We are close to hitting the ceiling on our small-budget wedding, and I'd love to hear from Offbeat Bride readers who've finished their weddings…
What are things that you wish you spent more or less on?
I am trying to balance my tight-fisted nature with my f-it attitude.
Offbeat spouses, we know TONS of you are still reading (you're 20% of our readership!) and we need to know: Looking back, what do you wish you'd spent more money on? Bonus question: what do you wish you'd spent LESS money on?
Comments on What do you wish you’d spent more money on?
I’m curious about responses to this. The budget for my wedding is really tight, about $5,000 for 150 people. i HATE getting my picture taken so i was planning to not really bother with a photographer, but now i’m wondering if I’d regret not having tons of pictures.
This – photography – is actually the single thing I might actually consider asking my father (or his) if they would be willing to help pay for. Mind, we literally need photographic proof of the wedding as part of the VISA process, but I figure this is possibly the one thing I’ll regret not having nice photos of in the future. (That said, it’s such a small wedding that I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be better to do a session with a photographer rather than paying a professional to be at such a tiny event.)
I know a few photographers who LOVE those shooting smaller gatherings, because they get such intimate, informal shots. If you look through a blog/portfolio and see a lot of those emotional images in their work, you’ll know they’ll be a great fit because they can catch those little moments you really want to treasure.
Holy cow! Since when is 150 people a “tiny event”? No wonder there’s such pressure planning a wedding.
i don’t like getting pictures taken either but pictures are really important to me- i skipped the videographer and spent a little more for the photographer i really liked. we had a husband/wife team with a graphic arts background so our pictures are incredible. we were lucky to find them, they were extremely reasonable, i think it was $900 for everything. we invited 130 and ended up with about 90 (including the bridal party) & our budget was about $5,000- but my mom paid for the catering ($1,500) had she not though, we would have had a very different reception. in the end, your wedding is about you as a couple & you should plan a celebration of your love that suits the 2 of you. hope this helps!!
Definitely get a photographer who’s not necessarily expensive, but who shares your aesthetic. That is the one thingI wish I’d done differently. We got a start-up who was offering free wedding photography in order to build his portfolio, but his style of photography – posed photos (he used the same ones for every wedding!), photo-shopping etc – was not the look or feel of our wedding, and subsequently I find our wedding photos all a bit ‘meh’.
YES YOU WOULD BE COMPLETELY SAD LATER… we went cheap- completely cheaped out on photos- for the same reason– and so we ended up with mostly lousy shots and cellphone fuzzy pics– some of which were better than the real photos… thing is you think you can rememebr stuff, but you can’t and every time I look back at some of the pics I just feel so warm and happy remembering– and seeing some of the people who have now since passed on– it really is important– spend the money for a photographer- and have them get shots of every 150 of your guests and several of you and your spouse- and stupid things too like the greenery or the feet of your friends-anythingy interesting or unique about your wedding- and one day you will indeed be so HAPPY you spent that cashola on the photographer!!!!
After everything… I regret not going with the expensive ass photographer that I really wanted. Saving money there = BIG MISTAKE that I regret all the time.
we went pretty lowkey with the photographer, got a couple of nice shots, only shot I WISH so badly to have had: shot of whole party, guests and family ect. I don’t have that and I wish I did.
I’m really glad that we spent money on a good photographer. We got beautiful pictures, and so many of them! Plus he was completely on board with some of the crazy shots we wanted. And he stayed until the end of the night (which was 1 am) and had an assistant that also took some photos. He had some remote cameras in places so that we got a perspective we wouldn’t have gotten with a person there (or the person would have been really disruptive to the ceremony). And he wasn’t disruptive at all. He got all the photos we wanted, but we barely even realized it. He was like a ninja!!
I think photography was the most important thing I spent money on! It was the first thing I nailed down and budgeted because that’s one of the few material things you will hold onto forever.
Tablecloths/table runners. Everything looks fancier with nice tablecloths. It seems like a silly detail but our outdoor wedding was quite windy / rainy and ours were too lightweight. We had to do some quick thinking to get them to stay down.
The best thing I did was pick up back up rain boots that am. It was from sun to rain to thunder to sun to rain all day.
I learned the cost was about equal if i rented or purchased tablecloths, so i opted to buy some deep purple ones. I figure I can sell them on craigslist aterwards. Now i’m looking at these really rich and pretty tableclothes against the nasty-ass community center folding chairs we have, and i’m wondering whether or not chair covers are worth it. The best price i’ve found is $400, but…that just seems like a lot of money for something i’m not sure anyone will care about as much as i do.
Chair covers will only be impressive to the first 10 or so people to enter the room. After that, chairs get covered with coats and purses and stuff like that.
How about getting tulle by the yard and just tying big bows around the backs of the chairs? Should be a lot cheaper, will visually distract, and shouldn’t take too long.
we were going to do that but opted to rent. you would have to buy A LOT of tulle (trust me) to make the tie look substantial enough. my suggestion, try linenhero.com and have them send you swatch samples. they are $1 per tie and will most likely end up being cheaper than buying all that tulle.
You can get gossamer by the roll (100 ft-50 yards) for not much ($30-$50) from novelty sites. It may be a cheaper option than tulle. Usually, it’s 5′ wide, but some sites sell some that is 19″ wide, and that would make nice chair bows.
Also, they don’t necessarily have to be expensive! I purchased six tablecloths for $20 from a caterer going out of business on Ebay. And there’s always RecycledBride, as another option.
The guest list. I wish I’d done away with half the Very Important DIY projects I had and just invited more people and fed them. I loved my wedding, I just wish there were more people there to love it too.
i wish i’d have spent a little more money on the ceremony decor- at least done more with it. our space was really pretty, and i made paper flowers to rope off the back sections of seating to encourage people to sit in the front- i should have made more and hung them from the front rows too, just to make it look nicer & really tie in the colors/DIY touch that was really my personality. as much as i loved my dress, i wish i wouldn’t have spent so much on it. my mom chipped in some money but $1,200 is a looooot of money. oh, & more on the drinks for the reception. My husband didn’t like anything we had! otherwise, i wouldn’t change anything 🙂
If we’d had the money, I would have liked to have someone film the ceremony and toasts. I never wanted videography, but I wish we had set up a camera and let it roll during the important talking moments, because our vows were awesome and I want to relive that over and over!
I did not budget for videography, but during the planning process my parents realized that a very close friend of theirs does it as a hobby, and he offered to provide us with video of our day.
Videography can be really expensive, but I learned that even if you just ask a friend or relative to be sure to capture a few key clips–even if it’s just on a cellphone or tablet–it’s worth it! Now that my parents and grandmother are in poor health it’s really meaningful and important to know that I’ll always be able to listen to their voices and watch their mannerisms and expressions. The pictures are beautiful and incredibly special, but there’s just something different about being able to see the person be themselves in a video.
I just did this! Yesterday we met with some friends and, as they are planning their own wedding and struggling with the budget too, when I told them we will have no video and a friend would take the pics, they instantly offered their camera and tripod to record the ceremony and whatever important moments were happening after that. They are sweet like that ^_^
yeah I kind of wish that we had hired someone to do the video. We live streamed our wedding so that people who couldn’t make it could watch, but the computer and the video camera were in the same spot and it wasn’t a good angle, so it didn’t turn out good at all.
I went waaaaaay over budget on photography and our wedding rings. Coincidentally, those are the two things you get to keep forever after the wedding is over and the dress is stuffed in a box at the top of your closet :o). So I am super happy we went with the photographer we did because our pictures are beyond amazing, and our wedding rings are absolutely gorgeous and we both get compliments on them. We ended up actually being a few hundred dollars UNDER our total wedding budget despite these two items (took that with us on our honeymoon!). Thinking back on what I wish I spent less on: less candy for our candy buffet. It’s been over a year since the wedding and I am STILL eating it!!
