Wedding Advice - Where to spend your money

One thing I love about being a wedding photographer is that I have been an asset to my friends when it came time to plan their weddings. Every time someone I know gets engaged they come to me asking my advice, which if you don't know me I LOVE to give advice. :) There are definitely some patterns I've noticed in my time as a wedding photographer that I think would be useful to someone currently planning a wedding. I wanted to share some of those with you today. Today's theme is where to spend your money (and where NOT to). I hope you can gain something from the experiences of your friendly neighborhood wedding photographer. 

1. DO spend money on a good wedding photographer.
(I know a good one if you're looking)

Yeah, I said it. You should allocate a good portion of your wedding budget to photography. Your wedding photos are the only thing that remain after your big day is over. Yes, you might keep your wedding dress, but you most likely will not ever wear it again. It will go in a preservation box and remain there for years and years. Yes, you will keep a portion of your cake to eat on your one year anniversary, but after that anniversary your cake is gone.

The one thing that you can keep and interact with on a daily basis for the rest of your life is your PHOTOS. These are the most tangible reminder of your wedding day. It's the best way to share with others who couldn't be in attendance. It's the best way to share with generations to come. It's the best way to ensure that your wedding day memories are secure.

Speaking as a former bride, there are a lot of things about your wedding day that you will forget about or miss entirely because the day is so busy and packed with emotions. If you have a great wedding photographer you will have wedding photos that tell your full wedding story so that you can remember fondly everything that happened on your special day.

2. DO spend money on a good venue.

I feel that this is often overlooked. Many brides who are working with a tight budget decide to save themselves money by choosing a cheap venue. A cheap venue is great, an UGLY venue is not. So often I find that brides who were trying to save money on a venue ended up spending even more money on decorations to try and make an ugly venue look better.

Save yourself this time, effort, and money and just pick a venue that is naturally beautiful. This means you will need to spend less money on decorations and less time beautifying.

I personally feel that it takes too much time and effort to try and make a recreation center gymnasium look beautiful, and usually these attempts are rather unsuccessful. It doesn't matter how many lights you drape. I can still tell that I'm in a rec center gymnasium. Do yourself AND your wedding photos a favor and find a naturally beautiful site for your wedding.

If you are working with a tight budget and don't want to spend a ton of money on an expensive venue I would encourage you to talk to family and friends and see if anyone has some pretty land that they own. Backyard weddings are beautiful and very affordable!

3. DO spend money on your reception over your ceremony.

In most cases your guests will spend 30 minutes or less at your ceremony. They could spend hours at your reception. At your ceremony the guests focus is all on you. The only area I would say you really need to concern yourself with is the place where you will be standing.

At the receptions guests will be wandering, looking around the whole space instead of just toward the front. The reception is where it is important to leave a good impression and make your guests time there enjoyable. 

4. DON'T spend money on your ceremony programs.

Don't get me wrong, your programs should look nice. I'm a graphic designer so I would certainly never advocate having tacky programs. That being said, people WILL throw these away. They will. I hate to be the one to tell you that if you had higher hopes for the future of your wedding programs. Unfortunately, 99% of your programs end up in program heaven immediately after the shindig is over.

I would recommend having a classy program design and getting them printed as cheap as possible. Or, you could do a chalkboard program or something along that vein so that you aren't wasting paper at all. It's cheaper AND nice to nature. Win, win. 

5. DON'T spend money on decorations that you will never use for anything else.

This leads back up to our first point of having a beautiful venue. If you have a beautiful venue you will need to buy fewer decoration items. You will still need to decorate somehow.

My recommendation is to decorate with things that you will be able to use in your home, or use a lot of flowers. Flowers are classy, timeless, beautiful, and after the wedding is over you don't have to find somewhere to store them or try and sell them on Etsy. Send a vase of flowers home with your bridesmaids and you're done. I think you're doing yourself a favor by not purchasing a vintage birdcage to go on every single table because then you are the owner of 50 vintage birdcages. What does one do with 50 vintage birdcages, exactly? Nothing. One does nothing.

Also don't do this because that trend is dead. Anyway, that's another blog post entirely. The point is, brides can rack up a ton of money spent on reception table decor that they have no interest in using in the future. If you have a very specific idea in mind for your reception and don't want to purchase those items, RENT them. It's a lot easier than having a closet full of identical centerpieces that you can't get rid of.

I hope that was helpful! Look forward to more wedding planning posts. Be sure to comment and leave me your thoughts!