Everything I Needed For My Wedding, I Bought At Active Surplus

As a money conscious bride, shopping for the little things you need for a wedding can be incredibly disturbing.

If you’ve got champagne and caviar dreams, but only a ginger ale and pizza pockets budget, it can often feel like you can’t get anything that you want in your price range, especially since, as we all know, the second the manufacturer sticks the word “wedding” in front of it, the price automatically doubles or in some cases triples.

So what do you do if you’re a penny-pinching gal who doesn’t want to sacrifice the quality of your plans? You think out of the wedding box and go somewhere a bit offbeat for your needs, like your friendly neighbourhood surplus store.

One of my favourite places to go when I want to get my craft on without dropping a tonne of cash is Toronto’s very own Active Surplus, which I discovered back in college when one of my friends in Film dragged me there to purchase some cheap props and tech stuff.

It’s a little more removed than it used to be, packing up its street front operation to move to a second floor Queen Street location, but if you keep a keen eye open for it and head up those stairs, you’d be surprised what you might find if you’re willing to take a gander at their goods.


I’m not going to lie. Shopping at a place like this requires a bit of forethought and patience since there are many aisles and many items you probably won’t need for your projects (I strategically avoid the bins of googly eyes and abandoned baby doll arms since they give me the heebie jeebies), but there’s a lot of good stuff.

Want some cheap glass vases for flowers? $2.00 a piece.
Looking for some small plastic favour boxes? $2.50 for 6.
Thinking about making some mable magnets for your memory board? $0.05 a piece for the marbles and magnets.
Need a little adhesive vinyl for an outdoor sign? $1.00 for 8 sheets.


And the best thing is, because the majority of the stuff is sold in bulk, you’re not forced into buying in a certain quantity. You only need 5 little dohickeys to fix your dad’s old mixing board for your ceremony music? Then only get five.

But regardless of whether or not you are in Toronto, these kinds of places, be they surplus, hardware or electronics stores are a life saver. I mean is anyone at your wedding going to ask you to see the receipt for your centerpieces? Of course not! So get those inexpensive terracotta pots for your flowers at your local garden center, buy those patio lanterns for your tent at the hardware store and use that remainder fabric to drape your tent. Not only will no one at your wedding know that you bargain shopped, but you can use the money you saved in some areas to either splurge in others or to save for a rainy day after you’re done paying for the wedding.

It’s so easy to be swept up in everything you “need” for your wedding, but a little savings can go a long way.

I can’t be the only bargain hunter in the group so lay it on my ladies – what was the best bargain thing you’ve purchased for your wedding and what local bargain discovery have you made in your home city while planning?

(Author’s Note: My friend Alex and I are hosting a Do It Yourself chat tonight at 7pm EST on BeeTV, so if you’re a craft queen or someone who wants to get into the DIY scene but doesn’t know where to start, stop by to see our live crafting projects or to ask any craft related questions you’ve got!)


Mrs. Hummingbird

Wedding Date:
June 2008
Seriously, Just Skip This Post.
Part IV: Meanwhile, Back At The Church
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    Linda, Guest @ 11:51 am

    Amen! I shop at discount stores, dollar stores and thrift shops. If it works and fits what I need who cares where it came from!

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    chinglish, Guest @ 12:33 pm

    I can’t believe i almost forgot about that store – that icky matted gorilla is still there?! will definitely keep in mind for any of my future projects.

  3. corn Bee
    corn 1130 posts, Bumble bee @ 6:25 pm

    heh…the ‘sand’ I used in my ornaments and centerpieces was actually concrete mix. It was $4.99 for a 40. pound. bag. The craft sand…was $4.99 for a little. itty. bitty. bag.

    best bargain evah!!

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    rasb, Guest @ 12:15 am

    woah never knew! the gorilla always just scared me away…thank goodness for the insight! thanks for sharing, and opening up my eyes 🙂

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 10:52 am

    Chicagoland folks, your equivalent is American Science and Surplus.

    I mean, if nothing else, Sharpies for a dime!!! (at least last time I was there)

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Global Nerdy | RubyFringe Guide: Active Surplus, a.k.a. Hardware Nerdvana, Guest @ 3:19 pm

    […] you’re a mad scientist, electronic hobbyist, artist, looking to get your stereo hooked up or even getting stuff for your wedding, I recommend taking a look around Active Surplus on a regular basis. A fixture of Queen Street West […]

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Sabrina@wedding photography bradenton, Guest @ 6:32 am

    Speaking of not splurging on your wedding, I heard of a wedding gown made out of tissue paper. Now that’s thrifty!

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    Kat, Guest @ 10:42 pm

    52 vases for 52 dollars. And they delivered.

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