If you’re planning a wedding—or even just imagining getting hitched anytime soon—the thought of paying for all that stuff can be overwhelming.
The list of typical wedding expenses is long, and few are cheap.
Now that it’s been a bit more than a month since my wedding, I’ve been reflecting on the experience and have started to get a new perspective on what expenses were worth it…and which weren’t. (Obviously this is very subjective, as you can see from the 140+ comments on this post about wedding budgets!) But I want to share what I found and let you chime and in and see if you agree.
First, here’s a bit about my wedding:
Our families helped us throw a fairly traditional ceremony. We had about 275 guests. The ceremony at two was followed by a trolley ride for the bridal party and later a reception that lasted until midnight.
It was a wonderful day—I wouldn’t have changed much—but I can see now that there are some alternatives I could have chosen to have made every dollar we spent count just a bit more. Here’s what I found:
If I learned anything from throwing a decent-sized wedding, it’s that the people that you invite are the best expense. There’s nothing quite like having a relative come up to hug you and give you their well wishes after not seeing them for many months—if not years. Your friends and family are generally as excited (or sometimes, even more excited) about your nuptials as you are. It’s a great feeling to spend such a memorable day with them. If you’re deciding between some extra decorations or inviting 20 more family members, definitely go with the extra invites.
(Read more on saving money on your upcoming wedding and get a free wedding budget and guest list spreadsheet.)
If you’re having a reception, a DJ can really make or break the atmosphere. As long as you work with the DJ ahead of time, they can usually play your style of music and really make your reception “you”. The DJ basically schedules the entire evening with their cues and announcements, which is really important for a distracted and busy bride and groom.
Bridal Party Entertainment
If you have some extra wiggle room in your budget, consider adding some bridal party entertainment. For my wedding, this was the trolley ride between our early afternoon wedding and our evening reception. This was by far our favorite part of the day. It’s like having all your favorite people in the same room for couple hours on a very happy day. Definitely worth it.
No matter if you’re choosing to staycation or splurge on two weeks on a tropical beach, make sure you make the honeymoon a priority. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you relax, unwind, and get away from it all with your new husband or wife for a little while. Most brides and grooms are a little bonkers by the time the wedding actually arrives, so it’s important to start your marriage off on the right foot with a little relaxation and quality alone time.
Not Worth It
Although my centerpieces weren’t a huge expense (I spent hours figuring out how to make them budget-friendly), they were a huge hassle that didn’t seem worth it in the end. I never saw one centerpiece the day of my wedding – I was too busy with other things. Most of our guests seemed more concerned with the location of the bar, the food, and the dance floor than how cute our centerpieces were. It’s not the cost that I regret, it’s the amount of time and effort my family and I spent organizing them. I would have opted for some fake flower petals and some votive candles instead had I known how time-consuming they’d be.
Limousine Getaway & Downtown Hotel
Like many brides and grooms, my husband and I booked a limo and a swanky downtown hotel suite for our wedding night getaway. The 200-hundred dollar limo ride downtown seemed overpriced and we spent most of the long ride in an exhausted wedding daze. If I had it to do all over again, I’d have stayed at a nearby hotel and had our favorite uncle (or some other family member) drive us there after the reception.
Many people agree that extras, like wedding favors, are the most disposable wedding expense.
Luckily, I didn’t fall for the wedding favors expense, but I was a victim of the “little extras” that seem to sneak up on every bride and groom. My husband bought a $45 bottle of champagne for our toast “because it was special”. Guess what? We took one sip and the rest went to waste.
I ordered 600 green and pink cocktail napkins for the bar. Now I have about 550 sitting in my kitchen cabinets and we use them at the dinner table. I bought nice dress shoes that I wore for one hour during the ceremony and then switched to flip-flops. We bought several little miscellaneous items like these that just were not worth it when it was all said and done.
I don’t think I’ve ever worried more in my life than I worried about my wedding. As I was sitting on our trolley the afternoon of our wedding day, I turned to one of my bridesmaids and said, “I have no idea why I worried about this so much. I’m having so much fun!”
As hard as it is, try to curb the worry. Just remember that it will be the most memorable and most exciting day of your life.
What do you think? What are some expenses that you thought were worth it or worthless for your wedding day? Let us know in a comment.