Your Wedding Budget | What to Save and Splurge on

Budget Blog.jpgHi Friends! Happy…. Tuesday? I feel like I have no idea what day it is lately! I need to get better with that, so yes! Happy Tuesday! I asked over on my instagram for some blog post ideas that you may want to see in the upcoming posts, and today I am sharing one that a bride asked me about: Wedding Budget- Where to spend and where to splurge! 

When it comes to a wedding budget, you might be feeling frustrated when searching for vendors and all the things for your wedding day. Planning your wedding comes with a lot of pressure and conversations about the things you should spend money on and what you should save on. While there are few right and wrong answers for an event like this,   ( I say this because it is your event and your day, and you can plan it however you please.) there are some recommendations that I can provide to help you along the way.

In many cases, when it comes to certain things, I will search on how to save money but lets be real, I can be a bit of an over spender too when it comes to others. Budgets are different for everyone so this will be hard to share some advice, but it is something I recommend you to think about before starting your wedding planning process.

When thinking about this blog post and how to communicate my thoughts, I compiled a list based on what I did when planning my wedding day. The most important thing to remember when reading is that even if these prices are not your budget, the recommendations of what you could spend and/or save on will still stay the same.  The prices below are a reference for you to see what you can expect to spend in certain circumstances, and what you could possibly save on if you went another route.


Wedding Flowers: Savings $4,000+

I love flowers and I LOVE photographing them, but I am also a firm believer that a little can go a long way. First, decide on the overall look you want when it comes to your wedding flowers. Create a Pinterest board and pin like crazy and then seek out smaller florists whose work you don’t see everywhere. These vendors may be who are most likely looking to build their portfolio of clients and who not only have lower prices, but might be more open to negotiating.  I personally am not a fan of negotiating someones work when it comes to the wedding industry, but if you want to make it work for your budget, there is no harm in asking. Another option is to DIY your wedding flowers with a retailer such as Costco, or go with a local grocery store who can create and deliver the arrangements for you. Many of my brides have used Whole Foods or Hannafords for their flowers and I was amazed when I heard that! I never would have thought to look at a grocery store for wedding flowers. (Mindblown!) My last idea would be to ditch the boutonnieres and use something meaningful. For my wedding the groomsmen each had a pink ribbon on their jackets in memory of my mother who passed away from breast cancer in 2002. You can also use the bridesmaid bouquets as your centerpiece flowers!

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another option for the centerpiece is not having flowers. You can search a bunch of DIY centerpieces and you can most likely find the materials to make them from online yard sale sites like the Facebook Marketplace. There are great sites just for brides selling their details and the price of them can also be negotiated.

Wedding Cake: Savings $1,000.00+

Many venues will have a cake included in their wedding packages. If this is the case, when going to your testing, you have options to add on and upgrade to filling, layers, etc. You can choose to stay with the simple type of cake that the package included to stay within budget. The simple cake is always yummy and no one will remember what filling you had inside. Another way things add up here is having additional desserts. This can add up especially when you have a large wedding guest list. One idea I heard about from some of my brides is that you can get a small cake made just for the cake cutting ceremony of the night and then behind the scenes, a large sheet cake can be cut and given to guests. No one will know the difference.

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Champagne Toast: Savings $600.00+

Having some bubbly at a party is always a good time, however, you can serve a champagne alternative instead and you will be able to enjoy the sparkles without feeling the guilt of being over budget. One idea you can utilize is, instead of having guests raise their champagne glasses, you can have them raise the drink they have in their hand instead of having a separate champagne pour. The reason I think this option ends up working so well is because chances are by the time the wedding toast comes around you’re already seated at the reception tables and drinking your beverage of choice for the evening. It will save you money and guests will never notice.

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Wedding Favors: Savings $300.00 +

Thanking guests for coming to your wedding is an amazing thing to do (and you should!) but it’s easy to go overboard. This is something you can DIY an create something that is personal and homemade. Some ideas are: DIY sugar scrub, adult hot coco, chocolates… I am sure Pinterest has many more ideas for you. Also, if DIY isn’t your jam, you can search for wedding favors under $3.00 per person.

Wedding Invitations: Savings $600+

These days a simple way to send out an invitation is electronically. You can really save money this way, however I do think that you should spend time to create a gorgeous wedding invitation suite because not only do I love photographing them at the start of your day, I think they set the tone to tell your story and your wedding day. Some sites you can get beautiful invitations at a lower cost is Minted and Etsy. If you want to DIY you can always get a template from Etsy and create it on your own.

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Wedding Coordinator/Planner: You can Splurge: 10%-20% of your budget for a wedding planner, and half that for a coordinator depending on amount of time you opt to have them for. OR you can Save and utilize the day of coordinator for your event.

