Four Things to NOT Skimp on For Your Wedding


So you’re getting married, huh? Congratulations of course! It’s so fun and exciting to think of ALL of the possibilities for your fantastic wedding… that is, until you start actually planning it and the dollar signs come crashing down around you. It happens to all of us- we’ve had so many of the details and non-negotiables figured out for years and the reality is that EVERYTHING IS SO DAMN EXPENSIVE. You want the fancy chairs? Cool, that’ll be $5 extra a person. You want the crazy amazing florals and succulent arrangements? You just tacked on more than just a few thousand to your price tag. WEDDINGS ARE EXPENSIVE. The average cost of a nuptial celebration in the U.S. is around $35,000 with 45% of couples exceeding their budgets. Just looking at those numbers gives me an anxiety attack, and like a lot of you I felt the pressure to keep my wedding PROUFOUNDLY cheaper than that. I gave myself a budget of $10k for my wedding back in 2016 and to everyone’s surprise, I STUCK to my budget. At the time, I was so proud of myself that I found ways to cut back and make compromises like having it in my parents’ back yard, having a friend handle our flowers that we ordered from Sam’s Club, and having a burger bar for our guests. Looking back on our big day, there are FOUR things I wish I would have done differently and actually sucked it up and spent the money for, and I suggest you do the same.


1. Find a Good Photographer and Throw Your Money At Them.


When you find yourself shopping for photogs, your first instinct most likely will be HOLY SH*T YOU WANT HOW MANY THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FOR ONE DAY?! It’s scary. I reached out to a photog friend of mine on the east coast and just asked him point blank: WHY?! He so eloquently explained that the photographer’s job doesn’t end the day of the event. They curate, edit, and create visual masterpieces for us to cherish forever. FOR. EV. ER. Hence my point: spend the damn money. I found an amazing photographer whose bottom price didn’t even come close to fitting in my budget but I loved her work, so I begged her to compromise with her package. What I ended up getting was three hours of her time where everyone felt rushed and panicked. When I got my photos back, I was so disappointed that I didn’t have her there for the entire day and night. No pictures of me getting into my dress, no pictures of the fun reception, no candid photos of me, my husband or kids. I just didn’t give her enough TIME or MONEY. Had I the opportunity to do over again, I would throw the money at a photographer’s feet and relish in hundreds of my beautiful photos for years and years to come. Just make sure you absolutely LOVE their portfolio and they curate photos in the exact way you love- spend a lot of time looking at their work and be confident in who you choose.

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2. Hire a Videographer.

When planning our wedding, my husband and I watched countless examples of the coolest drone wedding vids and we’re like “HELL YA we NEED that.” Well, like most everything else, it came with a price tag that we just couldn’t justify. But damn you guys- I would love to be sitting on my couch right now watching a gorgeously done wedding video with slo-mo moments and chill love songs. Again, just like photographs, it is something you will have forever that in good times and bad you can throw on to remind you (and your kids someday if you’re into that sort of thing) how awesome your day was. Plus, chances are as the bride and groom, you miss a TON of stuff happening- like you won’t even remember who you saw or talked to. My husband and I both wish we had splurged on a videographer to document all of the fun moments and I will forever regret not spending a couple extra thousand on that. Same suggestion applies as with finding a photographer- make sure you watch a ton of examples from your videographer to ensure you love their eye and style. 


3. Secure Yourself a Day-Of Coordinator.

You know what sucks? Waking up on your wedding day and needing to focus on everything that could go wrong with the technical bullsh*t. I had assumed that my friends and family would be helpful enough in making sure everyone stuck to a timeline and things happened as they should, but guess what- they’re just as frazzled as you and just DON’T ask them to do that. I should have freakin’ hired a team to come just handle it all for me- where the caterer goes, who lines up where, when the first dance happens… They seem like such easy questions but the day of your wedding, you don’t want to be the person people are coming to answers for. So search on social media for some wedding planners and reach out about just day-of coordination. 



4. Order a Hand-

Lettered Welcome Sign. 

I am a professional calligrapher and hand letterer, so this one is kiiiiind of selfish of me. I have penny-pinching brides constantly asking me what they “need” in terms of wedding signage and I always say the same: order things you would proudly show in your home after your wedding. Those are the signs you shouldn’t compromise on. Hire a professional to create a one of a kind piece that stops people in their tracks when entering your event. When brides see my price tag of $150-$200 for a welcome sign, I’m sure they’re a bit put off by the number whether they tell me or not. However, as a bride you need to understand the work that is involved in your signage when you hire a hand letterer. Plus, going out to Home Goods and purchasing a 24”x36” gorgeous wood sign would cost you almost the same and it wouldn’t be custom. Pinterest tells us we NEED hand lettered bar menus, place cards, table numbers, etc. and that’s GREAT for my business. But speaking to you one bargain hunter bride to another: spend that money on one or two signs that will be hung in your home after, and that will truly impress your guests.

Shelley Melikian