We all have a budget for everything we value in life. Weddings, often one of the biggest days of our lives, are no different. In many cases, weddings end up being one of our more expensive budgets outside of homes, education, and automobiles. So being deliberate about what you want vs what you need is very important. Some things you must have for your wedding to be the event you want while other things are what you prefer or would desire for your wedding. There is a difference. Every wedding must have a location, for example, however you may not need to have a 18 person wedding party, even though you may want to have that many people. Needs vs Wants.
So you’ve got a wedding budget that you and your spouse have agreed on or, at least, accepted. I know, we always want a bigger budget – I get it. What’s next? Here are a few things I think are important…
- First, you should decide the wedding date. In order to save money, consider off-season wedding months like December, January, February and even March for potential dates. November may also be slower for weddings but not as much as December – March. Off-season bookings will cost you less money (supply and demand is in full effect). This may also be impacted by the location of your wedding venue so make sure you do your research ahead of time.
- Something else of note is that it is also a good idea to start planning early! I think most professionals recommend 12-14 months in advance of the wedding. If you are thinking of a date that is less than 12 months away, you should consider delaying it just a bit if saving money is a priority for you; again, December through March may be the cheapest wedding months in your area. Planning earlier is a good idea for a number of reasons:
- Extra time to plan allows for more flexibility across the board (for example, dealing with “life” happenings can delay focus on wedding planning so the more time you have padded into the schedule to deal with those unplanned life events, the better),
- Early planning makes it easier to change wedding details if something else becomes unavailable or a better option avails itself,
- Early planning may also allow you to get better deals on rates,
- Planning earlier allows for better research and selection of vendors, etc. on your part – this in turn may also save you money. There is nothing worse than being in a position of planning a wedding 6 months away, not having the venues you want, overpaying for the venue you are left with, and settling for the vendors and services you now must have to make it work.
- Some things in life are beyond your control but beginning the wedding planning process early is not one of them. CHOOSE to make your wedding planning process easier AND less costly.
- Without a doubt, after picking a date, I advise every bride to next secure a good wedding planner. Wedding planners are invaluable partners in the process and their contacts can also help you save money immediately. A good wedding planner will also help you decide between your own wants vs needs. Working with a wedding planner to secure everything from your wedding photography and/or videography, to ceremony and reception venues, to catering, etc., can help you save a considerable amount of money and headache. See my blog post on this important topic here – https://photoactiveone.wordpress.com/2013/09/. Involving wedding planners early in the process make everything else easier and, potentially, cheaper. For example, as a photographer, I am much more willing to negotiate more on price when approached by a wedding planner that I know and have worked with in the past. Relationships matter, relationships matter, relationships matter!
- The next slate of decisions you need to make should include deciding the number of wedding guests, selecting the venue, researching and booking photographers and videographers (shameless plug: consider PhotoActive Photography), finalizing guest lists, booking DJ/entertainment, getting engagement sessions done (Tip: If possible, get your engagement pictures done by the same photographer you’ve booked, or are considering, for your wedding as this gives you a chance to “kick the tires” and make adjustments if needed), etc. There are many great resources around with great checklists so I have not included an exhaustive list here. The important thing to know is that approaching your wedding planning in a manner that maximizes your budget simply makes common sense (and dollars). Without question, the earlier you start the better.
To summarize, it is critical to give yourselves plenty of time to plan your wedding. Almost equally important, it is very helpful to hire a good wedding planner to help with the planning and selection of everything else related to your Big Day! If you leave this blog post with nothing else, please do these two things and the rest will fall into place nicely. Best wishes to you in your wedding planning efforts!
Chuck Jackson is a wedding photographer for PhotoActive Photography in Tampa, FL. Visit http://www.photoactivephotography.com to see wedding images and samples from other photography genres, as well, and contact him about your wedding needs today!