The major thing I wished I spent more time on is photography. I really wished I had booked the two extra hours with my photographer because there were a lot of shots that were missed (I don’t have a professional photo of me with my family). I also would have hired a day of coordinator because my mother in-law bugged me about everything that day that could have been handled by a day of person and not been done while I am trying to get photos done.
I wish I would have spent less on my dress. Lets be honest, all brides all beautiful. A person in love is always beautiful, and now I have a dress that I spent over $1000 sitting in a closet! Seems like a waste. (still trying to figure out what to do with the darn thing)
I wish I would have spent more on our honeymoon… your first “vacation” as a married couple. It is that start of so many memories to be shared. And after all is said and done… it really comes down to just you and your partner.
we were so fortunate that my husband’s father’s wedding gift to us was paying for our honeymoon- he paid for the airfare and hotel accommodations. (VEGAS BABY!) we were able to experience everything we wanted to do without worrying about the cost since the major budget breakers were covered. we also received a lot of cash as wedding presents so we went a little hog wild! 🙂 i agree on making your honeymoon as great as you can- after months of planning a wedding you need a relaxing break just the 2 of you!
There are sites whet you can sell your dress. Once Wed & Nearly Newlywed are two I have looked at for buying a used dress. Trying to save money on the dress since I am in a tight budget as well. Hope that helps.
Hey, this is a bit off topic but if you are looking for something to do with the dress and are willing to part with it, google “Angel gowns.” There are many people who volunteer to create appropriate respectful and special clothing to bury stillborn children. Your wedding gown can give about a dozen families a last image of their beautiful child in peace, instead of simply wrapped up in hospital towels. I believe that they’ll accept old white or light colored prom gowns, fancy linens and such also – prob depends on who is running the program near you but they are all over the place. (no judgment if you aren’t willing to part with your dress – I know for sure I am saving mine for my future daughters or daughters-in-law.)
Our wedding was awesome; everything we wanted! But I wish we had spent more money on a wedding photographer. The hubs and I found an amazing photographer for the full day but at the time just couldn’t justify the cost. We opted to go with another photographer that was about $1200 less. Unfortunately we ended up getting royally screwed. I won’t get into details, but whenever I look at the photos of our beautiful day all I can think about is how bad they are and the stress trying to get the photographer to send our photos six months after the wedding; four months past the contracted delivery date. If I could do it over, I would have accepted the offer of our dear friends to photograph our wedding (we turned them down because we wanted them to be guests and enjoy themselves), or just spend the money on the amazing photographer.
I would suggest spending the money rather than asking the guests. I speak as someone who’s been put in that position several times – it’s really stressful, knowing the couple are relying on you to deliver the ‘magical’ images of their wedding day, and certainly doesn’t permit you the space to enjoy the wedding yourself.
On the other hand, a friend or acquaintance whose photographic work you like who you wouldn’t otherwise be inviting is fine. I have been that person too, and it works really well, because you know the couple, know their plans, and know you can deliver something they’ll like, but on the other hand can feel more professional when bossing people into the requested family groups etc. Payment could be their accommodation paid for, and maybe being part of the reception dinner.
I did spend the money on the more expensive photographer and got beautiful pictures. That said, some of my favorites came from various friends and family. For me, in retrospect, my first instinct that I didn’t really need expensive photography was correct.
On the other hand, I had also decided that I absolutely was not going to have a photographer I didn’t love. I would rather have none. I think that was absolutely the right decision. I did not want to spend a lot of time taking pictures and prefer unposed pictures. Most of the photographers I talked to thought of a couple of hours spent taking pictures as “not much” and I am afraid they would have interfered with the day. The photographer we went with spent about 15 minutes on posed photos, which was great and he was really cooperative, helpful and a pleasure to work with.
I would say if you want a particular photographer, but they are outside your budget, don’t be afraid to ask if they have an option that will work for you. Based on his website, the photographer we chose was probably 50-100% more than I was comfortable spending. I decided to inquire anyways and he easily came up with a package that worked great for us and was within our budget.
In hindsight, I wish we’d have paid for a day-of-coordinator. There were some little things that got forgotten that I wish had happened (although only minorly so), and someone to keep us a bit on task would’ve helped since some of the things that were forgotten were mostly through a lack of us being able to pay attention to time.
I am glad we got a photographer though – originally it was the one thing that I thought would be first to get cut out because I didn’t care much about pictures, but in the end I am so so so glad we hired someone. The photos were amazeballs, she was amazeballs, and I don’t regret that being the most expensive part of the wedding.
yes to day-of-coordinator, I pushed hard for it but my husband was not on board. So it didn’t happen. But then we were already agreed on getting photography.
Same here… we didn’t really think about getting one, and we didn’t have any money in the budget for one anyway, but the few small things that make me angry/sad when I look back on our wedding would have easily been prevented by having a day-of-coordinator. So many small communication issues. And having someone’s experienced advice would have been nice too. Ah well.
Similarly, I wish I had hired a team to do the set up. We had limited time pre-wedding at the venue and it was STRESSFUL on my bridal party to execute set up. I could have hired the stagehands I work with and I could have been drinking champagne and enjoying the bridal party besties instead of sweating and setting up tables and chairs.
My Wedding Coordinator was the best thing I could have done for myself that day. My number one goal with wedding planning was not to be stressed out, and I couldn’t have done it without Tim. He was AMAZING, and in the end, it was only because I knew he was there that I could relax and just enjoy the day.
I wish we had spent more on photography and more importantly, had hired a different photographer. The pictures are terrible, she was crazy unprofessional, we didn’t get most of the shots we wanted, and all around it was a horrid experience. I also wish we had though to hire folks to clean the reception area post brunch rather than use do it in our dresses!
I am totally happy with everything else we spent. It was worth it to us to have corsages and boutonnieres made by a local shop than try to DIY them, and we DIYed just about everything! Our friends helped out big time and they made everything way better than we could have ever imagined. I do wish we had made time for speeches/toasts during the reception. It just never occurred to me in the planning!
We actually had a wonderful photographer and not only have we gotten a lot of compliments on the quality of our photos, but our photographer was a great emotional support during the day too. However, I still want more! I’m very sensitive to being photographed and freeze up around cameras, so there are a very limited number that show me really looking like my natural self. If I was doing it again, I would pay for a second photographer (which ours asked if we wanted, but at the time we were more concerned about the cost). In retrospect, I would have happily paid twice as much for photography, even if it only resulted in a few more good shots.
Looking back on our wedding it is hard to find things I was unhappy with, so I am going to share two things I’m glad I (and my bff- you’ll get it later) spent more on.
Photographer- I did the same thing. I was worried about budget so I asked other like-minded brides for advice. Each said photography. We were lucky and found a pro who didn’t break the bank, was great to work with, and did beautiful work.
The thing I almost regretted was my bouquet. I wanted simple, but I was also run-down from decision-making. It happens. I was ready to settle for a large bunch of white carnations I planned to tie together myself the day-of. My best friend, who was recently married, said she wished she had a bigger bouquet. She told me, “it’s kind of the centerpiece of you and you’re kind of the center of the day.” I told her she as right but I just couldn’t choose anymore. She said she could pick it for me, but if she did I wouldn’t be allowed to pay for it or see it until the wedding day. Mostly out of exhaustion, I agreed. The bouquet she chose made my carnations even sound laughable just mentioning it. It had large lime green (wedding color) spider mums, a few white roses, and beautiful blue and purple orchids.
I am so glad we made those choices. Thanks to both of these I have a great photo of me, mouth agape, taking my first look at my bouquet.
