Hosting Your Own Wedding On A Budget | Guest Article from Tidy Home

Hosting Your Own Wedding On A Budget

Photo credit by Unsplash 


He popped the question, and you said ‘yes.’ Now all you have to do is plan the wedding, but funds are tight and you both want something really special. What can you do?

It’s time to host your own wedding.

Setting The Budget

Once you know your home can handle the affair, it’s time to set your budget, including cost per head for food and alcohol, attire and decorations. Read all the elements you need to consider in this article from The Spruce.

If you’re struggling to set a reasonable budget, these options might help lower costs, and some even help the environment:

  • Use a local university or specialty school to find musical talent, DJs and bakers.
  • recommends searching your network of friends and family for vendors such as florists and photographers. You can even recruit a family member such as a cousin to be your day of coordinator to make sure everything runs smoothly.
  • If there is a nearby church, temple, community center, or other area with parking, ask to borrow the lot for your day in exchange for a donation.
  • Print your own programs, place cards, and decorative items on plantable seed paper (available online).
  • Instead of pricey snacks, opt for simple hor d’oeuvres such as fruit, raspberries, popcorn etc. served in biodegradable wooden cones (also available online).
  • Rather than spending on wedding favors, opt for a donation to charity of your choice on their behalf.

Scoping Out Your Needs

If you or your family owns a nice home with a sizable yard, you can save a lot of money by using it for your wedding. Keep in mind that you are going to need to rent, make and prepare for everything.

First, get an idea of how many people your space can accommodate. You need to prepare for inclement weather, which either means having the space to accommodate everyone indoors or renting a weatherproof tent. This is a great option, especially when you combine it with renting a dance floor. You’ll also need guest accommodations nearby if your home is not big enough to host people traveling from afar.

One important tip from Better Homes & Gardens is to make sure your kitchen is big enough to accommodate all your cooking needs. They also recommend you plan for guest parking, accessible bathroom facilities, and neighbors if anyone lives nearby.

Finally, because you are responsible for every detail, create lists and organize them in a binder so you can go through each step to make sure you’re not missing anything.

How To Plan The Backyard Setting

Planning the layout of your backyard is next. Here is what you need to know:

  • Landscaping: Make sure you not only clean the yard, but also keep the landscaping well-tended and lush in the months approaching your wedding.
  • Staging Area: You’ll need this to set up the bridal party, photographer, and other staffing.
  • Altar/Ceremony Area: Consider building an arbor or pergola. Professionally built trellises cost between $400-$900 for materials and labor. Prefab models are more affordable and range from $10-$100.
  • Staging The Elements: Make sure your guests have room to move around and access everything they need.
  • Fun Details: This is your chance to shine with an exciting theme and interesting decor. Check out these ingenious wedding ideas at BuzzFeed.

Don’t Miss These Items

Here are some items you may not have considered that you can’t do without:

  • Rent a generator because your home electricity could get blown out.
  • Insurance and permits to cover the event. You might have some homework to do if you are buying liquor for your event, like assessing state laws and your liability. Read what you need to know about stocking alcohol at A Practical Wedding.
  • Bug treatment ahead of time.
  • The Knot recommends having the vendors come by to check the space beforehand. You don’t want your DJ backing out on the day of your event.
  • Do any important repairs that you need in your yard or home before you start planning.

For more inspiration, read how the owner of Simply Salvaged Restoration planned a backyard wedding in six months on a budget of $4,000-$5,000.

Having a home wedding is a lot of work, but it can be the most interesting event your guests have ever attended. Make sure you are well-prepared for every eventuality.



About the Author:
Alice Robertson began her career in the home organization industry as a professional house cleaner. After cleaning and organizing her clients’ homes for years, she decided to open her own home organization business. Over the years, she has built an impressive client list, helping to make spaces in homes and businesses more functional. She recently created as a place to share the great cleaning and organizing advice she has developed over the years.


3 ways to gift-give waste free

In the spirit of today being another day that the world tries to make you feel like you need to give presents and buy stuff just so that people feel loved and important, and make you feel guilty for not doing so (Happy Valentine’s Day!) – I thought I’d share three ways to give waste free.

