend thanks to the Canberra Day holiday as well :)

Make sure any venue that you pick doesn’t have nasty hidden fees like cake cutting fees or force you to have only a set package. One venue we looked at we loved but quickly discarded as they wanted to charge us $4.50 per guest for “cutting up” our cake. They wouldn’t even need to cut them anyway as they are cupcakes but they refused to budge on the price. I understand there are costs but it seemed excessive and their refusal to be flexible turned us right off them. Ask lots of questions (noise restrictions and overtime fees, what can’t you have in the venue (e.g. candles), parking options, toilet facilities (people + alcohol = lots of pee!)) and write it down unless you have an eidetic memory. Talk to the functions co-ordinator as well as they usually have ideas about squeezing every cent out of your tight budget provided you get a good one!

I also saved money by making my own bouquets and boutonnieres from fabric flowers I made myself. For all my supplies it cost me $170 which was a far cry from the $300 – $800 quotes I was getting from some florists. At least I’ll have something that isn’t half dead by the end of the day. I’m a souvenir kind of person so having a keepsake at the end pleases me also! :)

Of course with any DIY you do need to factor in the time it takes for your projects which is a hidden “cost” in itself. Not sure how well versed you are with crafty projects but as a general rule I’ve found that if you take the amount of time you will think it will take and then double it you’ll have a rough idea how long a new project will take. As I said, depends on your crafty level and the people you can rope into helping. And DO enlist help! You’ll need it!

Buying things second hand and online can save you a bundle but you need to be realistic and not have a perfect image of how it must be – with second hand kit especially. Also with buying any shoes or dresses online check their return policy! No point buying those amazing shoes online if you can’t get your hoofer into them and there’s no recourse for returns!

I bought my bridesmaid dresses for $100 USD each (think it was about $94 AUD) through Etsy (http://www.etsy.com/) but they were a free size and my BMs aren’t oddly shaped. You can find lots of beautiful (and cheap!) handmade things on their site but beware – as with any place with people spruiking their wares there are some real overpriced doozies too!

DIY Sites:
http://www.polkadotbride.com/category/made/
http://offbeatbride.com/filed/wedding-diy
http://www.marthastewartweddings.com/272429/diy-weddings
http://www.onestylishbride.com/category/diy-center/

Shop around if you want a wedding photographer. My partner and I were happy to spend a bit on photos as it’s one of the few tangible things we’ll have of the day but we managed to find a photographer who will give us every unedited photo she takes as well as 5 edited images per hour of coverage (6 hours) for $2000. I am more than happy with this as I edit photographs myself and know what to do with them. (http://amandabrierley.wordpress.com/) No prints but we didn’t want them and the digital copies we get are ours to do with as we please. Aside from on selling them of course but then why would we! Some photographers only give you a certain number of photos, charge out the wazoo for extra prints for family and/or have strict terms and conditions about what you can do with your own photos – all the while charging from $4000 – $8000 (or more) just to show up on the day. It just seemed like madness to me.

Sorry for the essay but I wanted to share a few of the things we’d found in our wedding planning travels that hadn’t occurred to us before we’d started. Good luck with it all!

Each to their own, but my feeling is that forcing your guests to take a sickie by throwing a weekday wedding is almost as rude and presumptuous as having a wishing-well. I have my own tiling business and if I don’t work I don’t get paid. So please don’t be offended when I don’t come to your wedding.

#14
Elephant_hunter1:05 pm, 01 Mar 12

For our wedding we were originally planning to have it outside, but just in case had arranged a back-up plan. In the event it actually rained.

Used the Polish Club in O’Connor as the venue for wedding & reception – $300 for the hall hire IIRC
Hudson’s catering for the food using a selection of sandwiches & fruit platters (seeing as it was originally intended to be a picnic) total cost was about $2800, and we over-catered (for about 130 people)
Cakes – picked one up from the Cheesecake shop that morning and had friends make a couple of others.
DJ – we had a friend doing this
Photographer was the most expensive, but we decided to go with a proper photographer seeing as we were saving the money elsewhere.
Flowers – organised the week before not sure where from though, about $200

Total cost was under 10k for everything (although no clothing was specifically bought for the exercise)…

#15
Die Lefty Scum2:08 pm, 01 Mar 12

Maybe I’m just a cynical bastard but the first thought that pops into my head when I get an invitation to a weekday wedding is “tightar$es”.

Good luck with it all. Planning our wedding took years off my life. Was it worth 30k? No, but it was a good day nonetheless.

#16
ceejbee2:20 pm, 01 Mar 12

My brother got married at the Hotel Kurrajong a few years ago. It was very nice and I can’t imagine it was very expensive.

#17
dtc2:36 pm, 01 Mar 12

Skidd Marx said :

Each to their own, but my feeling is that forcing your guests to take a sickie by throwing a weekday wedding is almost as rude and presumptuous as having a wishing-well. I have my own tiling business and if I don’t work I don’t get paid. So please don’t be offended when I don’t come to your wedding.

You aren’t invited anyway.

I realise – oh the HORROR – that the arrangements were made without consultation with you or taking into account your specific and particular needs and desires; so I’m sure an apology will be forthcoming at some stage.

#18
Roguelette4:37 pm, 01 Mar 12

I had my wedding in October 2010 at Rose Cottage at Tuggeranong on a Sunday afternoon. A buffet roast lunch for about 60 people cost me about $1,500. The venue has some lovely gardens, in which the ceremony was held, and a large private room, which is where we had our lunch. We had young children at the time and found this to be a very family friendly venue (even has a big sandpit for the kids).

