Now that our wedding is more of a distant memory, I feel like I can objectively talk about the nitty gritty details, like the wedding budget! I’ve talked a little bit about how to pay for a wedding without going broke, but this post breaks down which items I think you should save on and which to splurge on when planning a wedding. As you’re making these decisions, feel free to use this budget tool to track all your wedding spending. I’ve also included links to a lot of our wedding vendors, so if you’re planning a wedding in northern NJ/NYC metro area, check them out below!
Save: Bridesmaids Dresses
Ok so technically you’re not paying for this yourself, but your bridesmaids are raking up a ton of expenses for your wedding too. Be considerate and choose a bridesmaid’s dress that is affordable, and they’ll be a bit more willing to do all the last minute tasks that come up! I chose a bridesmaid’s dress from Rent the Runway, and since they ship out 2 sizes per order, we were able to hustle the system and pay for only 4 dresses for all the girls (and I had a coupon)! Most bridesmaids dresses cost around $200; my girls paid $35.
Splurge: Wedding Dress
I know some people will disagree, but I am a firm believer in going ALL out on your wedding dress. All eyes will be on you, and this is your time to shine! Don’t hesitate to ask for modifications to your dream dress, work with a designer to custom make the perfect dress for you, or even buy more than one dress! My experience working with Jean Ralph Thurin and his team to create my custom wedding dress was more than worth it. I went into the shop several times before the big day to adjust measurements and tweak the design, and we were able to work within my budget to make all my dress dreams come true.
Save: Flowers & Decor
Flowers & decor can easily add up to be one of the most expensive line items in your wedding budget. While hunting, we were quoted rates from $2,500 – $12,000! Unless you’re the kind of person who buys flowers regularly and can tell the difference between species, you probably don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on wedding flowers. I’ve never been to a wedding and remembered what kind of flowers were in the centerpieces – guests simply don’t care. To keep costs down, consider using candles (these gold ones are from Ikea!), greenery, lanterns, or vases. You can also buy wholesale flowers and do some of the decor yourself. My bridesmaids and I made our own bouquets the night before the wedding and made the boutonnieres while waiting in line for makeup! They looked just as good as the professional flowers, and we saved over $700!
While guests probably won’t remember your decor, they will remember your venue’s ambiance and customer service. When venue hunting, pay just as much attention to the personalities of the staff and owners. All it takes is for a guest to have a bad experience at the valet, coat check, or when making a last minute request for a vegetarian dinner to taint their memory of your big day. We chose our venue because the staff was incredibly accommodating of our various needs: multiple ceremonies, outside food, tons of space for guests, and extended hours!
I was SO close to buying a pair of Louboutins for the wedding, I had them on my Pinterest board for over a year! Last minute, I decided to buy two pairs of shoes that were combined $600 cheaper than the red bottoms. And guess what I was wearing by the end of the night? $10 fold up flats that no one could see beneath my dress! If you’re like me and will kick off your shoes to dance, don’t splurge on an expensive pair. For the wedding at least… I fully support splurging on shoes in general!
Rather than drop extra money on shoes or jewelry, invest in a makeup artist that will create a flawless look for you. You’ll want to look glam in real life as well as pictures and video, so it’s important to book someone who specializes in bridal makeup, and not just your friend who posts great makeup selfies on Instagram. While their work has to be stellar, their personality and professionalism should be too, as they’ll be the person in your face seconds before you walk down the aisle. I met my makeup artist through a shoot with Munaluchi Bridal magazine and totally fell in love with her personality! On our wedding day, she actually turned out to the one of the most helpful vendors, because she kept everyone calm as we were desperately trying to find the veil (we left it at home lol!).
Another thing that your guests probably won’t care about is the cake. As long as it tastes good and doesn’t run out, you’re good! I’ve seen some pretty impressive cake displays on Pinterest, but we didn’t think it was worth spending extra money on a part of your wedding that will take up maximum 3 minutes. That doesn’t mean your cake should be boring. We had a cake included in our catering package, but worked with the bakery to switch up the design to something classic, asked our decorator to add a few flowers, and topped it off with a simple topper to make it special.
While the cake doesn’t matter, the food does. People come to weddings expecting great food, so make sure your catering is top notch. One of the comments we continue to hear about our wedding is the abundance of food at the cocktail hour! This came in handy because our dinner actually came out a bit late, but no one cared because they were already full from cocktail hour.
I had this really lofty dream of having a fairly new artist sing his melodramatic song as I walked down the aisle. Those dreams quickly dissipated after his manager quoted us $5,000! Do you know what I walked down the aisle to? The same song. Playing through the speakers. And it felt no different! Because music is not about the artist, but about the emotion it evokes. Even if you can afford to have Adele perform at your wedding, trust me, all the attention and talk would be about her, and not you and your spouse! Instead of live music, we just had our DJ (which we found at one of our favorite clubs) play our desired songs, and a friend lead the hymns during the ceremony.
Splurge: Photography & Videography
Rather than spend on live entertainment, we splurged on actually capturing the big day! I’m so glad that I fought for our videographers because the cinematography of our wedding highlight reel and the 1 minute teaser is Hollywood film worthy. Plus they are a husband and wife team who worked really hard and communicated thoroughly before, during, and after the wedding! We also prioritized great photos, and as you can see by just the few that I’ve included in this post, our photographer was amazing as well!
Save: Tiny Details
I don’t even know where that Here Comes the Bride sign is today. No one was looking at it during the ceremony, my nephew (peep his little toy lol) stole the show! I’m so glad we didn’t spend more than $20 on the sign, because we won’t use it ever again. The floor runner, table settings, signage, favors, etc – literally no one cares about the tiny details, and no one will notice them, so save on them! We even saved on stationary by printing the invitation envelopes and menus ourselves using online templates.
Splurge: Unique Elements
While people don’t care about the details, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t incorporate unique and interesting elements into your wedding. They don’t have to be expensive, but you should definitely “splurge” on thinking about how you can make sure your personalities are reflected in your wedding! We incorporated our African culture in various ways in our wedding, from the music, to the food, to even what we wore. We also invested in having a great time – we both tried to remove ourselves from last minute decision making so we could actually have fun, we maximized time on the dance floor, and we even had an after party!
Hopefully this post gives you some ideas for where you can save and where you can splurge while planning a wedding. I’d love to hear your thoughts – where did you save and where did you splurge when you got married? Do you regret any aspect of your wedding budget?
This post is sponsored by WeddingWire. Thanks for supporting the brands that support IjeomaKola.com!