  1. Donate to a charity on behalf of your friend, loved one or partner. Thyme & Again had heart shaped cookies that they give you in paper bags, that go towards the Heart & Stroke Foundation. Yummy and kind.Screenshot_20180214-171433
  2. Why not give a dried bouquet? If you’re like me and like to make dried arrangements for fun, you may have some lying around to give. To make it extra special, you can put in a bottle that means something special (like that empty liquor bottle that you drank together and made wild memories with).


3. Just spend time together. Cook dinner for each other, even if you don’t know how – it will be hilarious. Play video games or just lay around and talk. Some of my best memories were with my gal pals laying around in bed and having pillow talk.

And that’s it. This can apply to any special occasion like birthdays and holiday time. How do you gift give?

A mini interview by Sidney Weiss

Sidney is in their third year of journalism at Carleton University and was working on the zero waste movement in Ottawa. They reached out to me to ask me a few questions about the lifestyle. Thank you Sidney!

Just a note: while Jodi and I would love to be able to connect and meet with everyone when we are asked, we do have full lives of children and businesses, so we apologize in advance if we can’t meet up or write back to everyone.


How long have you been living zero-waste? What was your inspiration into this lifestyle? Did you have some type of epiphany, friends/family told you about it etc..?

I have been living “zero waste” for over two years, starting February 2015. More seriously in the first year as it was a project I had given myself for one year. I’m not 100% sure what happened, except that I couldn’t get the fact that I was producing a lot of garbage and seeing so much of it everywhere, out of my mind. I literally had to change or I would have gone crazy. I did write a blog post about it here though. 

Is Ottawa an easy place to live this lifestyle?  

Yes, I would say if you are single it is definitely easy to live this way. It is not easy if you don’t have access to a car, live out of the city, are marginalized/low income, or have a large family with differing views.

Can you tell me a bit about A Dream Lived Greener, what it is/why you started/what you do/talk about a few products you sell/promote etc.!

A Dream Lived Greener started as a blog project documenting my one year journey to live “zero waste.”  It was a way for me to be accountable to myself and share how I was feeling. Through that blog I received many questions on the lifestyle and would try my best to answer them.

During the second year of living this lifestyle, my friend and I decided to create an online store for the products that we use. We bought wholesale for our own products that we used daily and decided to put the rest of our stock online at an extremely affordable price. We didn’t want to become Amazon, so our mark up is not much. We’re not big on consumerism, so our online store isn’t a large corporate venture, but we just wanted to offer plastic-free alternatives (toilet paper, soaps, straws etc.) without the extra costs that come with buying through retail or at a grocery store.

Would you say there is a big community for the zero-waste movement in Ottawa?

There is a growing community. A lot of them say hi to me through this blog (thank you for reading!). But honestly, the community had begun before the movement even had a name. Most of the older generation, like our grandparents or parents, have implemented many of the 5 R’s that “zero waste” claims to talk about today. My parents still have clothing and household items that I remember seeing and using when I was a child. Consumerism and convenience have made it easy for us to lose sight of the fact that things used to be very simple. I talk to a lot of older people who share things that they have been doing all their lives. As I’ll mention below, the internet has just made it easier for us to find what we want. We can find what we are looking for with a simple search. 

 What are the easiest/hardest/most surprising things/steps you have living zero-waste?  

The easiest thing about living zero waste was probably the little things, like bringing a water bottle or your own grocery bags. Recycling and composting, as well. The most difficult thing in the early stages of my journey was getting out of my comfort zone and asking for things without plastic. People would look at me odd because no one was accustomed to it. Nowadays you see videos and read articles all over the place so it seems to be more common.

One thing that I found surprising was the amount of backlash in the community towards each other. For example vegans who would talk down on “zero wasters” who ate meat, or “zero wasters” who would scoff at people who drove cars and didn’t ride bikes. Although there are a lot of people who support each other, I found it odd that no matter what, there was always some sort of hate or judgement, as though we forget we’re not perfect and that change doesn’t come quickly.

What are some of the cool, unique methods you have come up with to adapt to this lifestyle?  

