There are so many different articles out on the internet about wedding costs and wedding planning. What you should do and what you should avoid. The cost of a wedding is rising all the time and sometimes you might ant to save some money or avoid paying for things that you might think is necessary, but in actual fact your guests might not be paying too much attention too.
This article was previously printed on Etsy, but over the years we have seen things change with the times and have adapted some of the points accordingly. Originally published June 10, 2016
) The Invitations
I hate to break it to you, but these little suckers end up in the recycling bin faster than you can say, “I now pronounce you husband and wife.” Sure, it’s the very first introduction to your wedding, but a beautiful invitation is a beautiful invitation. No one is judging your choice of paper stock, ornamentation or font (just trust me on this one).
The Solution: The average couple spends $445 on their wedding invites. Don’t stress about your invites and instead find an affordable option that fits your budget. There are tons of retailers that would surprise you with their collections of wedding invitations, such as Costco, Target, Walmart, Shutterfly, or Etsy if you are looking for a cheap alternative. A good alternative is to take one of your photographs from an engagement session and have your photographer design and print a few out for you.
We include this option in our pricing and it is a great way to get value added, quality products when booking your wedding.
2) The Programs
See: Invitations (but with a far shorter lifespan).
The Solution: Programs are super cute, but if you want to skip them and save the money your guests won’t care. Instead create a few DIY chalkboard or wooden signs that have your schedule or other necessary details listed on them. Have a few of these around the ceremony and reception site and your guests will get the general idea.
3) The Guest Book
Ah, the thumbprint tree. Such a creative idea in theory, but it can get real messy, real fast. The anniversary wine, the Polaroid station, the wishing tree… Super cute, but super unnecessary. Guest books can get pricey, and the cost can really skyrocket once you start piling on the works. Do yourself a favor and keep it simple, or go ahead and nix it altogether. Your guests won’t miss it, and in the age of digital photography, you’ll have tons of tons of snaps of your family and friends sharing your special day. If that doesn’t beat a scrawled name on a page (or a smudgy thumbprint), I don’t know what does.
The Solution: If you decide to go with a guestbook, create something simple. A cute DIY board like the one pictured below is cute, cheap, and something you can actually display after the wedding. Your guests won’t care that you made it yourself. I photographed a wedding where the couple had used one of my engagement photos framed and then removed the glass so they could sign the paper matte inside of the frame. It was super simple, and they have it hanging in their living room now.
As a premium offer to our wedding customers we offer these custom made boards which can then be hung in your home after the wedding.
4) The Flowers
Now don’t get me wrong; floral arrangements are almost always a welcome addition to your chosen venue, and can inject the space with a bit of your personal style. But while no one will argue that golden dip-dyed roses aren’t totally gorg, they’re also a total waste of time and money. Trust us, no one will notice the lack of designer blooms, and your artfully arranged farmer’s market flowers will be just as striking – at a fraction of the price. Guests will appreciate the thoughtful, fragrant flourishes no matter what, regardless of whether you’ve chosen exotic blooms from far-flung corner of the world or locally grown greenery.
The Solution: Instead of spending a fortune on fancy designer flowers, visit your local farmer’s market or florist. Your guests will literally have no idea where your flowers came from, so why spend all the extra money? On the morning of my cousin’s wedding she had her bridesmaids pick up all her flowers from just down the street. And you know what? They looked great!
5) The Linens
As a wedding guest, I just don’t pay much mind to your tablecloths. As long as I don’t have to eat my halibut off of a dirty old burlap sack, I’ll be just fine, thank you very much. Specialty linens can get costly, so save yourself the buck and choose something simple and functional that blends seamlessly with your décor – no muss, no fuss.
The Solution: Save the money and choose something simple. Most of the time your venue would be able to offer a simple arrangement.
6) The Dress
This one may be a bit controversial, but personally, I think that blowing your bridal budget on a fancy-shmancy gown just to wear it once and never again is less than practical. It’s not what you wear but how you wear it, so as long as you’re comfortable and feel like your best, most beautiful self, well, that’s good enough for me. That’s not to say that guests won’t remember an outlandish or ill-fitting dress, but if the bride is rocking a beautifully tailored gown that makes her look and feel like the goddess she is, guests won’t bat an eyelash at the lack of designer label.
