How to Prioritize Your Wedding Budget
First off: Giveaway update! If you didn’t catch the info about the Summer Baking Camps and the giveaway I’m doing along with them, hurry on over! You still have time to enter! I also still have a few slots left in each age group, so get yours reserved today. Can’t wait to bake with you!
Along those same winning lines, Julia and Marty were the winners for the Dream Team Bridal Session giveaway featuring me along with two other amazing vendors, Hawkeye Photography and Blushing Blonde. Julia and Marty weren't planning on affording a formal bridal session, so it was wonderful to style and shoot this session for our sweetest couple!
Photographer's inspiration: Julia and Marty wanted a timelessly elegant location, but one that also incorporated some elements of nature into their formal session. The Capital Building in Salt Lake City, UT was the perfect venue for their story to unfold. We started with a classic Cinderella first look as she descended to him down the grand staircase. From the moment their eyes met, I knew it was going to be an amazing shoot. Their chemistry was very real and very resonant with the camera. We created a magical fairy-tale formal session for them to cherish. –Ashley, Hawkeye Photography
HMUA Inspiration: Julia loved the traditional soft, romantic bridal updo and she has gorgeous blonde hair that falls below her shoulders, so we swept it into a twisted low updo. She had a classic jeweled headpiece to accent her beautiful hair with a few pieces left to frame her face.
Her makeup was natural, luminous, and gorgeous, and only needed a subtle natural smokey eye and natural lips with a light blush to be complete! Her eyes are the star of the show, with long lashes framing her brilliant baby blue's. – Julie, Blushing Blonde
Florist Inspiration: I loved Julia's color palette of dusty pink, burgundy, and slate blue and felt so inspired to find flowers that were organic and raw, but also soft and romantic, accenting the movement of Julia's flowing gown from Gateway Bridal and her flawless, fairy-like features.
I used peach stock, cream hypericum berry, safari sunset, burgundy dahlias, blushing bride protea, white ginestra, light blue delphinium, blue thistle, and red amaranthus to create this woodland fairy, slightly cascading bouquet and love how the texture and movement came together. – Emily, The Pear Blossom
We were so happy that we could give back and help a sweet couple like Julia and Marty get a little something something extra for their wedding and bonus – you can see all the goodness featured over on Latter-Day Bride as well. It gave me all the feels and I’ve got a few other giveaways up my sleeve after the Summer Baking Camp Giveaway because I get it people I really do. The vast majority of us…dare I say 99% of us…aren’t “One-percenters” (see Ma?! I do math good :) The sky ISN’T the limit when it comes to college, travel, and wedding budgets. We go and do what we can afford. And often times this means sacrificing something we want for something we need or want more.
But, knowing what to cut and where to cut can be REALLY difficult when it comes to your wedding because every last detail feels so important. It seems like it could make or break the look and feel of your wedding and *fingers crossed* you only get one shot at this so it has to be perfect the first time around. That’s a lot of pressure you’re putting on yourself there girl and it can also cause a lot of friction between you and your fiancée or your momma, so immagonna make it a little easier for you and show you what I did BEFORE I ever started planning my wedding to help keep the planning fun, stress and confrontation-free, and in budget.
The first thing most gals do when they get engaged is run out and start trying on dresses because that’s the fun part!!! Yay!!! And because it’s fun it must be the right thing to do right?! Wrong. There is a step that should have happened before you ever got engaged and almost everyone I know skips this step so I’m sharing it with the world now.
Step 1: Prioritize YOUR Dreams
When you’re engaged to be engaged (that awkward point in dating and courtship where you’ve talked marriage, know you want to get married, but he hasn’t popped the question yet) you need to sit down and communicate with three-four groups of people, 1) yourself, 2) your fiancée, 3) your parents, 4) and possibly your fiancée’s parents. You need to sit down with them and have a little heart to heart about what is the most important thing to them when it comes to getting married or marrying off a child and then you need to limit them. Yes you read that right. You need to limit them. Here is my general rule of thumb, but you could certainly adjust these numbers to work for you situation:
The Bride: gets her top 5 most important things. Girl when I say “Top 5” I mean the items in your wedding that are ABSOLUTELY so important to you that you are willing to go to battle over it. Everyone says “choose your battles” meaning you have to be willing to let other, less important issues go and for your wedding you need to be willing to compromise, but not with the items on this list. This is your hill to die on, this is where you’re going to spend your money, and this is where you are going to invest the most time and energy so make it worth it and dig in to the nitty gritty wedding details here. You can’t just say, “I want my reception to be perfect.” What about the reception? Oh the dancing? K what about the dancing? Is that a professional DJ, installing a dance floor at your venue, or making your groom take dance lessons? Get specific.
This was my list:
1: Dress – I wanted to feel amazing in my dress and I wanted to buy it. I was not willing to rent and I was willing to pay more and cut other places to get what I wanted. My dress was over $800, but I re-used jewelry and shoes from a “scholarship pageant” I did in high school (you can stop laughing now) and I had my cosmetologist sister-in-law do my hair and make-up to help afford the dress.
