After shooting so many weddings... I've seen it all.
The good, the bad, and the ugly. Wedding planning can be so incredibly stressful I get it. With coordinating venues, budgeting, planning who to invite and who not to invite... I wrote this blog post to share with you 10 things every bride needs to know when planning their wedding.
Theresa + Thomas planned on only spending $1700 for their photography, but decided to document the whole day and upgrade their package.
"I'm so glad we decided to invest in our photographer"
Sort out your priorities
There are so many different areas money will be going into on your wedding day, but what's' most important to you? Would you rather buy the dress of your dreams and keep it for years to come as a sentimental reminder? Or would you rather spend a fraction on renting a dress that makes you feel great for the day? Would you rather spend money on the guest experience with party favors and entertainment, or save that money for other things?
These are all different areas to consider when planning for your wedding day. Here's what I suggest: Write out on a piece of paper from 1-10 listing from most important to east important items for your wedding day. Your dress, your venue, your hair and makeup, your photography, party favors, entertainment, florals, etc. These are all different items that you can get done professionally, or DIY! It's all up to what matters the most to you, what you have time for, and where you want to put your money.
Save on the things that wont last longer than your wedding day
Here's my opinion... Party favors, bubbles, small cards that the guests will throw away the moment they get home aren't worth spending $100's of dollars on! You can make it just as memorable of an experience with some awesome line dances, sharing of memories, taking the time to talk to these friends and family. All of those ideas I just shared are FREE! The only thing you'll be budgeting for those is your time. Photography, videography, florals (if you dry and preserve them) are all things that will live on for years and years, and in my opinion are so much more worth investing money in than matching diamond earrings for your bridesmaids.
Invest in what matters most
Now that you have your priorities sorted out, what is most important to you? What a re you willing to splurge on, and what are you wanting to save money on? Your wedding day is going to be a day you look back on for the rest of your life. Now, what little details can you afford to not spend as much money on, and what is a must for your wedding day?
It's about YOU
Wedding planning is stressful enough. Remember, this day is about you. I know it can be such a toss up on whether to invite or not to invite certain acquaintances or family members, but do you really want added drama on your day? I understand that some invitees are not negotiable (mother in law, etc...) but if that's the case, have a designated friend, maid of honor etc. handle them for you. Someone who you love and trust to send people to for answers, questions, help or anything else. You've got a lot of stress n your shoulders, I promise you this will be a huge relief. I had a bride do this with her maid of honor and it was so clear to see how seamless the day went that wouldn't have otherwise.
Honeymoon fund/Furnishing fund instead of gifts
I got married during COVID, spent $0 on my wedding, got married on the side of a farm in New Mexico, and my family did the best thing for us that I still get to experience years later. Our families came together and surprised us with a fully furnished apartment. Couches, tables, chairs... and still less money was spent than what I planned on for our wedding (pre-pandemic). Now, your family might not be as cool as my mother in law who printed out pictures from my HOME Pinterest board (she literally did. that's for another time though), but why not put together a furnishing fund? If you're already established and your place is already furnished, go for a honeymoon fund instead. These will last so much longer than some of the wedding gifts people gift, and there will still be people who want to gift you something (likely friends and family you have a close relationship with).
Save on the venue // weekdays vs weekends
Being a photographer, I've got lots of connections with different vendors including venues. One of the biggest money savers for you will be booking your venue on a weekday rather than a weekend. Weekends are high in demand, therefore, you'll be spending more money booking on a weekend. I understand that it can be inconvenient for wedding guests, but why not throw an at-home reception that weekend? OR give them enough notice where they can get work off? There will always be ways to make it work.
Ask for help
You are not expected to plan it all by yourself. I recommend this to all of my brides - Whether you can fit a wedding planner into your schedule or not, find someone to lift some of the load off your shoulders. Someone you trust and have a good relationship with is a great idea!
Book your vendors early
I have scheduled weddings up to 3 years in advance. Now, while that is an extreme, most wedding vendors are booked 1-2 years in advance on average. Think about that! You will save yourself so much time and money and stress if you book them sooner than later. The good photographers get booked quick, same applies to other vendors. And if it's important to you to book certain vendors, reach out asap.
Ignore "rules" and "traditions"
The bouquet toss, the cake cutting, the money dance... These are all traditions and 100% do NOT need to be a part of your wedding day if you do not want them to be. You get to choose what your day consists of. You get to be creative. Don't submit to the pressure that society, or even friends and family might put on you. Besides, the more unique your day is, the more memorable it will be.
Make photography a priority
Ok ok I know... "Emily, of course you would say that. You are a photographer!" but hear me out. Professional photography is the only investment you'll make for your wedding day that will allow you to remember moments and events for years to come. Not only should you make sure you're hiring a photographer, but make sure they're professional. I have heard way to many horror stories of brides hiring a photographer for less than $1000, or hiring them just because someone recommended them without doing any research first, and best case scenario they get the photos and hate them, worst case scenario they money is gone, and the photos are never delivered.
I have had multiple sessions where people book with me wanting to re-do their bridals because they either never got them, or they were so sad with how they turned out. Here are some suggestions I have to make sure that you're choosing the right photographer for you.
- Do you like their style? Do you like the kinds of photos they take and way they edit their images?
- Are you willing to allocate money to afford them?
- Do they have good reviews and a legit website? don't get scammed.
- Are engagement photos or bridal photos included in their packages?