Where to save money and where NOT to save money on your wedding

Every bride wants to know "What is okay to cut back on, what's okay to DIY, and what should I just spend the money on?" When I talk about “not saving money”, I don’t mean spending unnecessary money. What I mean is that if there is a vendor who stands out to you from the rest with their product then, in some circumstances, you should go for it!

For example, the entertainment can truly make or break your wedding. Instead of taking your friend up on his iPod/soundbar offer, find a DJ or band that you really love. You may spend a little more, but it will make a big difference!

Based on the hundreds of weddings I’ve either attended or worked, these are my thoughts on which vendors you should or should not splurge a little on:

1. Photography Photography is one of the things that you don’t want to save on. Now I know your cousin has a nice camera and did a friend's headshots and they turned out good, but it's important that you hire a skilled professional who has been trained in photography AND weddings. This is the #1 thing I've heard brides say that they wish they would have spent more money on. You're spending time and money on this wonderful day of yours- you want it to be properly documented.

2. Flowers You may think I am going to say to save and DIY your flowers. But it’d surprise you how much you don’t actually save by doing all the work yourself. And when you order at whole sale you take the risk of all of the flowers not even being useable. Also, I cannot stress enough about how much time it takes to actually make all of the arrangements. The bride WILL NOT have time to do her own flowers- sorry, but it’s true. In conclusion, yes, do your homework and look around for the best priced, but still skilled, florist around town. In the long run you will be happy spending that little bit extra and enjoying the day of and days before your wedding.

3. The Dress Do and Don’t save on a wedding dress. Now you should already know which category you are in: Category 1- You’re engaged and you haven’t even thought about wedding dresses yet, you’re not that excited about going to try on dresses, or you’ve looked a little bit but it isn’t your top priority. If these sound like you, then I want to advise you to save on your wedding dress! A few ways to do that would be to buy off-the-rack, buy a preowned dress, or check out last season's sales. Here is another trick I actually used myself! Now, I wouldn’t advise you to do this in-store because you don’t want to waste the store's time or the employee's (most of the employees get paid on commission) but if you find a designer dress you like online and you live in a state with high sales tax like I do, you can call around to different boutiques in low or no sales tax states and order it on the phone and save that way. Category 2- You have been dreaming of your wedding dress since you were a little girl, when your fiancé proposed you forgot to say yes and ran off to the nearest wedding gown store, and you have a bajillion wedding gowns saved on your Pinterest board. If you are in this category please try your best to save SOMEWHERE ELSE than on your wedding dress. Now I’m all for a few tricks or negotiating if possible, but if you find “the one” (I’m talking about the dress not the man) then I would definitely advise you to find it in your budget. I mean this is your WEDDING DRESS for goodness sakes! It will be in pictures that you will see for the rest of your life. Your future little girl may even want to wear it!

4. Wedding planner You know I had to throw this in here. So do you hire a wedding planner or not? Some of you may not have even thought about hiring a wedding planner. There are so many things that you haven’t thought of yet that your wedding planner will make sure happens. Don’t you want a seamless, no stress, enjoyable wedding planning process!? Also, most planners have vendors who either give you a discount for going through them or give something extra thrown in the deal! We are skilled in guest experience. We know how to handle all the things that pop up on the day of. Even if it weren’t for all the discounts and knowledge, think about all of that time you will save! The average wedding takes dozens of hours to plan. Taking off work for all of that research and countless vendor meetings adds up. That’s time you could have been making money!

5. The guest list The easiest way to save money in almost every way is to cut your guest list. The average price per guest is $159! For our brides that are trying to cut on costs, I always advise them to sit down with their fiancé and go over the guest list. I tell them to try and imagine each individual guest at their wedding. If there is someone who you probably won't be friends with in 5 or 10 years, make the cut!

6. Invitations I love the idea of ditching the RSVP cards and creating your own free wedding website to use. It’s the 21st century- I’m pretty sure your guests can figure out how to RSVP online. But If there is someone specifically you are concerned about then I’m sure they’d think it was sweet if you called them and walked them through it or just do it for them. And you can find really inexpensive invitations online! We have some brides who really cared about their invitations, and that's great! but if they aren't important to you then you don't need to spend $4-$8 per invitation.

7. The Date Some venues offer a discount if you get married in the off season or for even choosing a Friday or Sunday. If having a mid Spring wedding isn’t important to you, this may be something you want to think about! If having a Saturday wedding is important to you, that's great! You may budget a little more for a peek day, but you won't have to worry about Friday evening traffic, or Sunday night 'sleepy-heads' leaving early.

7. Cake Do save. A great way to save on your cake, is, if the cake cutting is important to you and maybe also important to some of the people on your guest list, then what we advise our brides to do is have a small tiered wedding cake, and then have plated sheet cake (we love Publix) for all of your guests. We suggest doing a small 2-tier cake so you can cut the bottom tier for the pictures and freeze the top to eat on your 1-year anniversary. (Side note, please talk to your fiancé about what your plans are as far as traditionally smashing the cake in each other’s faces- I have seen grooms ruin bride's hair and makeup doing this and I thought the marriage was already about to come to an end). If you are non traditional you may want to ditch the cake all together and have a dessert bar. There are endless Pinterest possibilities!

If you knew me at all you’d know that I love a good deal more than the next person. When I planned my own wedding I was all about DIY, using friends as vendors, and saving money any where I could. I learned the hard way that it’s not always best to go with the cheapest option. Make sure to do your homework- (or hire us so we can do the work for you ;)). It’s the most important day of your life so it’s okay to splurge in the right places. It’s just up to you to decide where places those are!

Click here to read 15 Important Wedding Details All Brides Forget

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