What do you wish you'd spent more money on?

Updated Oct 12 2015
Frankensara Rings
Kinda wishing I'd prioritized shark cuff-links so we could have gotten a rings shot like this… Photo by Sharyn Frenkel Photography
We are close to hitting the ceiling on our small-budget wedding, and I'd love to hear from Offbeat Bride readers who've finished their weddings…

What are things that you wish you spent more or less on?

I am trying to balance my tight-fisted nature with my f-it attitude.


Offbeat spouses, we know TONS of you are still reading (you're 20% of our readership!) and we need to know: Looking back, what do you wish you'd spent more money on? Bonus question: what do you wish you'd spent LESS money on?

  1. It's interesting to me how many of you wished you spent more on photography! This completely scares me. Both of us are camera shy and NOT photogenic. Will a photographer even be able to get good shots(no matter how amazing they are) with such…crumminess? I'd be apologizing profusely the entire day to them! We would like some nice pictures but it just doesn't seem possible.

    I think a video of the ceremony and first dance is an absolute must, but wondering if the whole day(which is a short wedding because it's tiny) would be better? I'm so worried to miss something!

    Lastly, dress. Did any of you married peeps regret not having "top of the line fabric"? Especially those of you interested in fashion and know your fabrics. I'm interested in the way fabric drapes and flows for those pretty dress twirl shots!

    • Fabric makes a MAsSIVE difference. I got my dress secondhand and altered and colored it. To afford a new dress of the same heavy satin would have been difficult for me.

      Go to JoAnn fabrics. Head to the special occasion section. Look at the $7.99 satin. Pick it up, unroll some of the bolt, hold it up to the light. Then look at the $25 satin. Lights will show the quality of fabric and so will your photos. You can also damage cheap fabric much more easily (steaming, water, makeup, etc). Most of the time, fabric is expensive for a reason.

      Find a dress you love in a store. Go on Craigslist, eBay, etc and find it! Or find a similar dress out of good fabric (remember your JoAnn experiment) and have it changed to be what you want. Or find a fabric store going out of biz and buy in bulk and have it made (much of a custom gown expense is the fabric cost). Many ways to do this cheaply!

      I advise against the china route. Usually the fabric in the dress does not match the sample pictured and is a lower quality.

  2. Cake. Our caterer assured me they'd get us a nice cheesecake from a bakery out of state. It was a frozen pre-sliced one. It tasted fine, but we shoulda/coulda gotten a slightly nicer one a bit more locally and had it customized.

  3. We budgeted for a range of guests, and our guest numbers came in at the low end, so I spent the extra money on having people come do hair and make-up for the women in both our families and me the morning of the wedding. (I didn't have bridesmaids) Most of my family rarely wears make-up and isn't particularly good at hair. It was nice bonding time for the families and a plus is that everyone looks good in the pictures.

    Best cost-saving move was paying the hair dresser by the hour, and not by the person. She did hair touch-ups/styling rather than full fancy up-do type things.

  4. I would like to add that I really wished I would have not felt half as guilty as I did about spending money on the thing we really liked. For example, my veil was $200 and it took me 2 months and other people threatening me they would put it on their own credit cards if I didn't just buy it because I LOVED it. I just wish I could go back and tell myself to drop the issue once the money was spent. I looked good and I'm glad I bought it. Actually any money spent on looking good (hair, makeup, dress, nice suits, etc..) I'm glad we did because those are the pictures I look back at.

  5. I would spend less on invitations -even though they were a gift from my in-laws-. Lots of people didn't even read them! We could have spent less on alcohol. We have no regrets about that, but we could have bought a lot less.

    I definitely wish we had spent more on extra hours at the venue. We rented the place for 9 hours (ceremony and party were at the same place), and still felt we needed more time to enjoy everything we had payed for.

  6. This is more of a question for all you lovely ladies. I love how the consensus is that photography is worth paying for, and that a lot of you loved your photographers. Could you guys leave names? I know there is the vendor guide, but it often doesn't have reviews…

  7. Tickets. We did a destination wedding, and neither of my brothers made it because of financial constraints. I wanted to pay for their tickets, but we were out of budget. I would Also have liked to have flown first class for the first time in my life!

    I would have spent much much less on food for the at home reception. A friend who was learning to be a chef did it, and we ended up throwing away hundreds of dollars in food because she wasn't good at estimating and she chose very perishable items. We could have grabbed a bunch o f fancy salads and snack plates (it was only a 4 hr picnic) and used that money to fly my brothers!

  8. While I do *not* wish we'd spent $1500 on professional videography, I *do* kind of wish we'd given my teenage cousin $40 to tape the reception, or gotten someone off Craigslist or something. Thankfully we do have video of the ceremony, but nothing of the crazy dancing and general fun of the reception.

