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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Schwering

Where To Save & Where To Splurge: Wedding Planning

One of the most stressful parts about getting married is planning your wedding. When I was planning my wedding, I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders as I was trying to tie up loose ends and bring everything together. Not only are there an absolute ton of decisions that need to be made, but also a budget to keep in mind. After planning both an elopement and a traditional wedding day (yup, my husband and I decided to do both!) and after being both a wedding coordinator and wedding photographer, I've been in the world of weddings long enough to know what will still matter even after your wedding day is over. In today's blog post, I share 5 things you should absolutely splurge on for your wedding day and 5 things you're better off saving your money on.

Plus sized bride and groom hold hands and face one another on their wedding day at George Rogers Clark Park in Covington, Kentucky on October wedding day.

Photographer: Splurge

If I could only share one vendor to splurge on for your wedding day it would absolutely, 100% be your photographer. At the end of your wedding day, the only thing you'll have are your memories and it's so important to document those memories with photos. Even if you have a very budget friendly wedding, an experienced and talented photographer can make it look dreamy and elegant. I've had clients in the past joke with me and say that they wanted me as their photographer so much that they didn't care if they had to feed their guests McDonald's for dinner. I responded & let them know that even if everyone was eating McDonald's, I'd absolutely be able to make it look like the best batch of chicken nuggets around. Your photographer not only captures how wonderful your day comes together, but you'll be able to look at your photos and be taken back to that overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness every time you look up at your walls and see those memories on display.

Groom holds his bride's dress and flowers while they look at one another while walking towards the camera on sidewalk in front of green trees at Nathaniel Greene Lodge in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Videographer: Splurge

Even though I think that your photographer should be a priority in regards to where you budget your money, having a videographer is absolutely incredible as well. Even though you can display your photos on the wall and look at them daily, there's nothing quite like the feeling you get while watching your wedding film back year after year. I know that it probably sounds crazy, but it's incredible to be able to go back in time and watch how you and your spouse move, interact, laugh, and cry together on such a special day in your relationship. Being able to go back and listen to your vows, the speeches from your bridal party, being able to watch your first dance and you and your guests partying late into the night . . . it's incredible. Hiring on a videographer with a style that you love is absolutely something worth budgeting for.

Bride wearing white shirt laughs as her bridesmaid helps her apply makeup in a bathroom on her wedding day in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Self Care: Splurge

I was lucky enough to have one of my incredibly talented bridesmaids help with my hair and makeup, but if you don't have anyone in your family or bridal party who can help with making you look your best, I think that hiring a professional is worth looking into. You'll not only want to look your best in front of your friends and family (and in all of your photos and video), but you'll also want to feel your best as well. To this day, I still say that my eyelash extensions were one of my favorite investments leading up to my wedding day. Not only did they look amazing and make me feel extra confident, but they lasted through my honeymoon as well! 10/10 absolutely recommend!

Bride wearing sequin dress holds groom's hand while they stand in front of the Mulhauser Barn in West Chester, Ohio at sunset on their wedding day.

Venue: Splurge

I'll be the first to admit that I did not splurge on my venue. There's nothing wrong with that, but there are a lot of perks that come with splurging on your venue that are worth looking into. When you book a gorgeous all inclusive venue, it does take a lot of stress off of you in regards to planning. Many wedding venues include a bridal suite for you to get ready in, indoor and outdoor ceremony locations, a gorgeous backdrop for family, bridal party, and couples portraits, a reception space, food, etc. When everything throughout the day is at the same location, you don't have to worry about paying for transportation for you and your bridal party or scheduling extra time into your timeline to get from place to place. When you go with a cheaper reception hall for your reception, sometimes tables, linens, food, waitstaff, etc are not included in the cost. Some all inclusive venues also include a dedicated day-of coordinator to help make things run smoothly throughout your wedding day and it's such a nice addition!

Bride and groom share their first kiss up at the alter at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Harrison, Ohio.

DJ: Splurge

I'm definitely not saying that you should put most of your budget towards your DJ, but I do think that your DJ is very important. Most couples don't realize that your DJ basically controls the mood of your entire reception and has the life of the party in his/her hands. It's important to know that a DJ is someone who you should do research on and read reviews about, not necessarily someone who's just a friend of a friend who has never worked a wedding before. If you think about it, your DJ starts the party with announcing your enterance, has to have extra equipment for handing off microphones to family and bridal party members for speeches, they're in charge of encouraging your guests to get out on the dance floor, and making sure your music is awesome. You don't need to upgrade your DJ package to include extra floor lights and fancy light machines, but having someone who can help throw the best party around is important!

