I got married in 2017, and some things have changed since then, but a few things still remain the same— including what you’ll want to splurge on for your big day.
I went into planning completely green. I didn’t know what anything cost or what type of budget my fiancé and I should set. I read countless articles, books, and planning guides, but nothing prepared me for the sticker shock I was getting myself into. Don’t let this scare you, though. While it’s true that weddings aren’t cheap, there’s good news! There are ways to stay within budget and get discounts! I certainly recommend splurging on a few things, though. Trust me—this advice all comes from experience and a little bit of regret.
You have probably heard that this will be the most expensive part of your wedding, and that’s mostly accurate. I regret not going with the photographer I originally set my sights on, and to be honest, cost was the reason behind that decision. Don’t get me wrong—I love my wedding photos, but I do harbor some sad feelings knowing I could have had everything and more for just a little more money. A good photographer is always worth the investment in the end, even if you might not be convinced at first. I recommend choosing someone with experience, glowing testimonials, and (depending on the size of your wedding) a second shooter. Experienced photographers don’t only capture your big day; they help keep everything running smoothly and often have an eye for things you might miss. You will be glad you splurged in the end!
One way to save on photos is to order prints yourself online. Check your photographer’s contract first to make sure they’re okay with this. I made our wedding album myself. It ended up costing a quarter of the original price, and both my husband and I love how it came out!
Some people might argue about this one, but I am holding my ground. Don’t skimp on the food! People will talk about how awful their meal was at your wedding for years down the line. You don’t want that! I’m not saying you need a five-course meal (unless, of course, your budget allows for it), but you should make sure you’re getting something high-quality.
You can save by having a limited menu or offering fewer options. Serving the meal buffet-style is often a little less expensive and guess what? If the food’s good, people will not care that they are serving themselves. In fact, I actually prefer a buffet! We had a buffet-style brunch, and I still hear compliments about how amazing the food was from my family and guests.
You may also be able to save some money by using your venue’s preferred vendor. Check with your contact and never be afraid to ask about different deals they may be offering.
I already told you that I went into the whole wedding planning venture green. I was a newbie and had no idea what I was doing. I thought I was going to leave the dress shop under $500, easy-peasy because I’m not the fancy type of girl. Well, I was wrong! I didn’t spend too much, especially if you look at the cost of some wedding dresses, but I did spend a lot more than what I was planning to.
My advice is to make reservations at multiple dress shops and start shopping early. Try on everything—and I mean everything. I opted for a ball gown, which was the last style I thought I would fall in love with. Also, if you have a set budget with no wiggle room, let the sales associates know, and do not try on anything out of your budget. I asked not to see the prices of the dresses because I didn’t want it to alter my feelings about each gown. I did have a maximum price limit and asked each shop not to pull anything that would go over that budget.
You can save yourself some money by buying floor samples, attending dress sales, and keeping an eye out for clearance sales. The shop I bought my dress from has a “Clear the Rack” event every year, and from what I’m told, you can save hundreds on designer dresses by going that route.
The only reason I stress splurging on entertainment is that I’ve been to an iPod wedding, and it was a disaster. Depending on your vision, you should hire a professional musician, band, or other entertainers. You don’t need a string orchestra (unless you really want one), but hiring a live musician or entertainer of some kind will certainly take your reception up a notch. We hired a DJ off our venue’s preferred vendor list, and he was perfect. Not too crazy and not too boring, plus his cost didn’t break the bank.
When the day is done, this is you and your partner’s special day. So, do what makes you happy! Everyone has different tastes and different visions for their wedding day. Splurge where you can and save wherever possible but above all else, make sure to stay true to yourselves and do what will make you happiest.