When it comes to budgeting for your wedding, unless you're a wedding expert or have previously had a wedding, it can be difficult to understand how the budget breaks down and how much you should allocate towards each category of spending. Let's face it, you're a beginner in this area and even the most financially savvy couple can find themselves diving into the unknown when it comes to where to start and knowing what to expect. When thousands of dollars are at stake, it can and most likely will be stressful to know where to invest your dollars.
It's important to establish what your top 3 priorties are straight out of the gate before getting started. Though you and your fiance may have different ideas of what is important, determining the non-negotiables is a great place to start. From your wedding dress and the flowers to food and beverage, entertainment and lighting - because trust us, ambiance is important - there's no wrong place to start.
With that said, it's hard to know where you and your guests will see the spend or notice the cutbacks. A few of our wedding experts have shared their wisdom as to what they feel is worth the investment.
"Splurge on pre- or post-wedding events centered around meaningful, memorable experiences that reflect you and your chosen destination — whether it be group horseback riding, a spa day, or private day-after brunch."
~ Lindsay Brokowski, Sunriver Resort
"Splurge on a documentary film from a wedding videographer. Sound Originals offers hour-long films that include the full ceremony and speeches. It's wonderful to get a highlight video but adding the longer documentary film in addition to the highlight video is definitely worth splurging on!"
~ Carrie Weglin, Sound Originals Photo + Video
"After a wonderful ceremony and dinner it takes effort and skill to get family and friends on the dance floor. Splurge on a DJ, someone who can read the room and cultivate the type of party you want. Also splurge on reception lighting as along with the DJ, this part is crucial in making the dance floor an inviting place."
~ Gray Helmandollar, Lotte Hotel Seattle
"Splurge on the Experience. What do you love about weddings? Is it great food? Music? Photos? Sit down with your partner and list your priorities. This will help you know what to splurge on. Do you want to enjoy the best meal of your life? Splurge on the catering! Can't decide on the right dress? Splurge on a second look for the reception? Want to do something memorable? Have live music so all of your friends and family will want to get on the dance floor! Your wedding budget should reflect your priorities first. Work together with your soon-to-be spouse to ensure both of you have your top priorities met and that you both have multiple moments to look forward to."
~ Irene Jones, IJ Photo
"Splurge on that bouquet! It's the most photographed item at your wedding besides you two!"
~ Gina Thresher, From The Ground Up Floral
"When you’re balancing your food & bar budget – skimp on the high end liquor and specialty cocktails to splurge on great food. Usually, your guests are just happy that there’s an open bar with beer and wine and won’t be thinking about the specialty cocktail the day after, unless they had one too many… What people WILL remember is the food. Couples tell us all the time that their guests are still raving to them about their menu weeks after the wedding – that’s worth the spend!"
~ Desiree Jones, Tuxedos and Tennis Shoes Catering, DSquared Hospitality
"When planning your wedding, costs for designing your dream day as we know can add up – For cost saving tips with rentals and décor for your event or wedding, we at
* Opt for fancier linens for the head table (like sequin or a unique print/pattern/texture) that often run higher in costs, and pair those with a complimenting solid linen color for your guest tables that aren’t as expensive. Mix-and-match linens are a huge trend currently, and it’s also a great way to cut down costs!
* Add more “wow” with over-the-top décor, extra candles and sparkle on your head table and pare down the décor to one or two pieces per guest table, with your florals, during the reception.
There are great ways to make the tables coordinate without having to spend as much with higher design items on all your event tables, just focus on splurge items on the head table first!"
"Splurge on the chairs! In my opinion, chairs don’t break your event design- but they will definitely make it. Beautiful chairs en masse make such a statement when walking into a room!"
~ Payton Jolly, The Edgewater Hotel
"Invest in an experienced professional wedding planner. Weddings involve thousands of little details choreographing a string of events within a day and managing a team of vendors, making sure things happen at their assigned times. With supply and staffing issues since the pandemic, this "dance" is even more precise. For instance, communicating with catering on when they have the staff to pour champagne for toasts just as the last plate is served, or making sure cultural nuances are being observed and communicated effectively with staff so embarrassing situations don't occur. From juggling ferry schedules to dietary concerns to whether and when to have long candles that can melt in the heat of a hot summer day, experienced professional planners can anticipate and plan and advise because they've seen things go wrong a thousand times. Things that one can learn only from experience, and couples can benefit from this experience. A friend who's a project manager or an event coordinator - not the same thing.
We photographed 52 weddings this year, and without fail, it's the weddings without professional planners that suffer from this lack of insight and oversight, resulting in a less than smooth day from many unanticipated instances that could've been avoided had they hired a pro. And as photographers, we see it all unroll and we see it in the stress on our couples' faces, their families and other vendors. In the end, what usually ends up happening is photographers are being pulled to keep a wedding schedule because there's no other point person, and that is not a task we can perform effectively behind a camera."
~ Jennifer Tai, Jenn Tai & Co.