Just remember, be happy. 🙂
So glad you got an awesome bouquet! I was the opposite – I wanted really really simple. Basically, I wanted it to look like i’d picked flowers last-minute. And fortunately, I found a florist who completely understood, and it was small and lovely and wild but still wrapped so it wasn’t uncomfortable and didn’t fall apart. But honestly? I kind of wish I hadn’t had a bouquet at all. It didn’t even last the night, and since flowers weren’t really the decor at my wedding they look out of place in the pictures. And it meant I couldn’t link arms with both my parents as they walked me down the aisle. And it was just annoying to hold on to during pictures. But! Whatever floats your boat, obviously. 🙂
i used the lime green spider mums for all my bridesmaids!! their bouquets were super simple, just 5 mums w/black ribbon (the wedding colors were lime & peacock blue- it was so awesome together!!) my bouquet was all white, with a multitude of different flowers, white spider mums, regular mums, dahlias, hydrangeas, ranunculus, and more) i wish i hadn’t put the little mums in. they were left over from the mother’s corsages and i didn’t want to waste them, but i should have just left them out & put them in the throw away bouquet, it would have been more cohesive & prettier with the lightness of the other flowers. i love though that looking back at the entire wedding, there are just tiny details that i would change- our day as a whole was so beautiful and magical i can’t complain about anything!
First, I completely agree with those who said they wished they’d invested more in photography. You get what you pay for! We hired a photographer from another state, via a Facebook discount, and were thoroughly underwhelmed with the results. I should have hired my friend whose photography I know and love – it totally would have been worth $2500 instead of the $1000 that we paid.
We also should’ve spent more money on transport! Most guests drove to our venue, but for those who didn’t have cars, we rented a large van and asked my cousin-in-law to shuttle them from their hotels. Well, he was late picking up the van, got stuck in traffic, and didn’t make it in time. All our car-less guests ended up having to take taxis… at greater expense (and with much more embarrassment to us) than if we’d just hired a professional transport service. DIY fail.
I also wish we’d put more time, thought, and money into our *pre*-ceremony reception. You know how guests always end up waiting around for the ceremony to begin – hungry, bored, and (for a morning wedding) wishing for caffeine? We tried to solve this problem by having a gathering place with coffee and pastries laid out. However, it was *so* popular that everything disappeared within minutes. It certainly would’ve been worth spending $5 per person instead of $1 per person for this.
Actually, there’s nothing I wish we’d spent less money on (we strove to be thrifty throughout). Our lunch reception was by far the biggest expense – about $100 per head – but it was worth it, as our guests genuinely praised the food. And my husband and I, who love food, wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!
Music/DJ. I had my laptop set up with a playlist and a friend who was supposed to be managing it, but he got wrapped up in the festivities and didn’t do a good job – I ended up having to change the songs myself.
It would have totally been worth the money to me to pay someone to push play/pause on my playlist and make announcements like when we were cutting the cake, etc.
I wish I had hired a go-to person to coordinate the day of and a few days before the wedding. My wedding party was great but most of them arrived the day before the wedding (all were out-of-towners) and there just wasn’t time to communicate all that needed to get done. Alternatively, I wish I had spent the extra money on buying favors (we were going to get Rileyville soap for everyone) because our DIY favors, while totally awesome, cost nearly as much as the soaps would have. However, I’m kind of over it. I’ve learned that everyone’s wedding is utter chaos for the people getting married, and now I’m a big fan of elopements. If you want it to be about you, just go.
The honeymoon for sure. I remember about 1/10th of our wedding day and so much more of our honeymoon.
Ii know this is a question about money, but I did think of one thing I wish I did spend less of…
I wish I had spent less time… worrying that people would be let-down or unhappy with our wedding. We chose to make it about us, but I was worried people wouldn’t enjoy themselves. I ended up getting so many compliments that the guests had fun, felt cared for, ate and drank plenty (and just for fun and safety we had a contest to see who got the highest on the pocket breathalizer at the end of the night), and that our wedding was different.
Here are some things I am super glad I didn’t spend more money on:
– DON’T NEED: Chairs or chair covers. The venue had these really blah brown fabric chairs with metal frames that reminded me of work (conference chairs), inside an amazing stone barn. I was offered chiavari chairs ($9/per!) and covers, and both just seemed dumb, but I wondered about how unique the space would look with what I saw as convention hall. Wedding: never thought about it. So that probably goes for other things in the venue that are sort of just there. Don’t worry about it.
– WISH – Photography: This may be less about price than ensuring photographer has experience and the style you really want. Our guy had some decent shots but he didn’t think to get us with our parents/family in a casual style (We didn’t want posed). We were too busy and needed someone with the shot list or instinct to make sure that happened. I think someone with a higher rate might be worth it, if it’s based on experience.
– DON’T NEED: DJ: Glad we didn’t spend on this at all. Set up the booth and had friends who were each assigned 1 hour of play time. Friends loved the job because they loved music and coordinated with each other.
– DON’T NEED: Stationery: we didn’t use invitations – did website instead. Totally does the job, except for older folks (make them cards).
– WISH: VIDEO: Okay this is probably the big one. We cared a lot about words – the speeches. I wish, wish we had someone record them. We had someone record our ceremony but could not really ask a friend to record the evening – it’s time for everyone to relax and listen and not be ‘on the job’. I don’t think it has to break the bank – some film student with an iphone and a stand would do. But I would love to have had that on video.
Thank you for the chair reassurance! Decided not to get chair covers as so much money but was worried it won’t look ‘special’ enough. Your comments make me feel better about that!
Well, we haven’t gotten married yet and I’m pretty happy with our budget and expenditures. But I do wish we had enough to hire a day-of-coordinator. Our families are really pitching in to help, but it’d be nice if they didn’t have to. Also, more flowers. Our ceremony and reception area are outside so we’re doing pretty minimal decorating, but I love flowers and it’d be awesome to just have a shit-ton of them.
I think we spent too much on favors–we had a ton of them (gourmet popcorn + bags) left over. Ditto for the guest book…the photos are worth so much more than people’s signatures and pithy messages.
I wish we’d spent more on alcohol (we ran out midreception…damn boozy friends), decorations (our reception looked a little bare), and my ring. I think my hubs is happy with his $100 band from Turtle Love Co., but I wish I’d let the lovely folks at Brent&Jess talk me into the 14k gold for my band, instead of sticking with the 10k because it was cheaper. They were right…it really doesn’t match my engagement ring, though no one can tell but me. :p
I do regret a little bit that I didn’t expand the guest list a bit. There were some folks I would’ve liked to be there, but we were right at our budget ceiling. Then, when the regrets started coming in, I realized we could’ve had them but it was too late.
But this is a super-personal call, actually. We didn’t spend money on a band or dj, a driver service, a videographer or a makeup artist because those aren’t our priorities, but some people would love to have those services and more power to them–it’s different for everyone.
One thing I’m very pleased we spent money on is a very professional, well-run catering company. Lots of weddings are not catered or are self-catered, which is awesome, but if you’re hiring people make sure they are into making the day great–they are, after all, people at your wedding. I’ve been to a number of weddings where the food was great, but the staff was grim, sloppy, or downright hostile. It meant a lot to me that *everyone* I talked to on my wedding day–waitstaff, bartenders, busboys–was cheerful and kind and on-the-ball. Afterwards, one of the compliments on the day was how incredibly sweet Dan the bartender was. Seriously–he treated us like gold. A lovely aspect of the day!
I wish we had spent more money on the photographer so that we could have searched around a bit more. And still have a similar package, but with more pictures!
I also wish we had opted to hire a day-of coordinator since we had all sort of craziness and stuff pop up in dealing with the church etc.
We actually ended up coming in a bit under budget and definetely found a lot of really good deals and quality service! The one other thing I wish we would have done was to scrap the church plan (a WHOLE lot of stress the 2 months before the weddig and just switched it to the alternative location that we had found. But at least it makes for an interesting story now…
Good thing you say that. We are debating right now whether the church plan is actually such a good idea.
Originally, we’d planned a church ceremony in the late afternoon, followed by the reception at a location about 1.5hrs out of town (the church thing is somewhat important to my MIL). But now I’m debating whether that’s actually a good idea or whether we should just stick with having everything at the reception location.