Now I have met so many WONDERFUL wedding planners throughout the years and without them, I am sure everything wouldn’t have been as planned. They are amazing creatives and I have a huge respect for them to get it all right months leading up to the wedding and during. Many venues have their own wedding coordinators who you speak to many times before the wedding, communicating your vision and they are there on the day to be sure it is set up and the way you had hoped. This service is included in the package cost. Because many venues had a coordinator, it is not necessary to have a wedding planner separate from that which will save you a lot of money. However, Wedding planners do beautiful work and can ease from nerves so it is entirely up to you.

Wedding Food: Expect more modern catering to start at $90/pp and up to SAVE money you can choose a buffet style for about $30 + per person. 

You don’t have to serve filet mignon or lobster at your wedding to have guests rave about the food. Many people will use a buffet style service for their wedding with lots of different options and the meal for this do not need to be extravagant. Buffet style will help to save on your budget and everyone will be happily fed.

Wedding Venue: Expect to pay, on average, $3,000 and up for a venue rental for at least 125 people.

This is a tough one to categorize… I mean, venues are not cheap. I wouldn’t want to spend a crazy amount on a rental fee depending on the location for your event and number of people attending. There are so many beautiful venues you can’t step foot in hearing their price is no less than $6,000, and that is okay! just know that there are other area’s you can look at to get the cost down. With the right venue then your flowers, lighting and linens become less expensive letting you now start with a clean canvas that could look amazing with minimal touches. Don’t be afraid to tell the venue your budget and see how they can make it work, especially for a dream venue. You can also eliminate the venue/rental fee and opt to have your wedding at a restaurant, like The Smithville Inn, where my wedding was and many of these things were already included in the package price.

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Wedding Dress: Save $500.00 +

This could be in the spurge section too but I have it here because I know many people who have saved on their wedding dress, myself included! The experience of going to a dress shop with your girls is something that should not be skipped- do it! Book that appointment, but know that you do not need to say “YES” to the dress that day. You can always think about it and go back if needed. That being said, if you think you found THE ONE at a dress shop, there is a 90% chance you can find that dress at a lower cost. How? Well, you can check for a Sample Sale. You can also check online. When I purchased my Sophia Tolli Designer dress originally 1,450.00 I searched high and low looking for the cost to be a little lower than that. I KNEW that was THE ONE and I did not give up. I found it one night on ebay!! Who would have thought?! well, I did and I got my dress, in the right size (whattt) for $800.00. I couldn’t believe it. It was so perfect and to this day I would still choose that same dress, I love it so much! Another website you can check is

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Wedding Photographer: Splurge: $3,500-$5,000+

There are definitely ways you can save once you have picked out your dream wedding photographer but the key is to choose a wedding photographer who does not market themselves as a “budget” photographer. These photographers are all starting out, and will work with you for whatever it is you are willing to pay. I remember.. I was there once. Now, while there are so many amazing photographers out there who are out of people’s budgets ( mine included to some), there are many outstanding ones too for half the price and they are worth it. Depending on the area you live/are getting married a great photographer might start their prices around $2,500.00. My personal experience and since I am a wedding photographer, I would aim to spend $3500-$5000 (starting) for wedding photography. If you do not have a high budget for Photography, I would consider cutting something else out to make it work. Now this doesn’t mean that if you don’t spend thousands on your wedding photographer you’re going to get mediocre photos. Just keep in mind the location and many bride favorites are in that higher range.

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Wedding Musicians/DJs: Splurge: $1,000-$4,000+

When someone gets engaged, the first thing I tell them is- Book the big stuff first. Venue, Photographer and DJ. I have been to weddings with horrible DJ’s and I have been to weddings with amazing DJs. Meet with them first, share with them your music vision. Plan to choose a DJ with high recommendations on sites like The Knot. You can also ask your photographer or Venue for recommendations they have as well. For my wedding, I had THE BEST DJ in South Jersey. My wedding happened to be his first wedding and we still talk about how amazing the whole day was, and he went over and beyond our musical expectations. Since we were his first wedding, we saved on the DJ but not everyone will have that “luck”, if we call it that. Our DJ is no longer in business but since our wedding he was the DJ for many of our friends, and others! I felt like we helped jump kick his business and I love it. I was sad to hear they ended their business but they have 2 beautiful babies and have more time to spend with them. A way to save money on a DJ is to use a playlist and have a friend take over the music for the night however I don’t recommend this added stress. Invest in a great DJ.

There you have it. My save and splurge recommendations for your wedding day. Like I mentioned before, these are all my opinions when it comes to planning your wedding day. Many people are on a tight budget and I totally understand that. That is okay. There are ways to have the wedding of your dreams with the budget that you have! Have fun planning your big and and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.




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meet the photographer Ali

A New England based photographer, chaser of that perfect light, lover of holiday eves and all things pumpkin!  My favorite color is TEAL (and anything light blue). To this day, I love me a good BSB/NSYNC reception dance party and I can not wait to meet you! 

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