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Of all the things involved in planning a wedding, there is one thing that is the driving force behind most decisions, actions, and plans.
That thing is the wedding budget.
For others, it isn’t a budget. It’s A BUDGET.
I get it. Really, I do. To me, it was a BBBUUUDDDGGGEEETTTTTTT when I got married 5 years ago. I did not fall into the ‘money isn’t an issue’ camp, although it sure would have been nice if I had.
No, I had a wedding budget and it was a real tight, strict, and not moldable budget.
So really, I get it.
Wedding budgets are determined by a lot of different factors.
Some couples pay for their entire wedding themselves.
Others get a certain amount from each side of the family, and then either they plan their wedding with that amount, or they bridge the gap with their own funds.
Others take a more traditional planning approach in which the bride’s family pays for the wedding and the groom’s family pays for the rehearsal or Groom’s dinner.
Whatever the case is in your situation, it dictates how big or how small your wedding budget is. Once you know how much you have to spend on your wedding, you know what you have to work with, and where you’ll spend what.
Regardless of your wedding budget, there are steps to follow:
1. Determine what is most important to you in your wedding.
You need to make your List of Importance. This is a list of all the aspects of your wedding that you have to pay for, in the order of their importance to you.
Not everything can be of equal importance. Ok, sure, everything about your wedding is important. It’s true. But not everything can be of equal importance when you are working with a wedding budget. Sometimes, corners need to be cut and your List of Importance will help you determine where you can successfully cut corners.
Everyone’s List of Importance will vary. To some, the dress is THE most important part of the wedding day. To others, they think that because they are only wearing the dress once, it doesn’t need to be the highlight of the day, or take up a large portion of the wedding budget. To each their own; and it doesn’t matter what is on top in your List of Importance, it’s just crucial that you have one so you know what is important to YOU.
2. Start at the top, and work down, watching your budget as you go.
This is the general overview of how the process of planning your wedding should go once you’ve determined what your List of Importance is. Things at the top get priority in your budget, while things at the bottom can be filled in as your budget allows. If you need to cut corners, you are doing it to things toward the bottom of your Importance list, so your wedding’s quality [determined by what’s important to you] will not suffer.
Some things to keep in mind, and I’m not just saying this because I am a wedding photographer:
Once the wedding is over, people go home, you open your gifts and you settle into your married life, how will you remember your wedding? What will you show to your kids and grandkids to show them your wedding?
I obviously believe extremely strongly in photography’s importance, both on a wedding day, and in life in general. But aside from any professional bias, I believe so strongly in photography because it is one of the very few ways to relive your wedding day, once it is over. Sure, you have your memories. But how do you tell your children or your grandchildren about your wedding day with your memories? They won’t be able to picture your hair, or see how the sun shined through the trees as you walked down the aisle, just by you telling them about it.
When all is said and done, people eat their meal, take home their wedding favors, and you package up or sell your wedding dress, your photos [and video!] will remain. Those two pieces alone will help your wedding day live on in your mind, and in the minds of those who weren’t there to be a part of it, for generations to come.
That is why I believe that photography and videography are among to very top of the List of Importance. At least, they are for me.
If they’re not to you, that is entirely your choice. I’m not here to punish you or try to make you feel bad for disagreeing. If you don’t care about having photos to remember your wedding by, then don’t put it high on your priority list and don’t allocate a big part of your budget toward it.
But if you are on the fence, and aren’t sure if you think it’s important or not, just consider what you will have after all the wedding festivities are over and everyone goes home. I can guarantee you that your photos and your wedding video will be all that you have to remember your wedding by as you grow older and your memories of your wedding day begin to fade.