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Top Things NOT to Sacrifice on when Trying to Save Money on Your Wedding

Updated on August 25, 2014
My reception venue
My reception venue

I work in the fashion industry and back in college I was the rush chair of my sorority - planning fun beautiful parties is something I've always liked to do! So when it came time to plan the biggest and most exciting party of my life - my wedding in September, 2011 - well that was something I truly enjoyed. And even more, I enjoyed the challenge of trying to plan to best wedding, for the least amount of money I could. As I planned I learned (through online research, talking to friends and family, the advice of my vendors and my own intuition) where it was safe to cut costs without compromising my vision for the day...and where it was absolutely worth spending a little more for the very best. The following are the areas I decided were worth spending more on - and looking back now I'm glad I did!

My ceremony venue
My ceremony venue

My Top 7 Things not to Cut Corners on

7. Your venue. Your venue is the centerpiece of your wedding (besides you and your spouse of course!) It's one of the biggest statements of your wedding, and it's something everyone will remember. I'm a big fan of separate ceremony and reception venues. It creates a change of scenery and separates the serious and official ceremony from the fun party! We had our wedding in the synagogue I grew up attending - I like that it had history mixed with beauty. And then we had our reception at the Portland Art Museum - it wasn't the cheapest reception venue we looked at, but the ballroom was the most gorgeous and the atmosphere was perfect. The other nice thing about choosing a pricier venue is often coordination help is included in the cost, which can save you money in the long run. My venue cost was high, and I had to use their caterer which didn't let me shop around, but in addition to a beautiful setting, I got pre-wedding coordination (with TOP level service and expertise), day of coordination, and while the catering may not have been the cheapest all of our guests raved about the food.

6. The Food. Along the lines mentioned above , even if you have the choice, don't scrimp on the food. Besides the venue the meal is another thing people will really remember after the wedding is over. I got married 3 years ago, and people still remember and tell me how good the food was at my wedding. Buffet vs. table service isn't nearly as important as choosing things that are truly delicious. (Though at my venue there wasn't much cost difference so I opted for table service.) Pick food you would be excited to eat! Make sure you have a tasting with your caterer before the event so that there will be no surprises on the big day. I was really excited by the duck option when I first saw my caterer's choices, but after tasting it opted out of serving it as it was just ok and many of the other choices were fantastic. Serving local specialties is also a great idea, especially if you have a lot of out of town guests. I got married in Oregon, so pacific salmon was one of our entree choices, and we served northwest wines and microbrews. Our out of town guests especially enjoyed these touches.

5. Large Picture Aesthetic Details. When my dad heard the quote for over $1000 for chair cover that was actually one of the few wedding expenditures he balked at. How could it be worth it? Well, I fought the battle to have them (and won) and myself, my husband and my father are all glad in hindsight that I did. The chairs the Art Museum provided us with weren't ugly at all. They were fine. But, they didn't match the all black and white color scheme of my reception. And I knew something like that would throw off the look of the entire room. Small details can often be sacrificed without compromising the whole look of the wedding - large ones can't. So even if you (like my dad) think, over $1000 for chair covers for one evening?!? Just keep in mind you're paying for the whole look and the finishing touches make all of the difference.

4. Your wedding rings. There are so many ring options out there from the very simple to the very ornate. And this isn't to say that you necessarily need the most expensive rings out there. But think long and hard about what you truly want to wear for the rest of your life as a symbol of your marriage. Granted some people replace their wedding rings over time, but in almost all cases I think it's better to just get what you want in the first place. Why? Well, first and foremost there's the sentimental value. The ring I have is the one my husband put on my finger on our wedding day, and that's part of why I love it. Secondly, wedding rings can range in cost but not nearly as much as say engagement rings. Most people don't even look at anything over a few thousand dollars so in the grand scheme of wedding costs, it's really not that large of a percentage, even for the priciest option you might be looking at. And if you get one and then replace it in a year that's just added cost for something you won't want to get rid of (again, the sentimental value) but you can't really do anything with. So think carefully about what you want - don't spend more than you need to, but spend enough to get whatever you define as the perfect wedding ring. You'll have it forever.

3. Your photographer. Wedding photographers can certainly be pricey. However, when you are 80 years old and can hardly remember your wedding day your wedding photos will be the physical memories you have to look back on. They're probably the most precious memento you'll take away from that day - besides a new spouse of course! So take your time interviwing and find someone you connect with. Look through their portfolio and make sure their photography style matches with your vision for your day. It's more than worth it to spend more for a true professional. At my wedding, my photographer was always there, yet I never noticed him. That's priceless. And spend the extra to buy the full day of his/her time. The pictures of everyone getting ready are often some of the best ones. And make absolutely certain that your agreement specifies that you and the photographer will share the rights to the photos after the wedding (he/she should provide you with a disk of the images). This is crucial so that you can make unlimited reprints and share your pictures as you wish over time. (I will include the caveat that while getting the photographer you want is worth spending extra on you can always save by customizing your own package - I did this by not getting an album as part of my package. I'll just have one made later, and at the time it saved me over $1000.)

2. Wedding party and parent gifts. These are the gifts for the people who have been there through it all. They're your family and your nearest and dearest friends. They've helped you with the planning, listened to your ideas, gave you advice and supported you, even during your bridezilla moments (and in the case of your parents they may be putting up considerable amounts of money to pay for the wedding). Show them you truely appreciate them. Like with wedding rings this doesn't mean you have to choose the most expensive gifts out there but be thoughtful and choose something truely meaningful to them, not completely regardless of cost of course, but if it costs a little more for what you truly want to get just do it, you won't regret it. The look on my bridemasids' faces the night of my rehearsal dinne, as they opened the gifts I chose just for them is something I will always remember.

1. Alterations on your wedding dress. The bride is truly the focal point of the wedding. This is your day, and may be one of the only days in your life when it truly is all about you! Dresses can vary greatly in cost but whether you spend $100 or $10,000 on your dress fit is the most important thing to looking your best. An ill fitting couture gown will not be flattering and a thrift store find can make you look like royalty if it fits you to a tee. Find a seamstree who is experienced with wedding dresses, and who you can trust. If you save on costs by searching out a bargain dress don't be surprised if your alterations run more than the dress itself....but don't worry about that it's worth it! I am petite already and lost a bit of weight before my wedding so my seamstress had to work small miracles to make my dress fit me perfectly - she had to take it in all over, sew in undergarments, raise the waistline and restich the ornate floral design on the skirt. It took a lot of time, and cost me, but on my wedding day I wore a dress that felt like it had been made for me and I truly felt like a princess.

On what aspect of your wedding was it the most worth it to you to spend a little more money to get the very best?

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    • ShepherdLover profile image

      ShepherdLover 5 years ago from Portland, OR

      Thanks Doctor Kristy! I too have heard terrible photogrpahy horror stories. A friend of mine tried to save money by hiring a friend of a friend to do her pictures (with no contract, just a verbal agreement)....and to this day still hasn't received the disc of images she was promised, she has no professional pictures of her wedding! Definitely speaks to checking references, choosing someone you trust, and having your agreement in writing!

    • Doctor Kristy profile image

      Kristy Callan 5 years ago from Australia

      You have included some great points to think about. I think the photographer's very important... I've heard too many horror stories about terrible photographers, who did things like accidentally ruining the film, or taking blurry pictures, or taking pictures of a pretty bridesmaid instead of the couple.

      Voted up!