2: Photography – I have always believed that no matter what you actually do for your wedding, at the end of the day all you have are the photos, so you go big here and you get the best. dang. photographer. you can afford. You don’t cut here. Period. Your wedding day is not the day to have a neighbor with a nice camera come and do it for free. Unless your neighbor is India Earl and then yes, by all means have your neighbor do it :) lol
3: Flowers – I wanted fresh flowers and I wanted them installed everywhere! I also wanted a gorgeous outdoor wedding in a fantastic garden, but have you seen the prices? To get that lush garden look I wanted and still get all my fresh floral centerpieces and bouquets, I opted to have my reception at a greenhouse. This saved me A TON of time, effort, and money in a lot of ways…already decorated, already lush and garden-esque but not as expensive as actual garden venues, and already climate controlled so no matter the weather I could have that outdoor garden feel without having to stress.
4: Cake – I wanted a huge (five tiers people! It was amazing!!!), from scratch buttercream cake covered in fresh flowers. My mom was worried it would cost too much and wanted Styrofoam. Yikes! I was freaking out about the thought of a Styrofoam cake, but this was my hill to die on, so I compromised on catering to get the cake I wanted.
5: Wedding Line Clothing – K this one probably sounds super dumb, but it goes back to being left with just the photos at the end of it all. I wanted my photos to look perfect and to me that meant matching tuxes and perfectly coordinating Maid of honor, bridesmaid, and flower girl dresses. Some wedding parties do the whole mix and match thing and pull it off famously, but I love the seamless blend of matching outfits. Sometimes the mix and match is just too busy. I like the eye to move effortlessly over the picture and not be caught on weird, random details.
Everything else after this was totally flexible. I had a brother help with the music, a friend help with catering, a random hole in the wall do invites (because hey they just get thrown away!) etc. etc. etc. Did doing those things cheap and a little jimmy-rigged run smoothly? Not quite. But the hiccups were worth it and emotionally I could roll with it because I had already made up my mind in advance where my priorities were and the rest was just fluff.
Step 2: The Groom’s priorities
The Groom: gets his #1 most important thing. Why only one in this age of gender equality? I recommend it because the groom typically plans or takes on the majority of the planning and decision making for the wedding night and the honeymoon, so the bride gets extra say on her special day. Seems fair to me :) Some grooms care not one bit about wedding plans. Others are super involved. Adjust these numbers as needed right?
My husband was fairly involved, but only cared about 1 thing. He wanted to wear a chocolate-brown tux. At first, this seemed a little weird to me, because this was back in the day when men wore white or black tuxes and there was no Pinterest to inspire us to deviate from the norm. But then I looked at my list and the color palette I had chosen wasn’t one of those Top 5, which meant it was adjustable, so I adjusted. And I’m so glad I did. I would hate to look back on my wedding and think that I didn’t give my husband the one thing that was important to him. Sad day for him, but he has that regret, because I asked one thing from him and he refused to do it and totally regrets not compromising on that one thing. Sucker.
Step 2: Help Your Mom Pick Her Priorities
The Mother of the Bride: gets her top 3 most important things. Why? Because she’s your mom and you don’t want to look back at your wedding and realize all you did was fight with your mom. I’ve seen brides and their mothers fight over details as inconsequential as how the bride was going to style her bangs, styles of cutlery, or how big the bouquet should be. True story. If your parents are throwing a reception for you, that means they are the host and hostess and they’ll have an idea of how they want to entertain their guests, so a bride needs to be willing to work within those parameters. But, it’s also your special day and you’ve got one shot. So, if you know what’s most important to you and then what’s most important to your mother, you’re going to know where to back off, where to compromise, and where to have a knock-down drag out fight with your mom and I’m guessing for most people, it isn’t over bangs.
Step 4: The FOTB
The Father of the Bride: gets his #1 most important thing – typically you see the FOTB worry the most about budget, but you may be surprised at what he says. Maybe it’s the song you use for the daddy/daughter dance, or having red meat at just ONE dinner for the love, so just communicate about it now.
Step 5: The Groom’s Parents
The Groom’s Parents: This area is a little grey depending on what, if anything, the groom’s parents are paying for. My in-laws hosted a lovely wedding luncheon and paid for all of it, so while my mother-in-law was very sweet to ask for my suggestions and opinions, I was also really careful to make sure I deferred to her and what she had in mind. Basically, the wedding luncheon didn’t fall in my top 5 so it’s where I was happy to compromise and be flexible, which worked out well because my MIL was marrying off her 4th son and had her system down. A bridezilla tantrum here would have thrown a huge wrench in that and created a lot of friction.
There you have it my friends. THIS is what needs to happen BEFORE you start planning your wedding. Once you make the lists in a convenient little note on your phone, head out and try on dresses, taste cake, and take dance lessons to your heart’s content. And then when some awkward moment comes up over veil length or something totally random that you never expected, you can pull out your list and be like, “Hey was this important to anyone?” and then compromise from there. And then when you get images back like this, you can just sigh over them and get all sentimental and misty-eyed instead of remembering how your bridesmaid went out and changed her outfit at the last minute and no longer matched in the pictures. Seriously though, this picture gets me...every time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed perusing Julia and Marty’s fairy-tale formal session while we’ve chatted about dicey things like budgets and bridezilla moments. Nothing like a spoonful of sugar to make that medicine go down :)
Julia and Marty
The Pear Blossom
Venue: Utah State Capital Building
Dress: Gateway Bridal
"Markova" Gown in Latter Day Bride line