The Solution: Before you panic, let me clarify and say that your guests obviously care about your dress. What they won’t think twice about is the price or designer of your dress. So don’t take out a small loan to buy a dress with a fancy designer label that you hope will impress your guests. Instead, find a dress that fits you and your personality well. Shop sample sales, clearance, and online to find a perfectly beautiful dress that won’t break your bank. You could wear a second-hand dress and no one would know the difference. Check out our large selection of bridal gowns under $1,000! We do include make-up as part of our wedding packages if you are looking for the extra touch and convenience.
7) The First Dance
Short of a live performance by Adam Levine to provide the soundtrack, no one will remember your first dance. In fact, a nervous, shaky, overly choreographed routine may be what sticks with them. Instead of the weeks of rehearsal required to try and fix your two left feet, it’s more important to just be yourself and enjoy the moment. Tackle a few moves that you feel 100% comfortable performing, no matter how simple, and watch the pressure just melt away. Great for you, great for your guests and great for your wedding photos… Everyone wins! Here are a few alternatives as well.
The Solution: Smile, relax, and have fun. If you don’t feel confident in your dancing skills, be able to laugh at yourself because your guests will appreciate that way more than a nervous, awkward dance. This is a moment for you and your new spouse, so enjoy it!
8) The Cake
Towering layers, handcrafted sugar paste designs, 24-carat gold motifs… The painstakingly detailed wedding cake is certainly gorgeous, but guests won’t miss those details if you opt for an elegantly simple confection instead. As long as it tastes delicious, you’ve got a guaranteed crowd pleaser (and let’s be honest, it will, because CAKE). Speaking of tasty treats, a dessert bar is a great option as well. Swap the cake for an array of equally delish (and comparatively affordable) cupcakes, macarons or ice cream sundaes, and guests will be just as pleased.
The Solution: Get creative. I once attended a wedding that ended with the couples favorite doughnuts on pegs, against a large peg board. There were all these varieties from their favorite bakery in their hometown. To this day, I haven’t a clue whether I opted for yellow cake, chocolate icing, or sprinkles. However seemingly crazy the idea, don’t be afraid to shake things up!
9) The Bouquet Toss
This tradition has become somewhat archaic in recent years, with many brides opting to skip it altogether. Do it or don’t do it – it all depends on your vision – but rest assured that if you opt out, it’s likely that no one will miss it. Besides, less time assembling the masses for the ceremonial pitch means more time on the dance floor!
The Solution: Do it or don’t, but have fun and don’t stress about it. A great alternative I photographed at one of my weddings was a safe box. Give all your single guests a key in an envelope before the toss and then invite them up to try the lock when the time is near.
10) The Wedding Favors
An edible sweet treat that guests that can enjoy in the afterglow of the wedding as they share memories of your spectacular soirée – well, I can’t argue with you there. But engraved champagne flutes, customized candles, and other novelty items are forgettable for guests and an added expense for the bride and groom. A fancy soap might seem like a great idea for the fancy soaping-loving couple, but for most of your guests it’s basically the adult equivalent of getting raisins on Halloween. One in 50 will love it; the other 49 will dump them on your lawn.
The Solution: Take the money you had set aside for favors and donate those dollars to your charity of choice. A sweet note will let guests know that a donation has been made in lieu of those take away gifts, a gesture that any wedding guest would be thrilled to support. If you still want to give out favors: pick something sweet and simple. Food is always a great idea here. Otherwise I’ve seen couples skip the favors and opt for just the photo booth instead. Guests usually love these things and taking the pictures is a fun memory for everyone.
Our photography studio also offers FREE portrait sessions for any veterans as well as those that have served. We also give you a $50 credit for any referrals to our studio. Save it for a later date, as the family grows we would be so happy to grow with you.
I hope you liked some of the suggestions or maybe they were just a little crazy. It is a collection of thoughts and ideas that I have experienced over the years as a photographer.