How to Afford a Wedding Photographer of your Dreams with Wedding Planning Cost Savings
You are probably reading this because photography is important to you and you want to find a way to afford your favorite photographer. I’ve often had couples say they really wanted to work with me but their budget doesn’t allow it. Making minor tweaks in areas of the wedding that aren’t as important to you, is a great way to help you afford the photographer of your dreams. Here are some ways that My clients have cut their wedding budget to be able to work with me.
Being a professional wedding photographer for more than 10 years, I’ve heard time and time again of people being so disappointed in their wedding images. Hiring their friend’s sister who bought a camera, or having Aunt Sue take the photographers because she offered as a wedding gift.
Also, in case you don’t know, professional photographers are not the same as professional wedding photographers. Wedding photographers photograph weddings day in and day out. They have seen any and all types of emergencies that can happen on a wedding day and know how to work around it.
What is it about a professional wedding photographer that makes the investment so worthwhile?! Your wedding day will have a ton of joyful memories and many opportunities for photographs to be taken that will tell the story of your wedding day for years to come. They aren’t just images that you will cherish, because they are passed down through generations.
TIP: Check with the wedding photographer to see if they have a payment plan versus the typical 50% retainer and 50% due a month before the wedding.
One Caveat: Below I have listed various cost-saving ideas, but know that you may want to pick 1-3 areas that are most important to you and your fiance and cut in the other areas of the wedding that aren’t as important to you two. You don’t have to cut costs in all these areas. Typically, strategically cutting costs in some areas will help you to afford the photography you want.
Consider a venue
Oftentimes, people don’t consider other areas to get married than a ballroom at a hotel or wedding venue. Sometimes you have family members that have spaces yards or know a friend who has a place that would work for weddings.
You could also get married in a unique location that doesn’t cost anything, like the beach, in the woods, or in a restaurant you two love that wouldn’t charge because they will do the food.
If you have your heart set on a specific venue, then consider mid-week or any day other than Saturday. With most venues, Saturdays and weekends are the most expensive. You could choose the date you became boyfriend and girlfriend or the date you got engaged for sentimental reasons.
A lot of people are concerned with their guests’ schedules, but the honest truth is that those who truly love you as a couple (with enough notice) can make any date work.
Consider having an intimate of micro-wedding
Many brides and grooms these days with the pandemic and weddings being canceled left and right have opted to have smaller guest lists so they can get married now rather than next year.
Most of the time guests lists are one of the biggest areas to save money from the chair they’ll sit in (rental), to the cake (their slice), to the food (their plate), to the venue’s space (you pay on size), to the drinks/alcohol, to the decors (table decorations/favors) just to name a few. So keeping your wedding with your closest and dearest friends and family can be one of the biggest ways to cut the budget.
Many of my brides love florals but my savvy brides are creative to include the florals they love without the big price tag. One way is to repurpose the ceremony florals for the reception florals.
You can do this in so many creative ways from using the altar for the background of the sweetheart table or cake table. You could reuse the aisle florals for the table decor.
Another way is to DIY your florals. If you choose this path, you will save money, but you’ll need a team of friends and family to help you as it’s a big job.
One of my brides used the floral bouquet for the wedding she was a bridesmaid in, to reverse engineer the bouquet. She was also able to go to the flower mart where they helped her to be creative in how to create centerpieces to aisle runners to pick an alternative to the expensive blooms she wanted for ones that looked similar but much less expensive.
Have a first look
This helps to save money, because you do all family, wedding party, and bride a groom photos before the ceremony. This helps you to avoid cocktail hour and passing of appetizers. It also allows the bride and groom to go right into the first dance or dinner service.
This does cost a bit but wedding planners can negotiate on your behalf for great vendors at costs that work. They plan weddings day in and day out, so they know a lot of vendors at multiple price points that do good work.
Wait on the Honeymoon
Many of my couples choose to honeymoon at their one year anniversary. By forego the expense now and have an enjoyable anniversary trip instead. This will save you having to consider the budget of a honeymoon in that wedding budget. It also gives you something else to look forward to after the wedding.
Consider Skipping the Photo Booth
Photo booths are pricier than one would think because they typically need to be staffed. You could have a friend or family member take photos with their cell phone for an hour or so and buy dollar store photo booth items. Then those images can be posted to social media with your wedding hashtag. Guests can go to your social media to view all the images and share them with their social media. You can also use your arch as a photo booth at your reception.
Also consider that as a photographer, I often take photos of guests to be able to capture everyone that’s there. Some brides ask that I do table touches, this happens as dinner is served so everyone is sitting at the table and not off somewhere else. The bride and groom come to the table and I take 3-5 images and we go to the next table over and over. This allows you to have images with every guest and you can forego the receiving line.
Consider bringing your own alcohol and only serve beer and wine or champagne. It’s a way to cut the costs of drinks. I often have brides serve lemonade, water, and iced tea in big drink containers where people help themselves.
These solutions cut down on the cost of drinks and servers. Although, depending on your county or state, consider someone over 21 to help with the alcohol service. Some laws require that sort of thing.
Consider all the food items. You could have family-style service or forego bread and other optional food, Many of my brides and grooms are also considering food trucks or other creative ideas to lessen the cost of a per head type of foodservice.
You could have a family friend bake a simple cake for decor and serve sheet cake. Another way to save is having an alternative to wedding cake which can be surprisingly more expensive than one would expect. You can have pies or cupcakes or a dessert table. One of my brides had her aunts bake and bring goodies for the dessert table eliminating the cost completely.
You Made it!
You made it to the end! I’m so excited that you consider wedding photography important. I hope you found these tips helpful to cut your budget and be able to afford the photographer of your dreams.
I am a destination wedding photographer — if you are getting married, I am offering no travel fees if you book one of my packages. Contact me!
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