Believe me when I say that I love a bargain, but when it comes to planning your wedding, there is a time to save, and a time to spend. You have to go into the planning process aware of a few key things: that you are planning the most expensive party of your life, and that there are a few crucial items that should remain a priority in your budget to ensure that the remainder of the event won’t suffer.
The photos: SPEND! First and foremost, your photographer should be a priority when it comes to the budget breakdown of your wedding day. Does your cousin have a really nice camera and think they can capture your big day for free? Possibly. Is that a chance you’re willing to take? Hopefully not. Consider eliminating items from the package such as bridal portraits or larger prints if you’re trying to save money along the way.
TIP: Do not forego the engagement session, since that is the time when your photographer will really get to see you and your fiance interact in front of the camera.
The bouquet. SPEND! Flowers can be so expensive, and it’s an easy alternative to decide to have a family friend put together centerpieces to save some money. That being said, you’re still going to want a professional to handle your bouquet, since it’s the most photographed piece of the wedding day (aside from the bride!)
The food. SAVE! Food is important, but it doesn’t have to break the bank to be delicious. Food trucks are popular options right now, which can offer gourmet food at $10-12/person, rather than $40+ for a plated dinner.
The alcohol. SAVE! If your venue is one that allows you to bring in your own alcohol, that will definitely save you money along the way. If that isn’t an option, offering beer and wine rather than a full bar is definitely a more economic option.
The cake. SAVE! Don’t let me wrong, cake is great and all, but it can be so expensive, and sometimes you don’t even get to enjoy it! By foregoing the tiered cake and going for a sheet cake stored in the kitchen, you can save upwards of $1000!
The planner. SPEND! Oftentimes, when you’re working with a smaller budget it’s understandable to think that eliminating the additional assistants brought in the help execute the day will save you money. Unfortunately, that also means that it could leave your staff strained and unable to execute the day as seamlessly as you intended.
For example, if you have family friends providing the flowers, food, and photography, and they’re also doubling as guests, you will want to have additional event assistants on hand to assist with the portions of the day they would normally execute. Sure, you may have to spend a couple of hundred extra dollars for staff, but it’s a small price to pay for the ease of knowing your day will be executed properly, and will pale in comparison to the amount of money you probably saved by having those family friends contribute as vendors to your big day.
Even the more luxurious weddings have some sort of budget, so you just have to determine what portions of the day are the greatest priorities for you, and adjust accordingly.