Weddings: What is Worth the Expense and What Isn't?

Weddings are a wonderful experience whether you're a guest, a bridal party member, or the bride and groom. Celebrating love and happiness is beautiful. But weddings can get really expensive really quickly.

There are certain areas where you can cut costs, and other areas where you really shouldn't! With years of experience in the wedding industry, I've compiled a list of what is and isn't worth the expense when it comes to weddings. What I mean by this is the list price of an item. Some things may be worth their list price, but some may not be.

What isn't Worth the Expense:

Invitations and Save the Dates- Invitations can be really expensive depending on where you order them from. If you're looking for a simple flat card with your wedding details, consider ordering from Vistaprint or Canva. You can customize their designs or create your own, and they'll do the printing for you. Invitations ordered from these sites can still look classy! And if you're looking to add a special touch consider wrapping some lace or ribbon around the pieces in your envelope.

Aisle Runners- As a wedding planner, I ALWAYS advise against an aisle runner, especially if the wedding is outdoors. The main reason for this is that they are impossible to keep down. I've worked with aisle runners at two venues that had concrete aisles. The first time we were relying on Mum pots to hold the aisle runner down, but they were just in the way. We didn't have tape, the guests were arriving, and the wind was continuously picking the fabric up. We nixed the runner and I don't think anyone even noticed! The second time we were prepared. I had tape ready to go when she handed me her aisle runner. We taped that runner down in every place that we could. But tape doesn't love to stick to concrete. Multiple times I went outside to push the runner down to secure the hold. And then when the bride walked down the aisle, her dress picked the runner up and began to drag it along with her. One of my team members was able to take hold of a corner and stop a scene from being caused, but in the end it didn't seem worth it. I don't even remember what color that runner was.

Tux Rentals-This one sounds crazy, I know, but most tux rentals are around $200 per person. Even if you aren't paying for the bridal party's apparel, consider cutting costs here for their sake. Take the men shopping to find used suits at a thrift store. Or take them to get a new suit at Burlington. If you go during prom season or even right after, the selection may be better. You can even shop on Amazon! Why make them pay $200 for a suit they'll have to return in a few days?

Expensive Bridesmaid Dresses- Again, this sounds crazy, but you can find amazing dresses that your bridal party will love on Amazon's website. That's where I got mine! My girls dresses were about $30 and a few of them wore the dresses again for other events. Plus, Amazon has a great return policy! But if you are skeptical about ordering online, go shopping with your girls during prom season. So many shops will have beautiful dresses for more affordable pricing than most formal dress shops. Ross for instance stocks up on formal wear when prom season rolls around. I'm sure Burlington would have a large selection as well.

My lovely crew in their Amazon dresses. The maid of honor's dress was specially ordered from a neat little website that let's you rent formal dresses. They sent her two to choose from! The site is called Rent the Runway.

Decor items- Decorations are one of the most fun parts of wedding planning in my opinion. I love the little details! But did you know that most brides after the wedding admit that they don't even remember what decor they used? Hardly anyone asks their photographer to make sure they get pictures of the set up. So why spend a lot on the decor? I've ordered decorations online from Wish and they were surprisingly nice. You can read more about that experience here. But if you know what you're looking for, shop around, find the best price.

What is Worth the Expense:

These areas are ones where you don't want to skimp. There are cheaper options out there and by all means, please shop around and compare pricing on different options. But don't shop only based on the price tag. Compare the quality, and all the package has to offer, then factor in the price. You can still save money in these areas, but don't just book based on the lowest price.

Catering-Do not cut corners on the catering! Your guests remember just a few things from your wedding day, their comfort level (temperature, chair comfort) and the food. The greatest costs for your wedding will be for the venue, photography/videography, and catering. By all means, stick to your budget and don't accept a catering price that is outrageous for the amount you can pay, but keep in mind that feeding 100 plus people can cost quite a bit. And if your caterer provides their own plates, silverware, and glasses, they're saving you lots of money just in those rental fees.

Venue- The venue that you choose sets the tone for your entire wedding. The venue will influence every part of your wedding. The venue is going to be one of the biggest costs in your wedding budget. Every venue is different and offers different services so be sure that the package you are choosing is worth the price they're requesting. Additionally, before you book check in with any vendors that the venue requires to ensure that they too are within your budget. There are cheaper venues out there, such as the church you attend or local parks. Many local parks that host weddings are about $500 or so. This is a great way to cut costs in this area as long as you love the venue and you're willing to put a little more effort into the wedding. You'll likely need to rent chairs for the ceremony, tablecloths for the reception, and depending on your caterer, plates, utensils, and glasses for the food and drinks.

