Deciding where to invest in your wedding day is not only one of the first things you’ll need to consider when you venture into planning- it’s a question that will continue to follow you until you walk down the aisle.
And as much as it’s essential to be financially savvy no matter how much you plan to spend, you will also want to take a good hard look at the details worthy of a splurge. Below, top wedding pros pull from their own experiences to share what you won’t regret spending extra on for your celebration- as well as where you should take pause.
Where to think twice
Depending on your own tastes, the obvious “have not’s” will quickly become clear, but according to Tommy Waters of The Renaissance, many couples don’t realize that you can opt out of several upgrades because your reception venue can already do the heavy lifting.
“Most properties will have tables, chairs, linens, napkins, and place settings at their clients’ disposal. Why venture out to rent Tolix chairs when there are great options in-house? Be mindful too of the fact that renting upgraded pieces can include (but is not limited to) labor, mark-ups, and delivery fees.”
In terms of guest experience and securing a quality meal, Kristen Gosselin of KG Events & Design says to nix the 5-course meal idea. “The sayings ‘less is more’ and ‘quality over quantity’ are extremely relevant in this case. Many couples prioritize the quality of the food that is served, and this can still be achieved in 3 courses or less. The caterer will not have to produce as much food in bulk, and that can be a huge cost saving.”
Photography by: Francesca Penko Photography
Where to splurge
You and your partner will likely have a list of priorities that you’re aiming to spend your budget on, and that’s a good thing! Simply outlining the non-negotiables is the first step to staying on track. That being said, what’s important to you now may not be as important to you on the big day, so it can be difficult to gauge if allocating more money toward décor in place of entertainment is the right move.
With that being said, what splurges do couples typically have zero regrets about?
Keith Phillips of Classic Photographers shares that cinematography is an absolute must. “You may not think you want to hear your voice and watch yourself on video now, but it will be something you will cherish ten years down the road.”
If you’re a destination wedding couple, Megan Velez of Destination Weddings Travel Group recommends transforming the trip into a memorable experience for both you and your guests.
“With the guest experience being such a high priority for many millennial couples, it’s a great idea to treat your guests to a fun excursion while away. For example, a sunset cruise could act as an awesome welcome party, and a zip-lining adventure could suffice for the adrenaline junkies in your group. These experiences can act as wedding favors, too, saving you money (and space in your luggage) on small trinkets you don’t have to bring with you!”
For Joan Wyndrum of Blooms by the Box, you can consider making a splash in some areas while scaling back elsewhere. “Invest in the blooms you plan to use for your own bouquet, even if that means cutting back a bit on what your wedding party has. Your bouquet will be photographed over and over again- not to mention the fact that it will have a starring role as you walk down the aisle!”
Bear in mind that no matter how much you focus on the aesthetic of your Big Day, you’re going to want to make sure that every carefully selected detail is highlighted so it can truly be appreciated. Wyndrum adds, “If you’re going to take the time to oversee your wedding day vision, invest in professional lighting to showcase your hard work. Pin spots, in particular, are perfect for showing off your reception décor- after all, why go to all the work if the details lose its luster in a dark ballroom?”
Photography by: Francesca Penko Photography
What (real) couples are grateful they spent money on
Unfortunately, most people only get one shot at a wedding, so hindsight is 20/20. You won’t notice what’s missing until it’s the day of, and it’s too late. Jamie Chang from Passport to Joy notes that couples always say they’re happy to have hired a planner. “It’s hard to understand the role planners play when you’re just starting to plan your wedding. But when it’s over, you understand the difference it made not only throughout the planning process but on the wedding day. And when you imagine planning it all on your own, you can see how it would have been a much more stressful and unhappy experience.”
Photography by: Luke Keegan Photograph
For Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards, she finds that her couples don’t regret when they create a “surprise and delight” opportunity for their loved ones. “They love, for example, having our team greet their guests with sparkling wine as they make their way from the ceremony to the reception,” she shares.
It’s also natural to want to extend the life of your reception as well, and Gosselin says that an after party is a common budget point. “The wedding day goes by so fast, and an after-party adds a few more hours of fun. The longer the party, the more fun is had, and more memories made.”
Planning a wedding is a learning curve even for the most organized, put-together couples, but it doesn’t have to be a gamble! Knowing where to put your money will put your mind at ease and you can celebrate the planning process rather than dread it.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.