I think the only cool, unique method I have come up with, is just painting with natural paints, like beet root powder, turmeric and activated charcoal. Everything honestly has been done before. People have been making their own products and fixing their own things for years. This lifestyle has only became more recognized because of social media. Other than that, to adapt to this lifestyle just required a lot of research and practice. 

Why is this specific movement something you are extremely  passionate about and committed to?  

I am passionate about it, but since my year has passed I feel like avoiding plastic and composting isn’t enough. The more I read and the more I see pictures of everyone’s jars, the more I feel like I’m not doing enough. I’d need to lobby the government to make changes, as well as go straight to the head of manufacturing companies to implement real change, which would cost a lot of money.

I try to stay committed to it because I care about the world that my son will be living in – and hopefully that I’m still able to live in too. I want him to feel like I did my best to protect him, our planet, and teach him how to take care of it, like it’s his home, but at the same time, I am realistic – things are changing and who am I to say that what it’s changing to isn’t for the better. We like to think that we are Gods and that our lives are important (which they are), but no one truly can say what the future will look like or if we’ll even be alive tomorrow.

The only thing we can do is try to do our best and live our lives the way that we feel is best and right for ourselves and each other. 

 Do you have a mason jar with your garbage for the year/6 months (or whatever!) If so, can you tell me what is in it?

I still have my mason jar from my one year journey. It mainly had produce stickers, twist ties, dental floss, plastic from the lids of jars and chocolate wrappers. I don’t continue to put things in that jar today. 

Ottawa just announced they will be opening their first zero-waste grocery store! Do you think it will be successful? What does this mean for Ottawa and this movement?  

I am very excited for Valerie! It is a lot of work opening up a store. Jodi and I had spent quite a few months last summer developing a business plan for a “Zero Waste” store and we found a location too. But the investment and time required is huge. We are both full-time Moms of little ones on top of having our own businesses. We are able to commit to our e-store  without any overhead or stress. We used to frequent one grocery store that opened in Hintonburg with similar goals, called the West End Well. They had to close after one year of being in operation.

Having done our research, as well as being business owners, we know and understand profit margins, expenses and risks that come with having overhead. The market area has higher rent which will mean a higher mark-up on products. Nu Grocery will work for those that live in the market and who work or travel through downtown. For others, like I mentioned above – low income, large families (parking in the market is difficult enough on it’s own, let alone with kids), or who live far away from the market, it won’t make much difference. I think a zero waste store is a great step for Ottawa, but there are so many bulk stores, grocery stores and local businesses all over the city that already offer the experience of shopping without plastic.

That being said, I do hope that it will be successful and that it’s a great thing to have in Ottawa! I definitely think more stores should offer ways to shop more sustainably.

What are some further steps Ottawa could take to make this a more accessible lifestyle for citizens – in terms of shopping and products, as well as waste disposal/recycling etc.? 

I think that the zero waste grocery store is a great start, and more stores should offer products that have less packaging. Some other suggestions are for Ottawa to have a plastic bag ban, businesses should not offer plastic cutlery, plates or disposable coffee cups, the city should have green bins out next to conventional garbage cans like San Francisco does, Ottawa can make electric cars (or transportation) more affordable and eventually extend the train to communities that are further out.

But as I sit here and type, the truth is none of this will happen just by talking about it here, avoiding plastic or watching what I’m buying. What I really need to do (and what we need to do) is make it to City Hall for a meeting and give my voice to the people who are really capable of making large scale change – like this article states best:

“On its face, conscious consumerism is a morally righteous, bold movement. But it’s actually taking away our power as citizens. It drains our bank accounts and our political will, diverts our attention away from the true powerbrokers, and focuses our energy instead on petty corporate scandals and fights over the moral superiority of vegans.

So if you really care about the environment, climb on out of your upcycled wooden chair and get yourself to a town hall meeting. If there’s one silver lining to the environmental crisis facing us, it’s that we now understand exactly the kind of work we need to do to save the planet—and it doesn’t involve a credit card.”

Mattress pick-up in Ottawa

Zero waste ottawa mattress donation
Hey Ottawans,

Recently I had to go through the process of getting a new mattress and discarding the old one. We had a king-size mattress that we wanted to save from the landfill and donate because it was in good condition so I called around. To no avail, no companies would pick it up because of either the size of the mattress or because they stopped receiving mattresses due to bed bugs.

