Life in Transition

Navigating Personal Finances During Life Transitions

Wedding Trimmings–Part III

During the past two weeks, I’ve discuss ways to save money the wedding dress, venue, reception, invitations, etc.  Today, I’ll discuss ways to save money on photography, cake, and officiant.

For me, this was one of the most difficult areas to save money.  A good photographer was definitely a priority for the wedding, but a good photographer doesn’t come cheap.  I understand why.  Taking wedding pictures is physically demanding, and the hours are long.  Not to mention, the equipment, editing software, and travel expenses add up and the cost is carried over to the clients.  So, I think a skilled photographer has every right to charge as much as they do (I know some people will disagree with that statement).  The average well-established photographer in this area ranges between  $2000-$2500, which  is too much for my budget.  

I was able to find a less expensive photographer through friends and facebook.  I go to a church with a lot of up-and-coming artists, so I found a candidate there who was only going to charge me $800.   The second candidate photographed my former roommate’s wedding quoted me for $1400, and the third candidate I found on Facebook, and his basic package costed $1700.  

The first photographer was an acquaintance, and he had just started his photography business.  When was looking for a photographer, he had only taken pictures of two weddings.  While his pictures weren’t bad, stylistically, it was not what I was looking for.  Plus, he was the least inexperienced out of the three, and his price point reflected that.  In the end, I decided not to use him because of his lack of experience.  Now that he’s had a full year to practice, he’s improved greatly.  Sometimes I wonder if I should have picked the first photographer, since he charged significantly less than the others.  

I ended up hiring the second photographer.  She had a year of experience and she consistently took high quality pictures.  When my former roommate got married, she only charged $950.  She became popular very quickly, and increased her prices. The third photographer also took excellent pictures, but he was less affordable.  Though she charged $700 more than  the first photographer, I  chose her since I knew I would definitely get good pictures on my wedding day.   This is an area that I did not want to skimp on quality.  Photographs are one of the few tangible things that I can look at after the wedding is over.  

Tips to trim photography costs: I would start with recommendations from friends, since it’s hard to find photographers under the radar with a Google search.  If you live near a university with an art or photojournalism department, look for students seeking to build a portfolio.  Searching Facebook for wedding photographers is also a good place to start.  Many new photographers who just started will have a Facebook page but no website.

Wedding Cake
Wedding cakes are expensive, for the same reasons photography is expensive.  My former roommate’s sister-in-law is making my wedding cake.  She bakes cakes out of her home as a hobby and will slowly build it into a small business as her daughters get older.  I told her what my budget was upfront and we talked about designs that would fit my budget.  I chose a standard  cake flavor, plain vanilla, and standard icing–nothing fancy.  Overall, I think I saved over $300 by not using a professional bakery.  

Another way to keep costs low is to buy a cake at a local grocery store with a bakery.  Usually, their cakes will be cheaper than a bakery that exclusive makes wedding cakes.  If you choose to bake your own, make several one tier cakes with varying designs.  There’s less of a chance to mess up than trying to make your own  multi-tiered cakes.

Tips to trim cake costs: The most important thing is to keep it simple.  The more exotic the flavors and the more intricate the design, the more your cake will cost.  If possible, find a family member or friend who can bake a wedding cake.  If not, try a grocery store with a bakery such as Kroger.

Depending on whether or not you have a religious ceremony, this may or may not be an area where you can save money.  My fiance and I are pretty involved with a church here in Louisville.  The church has been like a family for us, since we both live far from home.  So, it was important to us that one of the pastors officiates the wedding.  Each church has its policy about compensation for the ministers to do weddings.   Since my fiance and I have gotten to know one of the pastors at my church pretty well from our involvement with the college ministry, he waived the fee as his wedding gift.  

If you opt against a religious ceremony, you have more freedom with who you choose to officiate.  The best way to save money is to have a friend  perform the ceremony.   One of my friends asked her uncle to officiate her wedding.  There’s a few  ways to get certified.  There are some denominations, such as the Universal Life Church and First Nation Ministry, that open ordination to anyone and allow you to get certified online.  If you choose to go this route, make sure you check the legal requirements of your state.

Tips to trim officiant costs: If you or a family member is close to minister, pastor, or judge, ask to see if they are willing give you a discount or officiate for free.  If not, ask a family member or friend to get the proper certification to officiate.

What are some ways you have trimmed costs on your wedding?


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3 thoughts on “Wedding Trimmings–Part III

  1. Photography is really important to me for my wedding, too! It’s impossible to recapture all those perfect memories from your wedding day, so I fully support you going with the second photographer on the list. When is the big day?

  2. I’m not even engaged yet but photography would definitely be one of the most important things to me, other than the day itself. I think it’s ok to splurge on a few things for your wedding!

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