5 Things Your Budget Wedding Can’t Go Without

In sequel to 5 Things Your Budget Wedding Doesn’t Need, today we explore those important items that every budget wedding absolutely can’t go without. I know that there are those of us that either must, or prefer to, plan weddings on a dirt cheap budget … but as with most services, you usually get what you pay for, and unfortunately cheap isn’t always best. Here’s a list of the top five things your budget wedding just CAN’T go without.

5 Things Your Budget Wedding Can't Go Without via Del Sol Photography

A Great Photographer

This is HUGE. The only thing keeping you from forgetting your entire wedding after a fast-paced evening that eventually ends in a drunken stupor are your wedding photos. Book your photographer well in advance, as most wedding photographers worth their salt will be swamped from May to October. Make sure to look at a photographers wedding portfolio before booking and NEVER be tempted by photographers who will work for free (or at a discounted rate) so they can “build their portfolio.” I’m all for giving newbies a chance (I was a young freelancer once, too) but your wedding day will only happen ONCE. There are no do overs, and the smallest rookie mistake could leave you with no way to remember your big day. If you’ve got to scrimp and save in other areas of your wedding to hire a professional photographer, it is well worth it.

Day of Coordinator

Now this might be a bit hard to swallow for the non-delegaters of the world. I don’t judge, I’m one of them. You want to make sure everything is done right, and the only way to do that is to do it all yourself, right? Wrong. Every bride needs a day of coordinator to act as a director for the day. Day of coordinators will communicate and collaborate with your vendors, make sure everything is set up correctly, keep your bridal party on a timeline, tear down the event, and even bring you a glass of champagne when you get pre-ceremony jitters (and tell you when you’re boob is about to pop out of your dress … er, not that I know from experience or anything).

By the end of the night my coordinator was my best friend because there was absolutely NO WAY I could have set up the reception AND gotten myself ready (I did my own makeup) in one morning. No freakin’ way. Even with a team of 15 I couldn’t have done it. Check with local wedding planning agencies to see how much they charge for “day of” services. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised at how cheap it really is for the amount of work they do. Mine DOC was $600, including 3 planning meetings beforehand to finalize details. Best $600 I have ever spent. Brides’ stress levels are over the top, and in my opinion, anything thing that helps de-stress is worth every penny.

5 Things Your Budget Wedding Can't Go Without via 100 Layer Cake

A Killer Seating Arrangement

I’ve harped about this many times before, but it’s worth saying again: You are probably the only one at your wedding that actually knows every guest. Seating arrangements can literally make or break a wedding. Put like personalities together. If you have a few shy relatives, perhaps you can add a loud boisterous friend to cut the tension. If you’re having elderly guests make sure to place them as far from the DJ’s speakers as possible … I could go on and on. Most importantly, don’t wait until the last minute to finalize your seating arrangement. This is where most brides go wrong — they spend too much time agonizing over the flowers in their centerpieces instead of thinking about the actual people who will be looking at them!

Ice breakers can be a great way to give your wedding guests that extra nudge to get to know each other a little better. Think of fun games or activities to engage your guests. Perhaps you can leave trivia cards at each table about the bride and groom, and the table that gets the highest score at the end of the night wins a prize? Or go a little simpler and use our Icebreaker Place Cards to introduce each guest.

5 Things Your Budget Wedding Can't Go Withoutvia Style Me Pretty

Cake (or some kind of dessert)

Even for a brunch wedding or a hors d’oeuvres only reception, everyone expects dessert. And if your guests are anything like me, they will be looking forward to it! Never fear, there are still many ways to make your wedding cake budget friendly. Did you know that even reasonable non-fancy wedding cakes can range up to $5 per PERSON? That’s just craziness.

Talk with your baker about preparing a small decorative cake for the cake cutting ceremony, and order sheet cakes for the rest of the guests that are to be sliced in the kitchen and brought out all at once. This will be better on your pocketbook AND your guests won’t have to wait in line while someone else slices your cake (I wish I had done this). OR if you’re feeling even more thrifty, bake the cake yourself! We’ve got a great Streusel Coffee Cake recipe that would be perfect for a brunch wedding.

Alone Time

Above all, this is what I wish I had more of at my own wedding. My hubby and I only had about 10 minutes alone after our ceremony (while we signed the marriage licence), and I swear to you, other than our first dance, I don’t think I said two words to him for the rest of the night. He had his people to attend to, I had mine, and our paths never crossed. I still look back on my day with fondness, but if I could do it all over again I would have cut the guest list in half and clung to my hubby like a crazy stalker woman. Make sure to carve some time out of your busy schedule to actually appreciate the person you are dedicating your love to.

Above all, don’t forget to really reflect on what matters the most on your big day. Worrying about anything else is just sweating the small stuff.

What do you think is most important in wedding planning? Let’s get the discussion rolling in the comment section below! 

Happy planning!

Allison is the owner and editor of MarryThis! With a love of weddings and a flair for budget-friendly ideas, she feels that gorgeous weddings don't have to cost an arm and a leg. A graphic designer by day (Allison Doty Graphic Design - allisondoty.com), Allison also creates the visual presence of MarryThis!

3 Comments on "5 Things Your Budget Wedding Can’t Go Without"

  1. Kate says:

    I disagree alittle bit with the cling to your husband. My husband and I spent the regular amount of time together and I thought it was fine. After we left and set out on our honeymoon that was our time to celebrate. Spend your time with your spouse celebrating with your family (if you have a reception), then enjoy him/her to yourself for the honeymoon. That is kind of why it is right after.
    Also, I would say be choosy with who you select to be your MOH and BMaids because you need to be able to count on them to be there for you when you need their help. Like with the authors tear-filled cry to the MOH, what if you would have gotten her voicemail? Where would you have been then?

  2. Diane Owens says:

    I’d have to agree with you that the photographer is usually THE most important piece of the budget for most people. However, every couple is different, and their high priority items may be radically different — could be food (if they’re foodies), entertainment (if music is really important), liquor (for party people), venue, and on and on. That’s why it’s so important for couples to sit down as they begin planning their wedding, with the total wedding budget figure in hand, and rank what’s important to them. That way. they can decide up front where their limited funds should be spent — and stick to their budget.

  3. I was most definitely a budget bride and did exactly what you warned against! Kept my seating arrangement to near the end! After a frantic tear filled call to my Maid of Honor, she helped set me straight and we got it together. The personalities were perfect but it was work! Great post.

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