Bridesmaids wearing maroon dresses dance in a circle at wedding reception at Lake Lyndsay Lodge in Hamilton, Ohio.
Groom wearing navy suit walks in front of his groomsmen while laughing at George Rogers Clark Park in Covington, Kentucky.

Cake/Desserts: Save

I'm a huge cake & dessert girl, but when it came to budgeting for my wedding this was one of the first places that my budget was cut. Desserts can get pretty expensive, and at the majority of the weddings I've been to, are often boxed up at the end of the night and sent home with you since they were uneaten. So many couples think that they need a Pinterest style dessert table, but you don't! If your guests want to eat cake, they won't be judging you for it being simple. You can often cut cake costs by doing a smaller cake that you cut together and then serving your guests sheet cake, or you can get affordable cupcakes at grocery stores! The cake that my husband and I cut at our wedding was from Kroger & all of our cupcakes were from Sam's Club. Super affordable and they tasted great!

Gorgeous naked wedding cake decorated with pink and white roses and greenery sits on a table at a wedding reception in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Invites/Save the Dates: Save

All of the paper needs for weddings can add up fast. Even though elaborate save the dates & invitations can be absolutely beautiful, once your guests get them in the mail they almost always end up in the trash. Taking a more cost effective approach to getting information to your guests can save you a lot of money. Whether you decide to combine your save the date & invites, go with a basic design with a simple company, or move towards an online RSVP route, there are a ton of opportunities to save money!

Bride in white dress is surrounded by four bridesmaids in blush pink dresses as they huddle together and smile at the camera on a bridge at sunset in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Flowers: Save

Let me start this by saying that having fresh flowers at your wedding is absolutely incredible. Incoorporating flowers into your ceremony arbor, centerpieces, and all of your boquets is so beautiful, but also very expensive. If an incredible florist fits into your budget, absolutely splurge on flowers. However, if you're looking for a place to cut costs, eloborate floral displays aren't needed to make your ceremony and reception spaces feel special. I actually made my own boquets for my bridesmaids and I by using fake flowers, but I decided against boutonnières for my husband, groomsmen, and family members. If you aren't feeling crafty or don't have the extra time, you could always just do flowers for your bridal party and skip the floral decor. Using fake flowers can allow you to keep your bridal boquet for years to come, too!

Gorgeous fall bridal bouquet with orange and maroon flowers and greenery held by a bride while she stands next to her groom during her wedding in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Reception Extras: Save

I remember being so stressed about my centerpieces, seating chart, and party favors leading up to my wedding. Let me just say, your guests are at your wedding to celebrate you, not to judge how elaborate of a day you planned. Instead of going with an elaborate seating chart, expensive centerpieces, and any party favors; make things simple. Your guests will look at your seating chart for 30 seconds before finding their seat. They'll enjoy the company of friends and family while at their table and won't care if your centerpieces are the basic centerpieces that your venue uses every weekend. Most of your guests will completely miss the table with all of your party favors and you'll be left with all the extras to transport home and find something to do with. You can save SO much by not giving extra time, money, or energy into reception extras that won't matter at the end of the day!

Bride and groom sit at sweetheart table at their reception and kiss as their guests eat and mingle in the background.

Grand Exit: Save

Pinterest may make you believe that you need a confetti or sparkler exit from your reception. Depending on your timeline for the day and time you have booked with your photographer and videographer, having a grand exit probably doesn't even make sense. Most vendors don't stay until the very end of your reception to capture a grand exit, so a lot of the photos you see of sparkler "exits" aren't exits at all. Your DJ will direct all of your guests outside for these photos, and more often than not your guests will feel confused as to why the party was interupted and they question if they should leave. If you get married in the summer, it may not be dark enough for a sparkler exit before your photographers & videographers depart. If you've booked your vendors to stay until the end of the night, the majority of your guests may have already left before officially sending you off. I recommend saving the money on confetti, sparklers, lighters, etc. and splurging elsewhere.

Bride and groom stand together at their wedding reception at Hotel Covington in Covington, Kentucky and smile a the camera as the bride holds her bouquet of green, purple, and orange flowers.

Hopefully these tips help you plan what you do and don't need to invest in and splurge on for your wedding day. I know that it can be stressful planning everything and making it all come together before your big day, but the fun you'll have and the memories you'll make are so worth it!! Congratulations on your engagement, this next step in life will be beautiful!


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