The places that I was referred to that DO NOT pick up used mattresses but DO pick up large, gently used, furniture were:

Habitat for Humanity – Fee for pick up
Canadian Diabetes Association – Free pick up
Salvation Army – Free pick up
GoodWill  – May be a charge
Helping With Furniture – Free pick up
St. Vincent De Paul – Free pick up

However, one man in Ottawa is a volunteer that picks up gently used mattresses of ANY size FOR FREE and donates them to people who are new to Canada.

Paul Dietz
Cell: 613-791-3877
Resettlement Resource Service Volunteers

Pick-ups will not be immediate and can take a week or more. Please have patience as it is completely volunteer run.


My strong recommendation to anyone purchasing a mattress in the future is to buy a protective cover for your mattress, especially a waterproof one if you have children. This will help protect it from bed bugs, wetness etc. and is helpful for furniture donation in the future.

When traveling, keep all of your clothing and bags away from the beds, floors and any places that may be accessible to bed bugs. As soon as you return home, leave your suitcases and bags away from your bedrooms (if it’s winter, you can leave them outside) and wash your clothing on hot. For more tips on preventing bed bugs visit this article: HERE.

If you have any other information, please feel free to comment below.

Hair Care Regiment | An answer for Shannon

zero waste ottawa hair care

A reader of mine, a mother of 2 asked me to discuss my hair care regiment because she is where I was months ago. And you know what Shannon, I have to be honest with you. Although I am pretty content with my hair now, there are days where I still want to cut my hair off just like you do. I want to take a buzzer right from the nape of my hair all the way to my crown and be done with it.


Except.. do you know how fortunate I am to have hair to even f with? The fact that I even have hair to begin with. I mean, why should I even be complaining? This thought alone is the reason why I don’t spend too much time on it. Except that I probably do spend a lot of time looking at the split ends and snipping them off because my visits to a hairdresser are few and far between. This is a weird thing I do when I’m thinking.

But honestly, when I tell you I don’t spend time doing it, thinking about it etc., I mean it. 90% of the time, I roll out of bed and do one of two things:

Stand up. Or roll onto the floor.

Just kidding.

I either glance in the mirror, check my part a bit with my fingers and walk out the door or I  throw it up in a high, messy bun with an elastic or a chopstick and walk out the door. Wait a minute, I don’t ever just walk out the door, I have a child. What parent out there has ever just “walked out the door” with their child. Basically, I don’t have time to f’s with my hair. I have so many other things that take priority, like whether or not my child wiped his butt.

Having been a hairstylist for more than 5 years (kind of still am) this is the complete opposite of where I used to be. I would do and put, cut or spray just about everything in my hair. And one thing I learned is that: hair is trainable.

Our bodies are very well designed in that everything that it is supposed to do, it does for us. Including take care of our hair. We just don’t let our bodies do it. We don’t trust it. We rely on what others tell us. And what they will think of what we look like. We compare hair. We wish we had different hair. We do everything that big marketing companies want us to do so that we can spend money just so that we can feel better about the way we look.

Because what we look like, we’re told by companies, isn’t good enough. What our hair is naturally doing, isn’t good enough. And so gallons and gallons of water is wasted washing chemicals down the drain. Billions and billions of dollars are spent on products, packaged in plastic, trying to achieve hair perfection.

I get it though. It’s hella hard not to buy in. Trust me. This no poo, non-traditional hair care business isn’t easy. There are days where I hate my hair. There are days that I think like I look like the greasiest, dirtiest mess ever. I want to give up on it some days. I get self-conscious and wonder if people think I even shower. Of course, most of this is just made up in my mind. Or… everyone around me just won’t tell me the truth. I sometimes daydream about the shampoo I used to use, it’s smell and lather and fantasize about going back to it.

But I don’t. I won’t. I think it’s out of fear that I will mess up what I’ve worked on for so long. I don’t want to go back to all of the lies.

soap for sale_dream love grow_product photography_adreamlivedgreener_ottawa_LO RES NO LOGO-5602

So here’s what we’ll do Shannon, beautiful mother of 2, who seems to have tried everything without any hope – let’s find you a solution. I’ll share what I do and give some insight. I’ll talk to you like I would my clients who used to sit in front of me in a chair at the salon. Ready?