It would sure decrease the stress of moving people and equipment around…
we got married in a church and our reception was about 25 minutes away- i wished we wouldn’t have had any travel time, it creates an opportunity for things to go astray, ESPECIALLY something that far away. if i were you, i’d try to compromise with your MIL in mind by having the church officiant travel to your reception site to avoid any snafoos 🙂
I would’ve spent less on the dress, less on the venue (it was very pretty, but too small), and more on the honeymoon.
I’m glad we spent money on photography. It wasn’t loads, but it was lovely to know that that side of things was covered, so I could spend the day actually enjoying being with our guests and my partner- rather than trying to take mental pictures of everything, or remember every tiny detail.
I just asked my partner and he said the thing he was gladdest we spent a chunk of our budget on was the venue. He doesn’t mean it has to be uber expensive or swanky, but he recons spend the money on the venue that you actually want if you can.
We both think we could have spent less on flowers. We only had a flower arch over the door where we had the ceremony, but while pretty, it wasn’t really necessary and nobody ever mentioned it- whereas they went wild over a cheese board!
I wish I spent more on: invitations. I made ours myself. I hated doing it, and the results were…just OK. (I’m only moderately crafty.) I’d pay extra and save myself the effort.
Could have spent less on: decor. I’m happy with the look we achieved, but with better planning and a stricter budget, I bet we could have spent less than we did.
Glad we saved money on: transportation. Our car is reliable, and my husband doesn’t drink. Why overthink it?
Glad we spent money on: video. I was totally skeptical about this and didn’t plan to have one at all, but we ended up buying the $99 package from Storymix Media, which I found on OBB. Earlier this year, my husband’s mother passed away, and I am so, so grateful to have a video of her and my husband dancing together.
I am glad that I had a DJ. I was originally against it…that’s what an IPod is for. But, on the advice of my amazing photographer, I got one and it was the best decision. We have been married almost 3 years and people STILL talk about how much fun the reception was and how much they danced. My iPod mix, while fine, wouldn’t have left that same feeling with my friends and family.
I probably would have spent less on decor if I had to go back and do it again.
Hmm…my wedding happened two years ago, and every once and a while I find myself revisiting this question.
Wish I Had Spent More Time/Money/Thought On:
– Ceremony setup. Our ceremony was outdoors, and we didn’t end up doing mics or speakers or anything. A few guests expressed to me after the wedding that they actually couldn’t hear a good chunk of the ceremony. So I wished I had thought of/spent money on that part. Likewise, I wish I had spent less on the ceremony chairs! We were asked how many guests were to attend, and I gave an overcompensated number, which cost us money. I wish I had given a more exact cost to save some dollars.
– Photography. While our photographer was really great and took amazing pictures…I sometimes wish I shelled out the money for the extra photographer option. Or had managed to find a photographer that was more reliable and located in our city (had to pay for a hotel room, and unfortunately for us…while the photographer we hired had been amazing in the past [we got him on recommendation]…he was a little flaky. He ended up having to leave the wedding 1 hour earlier than expected and we didn’t see our photos for almost 6 months).
– Day-of Coordinator. Oh man this would’ve just taken EVERYTHING off of my plate the day before and day of. I wouldn’t have had to had those worrying thoughts in the back of my mind (Did mother-in-law remember the water? Is the sound-system at the reception working? Are we on time? Did we pay so-and-so?), or had to be taken away from our party to see to something (payments, timeline, etc).
Things I Wish I Spent Less Money On:
– Nothing. We managed to thrift in all the right places…plus we had awesome family and friends who either donated their time/talents, or money to something we really wanted.
Things I’m Glad I Thrifted On:
– DJ. We hooked our iPod up to the reception’s sound system and did our own music. We had three lists…Cocktails, Dinner and Dance. We had guests request songs ahead of time via their RSVP card and it worked out amazingly.
– Cake. We had a friend who used to be a professional baker make our cupcakes. It saved us tons of money and the cupcakes were just as good (if not better) than any bakery. I DIYed my own cupcake stand.
– Makeup. I did my own. I’m very skilled at it, so I didn’t need anyone doing it for me. But I can see how people who aren’t totally would. I’ve heard of others going up to a cosmetic counter and getting theirs done.
Things I’m Glad I Shelled Money Out For:
– Photography. Seriously just do it. Nothing beats professionally taken photographs of your wedding day. Everyone always looks amazing, and if you get the right package (rights to all digital prints), you can make an amazing photobook for yourself. Plus then you don’t have to track down guests for photos, end up with blurry shots, etc.
– Rings: I had my band custom done with pink sapphires, and my husband ordered a band from Brent & Jess (formerly Fabuluster…OBB vendors). We decided if we’re going to wear these everyday, they better be amazing and exactly what we want.
That said, we also had a list of what was most important to us, and least important…and then spent money accordingly. Like flowers were really important, so I made sure I went to an awesome boutique to get what I wanted (within our budget of course). And then we looked at ways we could still get the effect we wanted, but spend less (music, wedding outfits, etc). And sometimes we just had to shell out the money.
In the end, we only went $1000 over budget (which wasn’t that bad given our initial budget).
I wish we’d spent less on flowers. They’re going to die right after the wedding, and you’re probably not going to save it for posterity. I’d suggest going with something that will last, like some of the other non-floral bouquets they’ve featured here (felt or paper flowers, candy bouquet, etc). We told the florist exactly what we wanted several times and got something completely different anyway, so it was very disappointing to have dropped so much money on them. I wish that I had a DIY bouquet that I could still have to remind me of that day, instead of a decayed pile of flowers.
For the most part, I was really, really happy with my wedding. If I’d had an unlimited budget, I would certainly have found fun things to spend it on (like renting out the entire B&B we stayed at). Realistically though, I can think of a couple things I should have done.
1. Officiant. I wish wish wish I had given more thought to our officiant and not just gone with the one the B&B hooked us up with. Our officiant was “fine” to everyone except the two of us. We were really disappointed with him. We didn’t have any readings or complicated additions, so I thought there was no way it could get screwed up. It did. So I wish I had remembered we have a family friend who is a pastor and I wish I had had the money to fly him in for the ceremony because he would have made it super fun.
2. Reception. We had a wedding group of 10 people, so we just went to a restaurant for our reception. Had we had the money and the forethought, I would have requested/rented a private room at the restaurant for our meal. I made sure to ask our guests in advance to be respectful (noise wise) of our fellow diners, but asking people wired on love vibes to be quiet was probably asking too much. The staff was super courteous and respectful, but I could tell we were pissing them off and I felt really bad about it.
Things I’m glad I spent the money on:
1. Makeup artist. I’m not a makeup girl. I think I have one lipstick that I bought when I was in undergrad, 5+ years ago. (Come to think of it, I should probably throw that out…) I was planning on going out with my Maid of Honor to pick up some cheap makeup for the wedding and trying to figure out how to wear it. I knew that was a bad plan, so I was stressing over it. My parents stepped up and hired a makeup artist for us girls. I looked great and I looked like ME (amazing what a professional can pull off). As a bonus, my makeup artist became my friend and I’m headed to her wedding next month.
2. Photography. I could have happily spent more on photography and I’m glad I spent what I did. I cannot imagine not having pictures of that day. The way my husband was looking at me… It was way worth it.
Things I wish I’d spent less money on:
Nothing. Everything we spent money on was chosen for a reason and I would have been so sad to cut anything out. Our wedding was pretty darn close to perfect.
I am in the process of figuring out right now what’s important and what isn’t.
If I had an unlimited budget, I’d have circular treehouses for our guests to sleep in, a $4000 photographer, and would import my favorite beer from Germany for the open bar (I grew up in Bavaria, so good beer is a big deal).
Alas, we don’t have an unlimited budget, so I’m a bit afraid that the wedding will always be a bit less than what my imagination is capable of.
