Fall Wedding in Canada Financials

Last weekend Kyle and I went to the wedding of one of our graduate school friends in her hometown of Hamilton, ON, Canada.  This trip was not nearly as frugal as our trip to Chicago earlier in the summer because we flew, which in itself is more expensive than road-tripping plus we weren’t able to bring our food with us.  In fact, we made some poor food choices because of hunger and convenience and such.


the bride made these cake toppers!


Here’s the breakdown of what we spent:




Flight: We originally budgeted about $400 apiece for flights to Toronto (about an hour from the wedding) or Hamilton but we got a great tip from another attendee to fly to Buffalo, NY instead and to drive to Hamilton (about an hour).  The flights to Buffalo were much less expensive so we ended up spending only $546.40 total.  We could have knocked about $100 off that price by using some of our Delta frequent flier miles, but we didn’t think of booking through Delta (we almost always book through comparison sites) until near the end of the transaction.  We fly Delta pretty often though so we’ll probably get to use the miles for Christmas or another near-term flight.


our rental car had weird purple lights

Car: We probably could have figured out a way to avoid renting a car, but I’m glad we did because we changed our plans a couple times during our trip and the car afforded us flexibility.  We booked through Hotwire because that gave us the best deal, but it was still $89.78 for the car and $29.93 for gas.


Parking: We also paid $18 for parking at our departing airport.




our room just before we dashed out to Toronto

We stayed in a hostel again – our second time ever!  This hostel called itself a guesthouse and it was a big old remodeled home – unlike the last one, which was more like a poorly-built hotel.  We booked a private room, which was large but sparse and the mattress was rather thin and creaky.  We shared a bathroom but because the dorm-style rooms were nearly empty there was never a line to use the it, which was awesome.  There were nice common spaces – kitchens, a library, and a media room – but we were so busy we never used them.  The hostel was $105.28 for two nights (I love being able to stay in one place two nights!) instead of $260+ for a hotel room even with the wedding block discount.  The prices were rather high for that weekend because there were conferences in town.


Food and Entertainment


We definitely paid some premiums for convenience in our food and especially parking!  I really don’t enjoy eating out as much as we had to this weekend, plus I’m transitioning to the Primal lifestyle so the no-grains no-potatoes thing can be limiting on our budget. We also only ate about twice per day, which is dramatically different from my normal routine, but absolutely necessary for keeping spending in check since we weren’t able to bring food with us.  We put off eating to do the activities that we wanted to.  Thankfully the wedding provided wonderful appetizers and lunch so I got a nice amount of produce (berries!) and high-quality protein (salmon!) for that day during that time.



We used Yelp to help us find a couple fun restaurants, one in Toronto and one in Hamilton, and Trip Advisor to guide us as to what to do in Toronto and at Niagara Falls.  We chose such a popular restaurant in Toronto that we ended up splitting a pre-dinner meal at the place next door to take the edge off our hunger!  For our afternoon in Toronto we visited the Toronto Islands and our day in Niagara Falls we did The Maid of the Mist and The Journey Behind the Falls.



Overall I would say this was a moderately successful trip.  Of course we loved seeing our friend get married and spending time chatting with the other people at our table at the reception, and we also picked out some good outdoor activities for the rest of our time (we walked SO MUCH!).  We even got some relaxing and a long nap in after the wedding.  However, I wish we had done better on the food front, both in terms of nutrition/not disrupting our bodies so dramatically and in spending.  If we had a bit more foresight, maybe we could have bought some snacks or breakfasts to keep in our hostel.  We did have access to a kitchen so it probably would have been reasonable to buy some eggs, milk, cereal, and one or two types of produce to prepare quick breakfasts.


So that was our quick 3-day weekend!  Overall we spent $1132.38 and we had estimated $1248 – we were over in a few categories but way under on the accommodations as I mentioned.


How do you handle food on a vacation – eating out, bringing your own food, or something in between?  When you go to tourist traps, do you indulge in everything or are you selective?  How well do your trip budgets match up to reality?

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11 Responses to "Fall Wedding in Canada Financials"

  1. Well it’s great you came out under budget, but man, it’s so much moneyt o spend on someone else’s wedding!
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Teachers on Strike: Should They Get Paid More?

    1. Emily says:

      Yes it’s on the order of 2% of our gross pay spent in 1 weekend – that’s why we save aggressively for travel! We are willing to make sacrifices to be able to be present for these important moments in our friends lives (when possible – we’ve missed a lot of important weddings, too!). If you think about it though, our discretionary spending was only about 15-20% above the base price to get there, so I think that’s worth it to have a nice time.

  2. Daisy says:

    At least you got to travel a bit and see part of another country – that makes the price worth it.
    Daisy recently posted..NYC Trip Recap

    1. Emily says:

      Yeah, we really enjoyed our time. We try to tack on these extra sight-seeing trip whenever we go somewhere, or at least spend additional time with friends and family, to increase the value of the trip.

  3. We’ve always come in under budget on our trips. I’m sure a big part of that is because once I’ve bought a coffee mug or a pen, I’ve satisfied my entire need for spending money.

    Food-wise, we typically cheat on our diets, although most of my diet is based on a couple food allergies and my lack of a gallbladder, so I can’t cheat as much as my wife does.
    Edward Antrobus recently posted..Is the Federal Reserve’s Interest Rate Policy Slowing Recovery?

    1. Emily says:

      Kyle is a souvenir guy too but I think I’ve mostly broken him of that compulsion. :/ It’s not just spending the money, it’s cluttering up our living space once we get home! My souvenirs are pictures.

      It’s nearly unavoidable to eat sub-optimally outside of your own home when you have strict, uncommon ways of eating. I definitely went off-plan a couple times – I ate rice and a bit of hamburger bun! – and definitely wasn’t feeling as well as I normally do. While I wouldn’t wish to have the allergies or missing organ that you do, it at least does help keep you in line more and gives you a socially acceptable excuse for eating weirdly.

      1. “A missing organ” I never thought about it that way! I did turn out lucky compared to many who get their gallbladder removed. Most can’t handle any fatty foods, but I just get full faster from them.
        Edward Antrobus recently posted..Is the Federal Reserve’s Interest Rate Policy Slowing Recovery?

  4. It pains me to eat grains so I’m “that person” in restaurants when I travel. In Denver I ate A LOT of meat and eggs. Plenty of salads, too.
    Kathleen @ Frugal Portland recently posted..Recap of the Financial Bloggers Conference

    1. Emily says:

      I end up eating a lot of salads and omelettes when I travel and go out. Restaurant salads are so overloaded with toppings and such it’s easy to get enough calories from them – it cracks me up that people tend to think of them as diet foods! Unfortunately the places we went to this weekend didn’t have great vegetable sides for me to substitute in for fries or whatever so I didn’t get the big meat entrees I would have liked. I’m glad you were able to find suitable food in Denver. It seems like a health-conscious state generally so I would hope that the city would have good fresh less-processed options.

  5. […] Sunday we went to a wedding and on Monday we visited Niagara Falls.  The rest of the week was normal working stuff until Friday evening.  Now, Kyle and I are not […]

  6. […] flyer rewards on our tickets to Boston this summer.  One strategy we’ve used twice is to fly into a bigger, more remote airport and rent a car to drive to our final destination.  We flew into Phoenix for a wedding in Flagstaff and into Buffalo for a wedding in Ontario.  […]

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