Wedding Planner/Day of Coordinator- Wedding planners and day of coordinators may seem like a luxury, but they are not. A lot of venues are now requiring you to have a day of coordinator, and here's why: On the wedding day, decorations will need to be set up, vendors will need to be directed to where they need to be, your bridal party will need to be kept to the timeline, the events of the day should be kept to the timeline, and issues will arise. You, as the bride or groom, should not be responsible for managing this on your wedding day. There are professionals who do this for a living. They will take the stress away from you. To find out more about what you should expect from a wedding planner, check out this blog.

Photographer/Videographer- Your wedding day is just that, a day. You'll spend months preparing for this day and before you know it, it'll be over. The day doesn't last, but the memories do. This is why it is so important not to skimp on the photography/videography. Do your research into photographers. Look at the pictures they've done and test them out beforehand. Ask them if you can book a trial engagement shoot before you sign any contracts to make sure that they're the right fit for the vision you have in mind.

Some Things Depend on the Bride:

When it comes to the budget for your wedding day, it all comes down to what is important for you. You can cut costs in many areas of your wedding, but if your dream is to ride away with your groom in a vintage car and that is important to you, then you'll have to pay the rental fee for that vintage car.

Dress- The wedding dress doesn't have to be expensive. You can find decent gowns for under $1,000. It all depends on the style you're looking for, and if you're willing to buy off the rack. David's Bridal often has a section of off the rack dresses priced in the low hundreds. Additionally, if you go on the hunt you may be able to find some from a thrift shop! There are countless videos on youtube of women testing out wedding dresses from Wish and Amazon. I wouldn't necessarily recommend this option, but there are options out there!

Flowers- Wedding Flowers cost a lot of money, whether it be bouquets, centerpieces, boutonnieres, or aisle decor, live floral arrangements can be expensive, but they add such a beautiful touch to the wedding. If you want your day to be filled with flowers be sure to budget accordingly. I encourage you still to leave the arrangements up to the professionals, but if you want to bring in extra flowers of your own to add to the mix, pick up some bouquets from local supermarkets, or consider some potted plants from a garden center. However, if flowers are only a tradition for you, consider using silk flowers. At times using silk flowers can save you money, and they can be saved after the wedding!

Make up- You want to look your most beautiful on your wedding day, so having a professional to do your makeup is a wonderful idea. But if you find there's not a lot of room left in the budget and your'e looking for ways to cut back, consider the friends that you have. Have you seen any of them do the makeup style you're looking for? I believe that when you're the bride, you deserve to be pampered, but if you prefer to cut corners here, it can be done.

Hair- I'd just about always recommend that you have your hair done by a professional. One of the worst things I can imagine for a bride on her wedding day is being concerned with her hair falling from its up-do. You don't want to be walking down the aisle with everyone's eyes on you and feel your hair start to fall from its position. But if you have a friend who has studies cosmetology or you simply love the way one of your bridesmaids curls her hair, by all means ask them to do it for you. But please have a trial run, maybe even two. This is one thing you absolutely do not want to go wrong on your wedding day!

Cake- Don't bake the cake yourself. It's not a good idea. But if you don't dream of having a perfect 4 tier themed wedding cake that towers above your guest, look into the alternatives. Serve cupcakes or some other type of dessert. Donut walls are popular right now. Just don't leave your guests hanging. They're there because they love you, but they're expecting a good dessert while they're there.

DJ- A good DJ can make or break the reception. If you plan on having dancing at your wedding, be sure that your DJ can carry the party. He should have a list of appropriate dance songs for your event, and he should have an outgoing personality. Believe me, it matters a lot. However, if you aren't having dancing at your wedding and are just looking for someone to help with the music for the ceremony and MC at the reception, you should be able to save some money. All in all, I wouldn't pay more than $800 for a DJ, unless you're adding special touches such as a monogram projection or slideshow.

I've helped plan a number of weddings with widely different budgets, and they all ended up being absolutely beautiful. You can rest assured that when you bring your budget to me, I can help you find ways to stay as close to that number as possible. Weddings can still be beautiful even if you don't have upwards of $10,000 to spend.

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