Budget Bride Permission Slips

Fact: weddings can be very expensive. And no matter how conscious we try to be of the budget we have to work with, it’s hard to escape feeling overwhelmed as we flip through magazines with prices on every photo or browse vendors’ websites and check out their rate sheets (if they even have them).

So today I’m writing out a few “permission slips” for us budget brides that will hopefully remind us that it’s OK! to do what we have to do to create the celebration we want on our own terms and not those of the looming wedding industry.

And to start, we’re going to talk dresses.

It’s OK! to”¦

Budget Bride Permission Slip Badge

Image created by Miss Road Trip

Watch wedding shows like Say Yes to the Dress and shake your head in amazement at women dropping your entire wedding budget on their dress.

Seriously, it always floors me that some folks are spending my budget or more on a dress. And it’s OK to have that moment of “whoa” but to keep everything in perspective.

What’s not OK is to get all bitter and hate-faced. After all, a wedding is a celebration, and we want to keep everything as positive as possible so there are predominantly happy memories of this time of transition.

So we, as budget brides, savvy of our bottom line, will try on dresses to find out what we want well ahead of time and then scout out sites like Once Wed, Dress Rush, or Rue La La‘s Bridal Boutique for just the right dress. Or we plan a road trip with our favorite girls to a dress outlet like Bridal Outlet of Atlanta and look for a deal. Or we’ll make it ourselves (or find a dressmaker).

Whatever we do, we’re not going to let our budget get us down!

Next, let’s tackle photography fees. Ready?

It’s OK to”¦

Cringe at the sight of the word “investment” on a wedding photographer’s website or brochure.

Buzz words may be the death of me—I mean it.

Look, I get it, the price tag on wedding photography is steep for a reason. As a way to reframe the customer’s perceptions, looking at your wedding photos as a longterm benefit can help soothe the blow of that bottom line.

Maybe it’s a leftover from growing up with the mantra “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” Anyone else familiar with that line?

But most of us are just trying to get a feel for whether the photographer is even in our ballpark and might already be frustrated by having to hunt through half a dozen sites that don’t even list starting fees or package prices for comparison, so seeing the buzz word of “investment” just raises a red flag. And then, if the “investment” link leads to an explanation of how much effort goes into capturing this “once in a lifetime” *ahem* moment for all posterity but still fails to list a price range? *deep breath*

If you’re trying to make a sale, don’t hide the price. Don’t make it more difficult for me to hire you.

And I think it’s totally OK to not be as all about the photos and to just enjoy the experience of the day. If you’re not the type to look at photo albums and you’re not planning on having children to pass these keepsakes down to, do what’s important to you and don’t let the rest of the wedding industry tell you that you what you HAVE to have.

OK, the last two were a bit vent-ish, but this one is actually a fun permission slip.

It’s OK! to”¦

Splurge on the one thing that really is the most important to the day. Provided you”¦

  • Keep the splurge to one thing, not everything—that last bit’s a one-way ticket to an exploded budget.
  • Realize that a splurge in one category means cutting back in another one.
  • Keep in mind the comfort of your guests.

Going back to the previous permission slips: if the dress is going to make the wedding for you, find a way to get the one you want by any reasonable means possible. If photography IS your number one priority, maybe you’ll find room in your budget to pay the travel expenses of the photog you just have to have.

For us? Our splurge is almost always on the food.

When we throw a party at home, I tend to go overboard on the food every. single. time. Partially because I truly believe it’s poor form to run out of anything at a party and partially because I want my guests to never leave my home hungry.

And the more I remind myself that the wedding is really just a party to celebrate the next step in our relationship, a party with a bigger budget than I’ve every thrown before, suddenly our $5k budget seems like a boom, not a bust.

What are you wanting a “permission slip” for?


Mrs. Road Trip

Wedding Date:
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  1. Member
    goldstar 796 posts, Busy bee @ 1:13 pm

    Food & photography are the things that are most important to me & my fiance. I could probably bend on the photography a little bit though. So I think food is also a priority for us.

  2. Member
    priyathescientist 1513 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:44 pm

    I’m not sure where the mister and I fall on photography. But, you are my inspiration! I am really enjoying following your wedding planning. After I finish school, I know we’ll be comfortable. But, we both loved on the bare minimum when we were in school together, so we don’t want to drop a large chunk of change on ONE DAY (not to sound crude or condescending). But, I agree, certain things make this ONE DAY worthwhile. And, personally, I think food & drink will be it. Even if everything else sucks, if people are drunk and full, they won’t complain … as much. :)

  3. Member
    heykaraoke 1771 posts, Buzzing bee @ 3:04 pm

    Photography was our joint #1 priority, and happily we found a great photog for a great deal, so no splurging needed there! And then I, personally (and surprisingly!), really splurged on hair and makeup. That makes me sound so vain, but I actually never, ever do my hair or wear makeup. I just never learned how, and all my attempts at learning have come out comically awful, so I have resigned myself to just looking bland and plain every single day. But on my wedding day, I wanted to feel womanly and sexy and be a total knockout. So I found a great hair and makeup artist and she’s doing my whole bridal party as well. I shelled out ridiculous money for her (more than I paid for my dress!), but I think it’s totally worth it for the way it will make me and my girls feel on my wedding day :)

  4. Member
    CatyLady 8138 posts, Bumble Beekeeper @ 4:00 pm

    If I was to do it again, I’d definitely look at a pre-owned dress, as a new one is an awful lot of money for one day. I budgeted on photography compared to the average cost. I was prepared to budget on food but my parents were not.

