We’ve been in the wedding industry for 9 years now and between the two of us we have photographed and/or attended over 150 weddings. Now that we are engaged and planning our own wedding, we have a ton of great tips we have to share from both a professional and personal perspective and hope it helps you plan your own wedding.
- Book Your Top 3 as soon as you can and leave the rest
Once you’re ready for the planning, it can be super overwhelming and expensive to put down deposits for your wedding vendors. We found that by figuring out what your top three highest priority items were for the wedding, we could look for those things, book them and then we actually didn’t even think about anything else for the wedding for a couple months. These were our biggest ticket items as well which kind of set the stage for the rest of our budget AND we were particular about who we wanted to book. Anything else, we had some flexibility with. For us and many people the top three things are 1) Venue 2) Photographer 3) Food. A lot of people vary on one or two of those things but in general we find a lot of our clients (and for our own planning) that those were the most important so we put the largest amount of our budget into them and we also booked them first. Venues are the first to go and can book anywhere from 6-24 months in advance, if not more. We have even heard of venues that book 3-4 years in advance! That’s not extremely typical but for prime summer dates 12-24 months in advance is definitely not uncommon. Photography is usually next as with photographers there is only one of them. Makeup artists, even some caterers can sometimes book more than one day so they have some more flexibility, however when it comes to photographers if you like a particular person with a style and personality, once they are gone they are gone. We had a very particular photographer in mind since that is (obviously) one of our highest priorities so we booked them almost right after our venue. Everything else, take a breather and step away for a bit. We found that doing things in stages made the wedding planning process more fun and a bit less life consuming!
- Spread out your booking or ask for payment plans
Much like we mentioned above, we booked our top three and then actually took a break from the wedding planning. This wasn’t just because we got busy and wanted to spread out the planning in general, it also takes a huge hit on your wallet for the deposits. Also, keeping in mind many vendors take less than half of a deposit so when it comes close to your wedding day you may have a lot bigger chunks to pay. We have opted to book our vendors throughout the year at different times to help alleviate the numerous costs. Some vendors actually allow you to do payment plans, if you are concerned about paying large chunks it definitely helps to ask. We personally have put aside some funds to pay for things before they are due just so when our wedding date comes around we aren’t freaking out! Wedding vendors much like yourself are people too with budgets and daily expenses so they get it! It doesn’t hurt to mention that you may want to book but you aren’t quite ready to put a deposit. Some of them may let you know if the date is being asked for before booking it. However, if you just inquire and then not respond until you’re ready to put down a deposit, you may lose your date! It’s always good to be candid and open to the people you’re potentially working with.
- Prioritize and save
Ask around about what may or may not be important at a wedding, or really sit down and decide what you want. Do you really need those expensive flowers if you don’t care about them? Or maybe you want fabulous bouquets but don’t care as much as much about table settings or guest favours. There’s so many resources out there to help you prioritize what you want on your wedding day. We, like many couples, are finding that it’s very easy to get caught up in the excitement of everything decor related in our wedding colours, but often have to dial ourselves back! We are also choosing to have a smaller wedding in order to do a destination one, prioritizing who we REALLY want to be present and invest in them rather than spend a lot of extra money on people we rarely see.
- Look for alternative solutions
This is a big one for us in multiple ways. There’s a ton of resources online like facebook to get ideas for saving money on your wedding day. Some common examples are buying gently used or even new decor that people had for their own weddings. Often people buy more than they need or it barely gets touched and they are looking to sell it for a lot less than retail. One of the ways I saved a bunch was my dress! I went to a few bridal places but really didn’t feel like I needed a dress that was ordered from the store in my perfect size with a perfect idea in mind. In fact, I knew I wanted to make custom modifications so I didn’t want something that would cost me a ton up front. I went to the Bridal Loft which is a sample bridal gown shop that has unworn gowns for way less as they are samples! You go in, find a size that works for you and bam! You buy! They always say that you won’t buy the dress you think you want, but the one you put on and feel good in. This is 100% true! The dress I bought was nothing like I imagined and with the savings I can put that towards making it absolutely perfect! Lastly, ask your network! We are business owners so we have a service we can easily provide to people in trade! Maybe you know someone who makes amazing cakes and you can trade them for plumbing services. Once upon a time everyone used a barter system before money was introduced, go back to the basics and you use your own skills to get things for your wedding!
- Hire a day of coordinator or halfway planner
If you can hire a full wedding planner, that is amazing! But, some people can’t afford that or want to do some of the planning themselves. I know I did! However, a lot of wedding planners actually offer day of coordinator which is just to help run your day a little smoother without you having to worry. It’s a huge stress relief and they can help make sure everyone is in the right place. I’ve seen so many weddings that the couples say have a day of coordinator was the best money ever spent.
Take it a step further and many wedding planners offer halfway planning, where they help you plan your wedding from the halfway point. After you have all the big items you care about and then they help you take care of the rest. Although a planner is an extra cost, with their connections and resources I find they often pay for themselves!
We hope this was helpful in your planning process and good luck with all your wedding adventures!