In the end, I think we’ll have to be a bit sober-minded and realize that what’s important is spending a great day at a great location, with everyone that’s important to us. Things will go wrong, and there will be things that we wish we had, but we are determined to enjoy ourselves anyways :).
I wish that I had spent less or differently on my bouquet. I honestly almost never had it and as much as I loved the gerbera daisies, if I’d gotten something I could keep, that would have been awesome. We left on our honeymoon so I couldn’t even enjoy the flowers very long.
At the same time, the pictures look great with the daisies and it isn’t a big deal.
Overall, I’m good. I’m glad we spent a lot on photography and I’m thrilled my mum kicked in extra for my dress. More on decor would have been nice, to have bigger lanterns, but it really didn’t have any real impact on the day. It was great and my dude and I loved it.
I’m going to say, I’m GLAD I spent as much as I did (almost 1/3 our budget) on Photography, and I wish I would have spent MORE and had some bridals or more couple photos done.
I don’t wish I’d spent less on anything, we were pretty cheap!
Videography. We didn’t have any, and I didn’t think I wanted one…until my dad gave me the copy of the secret video tape he made from the front row of the church after he ‘gave me away.’ It is adorable and I wish I had a more ‘professional’ video of the ceremony and reception.
That is just the sweetest! Love that your Dad did that 🙂
I was pleased with the wedding. We dropped a ton of money for the photographer, but I loved our photos. We hired a company that usually does MUCH more costly weddings than ours, but they made ours look just as good.
I wish we had spent more money on the rehearsal dinner. We ended up having a family-style dinner on the cheap because we have so many in our immediate families/bridal party. But 15 of the 45 people we expected canceled. (The dinner was on a weekday night). So I wish we had got a nicer meal for the people who were able to make it.
One thing that I wish I had spent less money on was my hairdresser/makeup artist. I had come in for a consultation and she had written down everything I wanted and we agreed on a price, but she was still trying to up-sell to me on the wedding day! That was not very professional. I def. would have hired someone who would not have tried to bully me into giving them more money when I was already stressed out and nervous.
It is not difficult to find someone who can do your hair and makeup. I would suggest shopping around until you find someone in your price range who can do what you want. Bring a picture of your dream hairstyle with you. And if the price doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Also, we spent very little on DIY decorations (non-floral), but I wish we had spent even less. There are craft supplies that I never ended up using that are still sitting around the house.
Lastly, buy the supplies for your “emergency kit” the week prior to the wedding and save all your receipts. There were so many things that I bought that we did not end up using: anti-static spray, anti-bacterial hand lotion, bug spray, sewing kit, travel sized Tylenol and mouthwash, etc. so I returned them and got back nearly $40 dollars.
I was going to write in and ask exactly this question!
But I have a follow up … a lot of the photographers I have looked at are in the region of $2,500 plus. And I have read all the comments here that people wish they had spent more but still … I can’t come at that big an expense for photos I am only going to look at periodically. Do you really look at or use your wedding photos?
I have looked at and used my wedding photos a lot more than I thought I would. I used them for Christmas presents for parents, made special wedding albums for our parents, and have them in my house and at my office. I go to them whenever I am mad at my H or whenever I am having a bad day. There were so many fun things and crazy things that happened that day that they bring up so many memories of just a happy time and day.
When I first started wedding planning, I could only find photographer upwards of $2500 but started doing some research on Facebook and found an awesome photographer that had only been doing weddings for about 3 years and scored an awesome price on her work.
ditto to everything you said!!!we did framed photos as gifts for Christmas as well as Christmas cards! any time i’m in a bad mood i flip through our album (thank you shutterfly!) and i can’t help but smile 🙂
If you re-read these comments, lots of people have mentioned things they wish they’d spent less on. I don’t think photography is mentioned under that category even once!
So yeah, from those of us who wish we had spent more on it, do it! But as has been already mentioned, make sure it’s someone whose aesthetic you click with, rather than just someone expensive.
I gotta agree with Isa that the key is not “find someone expensive,” but find someone you like and pay what it takes, I think. I was happy with the amount I spent on wedding photography, but it was less than $1,000, and I honestly believe my photos turned out better than people who I know spent as much as $3,000-$5,000 (based on what they told me they paid). So I’m in the camp of, I don’t regret how much I spent or think I should have spent less, but I also don’t think I would have gotten that much better had I paid more.
I’d like to add that, very often, parents and families are most appreciative of professional photos. Previous generations place greater importance on a ‘proper’ family photo. Also, kids. Children often love to look at pictures of the big, fancy event that happened before they were born.
When I think most of us offbeat wives say, “I wish I spent more on photography” who already spent money on professional photography…it’s more like this:
“I wish I spent money on that extra photographer option”
“I wish I spent money on that photo package”
“I wish I had done more research and found the BEST option for us”
It’s not about spending the most money (because honestly there are plenty of wedding photographers who charge WAAAAAY too much), it’s about spending the time to really find someone you click with who can give you what you want at a price you want. We only interviewed 2 photographers. I wish we had done more just to see our options…even if we did still end up going with our original photographer.
But people who get professional photographers never regret them (assuming you did your research, interviewed them in person, viewed their hardcopy portfolios, and REALLY made the effort to get what you want).
My photographer cost us about $2800 at the end of the day. But I DO look at our pictures often. We printed lots for parents and grandparents, and we just completed making a professional photobook (photobookcanada.com) so we have an album now.
It’s nice to be able to go back and look at the memories, and having EVERY moment there.
We have 2 different wedding photos framed in our living room (one small, one large), so we look at those every single day & so do anyone who visits our house. We love them & get compliments all the time 🙂
While you may not look at all the photos a lot, there will prob. be one iconic wedding photo you do look at frequently. And a good, pro photographer is far more likely to capture that one good photo bec. they have the skill, timing, & experience to do so.
my husband and i will be married a year in October and i look at our photos weekly, if not more often. i’m sure this will decrease in frequency as time goes on, but i adore looking at how happy we are with everyone important in our lives all together. there is always the option of hiring an up-coming photographer, someone who has little experience and is building a portfolio, but tread carefully there- my niece has done a few weddings (i’ve helped her with some as well) and doesn’t charge a lot, but her equipment is fairly standard, far from the same as an established professional would have. her shots are good, some are amazing, but i took comfort in knowing we hired (and contracted!) reputable experienced professionals. we were very fortunate, the photographers we used were very reasonable (& they were my favorite!!) i spent hours and hours online looking for someone who’s work i liked & was reasonably priced. it’s totally worth the effort of looking- a lot of photographers i investigated were around the $2500 mark as well, but just keep digging! talk to your other vendors and see if they have suggestions, but my best advice is DO NOT rely solely on word of mouth: meet with them, ask to see examples of whole weddings (beginning to end, not just the “portfolio” highlights). if you’re not comfortable with them outside your wedding, you won’t be with them at your wedding. in the end, think about what you will remember in 10-20 years: the chair covers and matching sashes or the beautiful crystal clear photo of your first kiss? also it doesn’t hurt to ask to customize!! most offer packages of sorts including a set amount of time etc, but be upfront and honest with your photographer: if you love their work, let them know & tell them what your price range is & see if they are able to accommodate it. we had them an hour before the start of the wedding until the toasts then they left. after the toasts most people are partying/dancing, and we felt guest photos would be sufficient (and have been!!) hope this helps!!
We’ve been married 4 years, and I totally still look at our photos fairly regularly. Totally worth it. Ours were only $1000, but we ended up with a photographer who kept us relaxed an happy during the wedding and took some amazing photos.
I wish I spent more on my dress! I bought an off-the-rack dress because it was pretty and pretty inexpensive. However, it wasn’t the right style for my plus-size body type and I felt uncomfortable in it the entire evening.
i loved my dress, i wish i’d spent less though- or at least, had it altered by the salon i purchased it in: my grandmother’s seamstress altered the top but under the bust was still baggy & bunched up constantly (i didn’t know then, i see it in the photos now 🙁 i wish my MOH would have seen and tugged it down day of)
I love this question!
