Weddings can get EXPENSIVE. Between flowers, food, and entertainment – you’re putting down a lot of money for your special day. As a wedding coordinator, I see what looks high-end and what comes across as cheap. There are ways of saving money, but there are some things that you should splurge on as well.
Dress: SPLURGE. Your dress is what makes the event. Let’s face it, there is one moment your guests are looking forward to when going to your wedding (besides hitting the open bar) and that’s seeing you in your dress. I’m not saying spend $20,000 on a couture dress made in Paris, but be willing to put down some extra dollars in towards a dress that will flatter you. Sure you will only wear it once, but then again, your wedding is only something that happens once.
Favors: SAVE. Your guests aren’t coming for the favors. They are coming to be a part of your special ceremony and celebration. You can find some really cute favors online that are inexpensive. And in all honesty, most people don’t keep your favors. I recommend getting something useful or edible.
Paper Products: SAVE. These products are going to be thrown away. Of course you want them to look presentable, but you don’t need to pay $4 a piece for someone to make each invitation by hand. A great way to save on paper products is going online. You can pay one price to download designs, then you can customize and print yourself. And don’t waste money printing a program for every single guest. Most people don’t bother grabbing one because they don’t want to be stuck carrying around all night, and if they do grab one, it eventually makes it into the trash.
Photography: SPLURGE. Photos are going to be one of the only things that last from your wedding. Do your research. Make sure you ask around from friends or even bridal consultants about good photographers. Also make sure you look at their work. Photography is what I tell people is the number one thing to spend your money on. Your photos last forever and you want to make sure everyone looks fabulous and every good moment is remembered and resembled beautifully.
Entertainment: DEPENDS. There are all sorts of entertainment you can provide for your guests. DJs and Musicians are the most common. If your guests are the type to get out and dance, then you may want to invest in a good DJ for them. If they are more of the type that stand around and converse, maybe save your money and get someone who doesn’t charge as much. Photo booths are really popular right now. You can either hire a company to host it, or set up an iPad and create your own! Either way is really fun for your guests. Entertainment all depends on the type of crowd. I say if your budget has enough cushion to invest, go for it. But if you’d rather put that money into something else, it’s not going to kill your night.
Food: SAVE. Food can become a very expensive factor in your wedding, especially if you are having a rather larger group of guests. There are so many different ways of presenting dinner to your guests. Instead of having a plated meal, you can save your money and set up a buffet instead. You can also opt for the chicken rather than beef. If your venue allows it, and you have people that cook well, you could even have someone you know prepare the food. As long as the food doesn’t make everyone sick or disgusted, people are happy to eat for free.
Cake: SAVE. Cake is cake. Sure, you want something pleasant but it’s not something so significant that you need Buddy from Cake Boss to design it (although I LOVE his work). Find something within your budget that tastes and looks good. This is something I would ask around and research as well. Baking is a popular hobby these days as well. You may have a friend that will do your cake for a good price or maybe even as a present!
Hair & Makeup: SAVE. I’m sure at least one of your bridesmaids is good at makeup or hair. If not, someone else that you know that you could have make you look beautiful for a decent price. Or maybe you can do it yourself! If you’d rather have it done by a professional, tell them you are going to a special event rather than your wedding. When they hear the word, “wedding”, the price tends to go up!
Venue: SPLURGE. You only get married once (hopefully). Why not get married where you want? You will want to have your memories in a beautiful place that makes you happy. And it will also provide for photos that you are happy. Make sure you do your research on venues and go see them in person before you book your date.
Bar: SAVE. If your guests want to get drunk, they will get drunk no matter who pays. There are some venues that allow you to bring your own alcohol and you just pay for the bartender services. Otherwise, keep a low budget on the bar. I would say provide enough for each guest to have 1-2 drinks each and keep that at the limit. Alcohol is expensive and you don’t want everyone to get sloppy on your special day, unless you do. Then c’est la vie.
Flowers: DEPENDS. Most of the time you will want the bouquets to be real, but the decor can be very costly. Every look and ambiance of every wedding is different. If you are having a spring wedding with light, airy colors, then flowers can be the perfect addition and will be worth the expense. However, if you’re having a wedding in the fall, you may want to go with silk floral instead. Keep in mind that flowers are seasonal, and do your research! If you want a flower that is out of season, the price will go up.
Linens: SAVE. Because who remembers table cloths and napkins at a wedding? Get solid color linens in colors that go with your wedding and leave it at that.
Decor: SAVE. DIY the crap out of your wedding. Why spend $200 on Etsy for a centerpiece for ONE table when you can spend $20 and make it yourself. DIY also makes your wedding more personal and your guests will love that!
Honeymoon: SPLURGE. You’re going on vacation! And it’s your first vacation as a married couple. Don’t feel bad about spending money on this trip! It’s one to remember!