Are you living in the country or the city?

The type of water affects your hair. It is not actually the soap itself. Depending on where you are and what the water is like, your hair will react differently. Country or “well” water is considered to be more hard. City water is still “hard” it is just treated more with chemicals. Rainwater before it goes into the ground is considered soft. Here’s an article that discusses more about that. I live in the city and my building is fairly old. So I’m not sure what is in those pipes.

How often are you washing your hair?

And not just that, how often do you wash it with soap and how often do you wash it with just plain water? I wash my hair maybe 2 times a week. Once with soap. Once without. Don’t get it twisted, I shower (I think?) more than 2 times a week. I just don’t always wash my hair.

Are you washing with hot water in the beginning and then ending your shower by rinsing your hair in cold water?

Heat opens up the hair follicles so you can clean it better and the cold water helps to seal it. I do this in replace of hair conditioner. First I wet my hair and when I apply the soap to my hair, I actually only put it on the top most layer working from the middle of my hair down to the ends. If I feel like being risky, I’ll maybe put a tiny amount on the top of my hair near my roots.But I don’t do this often.The top of your head and the roots of your hair is where the head forms all those oils.

My soap already has oil in it, I don’t want to add it to an area where oil already is coming from. I just like to rinse my hair roots with hot water and that’s it. The outer layer of your hair, as in the hair that you see most, is what collects the most pollutants from the air. That’s why it’s important to clean that part, not to mention the ends because everything ends up settling at the ends because gravity is boss. I wash it with hot first then before I get out I douse it with cold water.

Are you using heat on it? The more heat we put on our hair, the more damaged it becomes. Avoid using heat excessively. I rarely blow dry my hair. In the last year, I think I used a blow dryer three times, which saves on energy. I only recently started straightening my hair again and I do it once every other week, if that. Doing this gives me another day or two of not washing it.  The greasiness in my hair actually helps protect my hair from the heat, but at the same time it also helps to tone the greasy feeling down. Maybe because it’s being burned off? I don’t know.

Are you really patient?

At six months I wanted to shave my hair. At over a year, I now love my hair more than ever. I have more good hair days than I’ve ever had in my Life. My hair felt really awful at one point, and now it’s the softest I’ve ever felt it without using any products. But I struggled to get to where I am. And I already told you I still have crappy days just like the rest of us. I persisted. I was patient. You need to be too.

Are you testing different products for at least two weeks?

Maybe one week minimum. So that’s seven-fourteen days of washing. It doesn’t need to be every day, just in total. Your hair needs to adjust to whatever it is you’re using. Some no poo methods did not work on me. Some of the homemade soaps made my hair feel greasier. I switch up my homemade shampoos that I use on my hair to see the difference and also so that my hair doesn’t just get used to it and then not work as well. The soaps that I use that my friend makes have a few simple ingredients.

Do you accept your hair?

How well do you know it? Do you have thin hair? Coarse hair? Do you have a lot of hair but it’s fine? I have a ton of hair but it’s actually very fine. Which is why my hair gets build up easily and can look greasy if I use a soap that has too much oil in it. Your hair will also never look like anyone else’s because it is your own.

The one thing I hated at the salon was if someone brought me a picture and told me to make their hair look like that person’s hair in the picture. What works on one person will not necessarily work on you. We have different textures, different face shapes, different thicknesses. The sooner you can accept what your hair naturally does, the easier it will be for you to transition.

Yesterday I was having a good hair day. Today I washed my hair but didn’t use any soap. Today I like my hair too. It feels so soft. I’m also in a different city so the water could be different. Tomorrow I will not wash my hair. I probably won’t wash it until Monday. I spend very little time on my hair and I like it that way. I have way more important things to do than fuss about my hair, like write this blog.

Just remember, the process is different for everyone. The time of transition is different for everyone. Trust that you won’t have a perfect score of great hair days even when you think you’ve gotten over the imaginary “no poo hump”, but that it does get better over time.