I wish I would have spent money on alcoholic beverages for my guests. Me and the mister don’t drink, we had a morning wedding (starting at 10:00 a.m. and had a lunch reception) and had a fair amount of kids/non-drinkers/non-party types, so I figured skipping the bar would be no big deal. But lots of people wanted to drink and bought drinks from the bar at our venue (we got married at a Lucky Strikes bowling alley). If I could re-prioritize, I would have sprung for drink-tickets so our guests that wanted a drink could have had a couple.
I also second people who said they wish they would have spent more on the honeymoon. We skipped on a few special touches and although we had a wonderful time, it would have been worth it to make it just that much more special.
I wish I would have not spent as much on guests I invited out of feelings of guilt/obligation, who did not enjoy themselves and who did not add positive memories. I gave in more than I intended on the guest list to keep the peace, but I should have went with my gut. They didn’t want to be there anyway and they made parts of the wedding a little less fun for me.
I also wish I would have been more thoughtful about how I spent money on the bridal party. We thought paying for hotel rooms/admission to certain wedding events would be more appreciated than other typical gifts like flasks or bracelets (Which are great gifts! Just not for my friends.) But it turned out that they would have preferred that we saved the money on some of this, they just didn’t want to appear ungrateful when we offered to pay for these things. I wish we had put it more like, “I want to give you something special for being there for us on our wedding, like pay for your hotel room, or whatever would be most meaningful to you. What would you like?”
I join in the voices saying I’m really glad we busted the bank on photography. Our professional, wonderful photographers made all my cheap ass DIY look fantastic, and me look fabulous even though I did my own makeup to save money. As such, my wedding looks much more classy than it was, all because she knew what she was doing. We were lucky because his parents agreed to pay for photography, and it was a full third of the total budget. SO WORTH IT!
I wish I would have spent less on the small stuff. The ribbon wands were cute, but took a lot of time and effort and money, and were such a small part of the overall day.
I wish I would have spent more time looking for a DJ. My dad couldn’t fathom not having one, so he offered to pay. The one my dad picked was cheap, but that’s all the good I could say about him. We managed to party hard IN SPITE of our DJ, rather than BECAUSE of him.
Things I’m glad weren’t a priority:
Transportation- Our entire wedding was indoors, so there was no grand entrance to make, it would have just been a logistical mess to get everyone back home. Since my mom drove the bridal party and the groom drove himself, me and him got to just drive home instead of awkwardly asking for a ride to the hotel.
Officiant- A friend was our officiant and I wasn’t sure how seriously he was gonna take it, but when he started speaking it was CLEAR he had practiced, and it was honestly one of my favorite moments of the day, feeling like we had his blessing.
I wish we had spent less on flowers for the centerpieces, but splurged on all the held bouquets. Or at least had been clearer or brought pictures along when we booked a florist. We have like 4 pictures of our centerpieces, which we could have just done candles or something, and a thousand pictures of me and the bridesmaids holding really odd looking bouquets. It really was my fault for not being more specific.
I wish we had a videographer, realllly bad. I think it was gonna be $500 which we had, but we cheaped out and I know by this point I wouldn’t have cared about the money.
Also, more wine.
I recently read something that says to splurge on bouquets and go non-floral on centerpieces, because you’re paying for the arranging, not so much the flowers, and because the bouquets will be in the photos. Where was this advice a couple of years ago?
My photographer was worth every penny and more. My DJ was worth every penny and more. The food was worth every penny and more. My dress was worth every penny — but my mom paid for it so I guess that doesn’t count. 😉
I absolutely loved my cake; it was a very good quality, it was exactly what I asked for, it was delicious, and it made for good pictures. And it was not exceptionally expensive. And my wife really, really wanted a professional cake. But frankly I would not spend the money next time (or else I would get something hella cool like a frozen yogurt bar or something.)
I spent a lot of time of my decor, and it made for a very personal and heartfelt atmosphere, but I wish I’d had the money for some draperies or fancy lights or something. I rented a big white room with very high ceilings, and I didn’t really use that ceiling space. I wish I’d been able to.
I fussed and fussed about chair covers, and I ended up not spending the money, and it turned out fine. People sit in chairs and then you don’t see the ugly chairs.
Overall I think I got a good venue, something to wear that I felt pretty in, a photographer to preserve the memories forever, and I made sure to take care of my guests with good food and entertainment (aka the DJ.) My budget — it was about 12 cents — went to the big stuff, the professionals, and i did all the decor myself from Goodwill. I don’t really have many complaints, although of course I wish I’d had thousands more to spend to make it even better. 🙂
I would have spend money on some food at the drinks reception – we got married at 1:30pm and dinner wasn’t until 5pm. We did “warn” people of this on the website but I’m not sure how many guests were aware. We had too much food at the evening buffet – I wish I could somehow magic it back in time and give my guests a quick lunchy snack when the drinking started!!
If money was no object: I would have loved to hire a company to bring cool couches and chairs for a chill out area. Big leather sofas and foot stools – I think it would have been good to attract people to a more intimate area for chatting and good times.
I wished I spent more on “honeymoon” than the wedding food because only three people showed up to my “park wedding” and since then my “sand ceremony” glass jar broke but was able to save the sand but been mixed up and also lost pictures from the wedding, I had to bring alot of food & cake home before going to the honeymoon. I had wished I spent more time enjoying the wedding rather worrying on who is going to be there and focus on the reason for the wedding … the vows. Now days we are talking about having a “second wedding” or renewal of vows since we are still married after 4 years and still talking about how bad our wedding day was….
What do I wish I had spent less on? Centerpieces. I spent a decent chunk of change and a lot of time finding glass pieces at thrift stores, and there were still so few that they didn’t have a big impact. I should have just put candy or card games or something on the tables.
What am I glad I spent a lot on? Photographer. Hands down. Our photos were amazing. I don’t look good in snapshots, but I looked amazing in our professional photos, and they all look so good that they could be in magazines. I’ve since seen weddings where they “saved money” on the photographer, and the photos are just sad – one wedding had a ton of out-of-focus photos because a family member took them. If pictures are important for you, this is the place to spend the money. And buy the copyrights to the photos.
What do I wish we had spent more money on? A day of coordinator. A professional, because the person from church didn’t take charge as a professional would have. My family ended up packing up the fellowship hall (where we had dinner) before they came over to the bowling alley for the reception. I wish I had been able to just leave that to someone who wasn’t a guest.
Table decorations! I didn’t really care that much about them, but as we got closer to the day, I started to feel like I NEEDED to have something more substantial. We got no close-up pictures of the tables, and the centerpieces were dwarfed by the size of the table. I wish I’d gone with my gut feeling in the first place and just left the centers empty. It would have been a good amount cheaper, and slightly less stressful the day of.
I wish we’d spent just a little more on supplies. In general, I bought the cheapest X (balloons, plastic glassware, etc) on Amazon. That worked just fine about 75% of the time, but the balloons were small and shitty, and about a third of the plastic glasses broke when being assembled… I wish I’d either spent a little more on these things or else ordered further in advance, so there was plenty of time to test them out and replace whatever was sub-par.
We spent a whole bunch on photography, and I’m glad we did. We also spent a bunch on groom’s shiny silver custom-made suit. Worth every penny because it made him happy!
Here’s one that hasn’t really come up yet. I wish I’d spent the money to have a professional do my hair. A trusted friend offered to do it and at the time I just really didn’t give a shit. Once the day came – I didn’t love the result. It wasn’t properly secured and I had bits coming out of it throughout the day. My wonky hair is in all the pictures and it made me feel self conscious. It wasn’t the aesthetic I visualized for my wedding. If I had just been less cheap I could have ensured that I got what I wanted, instead of relying on the self professed skills of someone who had never done my hair before.
my niece (who was also a bridesmaid) did my hair the day of the wedding- i was running behind and didn’t leave a whole lot of time for her to do it, and we hadn’t really practiced it in full (she did a partial pin up when she colored my hair the week before the wedding) and by the end of our short ceremony, it had started falling….by the time we sat down to dinner it had completely fallen & i spent most of the dinner pulling out pins- it was still pretty & one of my favorite photos from the reception is with my hair down, but i was sweating so badly it was gross. when i had my hair done for prom (ages ago) by a professional, it took AGES to get it out. she’s my go to girl for color though!
