Top 10 Things You Should Not Cheap Out on Your Wedding

Weddings are so magical and romantic. Every girl dreams about their special day and can picture their wedding theme, décor, flowers, dress, and credit card debt? Let’s face it weddings are expensive as hell. There are certain things that you can cut costs on and your wedding would turn out fine. If you are getting married in a venue and you will be hiring multiple wedding vendors, this list is for you. I got married to the love of my life on August 24, 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic. I had around 115 guests at my wedding and my wedding location was in Los Angeles, CA. I will be including some of my wedding costs, but just keep in mind that these were pre-pandemic prices and prices vary by location and other factors. I planned my wedding 2 years in advanced, so I was able to get discounts on most of my vendors for closing the deals early. My husband and I had a $20,000 budget and we were about $1,000 shy from it and ended up being under budget. From my personal experience of planning my wedding, some things are not worth pinching pennies for. Here are the top 10 things you should not cheap out on your wedding if you want your wedding day to be as stress free as possible.

  1. Day of Coordinator

If you are having your wedding in a venue and will have multiple vendors, then I highly recommend getting a day of wedding coordinator. This is different than a wedding planner. A day of wedding coordinator makes sure your wedding runs smoothly the day of your wedding by handling the schedule, vendors, and any problems that may arise at your wedding (this is inevitable). The alternative to this would be to have a couple of your family and friends coordinating your wedding and that to me is why having a day of coordinator is worth the price. Some brides even go as far as coordinating the wedding themselves, which I do not recommend. I personally wanted my friends and family to relax during my wedding day. I also did not want to resent them if something went wrong with my wedding plans. My day of coordinator worked so hard before and during my wedding. I did not have to do anything on the day of my wedding. She was worth every penny.

My Cost: $885

Average Cost: $800-$3,000 (Source: Brides.com)

2. Photographer

Photographers can be expensive. And when you add wedding in front of the word photographer, now we are talking about a good amount of moolah that you will be spending. But it is so worth it. The number of hours that a photographer spends working on your photos prior, during and after the wedding is worth paying a pretty penny for. I contemplated whether I wanted to cut costs on this part of my wedding by potentially hiring an amateur photographer that wanted to add pictures to their portfolio, but it was not worth it to me after my prior experience with an amateur photographer. This amateur photographer that I used to take photos of me ended up using terrible filters and was not able to direct very well. I can’t imagine how disappointed I would have been expecting to have beautiful wedding photos and end up looking like my mom took them and applied a terrible Instagram filter.

My Cost: $995

Average Cost: $2,400 (Source: theknot.com)

3. Food

This is usually the priciest item in your wedding budget if you are going with a caterer. You do not want to cheap out on this because this does not just include the quality of the food (which is very important) but also the quality of the service. The impressive part about caterers is their ability to serve food to a mass amount of people at the same time. This is not an easy task, and your caterer can be really slow at doing this and serve room temperature food or deliver excellent service to your guests. I really liked the flexibility that my wedding caterer offered my husband and I by including two vegetarian dishes for my guests and separate kid meals for my wedding guests that had children. Something that was very important to me was that the leftover food would not go to waste. I requested to have leftover containers and my guests were able to take home the leftovers. The sad thing is that I wanted those leftovers, but it was okay because the food did not go to waste. Be sure to go to the food tastings, read the reviews and make sure that the caterer listens to your needs before you choose your wedding caterer. My wedding caterer was quite expensive, but I had no choice but to go with them because the venue at the time worked exclusively with that caterer. The price also included a 20% tip for the wait staff. The food was delicious. My wedding guests were very pleased with the food, which made me very happy.

My Cost for ~115 guests: $7,662

Average Cost for 115 guests: $4,600 (Source weddingwire.com)

4. Alcohol

When I tell you that you don’t want to cheap out on alcohol, I only mean do not get a cash bar at your wedding. You do not need to get an open bar at your wedding, this can get really expensive, but you also do not want to make your friends and family spend even more money at your wedding with the alcohol. An open bar option from my caterer would have costed thousands of dollars and we would have had to guarantee a number of drinks at my wedding. Our families were not big drinkers and we were also on a budget. This is why we opted for the buy your own beer and wine at my wedding, which ended up being the cheaper of the options. We purchased our beer and wine at Costco. Your guests are already spending so much money on your wedding with travel, attire, gifts, hotels and other items. The least you can do is offer them a free drink as a thank you for coming to your wedding.

My cost: $800

Average cost: $2,300 (Source: theknot.com)

5. Helping your bridesmaids/groomsmen with expenses

If there is one thing I regret not doing, it is not buying my bridesmaids dresses. I admit that I was pinching pennies in this area and looking back I would have loved to buy their dresses. I was not fully aware at the time, but some of my bridesmaids were on a tight budget. I did give them the flexibility to choose their own dress and the dresses were under $150. My bridesmaids also had the flexibility of choosing their own shoes, not paying for their hair or makeup, and I did not have a bridal shower. I did not expect, nor did I want a wedding gift from them. It meant the world to me to have them there by my side. I showered them with gifts before and after my wedding as a thank you and I don’t regret that. If your bridesmaids/groomsmen are on a tight budget, please provide them with a stipend or purchase their items. Weddings are a touchy subject for people and even if they are on a tight budget, they might not say no to the expensive trips, dresses, gifts, and other expenses just to please you. Please have open conversations with your bridal party when it comes to these expenses.

