If you search for the average national wedding price for 2015 you will see numbers nearing 30K! Whoa! Now, I will preface all that I have to say by telling you that I was lucky enough to have my parents pay for our wedding. My grandmother paid for my wedding dress. I think Eric and I came out of pocket less than $1,000 for everything (it’s ok to roll your eyes here). With that being said, if I knew then what I know now, I would have done it very differently to save my parents some cash.
First off, why do I find it important to share advice on how to have an affordable wedding? The biggest reason is that I am a realist. Everyone would love to convince us that we deserve a Kardashian style wedding. And though I know you are super cool, work hard, and deserve the best life has to offer, the problem with that pushy advice is this: 1. we don’t all have a Kardashian budget (obvious statement) 2. and, I’m going to say this really quietly,those people are probably trying to sell you something. We have become a society where everywhere we turn people are hoisting shiny objects at us with some sort of obvious or, more dangerous yet, discreet, marketing technique. What if we turned weddings on their heads? What if we said, “screw it, I’m going to throw a fantastic party with the people I love the most, serve great drinks in mismatched cups, grow my own flowers, have my best friend make loads of cookies, and dance until I can’t feel my feet?” Whoever just agreed with that, call me. I want to shoot your wedding.
The below advice is not only from the level-headedness that comes with years of marriage, house bills, and two children that insist on being taken care of on a daily basis, but also from my experience as a wedding photographer. Enjoy.
Makeup: It is probably the DIY-er in me, but I loved that I did my own wedding makeup. That, and the fact that it meant that I had the money to splurge on makeup that I actually got to keep. I had gone to Mac at the time, but my current suggestion would be to check out different YouTube makeup artists and see what they recommend. I love Makeup Geek and almost always go with her recommendations. Most makeup artists at the weddings I shoot use Urban Decay eye products.
Linens and perfect details: Think about the last wedding you went to. Do you remember the tablecloth? Do you remember the gift table details? Probably not. These are not things that we usually pay attention to. Now, do you remember the rockin’ dance floor where you danced for hours with friends, the lawn games, the bonfire where you kicked your shoes off and reminisced about your crazy college days? Probably, and for good reason. Put your time and money into the details that are going to ensure that you have a great party that you and your guests will remember. Takeaway: Fun times create memories, linens and centerpieces do not.
Cake: Our wedding day was determined by Just Say Cheesecake’s availability. Because of them, our October wedding day was sunny and almost 80 degrees! It is a good thing that I center most things in my life around food. The wedding cake and dessert is something that you can definitely pull off in an affordable way. I have photographed weddings in which each of the bride’s aunts and family members have baked beautiful cakes so that there were many kinds to choose from, where the family made tons of different cupcakes, and where different types of homemade pies were served. A lot of couples are now choosing to have a small, homemade cake made for the cake cutting in-lieu of a big lavish cake. There are so many fun ideas and ways to get creative. Cookies, caramel apples, ice cream, cheesecakes. Honestly, how can you ever fail when it comes to dessert?!
Invites: If you have any sort of design skill, Etsy offers a huge array of digital fonts, digital papers, and digital clipart for sale (and in most cases, cheap). You can certainly find free fonts on Pinterest-that’s what I usually do.
Favors: Let’s be honest, favors can be a pain and are oftentimes left behind anyway. Keep it simple. Keep it fun. This past Christmas, I bought a bunch of white Dollar Store mugs and a couple Pebreo Vitreo markers. Everyone had a great time creating their own mugs and it was super cheap. I’ve seen this done with wine glasses for wedding favors. Anything that gives people something to do and laugh about is a good thing.
Jewelry: Borrow it! I wore my grandmother’s pearl necklace and Eric’s grandmother’s pearl bracelet. Many of my wedding clients wear items that are borrowed from mothers and grandmothers and there is always so much excitement when they are putting these items on. It just seems so much more special. Another fun option is to make it. The bride at one of the weddings I photographed made each of her bridesmaids a little rose ring. It was beautiful and something that will always remind them of the wedding. Check out this board for some inspiration.
Photography: I’ve saved the best for last! This is where I should be telling you that the photography is the most important part of the day. On the one hand, once the day is through, your images will be all that remain. On the other hand, should you go broke and over your budget for extras and services that you don’t necessarily need? There are so many incredible photographers out there with prices all over the place. How can you ever choose?! My most important piece of advice is to find a photographer who you really, really like. You are, after all, spending the entire day with this person and you have to trust that they are going to do their very best to take good care of you. Also, the most popular photographer isn’t necessarily the best photographer. Every once in a while I come across a local photographer who I have not heard of and I am blown away with their work. I always think to myself, why have I not heard of this person? The reason is this; just because someone is a good photographer, doesn’t mean that they are a good marketer of their services. Bottom line, look outside of the “box” and find a photographer whose personality fits nicely with yours. And lastly, though it is so easy to get caught up in the appeal of “perfect” images and want to pay the high cost of that, remember that the excitement that you are going to feel when looking at your pictures is not going to come from the “perfection” that was created or manipulated, but rather, from the emotion that is evoked as you recall all the individual moments that make up your special day.
Make sure to take a peek at my Pinterest page that has many articles with tips for DIY and affordable weddings.