I second and third this – spend the money on professionals for hair and makeup. If you can afford it, offer to the bridesmaids and Moms as your gift to them. For non-fussy types like myself, my mom and my MOH, having someone else make us look awesome, without being “too done”, so we recognized ourselves in the wedding photos, was worth every penny.
I was very glad that we prioritized photography. We ended up making photo books for family members as Christmas gifts, and my in-laws used included some of our wedding photos in the memorial service powerpoint photo slide show after my husband’s grandfather died. Photos last forever, and they have many uses.
I bought flowers wholesale, kept them in giant rubbermaid tubs of water in our kitchen, and made bouquets/flower arrangements myself. This was the most traumatic experience ever. First, the flower company screwed up and shipped 1/2 my blossoms a day early without warning (which meant they spent the night at the UPS store), so they were dropping petals by the time of the ceremony. I can’t look at the pictures without cringing (although no one else seems to notice). Then, there were leaves and petals all over my kitchen floor, and I was up at 4am the day after my wedding cleaning them, because I couldn’t sleep thinking of the flower disaster that had taken over my kitchen. Do not do real flowers yourself. Find a non-floral alternative, or pay someone to deal with them.
there’s a local florist that i used that had a guided “DIY” option- they took care of the flowers you ordered, then came in the day (or 2) before the wedding to assemble the bouquets with assistance of a florist so they look professional yet were sooooo much cheaper than i ever envisioned! my mother was fairly adamant that my bouquet be real flowers (i was going to make paper ones 🙂 ) but i balked at the cost for professional flowers, until we found The Flowerman & i was able to have exactly the flowers i wanted for the bridesmaid bouquets, my bouquet, & the mother’s corsages and kept it under $200! i was so excited!!!
It looks like I’m in the minority, but I wish we would have spent more on flowers. I wanted bright colors, and simple, which they were, but looking back both my mom and I thought the centerpieces were too small. They were beautiful though, and I loved them, just wish we would have gone bigger.
I also wish we would have gone on a honeymoon. We did a kind of mini “staycation” kind of thing, but I really wish we would have gone a trip somewhere. At the time I think it was just one more thing to plan and I couldn’t imagine dealing with it.
It’s interesting to me how many of you wished you spent more on photography! This completely scares me. Both of us are camera shy and NOT photogenic. Will a photographer even be able to get good shots(no matter how amazing they are) with such…crumminess? I’d be apologizing profusely the entire day to them! We would like some nice pictures but it just doesn’t seem possible.
I think a video of the ceremony and first dance is an absolute must, but wondering if the whole day(which is a short wedding because it’s tiny) would be better? I’m so worried to miss something!
Lastly, dress. Did any of you married peeps regret not having “top of the line fabric”? Especially those of you interested in fashion and know your fabrics. I’m interested in the way fabric drapes and flows for those pretty dress twirl shots!
This might be the perfect read for you!
Fabric makes a MAsSIVE difference. I got my dress secondhand and altered and colored it. To afford a new dress of the same heavy satin would have been difficult for me.
Go to JoAnn fabrics. Head to the special occasion section. Look at the $7.99 satin. Pick it up, unroll some of the bolt, hold it up to the light. Then look at the $25 satin. Lights will show the quality of fabric and so will your photos. You can also damage cheap fabric much more easily (steaming, water, makeup, etc). Most of the time, fabric is expensive for a reason.
Find a dress you love in a store. Go on Craigslist, eBay, etc and find it! Or find a similar dress out of good fabric (remember your JoAnn experiment) and have it changed to be what you want. Or find a fabric store going out of biz and buy in bulk and have it made (much of a custom gown expense is the fabric cost). Many ways to do this cheaply!
I advise against the china route. Usually the fabric in the dress does not match the sample pictured and is a lower quality.
Cake. Our caterer assured me they’d get us a nice cheesecake from a bakery out of state. It was a frozen pre-sliced one. It tasted fine, but we shoulda/coulda gotten a slightly nicer one a bit more locally and had it customized.
We budgeted for a range of guests, and our guest numbers came in at the low end, so I spent the extra money on having people come do hair and make-up for the women in both our families and me the morning of the wedding. (I didn’t have bridesmaids) Most of my family rarely wears make-up and isn’t particularly good at hair. It was nice bonding time for the families and a plus is that everyone looks good in the pictures.
Best cost-saving move was paying the hair dresser by the hour, and not by the person. She did hair touch-ups/styling rather than full fancy up-do type things.
I would like to add that I really wished I would have not felt half as guilty as I did about spending money on the thing we really liked. For example, my veil was $200 and it took me 2 months and other people threatening me they would put it on their own credit cards if I didn’t just buy it because I LOVED it. I just wish I could go back and tell myself to drop the issue once the money was spent. I looked good and I’m glad I bought it. Actually any money spent on looking good (hair, makeup, dress, nice suits, etc..) I’m glad we did because those are the pictures I look back at.
Totally true. Never feel guilty when you love it that much.
I would spend less on invitations -even though they were a gift from my in-laws-. Lots of people didn’t even read them! We could have spent less on alcohol. We have no regrets about that, but we could have bought a lot less.
I definitely wish we had spent more on extra hours at the venue. We rented the place for 9 hours (ceremony and party were at the same place), and still felt we needed more time to enjoy everything we had payed for.
This is more of a question for all you lovely ladies. I love how the consensus is that photography is worth paying for, and that a lot of you loved your photographers. Could you guys leave names? I know there is the vendor guide, but it often doesn’t have reviews…
Snider Photo and Design
We had Russell at our wedding and he was wonderful. He really listened and we got every shot we wanted, and more!
James and Genevieve were fantastic, and our photos look like something out of a magazine. We could not be happier that they were where we spent our money. Yes, they were a bit pricey, but they captured moments I had no idea were happening and were complete professionals. This is their blog which has a link to their official website as well.
Tickets. We did a destination wedding, and neither of my brothers made it because of financial constraints. I wanted to pay for their tickets, but we were out of budget. I would Also have liked to have flown first class for the first time in my life!
I would have spent much much less on food for the at home reception. A friend who was learning to be a chef did it, and we ended up throwing away hundreds of dollars in food because she wasn’t good at estimating and she chose very perishable items. We could have grabbed a bunch o f fancy salads and snack plates (it was only a 4 hr picnic) and used that money to fly my brothers!
While I do *not* wish we’d spent $1500 on professional videography, I *do* kind of wish we’d given my teenage cousin $40 to tape the reception, or gotten someone off Craigslist or something. Thankfully we do have video of the ceremony, but nothing of the crazy dancing and general fun of the reception.
I definitely wish I’d spent more time, effort, and money on making my cake the perfect thing I had always imagined it would be. Instead, due to last-minute loss of our caterer, I ended up making mini-cakes for all guests myself, and cutting our adorable (but not my dream) groomscake at the wedding itself.
I wish I had shelled out for a day-of coordinator. The one stressful part of the day for me was trying to be my own coordinator. I did have a couple friends pitching in to set up the decorations and pack them up at the end of the night, and the caterer was fantastic and did some of the things that would have been the day-of coordinator’s job. But having a day-of coordinator would have let me focus on just enjoying the wedding.
I’m so happy we budgeted for a really good photographer. We had a friend take some video, and while it came out good, in retrospect I kind of wish we had a professional videographer as well.
I’m glad I got my dress for just a few hundred dollars at a sample sale. Also, the flowers wound up not being cheap, and in retrospect I would have been just as happy with bouquets of rosemary and lavender from my sister’s garden. In fact, if I had not paid for flowers, I could have used that money to hire a day-of coordinator.