We found the Sunday afternoon wedding worked well in keeping the alcohol budget low and felt it was a bit more inclusive of our kids. My fellow and I have pretty big families as well and wanted to keep both costs and stress down.

We just printed invites off at home and made our own decorations (with a few tablecloths and bubble blower things sourced cheaply from the web). I second the offbeat bride website as many of our DIY ideas came from there.

Hair and make-up was done by a family member and all the guests sent through their photos from the day.

A smart black dress off the rack for me (gussied up with accessories) and a sweatshop velvet suit for my fellow and we easily had a wedding for under $3000, inlcuding the celebrant and rings.

Our wedding might not have been everyone’s cup of tea as it was not very traditional, but it was a fun day, we had fun planning it and making all the stuff for it. It was what we wanted – and at the end of the day we were married, which was always the most important part for us.

Good luck planning your wedding.

#19
kimbo5:35 pm, 01 Mar 12

We just had ours at the Yacht club this past November. Was very reasonably priced as they are part of the Southern Cross Club. We had the ceremony onsite under the trees and honestly looking back there was nothing we would have changed.

#20
jonquil147:23 pm, 01 Mar 12

In terms of great DIY and non-traditional wedding ideas, you can’t go past offbeatbride.com. I have also heard good things about apracticalwedding.com.

#21
I-filed8:41 pm, 01 Mar 12

Skidd Marx said :

Each to their own, but my feeling is that forcing your guests to take a sickie by throwing a weekday wedding is almost as rude and presumptuous as having a wishing-well. I have my own tiling business and if I don’t work I don’t get paid. So please don’t be offended when I don’t come to your wedding.

If you have your own tiling business, why couldn’t you work on a weekend day instead of that particular weekday? (hypothetically speaking)

#22
Bananabanana8:55 pm, 01 Mar 12

I can recommend Nocturne Designs for a locally made dress. http://www.nocturnedesign.com.au
and also Anita J Bridal Couture has some lovely things.

#23
pink little birdie9:00 pm, 01 Mar 12

also if there isn’t a play area for the kids some cheap colouring books and textas crayons and pencils are are an awesome idea… it will keep them quietly amused

#24
ghughes9:31 pm, 01 Mar 12

+1 for the Botanic Gardens.
Mrs ghughes and I were there last year for a luncheon ceremony.
We were able to BYO ($1500 at Dan Murphys)
We brought our own cake – Katemakescakes of Downer – excellent without the wedding price premium.
Caterers (Hudsons) don’t charge a wedding premium either.
100 people, plenty of kids including our own 2.
Great photos
Everyone had a hoot.
Happy event planning – and happy to help offline if you want.

#25
Sandman10:35 pm, 01 Mar 12

I-filed said :

Skidd Marx said :

Each to their own, but my feeling is that forcing your guests to take a sickie by throwing a weekday wedding is almost as rude and presumptuous as having a wishing-well. I have my own tiling business and if I don’t work I don’t get paid. So please don’t be offended when I don’t come to your wedding.

If you have your own tiling business, why couldn’t you work on a weekend day instead of that particular weekday? (hypothetically speaking)

PMSL. Obviously he means “If you can’t afford a weekend wedding, your bartab won’t be enough to cover me and I’m only coming for the booze.”

I love weekday weddings. I’ve never not had enough leave accrued and you know well ahead what day it’s going to be. Still get your full weekend too and the weddings are usually more interesting and intimate.

#26
steveu8:09 am, 02 Mar 12

Believe it or not – Pavillion on Cbr Ave was reasonably priced when we got married there, and there were no hiddne fees, and the chick who we dealt with helped organise the wedding, and even came in on the weekend to participate in the ceremony!

#27
Kath1:17 pm, 02 Mar 12

I got married in the Old Parliament House rose gardens – there was a refunded deposit to make sure we didn’t wreck the site and a small fee for using electricity and the on-site hut kitchen. We rented a couple of square marquees and chairs for rain proofing (which was lucky!), and asked guests to “bring a plate” for an afternoon tea instead of presents. The Ancient Arts Fellowship did a battle reenactment for us to amuse the guests, I’m not sure what their usual fees are because it was a favour, while a couple of friends who take good pictures did our formal photos. It was a really good day for everyone!

One of my friends got a great dress made in China, via eBay. I think that’s a good way to go, as long as you leave time for alterations just in case. I got a nice one from Gallery Serpentine (in Robertson, but you can order from their website).

#28
Hicko2:05 pm, 02 Mar 12

http://actweddings.com.au/ is a great site for finding wedding resources in and around the ACT. There’s a budgeting tool, too.

#29
Aimee758612:00 pm, 07 Mar 12

Thank you everybody for your useful comments!! We have actually brought the wedding forward to THIS November (FML) and have chosen Sirens in Gungahln as the reception venue – we are hiring the side deck and fireplace area for 100 people, prices are great and the staff are super friendly. We are having a casual cockatil reception to keep the price down.

The cost was the same regardless of the day so we have stuck with Saturday.

Some of the outdoor ceremony suggestions are great! Beautiful locations – just need a wet weather back up? Any suggestions??

Found a local dressmaker for my dress which is great and will go with the ‘pick own black’ suggestion for the bridesmaides!

I am crafty so those DIY sites will be fabulous for some ideas!

Thank you all again!

Aimee

#30
dtc12:59 pm, 07 Mar 12

Aimee7586 said :

Some of the outdoor ceremony suggestions are great! Beautiful locations – just need a wet weather back up? Any suggestions??

The basic solution is obviously a few large marquees (these can be hired). There was a pic in the CT recently of someone getting married under a marquee during the downpours – they seemed happy enough.

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