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.


three zero wasted years later

Hello everyone! It’s been months since I’ve written anything and then all of a sudden, three posts in a row! It’s your lucky week. Just kidding. Or maybe it is…

Three years ago today, I embarked on a journey to reduce my waste. The first year, was this entire blog, posting about my extreme experiment to reduce my waste for one year, which led to a second and somewhat third.

Remember my jar? This entire jar was my garbage that my three year old and I produced in one year back in 2015. My son won’t even remember that year and while I’m really proud of that accomplishment, our lives don’t fit into a jar anymore.


I’m going to try to keep this short because many of us have short attention spans and better things to do than read blogs about garbage. I’ll just summarize some points.

On Work:

Purchasing equipment is a must for me. I’ve mentioned this again and again. I work in the digital media sphere. I recently had to buy a new laptop as mine of seven years finally died. That’s part of the line of work I choose to be in and buying new is sometimes not just the only option, but the best option you have. In some instances depending on the equipment I need, I can rent it, which is the better option but I have all the tools required to do my job and the most important thing is that I take care of everything as best as I can.

Laurie_Realtor_SYC (11)

On Minimalism:

You can bet this is still a constant for me. Over the past few months, I’ve been slowly spring cleaning. Donating and even, *gulp* throwing away items that are no longer necessary and relevant. My son’s toys fit into two drawers. He didn’t have to give away anything, but he chose to and did so without any complaining or second guesses. My clothes still fit on two shelves and take up 1/18 of a closet, except somehow my shoe and jacket collection grew… The office junk has downsized drastically and the art supplies are close to low, except for the ones I keep for my son and a few personal projects.

On Purchases:

I still try really hard to replace when something is completely done. I still try not to spend on unnecessary items, but this year at Christmas – I spent more than I ever have in the last… I don’t know… since I was on my own at 14, so… 18 years. It’s almost like I was possessed. Giddy with happiness. I haven’t been this excited about Christmas since I was a kid. I have no idea what overcame me, but I won’t do that again this year. As I write this now, I realize that I sound like I bought tons of presents, but I actually only bought.. maybe 10?

Needless to say, I’ve actually been trying the NO BUY for a year. It’s where you only buy things you need like food – or in my case, if it’s related to work. You don’t spend money on anything else. For being two months in, I think I’m doing relatively ok.

On Love:

I’m as happy as a bird eating a worm, a bee collecting pollen, a plant soaking up rain … and on and on. From someone who has been in all the wrong kinds of relationships, been in all the horrible states of mind, in all the wrong places doing all the wrong things, this is by far a real, healthy, equal relationship based on friendship and unconditional love. I won’t go on and on, but he supports my “zero waste” life, my need to be chemical-free, my gluten-freeness, my love of veggies, my obsession with organizing, my strict composting rules.. and everything I choose in life, to the best of his ability. I don’t ask him to change or nag him, as he is his own person. We understand each other and respect each others choices, but he is so supportive of me.


On Travel:

Pretty sure this is the area I won’t give up. Not yet. Trust me, when I’m older I won’t be able to move anywhere, and I likely won’t if my son and his future partner (if he decides to choose one) decide to choose to bring a garbage making machine – I mean a cute baby into their lives, whether adopted or blood. On a good note, I do drive a hybrid. Woohoo! But I try not to drive often, bringing me to my second point.

On Location:

Where you live matters when trying to reduce your waste. We like to think what we can do in the Western world, everywhere in the world can do the same. This is not true. It even matters where you live in our beautiful city. I moved pretty close to the edge of the city, it’s almost farmland. It’s not walking distance to any grocery stores and most definitely not ones that offer bulk. When I do have to drive somewhere, I still try to make it as efficient as possible. I do errands, groceries, work and friends/family visits on the same day. The closest stores to me that I go to all the time are:

  • Kardish
  • Farmboy
  • Bulk Barn

Sad to say, I have never been to NU Grocery yet, but I send people that live in that area there as much as I can. It’s just not in my area I frequent.

While my garbage isn’t fitting in a jar, my intentions are still the same. I’m just not beating myself up over a packaged item anymore. I was recently interviewed by a woman regarding my “zero waste” life and she asked me what my advice was for a parent or a person trying to reduce their waste. My answer was this:

“If you’re mad that you had to buy something in plastic, or that you “messed up” and forgot to bring your own container, bag or use a plastic fork, and that’s what you’re worried about, then you have an amazing life.”

The most important thing to worry about is how we treat each other. Everything else is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.

And that’s all for now folks. Thank you again for reading and for supporting our store.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask away.

Lots of Love,





Petition to reduce waste in Ottawa by eliminating single-use, disposable plastic cups, plates, cutlery and bags!

plastic free zero waste ottawa change petition earth day a dream lived greener i am mai art

Happy Earth Day everyone! In honour of today, I’ve started a petition to reduce waste in Ottawa to eliminate single-use plastics & bags in our city!

I, along with many others, would love to add Ottawa to the growing numbers of cities implementing a similar ban and need your support.

Refusing to use single-use plastic is one step, bringing this signed and supported petition directly to City Council is the next.

Please help us by signing this petition!
Click HERE to support.
Thank you in advance!

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plasticfree ban the ban ban single use plastics ottawa

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.