Let's Start Wedding Planning!
There are many things to consider when planning your dream wedding like decorations, florals, catering, the venue, your dress, officiant, day of coordinator, photo, video, DJ + more! But don’t stress, I’m going to walk you through this as best I can from personal experience as a former bride and a wedding photographer. Definitely begin with a list of your vendor needs starting with the highest priority. As a former bride and wedding vendor, I can easily say that your top priority should be your budget before even looking at vendors. Creating a budget for your wedding is not as overwhelming as it seems. Check out my Creating A Budget blog for tips! Once your budget is set, you can begin the wedding planning process starting with your venue.
Just because you are on a budget does not mean you can’t have the
Texas Wedding of your dreams!
Finding A Venue:
On a budget you have 2 options, finding a venue that doesn’t consume your whole budget or having a good ole backyard wedding. Both come with pros and cons! Take into consideration what is a must for your big day. Your venue must be able to accommodate your guest count, restrooms must be available, indoor or covered areas in case of rain, parking spaces, and a getting-ready area for the bridal party. These are what I’d consider a mandatory list of items that need to be checked off, yours may look different which is fine because this is your day. For more details, check out my Picking Your Dream Venue blog.
Photo + Video Team:
Now not everyone has this on their list, and maybe I’m a bit biased since I am a wedding photographer but I do consider this a priority. Photos and videos are the only memories you have left after your wedding so you definitely want to have some good memories captured to be able to look back on! You could depend on friends to capture moments on cell phones or Aunt Sally who has a nice camera OR you could also cut down somewhere else to make some too in your budget for wedding photography and videography. Too often, I've seen brides post on Photoshop groups, or email me asking if the photo can somehow be cleared up better, and it’s so heartbreaking. While sometimes it is possible to find someone experienced enough to fix your photos, there are times that the photos are too far gone. You don't have to spend $6000 on a wedding photo and video team, there are so many photographers out there with different budgets. Maybe only do a 2-4 hr package with an amazing wedding photo/video team. If your budget is just too low, find someone who is building their portfolio. Go on to a wedding Facebook page and post something like, “New Bride Here! On a strict budget, but hoping to find a photo/video team who is building. Our budget is $1500 for both services, thank you!” This will be someone fresh in the industry with little experience but can work with your budget because of that lack of experience. This isn't the most recommended option, but you gotta do what you can with what you got!
Now this just depends on how soon you're planning your wedding after the proposal! Some people wait 2 years, some just 6 months. Ideally, you want to have your dress picked at least 10 months in advance, with 6-8 weeks wiggle room before the wedding day for alterations. Decide the max price you are willing to pay before you go to the boutique. This is hard! I completely understand, but this is so important!! Once you set that budget, let your stylist know, but also have someone with you who knows that budget. Your stylist will keep in mind the dream dress you have described to her and she will bring you all the ones that fit that description, sometimes without considering the price. Take someone with you who knows your budget and have them check the price before you even see these gowns! This will save you so much heartache. I can't begin to explain how many times brides have been hurt by finding their dream dress and then realizing it’s not within budget.
Some people don't want a DJ, especially when making cuts to meet a budget. The right DJ can make the biggest difference on your wedding day. They provide the mics for the ceremony and speeches, they allow your videographer to hook up to get the perfect audio for your wedding video, they keep the timeline moving, and they play music for everyone to have an amazing time! There is a person for everyone’s budget! You might not find the most experienced DJ, but they can get the job done. I've seen some who have worked under companies, but now want to expand on their own and they are amazing! My own wedding DJ was hired through a company I will not name, and he was amazing but he was only paid a small percentage of what we paid the company. They might not have a great setup or have the same quality as other DJs, but I do believe a DJ is worth the investment.
Florals + Decor:
Most times, they come together which is great, but if you're on a budget the best thing to do would be to hand-make the bouquets + boutonnieres for the wedding party. This is where you'll save the most money because it is something you can do on your own before the wedding and have a designated person, or your day of coordinator set up for you. Have a decor night! Invite the bridesmaid over to help put pieces together, it’s great for bonding time, especially if your girls are from different chapters in your life. I can do a separate blog on how we created affordable centerpieces for my wedding day in a separate blog.
Catering + Bar:
Most venues require licensed + insured servers. If this is something you are planning to do on your own, then you will have to consider that when finding a venue. After you find a venue that would allow you to bring food in, start looking into local restaurants + see what they would charge to cater. These would be more affordable than a catering company or catering from a big chain, and the plus is you’d be supporting a local business! As for bartending, there are venues that allow you to bring in bartenders, as long as they are licensed and allow you to provide the liquor. Host a “Stock the Bar” party to help start your product for the bar. Whatever else is needed you can purchase from your local liquor store. Check to make sure whatever liquor store you buy from also allows unopened bottles to be returned. This will help save so much!
These are your basics, the rest is miscellaneous and if it’s not mentioned here, it’s probably on a previous blog or one coming soon! As a wedding photographer, I want to do my best to help brides along their wedding planning journey. I’m always open to questions so don’t hesitate to reach out.