Let’s face it: most of wedding planning is comprised of etiquette and taste. Every decision you and your fiancé are making will come down to “this is how it’s been done for years” and “this is the way we see it in our heads.” Etiquette will guide you in many areas, but it won’t tell you where to skimp and where to splurge when making your wedding budget. There are many ways to save on various elements of your wedding (from the dress, to the flowers, to the venue, and beyond). However, there are three categories that are often agreed upon as worth the splurge for your big day. These are the things you should factor in as big budget contributors!
While some of the below will be controversial, food is the most agreed-upon wedding category in which to shell out the dough. Of course, I don’t mean to spend an arm and a leg for the fanciest catering in town, but when it comes to your overall budget, the food should factor high on the list. The food should match or exceed the formality of the event. If you’re having a lovely, low-key wedding in a local park, catered picnic-type food is excellent (your fave local sandwich joint, perhaps?) If you’re hosting a modern soirée in a city loft, why not seek out a caterer that specializes in sushi dishes or trendy cuisine?
Food is important to everyone at your event—no matter how big or small your wedding will be, food should always factor in. If you’re shelling out a few thousand for a dreamy dress, spending a pretty penny on floral arrangements, and exiting the reception in a cool vintage car you rented, your guests should not be munching on fast food. Be prepared to make food a big (if not the biggest) part of your wedding budget!
Whether you’re working with a trained team at your venue, a savvy day-of coordinator, or a dedicated wedding planner—you’re getting the help you need. Even the most organized couples—including wedding professionals themselves!—can’t manage everything going on during their wedding. While you don’t have to pay an exuberant amount for a top-notch planner (they can be pricier than you think, depending on your area), you should consider putting some money down on someone to act as the general manager of the day. Even a small wedding is going to feature some coordination, and you and your honey shouldn’t have to be running around like a stage mom getting everyone where they need to be. Trust me, it’s more than worth a chunk of the budget!
In today’s world of high-def phone cameras and expensive lens, light, and filter functions, you’re quite right to question the legitimacy of hiring a professional photographer. You may be asking yourself why you should pay hundreds of dollars for a stranger to buzz around us all day for candids when your cousin can just do it! Therein lies a fatal mistake, friend.
Though physical wedding albums are getting a bit old school, you’re going to want to have those certain shots to save for home décor, Instagram posts, and to stash in a box somewhere to pull out and show your grandkids. After all the effort (and money) it takes to throw a wedding, photographs aren’t things you want to gamble on. One of the biggest problems associated with using a friend in lieu of a professional wedding vendor is that there’s often no structure to the arrangement. If you cousin isn’t a professional photographer, chances are, something will go awry…and you don’t have a contract to cover those mistakes. And don’t you want your friends to, perhaps, enjoy your celebration rather than work it?