I spent about a year working at a designer wedding gown boutique. One of the most common objections brides had about buying an expensive designer gown was, “I’m only going to wear it for one day.” But that’s just it -- you only get to wear a wedding gown for one day-- shouldn’t it be an amazing one?!
When it comes to the wedding budget, how do you decide the best way to divvy up the expenses? Everyone is trying to save money, but when it’s time to walk down the aisle, there are some areas that are worth pinching pennies and others where the bride will inevitably regret skimping. We tapped into the expertise of wedding planner Kristen Johnson for advice. Johnson, co-owner and wedding designer at An Affair to Remember in Orlando, has spent 11 years helping brides decide when to spend vs. save on some wedding day staples.
Photography/Videography : Spend
For this one Johnson says, spend. “Going with a friend or an amateur with no professional experience is NEVER recommended. I mean every capitalized letter in the word NEVER. Once your wedding day has come and gone the one thing that you can always look back on are those forever memories through pictures and video.”
If you were considering nixing a wedding video completely, think again. Kristen says this is the number one regret wedding planners get from brides after their big day has passed. “Moving memories capture sound, emotion and sometimes family and friends who have since passed away. Life is meant for celebrations like these, why rob yourself of moments that don’t stand still?”
Flowers: Save, but do your research.
Flowers can make a huge impact at a wedding, but you don’t have to break the bank to make a statement. This is a great place to trim the fat off your overall budget.
“The main thing to consider when selecting your floral is whether or not the flowers/centerpieces you have been googling pictures of all day at your desk are in season,” says Johnson.
Hydrangeas are gorgeous, but you’ll spend tons of time and money trying to track them down for your December nuptials. Instead, Johnson recommends letting a professional help you find a less expensive route.
“When sitting down with a florist, share your ideas and vision then ask if the flowers you want are in season. [If not,] your florist should be able to give you alternative options and still get the same look/feel.”
Tackling the flowers on your own? The Knot has a great guide for the budget-conscious bride. It lays out cost, season, meanings and color choices for a plethora of different blooms.
Accessories: Spend and Save
This is a tough one. It depends on the accessory. Your needs for this category will vary depending on your personal style and whether you are wearing heirloom pieces or using other people’s accessories as your “something borrowed.”
If you’re in the market for some new accessories, ask yourself if you want these to be a one-time wear or if you want pieces you can pass on to your own children/family members. Obviously the better the quality, the longer it will hold up. You can also mix it up. Maybe you spend big on your necklace but get creative with hair pieces. Johnson recommends checking sites like Ebay and Etsy for unique, but inexpensive items.
I recently attended a wedding where the bride and groom were footing the bill. That meant the budget was super tight. The first thing to go was the DJ. Instead, they loaded up a play list and let their IPod run all night. But here’s my issue with this-- an IPod plays music, but it doesn’t make a party.
A professional DJ will act as emcee for the night. He or she can read the mood of the party and adjust the music accordingly. During dinner the DJ can drop the music down so your guests can chat. Once the food is gone he or she can crank up the jams to get everyone in dance-mode. A DJ will also handle wedding party introductions and special requests.
Back at the wedding I attended, the bride and groom spent much of the night running back and forth to change the song, search for a request, hit pause, hit play, turn the volume up, turn it down again, skip that song they accidentally added to the play list twice... and so on and so on.
While a gift is a tangible way to thank your guests for coming to the wedding, it’s not exactly something people will write home to mom about. Think about the last wedding you attended; what do you remember? The food and entertainment probably top the list. Favors? Not so much. That’s not to say you should forget about them all together, but there are plenty of less expensive, more creative ways to check favors off the list.
Johnson says she's seen her fair share of lame favors that cost too much and leave too little an impression on guests. She says, "The wine stopper, two peas in a pod salt and pepper shakers etc, are not a crowd pleaser. If you are going to do a party favor, do yourself a favor and get an edible one. Your guests will enjoy the sentiment and you won’t have an overflow of leftover place card picture frames.”
Wedding Planner: Spend now, Save Later
Even though wedding consultants may cost money up front, you’ll save money in the long run. Johnson says there’s something else you’ll save that’s even more valuable to you and your hubby-to-be... your sanity!
“With experience, inside tricks and vendor relationships a consultant can lead you to all of the right choices and make your wedding dreams come true-- all within your budget. Your wedding is a once in a lifetime experience; why risk this day with chance and loop holes? Focus on tying the knot; let your consultant get all the loose ends.”
Are there things you wish you had spent vs. saved on at your wedding? If you're planning a wedding now, in which areas are you going to spend vs. save?