Did you start the year adding the title FEYONCÉ to your resume? If so, congratulations to you and your partner on your engagement! I’m sure everyone is already asking you a million questions about the wedding, and you both may be wondering where to start. I’ve got wedding advice for newly engaged couples to help you out!
The wedding advice I will share is based on my own time behind the scenes at nearly a hundred weddings I’ve photographed and feedback from couples I’ve worked with on their wedding days. So while I hope all of this advice is helpful to you, I want you to feel empowered to make informed decisions that will ultimately make your wedding day exactly what you envision it to be.
Where do we even start with wedding planning?
Pick the season or time of year you want to get married. Choose the three most important elements of your wedding and reach out to see if vendors have availability during that season or month. For example, if the location, the photography and the DJ/live band are the most important, start there!
How do we determine our wedding budget?
First, keep in mind that people plan weddings a year or so in advance. Most vendors accept payment plans with an initial retainer or deposit, which helps you to divide the cost over time. Weddings can be expensive if you want to have an experience that requires more vendors, and the more guests you have will add to the cost. If you have family that is contributing to your wedding fund, ask up front how much their contribution might be. What would be a monthly amount that you and your partner are willing to put towards your wedding over the course of a year? A good general recommendation is to pick 3 vendors that you want to “splurge” on for the majority of your budget, and see if you can find ways to save on the rest. NerdWallet has a great wedding budget calculator to help you tally up the costs.
Wedding vendors seem to be so booked up for 2022…how can we work with our dream vendors???
Reach out to your dream vendors first and ask if they have any remaining dates for 2022, or non-Saturday availability. You’ll have much better luck if you have the flexibility to get married on a day that’s not a Saturday. You can also consider pushing your wedding to 2023 or getting married in a less-popular season, like winter.
We’re not cheap, but what are some practical ways we can save, without trying to nickel-and-dime our vendors or sacrificing quality?
- Cut the guest list. Are there people on it that you feel obligated to invite? Will you be giving plus-ones out? Are there people you haven’t spoken to (online or in person) in over two years? Is everyone on the guest list someone you and your partner both consider a person who has supported you in your relationship? Someone said, If you’re not willing to spend $75 to take this person out to dinner, don’t invite them to your wedding.
- Get married in the “off season”: Winter to early spring tend to be more affordable because not as many people are requesting those dates. This can help you save big on your venue or with certain vendors who would love to have additional clients during that time!
- Get married on a weekday: If many of your guests are local, consider getting married on a weekday. You’ll find more dates available and you may find venues and other vendors willing to cut you a deal.
- Hire a planner/event coordinator: Planners and event coordinators have connections with so many vendors. They can help you find the right vendors within your budget, or may know ways to cut costs that you hadn’t thought of previously.
- Elope. Seriously, if you do have a tight budget, then go somewhere magical and say your vows there! You can still invite a few guests, or you can invite everyone to a local restaurant or bar when you come back to have a party in your wedding attire. You can hire some amazing vendors to make even a simple elopement magical, without sacrificing quality and you’ll save a good amount of money. Here are the top 7 reasons you should elope!
We just got engaged, how long do we need to plan a wedding?
It depends. If you’re planning to elope or wanting something very simple, you could plan everything in a matter of weeks. Even smaller weddings with mostly local guests can be put together in a few months. Most couples who want to plan out a big celebration and work with specific vendors (many of whom may already be booked for 2022) need at least a year. If you are planning to have a big celebration, the more time you have to plan helps so much. If you’re set on getting married in a particular month or working with a certain photographer, venue, caterer, etc., then you will definitely want to plan farther out.
When is a good time to have engagement photos taken?
We’re getting married in less than a year: You’ll want to get your engagement photos done as soon as you can so that you can send out or post some pictures to share with your friends and family. Some people use the engagement photos on their wedding websites or for save the dates – you’ll need to think about how long it will take for your photographer to edit the images and also time to select photos and get save the dates printed.
Our wedding is more than a year out: You’ve got time! Pick your favorite season, or the time of year where the location(s) you choose for photos are going to be the most beautiful. Spring, summer, and fall are the most popular times of year for engagement sessions, but they are also photographer’s most busy seasons. Discuss with your photographer and plan ahead to make sure you can have your photos done and get them back in time for you to use them for save the dates or the wedding website.
Speaking of wedding photographers….how do I pick from all the options???
Choose a photographer whose work you LOVE. It’s tempting to use price as a comparison tool, but your wedding photos are the only tangible memories you’ll have once your wedding is over. I would argue that your wedding photographer is THE most important vendor you will have. Wedding photographers work with clients for over a year, starting from the initial inquiry until after we’re done making your wedding albums. I’m with couples their entire wedding day and making sure they’re looking their best and having fun. DON’T SKIMP ON YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!
Make sure you love the photographer’s artistic style AND their edits; so many couples pick someone cheap and are unhappy with the results. Look at their website, social media, and ask to see full galleries and look for consistency in their edits. If you love what you see, then they may be your dream photographer!
Does their personality and approach match with yours? I always do a client consult with couples to make sure we’re a good fit. Most photographers post videos on social media so you can get to know them and learn more about them. Social media is a great way to see if you vibe with your potential photographer before you even reach out.
Do they have a legitimate business, website, contract, business insurance, and payment system for clients? Any of your vendors should have all of these set up. Make sure they have all of these, especially the contract, in order to protect your investment. Working with a cheap vendor who is not insured or doesn’t have a legitimate contract can end up costing you in the long run.
Photography gear… Your photographer should use a full-frame camera (or two), shoot on dual memory cards, and have a solid back-up process for storing your images. This is so important because you can’t go back and recreate these memories if they’re lost!!! Put your wedding day in the hands of a professional who has a system in place to protect your images.
Pricing and packages: This is the LAST item on the list, because all of the other factors are important to know before even asking about pricing. If your photographer has a style you love, you can vibe with them before even meeting, and they have established professional systems to protect you and give you an amazing client experience, THROW YOUR MONEY AT THEM BOO!
Like I mentioned earlier, your photographer is going to have a relationship with you for over a year. We will be communicating with you, editing thousands of engagement and wedding photos that takes countless hours, and putting together your wedding gallery and album for you and your guests to look back on for years to come. Most photographers offer payment plans so you can make a quality investment over several months. Wedding photography may be expensive, but the value of what you will get out of a professional experience with someone who cares is priceless.
final wedding planning advice
Ultimately, the decisions are for you and your partner to make together. Don’t book anyone because you feel pressured or rushed – if it’s stressful or takes away joy, really reflect on what you and your partner value and go from there. Have more questions about the wedding photography process? I’d love for you to fill out a contact form below and set up a call!
Thanks for reading and I hope this blog post helped give you some great wedding advice to help you plan an amazing and intentional celebration.
Johanna, Frames + Letters Photography