  5. Member
    anemonie 1578 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:18 pm

    We definitely gave ourselves a permission slip for #3! We knew we wanted our venues to be our splurge because we wanted a beautiful backdrop, a helpful staff to handle a lot of the nitty gritty, convenience for our guests, and great food and service. I’m so glad this is where we put 2/3 of our budget and scaled back on the budgets for attire, decor, photography, video, music, cake, paper goods, etc. That doesn’t mean those things didn’t turn out amazing, but we were able to find talented friends, deals, and DIY projects that helped us to save money in those categories.

    And I think we threw one hell of a party, if I do say so myself!

  6. Member
    swedishpancake 106 posts, Blushing bee @ 6:35 pm

    Man, seeing prices listed (and not listed) as an “investment” drives me crazy, too. This is a great post, thanks! Food is definitely something I did care about spending money on, though! :)

  7. Member
    Mrs. Camel 703 posts, Busy bee @ 7:42 pm

    Amen on the photography price transparency bit. I’m not stupid. I understand that photographers use the term “investment” to trigger some sentimental portion of my brain. But guess what? It doesn’t work. Call it what it is — a PRICE for a SERVICE that most people want and will pay for regardless of whether it is thinly veiled as an “investment” or not. There is nothing worse than trying to gather information about your budget and options only to be continuously e-mailing people for pricing.

  8. Member
    sagharborbride 220 posts, Helper bee @ 8:29 pm

    Great advice!

  9. Member
    texasaggiemom 594 posts, Busy bee @ 9:08 pm

    Although I’m enjoying all your posts, this one is particularly timely, as my daughter is having the budget discussion with her FILs this weekend.
    I’m hoping we can find the right balance between budget and bridal vision. Thanks for “permission!”

  10. Member
    Overjoyed 2086 posts, Buzzing bee @ 6:56 am

    I splurged on the price of my event planners and on the penthouse bridal suite. Two things most people wouldn’t miss if they didn’t have, but both of which made my wedding stand out and feel more special than any other fancy beach party I’ve thrown.

  11. Member
    ladymegbeth 227 posts, Helper bee @ 9:08 am

    I love this and hope you do more in a series here! Money spent on weddings has always facinated me and I love to see how brides break their individual budgets down (and how they even came up with a number to start with in the first place). :D

  12. Guest
    Jes, Guest @ 1:47 pm

    Your posts always sound like a lecture. Who died and made you the expert of everything? Really annoying.

  13. Guest
    Sally 57, Guest @ 4:07 am

    We actually spent most of the money for the legal ceremony itself. Paperwork and required translator cost more than the rest of the day.
    Spent 40,00 Euro on the dress; yes that is forty Euro, 100 Euro on a 1 hour photo session with the photographer. Approx. 400 Euro on food and drink.
    The wedding party with more guests was at another time of the year and other location, that cost around 7.000 Euro in total, the main cost being food and drink for about 75 people.

    It definitely helps to shop around, do some things yourself and cut back on some things – why not treat yourselves to something special on your 5 year anniversary?
    (That said, spend as much as you want to without getting into debt.)

  14. Member
    fabange 136 posts, Blushing bee @ 4:32 am

    Venue,dress, photos and video

  15. Guest
    Lone Star, Guest @ 7:34 am

    HEAR HEAR for the hatred of “investment”! I went a step further– if you had “investment” on your website and no prices, I wasn’t going to work with you. We still spent like $3200 on photography, but only with someone who was upfront and not consistently telling us how damn important they were.

  16. Member
    sharonmariep 382 posts, Helper bee @ 8:24 am

    whoa jess calm down,why did you post a rude comment,you could have easliy kept it to yourself because we sure dont want to read what you have to say.?

    why did click on her post if she annoys you in the first place?
    were you not taught manners growing up?

    most of us are taught that if you dont have nothing nice to say,dont say anything all.
    so there,i taught you a lesson you should have already been taught.now go away.

  17. Member
    dazlindz 10 posts, Newbee @ 5:45 am

    Yes! My top priorities were a beautiful venue and photography. Fortunately, both ended up being in budget, so no guilt from splurging (yet)!

    I’d like to add one more… it’s ok to bargain! I talked my photographer into including a $500 engagement shoot for free :)

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