My husband and I look back to our wedding with fond memories.We cut costs in many areas and managed to spend less than $9k on our big day, in comparison to the $20k that the average American spends. We are by no means “ballin,'” so paying for quality vendors was hard for us to stomach. In retrospect, here are the areas that we’ve found worth paying the extra buck for:
A great quality photographer is by far the most important wedding expense. Your wedding may only last 3 hours, but your wedding pictures will last forever. There are things about my wedding day that I would have otherwise forgotten, but because I had photos, I will never forget.Great photographers can be pricey, but they’re well-worth it. I remember the day of my honeymoon, scrolling through candid shots by friends and family thinking to myself, “I thought I looked so much better than this! I don’t like these pictures.” Then, once my professional photos came in, I felt like the stunning bride that I paid so much to be. In retrospect, those candid photos weren’t all so bad, but as a bride and groom, you’ll want those moments captured in absolute perfection.Our wedding photographers were fabulous, and they travel. Check them out: www.pharrisphotos.com
Experienced Wedding Coordinator
My husband and I planned our wedding without a wedding planner. We really wanted to cut costs in the shoes where we felt like we could reasonably fit. We had no idea we would end up needing a wedding coordinator. Our wedding coordinator actually came with our venue!Our superstar coordinator was named Sherry. Sherry was incredibly thorough with everything pre-wedding. She consistently checked in with our caterers, our guest list, our musicians, our payments and pretty much everything else. When I felt unsure about my capability to throw the biggest party of my life, she was there to guide me and reassure me.Look for someone who is structured and prompt, but also kind and compassionate. On the day of my wedding, everything flowed flawlessly because Sherry’s mind worked like a turn-key operation system. Not only that, but we had a potential wedding melt-down that she completely shielded me from. I didn’t find out that one of the groomsmen was missing his suit until the next day!If you don’t have a coordinator that comes with your venue, or if the one that’s assigned to you doesn’t have these qualities, I would absolutely spend a large portion of my budget on an experienced, high-quality wedding coordinator.
During weddings, if you’re not offering an open bar, you’d better bring it with good food.I can’t say that I had the best caterers. In fact, they were quite unprofessional, and they did not deliver what they promised. We had a morning wedding with omelettes, and we were promised a chef line where everyone would get a personalized omelette. That’s not what we got. We had pre-made omelettes and fruit trays.Even with all of those mistakes, I can still say is that the food was delicious. At weddings, everyone is hungry. The guests are hungry, the wedding party is hungry, and yes, you’ll be starving too. After hours of wedding prep, an emotional ceremony, and then a billion pictures, the last thing you want to worry about is having a bad plate of food. I had a beautiful fruit and cheese tray, that looked far more expensive than what we paid for. And the omelette… no words. My first bite of food after the ceremony and pictures really made our wedding. Even though the catering price was fairly reasonable, I’m grateful we didn’t try to skimp any further. It was worth the price. As for the cake, I can’t help you much with that one. My husband’s grandma owned a bakery and she made our cake from scratch. It was beautifully layered with edible gold. Not only that, but she also made a bunch of banana pudding cupcakes for Michael’s groom’s cake. Sherry told us that, “That cupcake was the best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth.” Pretty much everyone else said the same.
Long story short, you’ve gotta have great food.
Full Dance floor & Professional DJ
We had close to 300 people at our wedding. At the time most of our friends were college-age. Just by nature of the size and demographic of the wedding, we had to throw a fun wedding. Needless to say, we spent a pretty penny on a full-sized dance floor. If you want a wedding full of dancing and fun, I would suggest a large dance floor. It says to the guests, “It’s about to go down!”What we unfortunately didn’t invest in was a professional DJ. We thought we’d cut costs by going with a friend who’d DJ for beauty pageants in the past. Don’t get me wrong, he remembered to play the jams, the cupid shuffle and the wobble. But he also played the wrong version of our first dance, and messed up the perfectly-spliced mix of the mother-son dance by playing just the full version of the first song. That left my husband and new mother-in-law a little upset.Although a cheap DJ didn’t break the wedding, it did disturb some moments that we planned to be so special. Don’t make the same mistake we did. Go ahead and hire a professional.