In a slight spin-off, I’m sooooo happy that we paid the money to have a photobooth. We found a really great groupon so it was only $250, and everyone loved it. It was an extra fun little thing to do. The photobooth made two sets of photostrips, so the guests got to keep one strip, and then put the other strip in the guestbook with a message.
The only thing I wish I’d spent more money on was some professional waiters or catering staff or someone similar. We hired two teenagers who did a lot of work but they had to be directed about EVERY LITTLE THING so our friends and family who were doing the food and set up spent as much time telling them how to do things as doing them themselves.
Our friends and family did everything except the wedding cake, and it about killed them, so if I could figure out a way to have made their lives easier I would like to have spent more money on that.
oops- posted in wrong thread:
We had a friend do our photographs and they turned out really well. We asked him to just do These Ten group shots and the rest could fend for themselves, but he really went all out and did a fantastic, professional-style job. On top of that, two other people sort of dedicated themselves to getting good photos, so I don’t AT ALL regret not hiring a professional photographer. (here are some of the pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacemansam/sets/72157634432074222/)
Does having a larger available budget open you up to more options? sure.
Does that mean the option that you like best will be at the top of your budget? NOPE, sure doesn’t.
Top things I am glad to have allowed myself to let go and spend on:
– Photographer – real, physical take away that we can share and remind us. priceless.
– Dress – the dress I found was a few hundred above my original budget, but I felt invincible in that dress, so i bought it anyway. To soften the blow I bought the sample, and I had saved in a couple other unexpected places.
– DJ – he was actually much less than some others, but the point is he was awesome.
– Linens- yup. I stressed out for a couple weeks that the blue satin that would look so amazeballs was $3 more per table cloth than the white…..and I thought “would I pay $60 to have amazing color, and have all my tables pop in pictures? I sure would!” so I just stopped worrying about it.
The thing I did NOT spend “more” on (and not regretting it for a second):
– the Ring – My husband took me ring shopping with what I consider a generous budget. We only looked at rings inside the budget, and yet when I saw my ring I said I would take it without even knowing the price… turns out that it was the least expensive one we had seen, and was less than 1/3 the budget. (thus explains my splurge on the dress)
Moral is: It’s not about the price tag, it is about allowing yourself permission to go for something that you feel excited for. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder for it.
I’d spend less on: Flowers!!! We DIY’d our table flowers and I think DIY’ing bouquets and our backdrop would have been a great way to save money.
Food: we spent a lot of money on food and people still tell me how good it was. It was our splurge and our chance to be like, YES! Veggie food can be AWESOME! and it was.
Great question! Here’s feedback from both of us–
Mr. Gloucesterina: I wish we had spent more (as in more than $100) on photography.
Me: This may sound weird, but I don’t really care about photos of my wedding. The photography we were able to score for said $100 was laughably awful (think prom-style hand-on-hip poses) but it’s a funny story to tell, along with the photographic documentation of laughable awfulness, and didn’t diminish our enjoyment of the actual event.
Response part II: What are we glad we did spend money on?
Mr. Gloucesterina: Staying at a hotel (vs. at Gloucesterina’s mom’s house) the night before the wedding (and of course after).
Me: Having a cheese and wine hour before the reception dinner proper. Due to an accident on the highway, many of our guests missed the ceremony and trickled in late-ish to the reception, and having some lowkey mingling time built-in before the meal was a great cushion.
I wish I had gotten a professional day-of coordinator and crew, videography (didn’t even have to be nice videography, just someone to film) and tables that standard linens would actually fit so there wouldn’t be a bunch of material lumped up on the floor. Spent too much on supplies for DIY projects and a few random items that I couldn’t return. Don’t buy wedding stuff you’re not absolutely certain about that can’t be returned after at least a month.
I’m really satisfied with everything else I spent money on. My favorite expense was my custom jewelry by a local artisan, fiance thought I spent too much but I was so incredibly happy with it. We got some great deals, and very little was wasted.
What an awesome and useful thread this is!
We are currently planning our wedding in March 2014 and we are on a tight budget. We sat down early on and decided what was important to us and what wasnt. What is: reception food (since we’re only having 50 guests, one of our favourite restaurants can do a set menu for a really good price in a private dining room which we’re stoked about), photo’s (not sure how we’re going to tackle this one cos the photographer we would like is hugely expensive…) and a ceremony barefoot on the beach. What isnt: what we’ll be wearing (he’s wearing a three piece suit he already owns, my dress and the girls dresses will be simple and easy and custom made by a friend of a friend, with no veil or head piece or anything), fancy cakes and trimmings (instead of a wedding cake, we’re having a feijoa and apple pie baked by my MIL), and cars (we’ll likely borrow a car of his parents and drive ourselves to the reception!). We’re making our own simple invites and have a free wedding website for all of the fiddly details (directions, reception, no gifts please, etc). I will probably have a very simple bouquet made from flax flowers, and as the private dining room where we’re having our reception doesnt accommodate dancing, I cant wait to go out on the town in my wedding dress! A very good friend of mine is my hairdresser and will be travelling to attend the wedding and do my hair, and she’ll be 8 months pregnant! Her wealth of wedding knowledge has been invaluable and I love knowing that, if all else fails, I will have beautiful hair when I marry my blondie barefoot on the beach!
After reading all of the above replies, I think I will dig harder on the photographer thing tho…
One more voice for the advantages of an awesome photographer. We had a rehearsal dinner with 120 people the night before the wedding (with a light reception at the church for 400 people, and an intimate family dinner for 60 on the day of the actual wedding) and only thought to hire the photographer for the wedding day. My husband’s mother paid the extra to have him come to the family dinner. He got SUCH amazing photos of people having fun that I really wish we had him take photos at the rehearsal dinner because some people could only come that night and couldn’t come the day of the wedding, so we have NO photos of a handful of family and friends. 🙁
Photography, hands down, is the area to concentrate significant time, energy and money. Good photography will show off every detail of the wedding, make you look great and feel great every time you open your album or glance at the framed pictures on your wall.
Unless there are strong feelings against serving alcohol, build some alcoholic beverages into your budget. I’m not saying a full, open-bar, is the only way to go, but offering a limited amount and/or menu of drinks is appreciated by those who would like to raise a glass.
As for spending less, look at the little stuff – favors, flowers, table numbers, etc. The endless amount of “things” that can be included in a wedding, especially a theme wedding, can bust a budget fast.
This thread has been super helpful! We’re getting married at my parents’ home in August, so there’s a lot of deciding how ‘wedding’-ish we have to go since we’re hoping to keep everything laid back. I’m very against putting up lots of money for flowers, so it’s awesome to see so many of you have named it one of the lesser-valued (after the fact) expenses. Seeing the consensus about photography is VERY helpful. My biggest question mark regarding our wedding is iPod vs. DJ. We’re hoping to hook up a great borrowed sound system, keep a microphone accessible, and program our tunes. We’re getting A LOT of pressure to hire a DJ, but since we’re both social people who are happy to hop on the mike and get people up to dance, we don’t see the need. I’m seeing mixed thoughts here. Does anyone have any opinions on the matter?
We hired a DJ for our wedding just because we didn’t have a sound system at our location and the headache of setting it up was something we were willing to pay to avoid. We also didn’t want to have to worry about music selection throughout the night since music can have a huge influence on the tone of a party.
That being said, one of my best friends had an iPod reception and it was just fine. She had a sound system at her location and her playlist was good. A DJ was not missed at her wedding and would have been an unnecessary expense for her.
Good to know! Thanks for the feedback.
I wish we had put money aside for a honeymoon. We moved our wedding up because we had saved faster than expected and literally could not wait to get married. But now because of our budget and our schedules, we haven’t even planned a honeymoon yet. We had a great party, but we want to have a special trip just for us.
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