6. Venue

Having my wedding in sunny Los Angeles gave us the opportunity to choose from many amazing wedding venues. If cost were not a factor, I would have had my wedding by the beach and it would have cost $20,000 at the time for just the venue, which was our entire wedding budget.  I chose to have my wedding at the Palos Verdes Art Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. This venue was a museum and was in a beautiful suburban upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles. This was the perfect venue for me when I factored in the price, location, and size. You do not have to get married at an expensive venue. In fact, I think an affordable venue is important. But you don’t want to settle on a venue that is in a location that doesn’t make you or your guests feel safe, does not have all of the proper amenities, do not have an attentive staff, and does not have a comfortable room temperature. Choosing the right location within your budget without going below your standards is key to you and your partner executing an amazing wedding.

My cost: $4,995

Average Cost: between $12,343 and $14,006 (Source: Valuepenguin.com)

7. DJ

If your family is very music centered, then this is a must. I come from a big Mexican family that loves to dance at parties to cumbias, banda, reggaeton, hip hop, and so much more. If they do not have the right music, they are not dancing, and the party will bore them. My husband’s family, not so much. Even if your family is not music centered, this is also a must. You need a DJ that fits your taste. Their DJ style must be something that does not annoy you with the way they do their announcements, sound effects (DJ air horn effect), song transitions and anything else that would make your ears bleed. I would hire a professional DJ that has experience with weddings and not your little cousin that does this as a hobby. I have been to a wedding that did not have a DJ. They used the free version of Pandora and all of the guests had to listen to the ads and I have also been to a wedding where the DJ kept playing obnoxious sound effects. Hire a professional DJ that understands your music taste and lets you build your own playlist. There are some songs that do not need to make it to your wedding playlist. Music is a must for many couples and if you cannot afford to hire a band, a professional wedding DJ is the next best thing.

My cost: $450

Average cost: $1,000 (Source: weddingwire.com)

8. Shoes

Now I know what you are thinking. Why do the shoes even matter if you are wearing a big wedding dress that will hide the shoes? That is exactly the point I am getting at. You do not want to wear cheap high heels that will make your feet hurt on your wedding day. You will be so busy walking around greeting guests, dancing, taking pictures and other activities. This will make the shoes you wear on your special day essential. Please be sure that you are not breaking in your shoes on the day of your wedding. For me, the important part of the shoe aspect of my wedding was wearing comfortable shoes. I did not want my feet to be killing me by the end of my wedding day because I know I would be exhausted as is. Although my mom and my aunts protested, I did not wear heels to my wedding. I am 5″1 and I did not wear heels on my wedding day because I valued my comfort. I purchased Toms shoes that had a lace look to them just like my wedding dress. I do not regret wearing my Toms shoes, in face I still wear them today.

My cost: $36

9. Time off from work

My wedding was on a Saturday and I took the Thursday and Friday off the week of my wedding. It was totally worth it.  In fact, I wish I would have taken more time off work. I was so busy running errands and finalizing wedding details the week of my wedding that I did not want to put any mental energy on my 9 to 5. The last few days before your wedding are also very stressful. Your wedding guests might cancel on the last minute or decide to ask you if they can bring an extra guest that was not invited (the answer is no). This is the week that you have it up to here with people. You have so many things on your mind. You worry about what people are going to think about the wedding, how your hair and makeup will turn out, if that relative will make a scene and so much more. You are also very excited. It is a very special day for you, your partner and your family and friends. Therefore, if your workplace allows you to take time off, you should. It is worth taking the whole wedding experience in without worrying about work.

10. Your non-negotiables

I want you to think about something that you can’t picture not having at your wedding. Is it a certain type of wedding dress, flowers, dessert, or entertainment? What would make your wedding perfect? Work that into your wedding budget and see where you can cut costs or completely eliminate from your wedding in order to be able to afford your non-negotiable. My non-negotiable was my wedding dress. I tried on so many wedding dresses that looked good on the mannequin but did not look good on my body. I opted to go for a wedding dress that was a bit over budget for my husband. My wedding dress was $1,750 and when I added in the alteration costs it ended up being $2,000. Because I really wanted the dress, we decided to cut costs with the wedding souvenirs, the wedding invitations, and we skipped a videographer. I was aware that the dress would cut costs in other departments and I was okay because we remained under budget. For some people, their wedding dress is not important and for others it is. Sometimes our bridezilla side kicks in a bit and we have to have that one non-negotiable. It is okay. You can have it just this once in life.

My cost: $2,000

Average Cost: $1,631 (Yeahweddings.com)

Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself and all opinions expressed here are my own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read full privacy policy here.

No Soy Coda

Karen Carranza is a personal finance content creator and enthusiast. She is a first generation Mexican American determined to build generational wealth and spread financial literacy through her blog, workshops, and Instagram page.

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