January 28, 2021
I remember planning my own wedding and completely spiraling when I realized how much venues cost and all of the other assorted vendors we’d need to bring on board. I knew exactly who our wedding photographers were going to be (and literally emailed them as soon as we got engaged), and I wasn’t willing to budge on it. I also wouldn’t budge on a videographer because I know how important those two things are. You’ve heard it a million times – your cake gets eaten and then freezer burned, your dress gets hung up in a closet, your flowers die. The only tangible thing other than your marriage that comes out of your wedding day are your photos, which is why it’s SO important to realize that a photographer who “doesn’t cost and arm and a leg” might NOT be your best bet.
Yes, wedding photography is expensive but when you find someone that you click with and you love their style and approach to a wedding day, it can be hard to walk away when you think that they’ll eat into your entire wedding budget. Here’s the thing – we paid for our wedding ourselves, so every. single. dollar. came out of our pockets. How did we do it when a THIRD of our entire wedding budget went to photography & videography? We cut corners in other areas to make sure that we could get the memories that we knew we wanted and needed!!
1. An off season date: We got married on a Friday in February because our venue had discounted off season venue pricing. Not only was it perfect because all of our guests could attend without any other wedding date conflicts, but because it was a Friday, everyone had time to recover before work on Monday.
2. A cheap dress: I bought my dress off of Lulu’s (it was $200 and I loved it!).
3. Cheap accessories: My veil was $30 off of Amazon and it was actually GREAT quality, and I’ve used it since then in multiple shoots! It was so long that I cut 2 feet off of it and now use that portion in my wedding day styling kit! I also bought high top sneakers and borrowed my mom’s earrings.
4. Lot’s of DIY: I DIY-ed alllll of the paper goods for our wedding day. I actually had NO idea how much wedding invitations cost and was blown away when I found out – so I used Photoshop to create the invitation suites we wanted. We found a local printer who was incredibly affordable, made our own wax seals, and voila – gorgeous invitations!
5. Facebook Marketplace: I bought our reception decor off of Facebook Marketplace. Almost all of it! It was SO much cheaper, and we were able to then use the money we saved to get beautiful compote bowls for the floral centerpieces (that I then turned around and sold a year later!).
6. No favors: We didn’t do favors because I know that almost no one ever takes them and it was money that we put towards the photographers.
7. Wedding cake alternative: We didn’t do a wedding cake because most people DON’T actually eat it (and they’re incredibly expensive!) – we did an apple crisp with homemade ice cream instead and it was AMAZING.
8. More DIY: This makes me laugh now because I know I was fixated on it at the time, but I *really* wanted these gorgeous dip dyed napkins for the tables that would match the tablecloths – but they were something like $4 a piece…so I made my own. I do NOT recommend this because it was a HUGE pain and our entire lives were covered in blue dip dyed napkins for a few weeks but I got the napkins and look that I wanted – and then sold them on FB marketplace a year later.
9. Delayed honeymoon: We waited a year to take our honeymoon. My sister got married 6 weeks after us in California and we knew that we couldn’t afford to do a honeymoon right after, so we took a small road trip up the California coast instead and did an overnight in Portland Maine when we got home. We saved for a year, used credit card miles (we put as much wedding stuff as we could on my credit card to rack the miles up), and had the honeymoon of our DREAMS in St. John (see that post here!).
10. Gifted florals: Our florals were gifted to us by my friends sweet mom who is an incredibly talented florist! Had we paid for them I would have also DIY-ed those as well.
In the end, making so much ourselves and sacrificing things like a $3,000 dress I’ll never wear again were completely worth it. Do I wish that we had been able to get married when it was warmer and brighter and we could have been outside for the whole thing? Yeah sure, but there is no way that we ever could have been able to afford it, and that’s ok!! We chose to have an 8 month engagement because we’d been together almost 10 years at that point and didn’t want to wait another 1.5-2 years to get married. At the end of the day, we have the most incredible snowy, bright, beautiful photos and a beautiful video that we can look back on – and our friends STILL talk about how much fun our wedding was.
The takeaway here is to PRIORITIZE what the most important things to you are on your wedding day. Once you decide what you want to put the most money towards, work on the other areas to see if you can cut some corners. I know that buying a dress online and making your invitation suite is out of the question for a lot of brides, but sometimes you need to take a step back and visualize looking back on your wedding. Are you happy you got a cheap photographer and an expensive dress and flowers? Or are you happy you spent lots of money on a photographer who was able to turn your cheaper off the rack dress into a stunning work of art? It’s ALL about perspective.
All photos are by the incredibly talented MarieSam Sanchez Photography!
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