This will be an ongoing article/subject because there is a lot of great advice out there.
For now, check out this link from Elizabeth Ann Designs that gives you Essential Questions to ask your Photographer (or potential photographer)
Now some tips on How to Budget for Your Wedding to Get What is Important to YOU!
How to afford a professional photographer for your wedding:
Some people think that they can’t afford a professional photographer for their wedding. Unfortunately that is the one thing that brides regret after their wedding NOT spending the money on. It is the only thing, besides your handsome new husband and wedding ring that you get to have to remember your wedding. By not getting beautiful pictures to remember all the details of your wedding, you will regret your decision later. So, I am going to help you by giving you ideas on how to save money in other aspects of you wedding so that you can put more money towards your pictures. I understand being on a budget-in fact, I recommend that you try to stick to your budget for you wedding. Debt is not something you want to start a marriage with if you can avoid it!
The first thing I want you to do is choose the three things that are listed below as the three things that are the LOWEST on your priority list for a wedding. Then I will give you ideas for each thing that if you do a couple of these money saving ideas, you can put that money towards a professional photographer.
Ring, Bridal Gown, Videographer, Photography, Decorations, Bridesmaid Gowns, Cake, Tuxes, Invitations, Flowers, Food, Honeymoon, Jewelry/Accessories
Now here are the categories below with some money saving ideas. By just picking a few, it could save you hundreds of dollars!
Flowers: Sometimes less is more. The arrangement below is simple and beautiful and only uses three flowers in it. Try to simplify your centerpieces-simple is also elegant. Choose flowers that are in season. For example, use tulips in spring-not fall! Flowers that are in season will be cheaper. You can also buy flowers in bulk at Sams Club, Costco or a wholesale market and do the arrangements yourself. The last tip is you can also opt for silk flowers. Just make sure you find some that look like the real thing-not blue roses! Natural is always better!
Ring: Every girl dreams about her fantasy ring. You might find it in the classifieds, a pawn shop, Ebay or Craig’s list. Buyer beware when you do so–make sure you are getting the real thing. But you may end up with your dream ring at a much lower price!
Decorations: Not all your centerpieces need to match-in fact, I think it makes the room much more interesting when they don’t match, but coordinate! You can do this by borrowing different sizes and shapes of vases from friends and family for your flower arrangements or find some at a thrift store, clearance sections, discount stores or yard sales. You could also find or borrow linens at the same places. Adding different colors and textures to the room always make it more interesting. When having your reception in the church gym it is hard sometimes to fill the whole space, especially if it is at a stake center. You can bring in furniture from home, lamps, etc, to fill the room and make it more warm and inviting. By making “lounge” areas, your guests can sit down and relax and enjoy your reception.
Cake: They now offer rent-a-cakes. If you really don’t care about having a specific cake, you can rent one (they are Styrofoam inside) and save you some money. If you still want to serve cake, you can get sheet cakes at a lower cost. You could even have a small cake top made for you to cut if you still want to cut a cake. Other options are doing donut/cupcake “cakes” by stacking them on tiered stands. You also might have a family member or friend that can make a pretty cake and give you a discount. Remember that this will be eaten and forgotten, so don’t spend too much on it!
Bridal Gown: Now I know that every girl needs her dream dress, but not everyone can spend thousands of dollars on a dress that you will wear ONCE-or maybe twice with bridals. So instead, look for sales, dresses on clearance, ksl.com classifieds, Craig’s list, want ads or even rent the dress. Many brides will sell their dress after the wedding trying to make some money (which is also an option-BUT you might not sell it-so make sure you have the money for it!), and you will get a beautiful gown, hardly worn, at a big discount. Paying for the dress to be cleaned will still be cheaper than buying the dress at full price. I had a bride find this beautiful dress at David’s Bridal $99 sale and had a tailor make it temple ready and only spent $200 on it total!
Bridesmaid Dresses: Instead of getting matching dresses, buy separates that are coordinated, but not matching. This way you can fit everyone’s body type, and buying something that they can wear again will be appreciated! You can also get dresses that can be worn again, not as formal, at places like Old Navy or Target. You can also just limit how many will be in your bridal party, maybe down to just a maid-of-honor to save on cost. Then just get the rest of your friends a special gift or make them something with a nice note that tells them how you feel about them.
Tuxes: Instead of buying tuxes, more people would be more willing to spend money on something they can keep. So look for sales on nice suits instead. They sometimes have buy one get one free or buy two get one free sales on men’s suits. This way you might even be able to get people to use some of their money towards a nice suit. Plus they will be able to use it countless more times, instead of returning it the next day! You can buy them all matching ties to tie it all together! For the little boys around Easter time, you can find tuxes for about $25 at Sam’s Club-so if you have time to plan ahead-watch out for them! I just saw an entire wedding party outfitted in grey suits they got on Ebay from JeJe suits for only $60 each!!!
Food: You can save a lot of money on food in a couple of different ways. First, you can have family and friends each make a dessert or donate a box of eclairs or cream puffs to serve to your guests. One wedding I went to they had the bride and groom’s favorite desserts to serve to their guests and the family had made them all. They had a card by the food that told their guests about their favorite desserts that they were going to sample and I think it added a nice personal touch to the food being served. Another thing you can do is use food that is in season and it will save you money. Go to Sam’s Club or Costco and buy the items in bulk. If you are serving hot food, rent the catering supplies, then have family and friends help make the food to be served in them.
Honeymoon: If you can just go to a bed and breakfast on your first night, then wait until later in the year when flights/vacations are cheaper, do that! You can put the money for your honeymoon aside and watch for last minute deals on flights and cruises so you can go on the honeymoon of your dreams on a budget! Plus, you might get to see and do more at your destination if you wait a couple of months!
Videographer: You can just have the videographer do one event instead of the entire wedding day. You can also ask a family member or friend to use their camcorder to record the events of your day and have the raw footage of the day that you can edit later if you want. (Keep in mind it won’t be as high of quality). You might also find a photographer that works with a videographer and will give you a discount if you book both of them.
Invitations: These are the things that people throw in the garbage, so really try to find a good deal on them! The most affordable ones are usually the photo invitations. I offer double sided invitations for my clients at a really good price. You can also buy your own envelopes online or at an office supply store to save money. You can also do postcard size thank you cards and that will save you about half on postage by using post card stamps.
Photography: One thing you can do to save some money on pictures is NOT use those disposable camera’s on each table. You are lucky to get some good shots out of them-most people forget to turn on the flash and take some pretty random pictures that you will have to PAY to develop. Instead, have a card on each table that asks guests to email you any fun pictures that they get with their digital camera (most people bring them to weddings). Make sure there are a few cards at each table with your email so that they can take them with them in case they don’t have your email. This costs you less than a dollar in copy costs and you are more likely to get better shots than with disposable cameras!
I would recommend NOT having a family member or friend that might have a “nice” camera. That does not mean they know how to use their camera, get correct lighting, color, or composition in a picture! Plus, these are the pictures you are sending out with your invitation that everyone will see-even if they don’t make it to the wedding, so you want them to be good. If you can’t afford to do a bridal session, you can cut that out to save some money and get a couple of shots of you by yourself on your wedding day, but DON’T regret not spending the money on a professional photographer–you can’t redo your wedding day!
One more tip on how to save money that isn’t in a category is to combine your luncheon and reception-invite less people and have a nice sit down dinner for your close family and friends and show them how much you appreciate and love them. If you have to invite the whole ward, do an open house a week later at someone’s house with light snacks. This is one thing that I wish we would have done. Doing a wedding, a luncheon and a reception in a day can be so draining. You want to remember your wedding as a happy day and ENJOY it!
The last tip I will give you is to go to bridal shows. There is always giveaways, prizes and discounts that you can try to win. Brides always get in free, so it might be worth the trip!