  9. I definitely wish I'd spent more time, effort, and money on making my cake the perfect thing I had always imagined it would be. Instead, due to last-minute loss of our caterer, I ended up making mini-cakes for all guests myself, and cutting our adorable (but not my dream) groomscake at the wedding itself.

  10. I wish I had shelled out for a day-of coordinator. The one stressful part of the day for me was trying to be my own coordinator. I did have a couple friends pitching in to set up the decorations and pack them up at the end of the night, and the caterer was fantastic and did some of the things that would have been the day-of coordinator's job. But having a day-of coordinator would have let me focus on just enjoying the wedding.
    I'm so happy we budgeted for a really good photographer. We had a friend take some video, and while it came out good, in retrospect I kind of wish we had a professional videographer as well.
    I'm glad I got my dress for just a few hundred dollars at a sample sale. Also, the flowers wound up not being cheap, and in retrospect I would have been just as happy with bouquets of rosemary and lavender from my sister's garden. In fact, if I had not paid for flowers, I could have used that money to hire a day-of coordinator.

    In a slight spin-off, I'm sooooo happy that we paid the money to have a photobooth. We found a really great groupon so it was only $250, and everyone loved it. It was an extra fun little thing to do. The photobooth made two sets of photostrips, so the guests got to keep one strip, and then put the other strip in the guestbook with a message.

  11. The only thing I wish I'd spent more money on was some professional waiters or catering staff or someone similar. We hired two teenagers who did a lot of work but they had to be directed about EVERY LITTLE THING so our friends and family who were doing the food and set up spent as much time telling them how to do things as doing them themselves.

    Our friends and family did everything except the wedding cake, and it about killed them, so if I could figure out a way to have made their lives easier I would like to have spent more money on that.

  12. oops- posted in wrong thread:

    We had a friend do our photographs and they turned out really well. We asked him to just do These Ten group shots and the rest could fend for themselves, but he really went all out and did a fantastic, professional-style job. On top of that, two other people sort of dedicated themselves to getting good photos, so I don't AT ALL regret not hiring a professional photographer. (here are some of the pics: http://www.flickr.com/photos/spacemansam/sets/72157634432074222/)

  13. Does having a larger available budget open you up to more options? sure.
    Does that mean the option that you like best will be at the top of your budget? NOPE, sure doesn't.

    Top things I am glad to have allowed myself to let go and spend on:

    – Photographer – real, physical take away that we can share and remind us. priceless.

    – Dress – the dress I found was a few hundred above my original budget, but I felt invincible in that dress, so i bought it anyway. To soften the blow I bought the sample, and I had saved in a couple other unexpected places.

    – DJ – he was actually much less than some others, but the point is he was awesome.

    – Linens- yup. I stressed out for a couple weeks that the blue satin that would look so amazeballs was $3 more per table cloth than the white…..and I thought "would I pay $60 to have amazing color, and have all my tables pop in pictures? I sure would!" so I just stopped worrying about it.

    The thing I did NOT spend "more" on (and not regretting it for a second):

    – the Ring – My husband took me ring shopping with what I consider a generous budget. We only looked at rings inside the budget, and yet when I saw my ring I said I would take it without even knowing the price… turns out that it was the least expensive one we had seen, and was less than 1/3 the budget. (thus explains my splurge on the dress)

    Moral is: It's not about the price tag, it is about allowing yourself permission to go for something that you feel excited for. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder for it.

  14. I'd spend less on: Flowers!!! We DIY'd our table flowers and I think DIY'ing bouquets and our backdrop would have been a great way to save money.

    Food: we spent a lot of money on food and people still tell me how good it was. It was our splurge and our chance to be like, YES! Veggie food can be AWESOME! and it was.

  15. Great question! Here's feedback from both of us–
    Mr. Gloucesterina: I wish we had spent more (as in more than $100) on photography.
    Me: This may sound weird, but I don't really care about photos of my wedding. The photography we were able to score for said $100 was laughably awful (think prom-style hand-on-hip poses) but it's a funny story to tell, along with the photographic documentation of laughable awfulness, and didn't diminish our enjoyment of the actual event.

  16. Response part II: What are we glad we did spend money on?

    Mr. Gloucesterina: Staying at a hotel (vs. at Gloucesterina's mom's house) the night before the wedding (and of course after).
    Me: Having a cheese and wine hour before the reception dinner proper. Due to an accident on the highway, many of our guests missed the ceremony and trickled in late-ish to the reception, and having some lowkey mingling time built-in before the meal was a great cushion.

  17. I wish I had gotten a professional day-of coordinator and crew, videography (didn't even have to be nice videography, just someone to film) and tables that standard linens would actually fit so there wouldn't be a bunch of material lumped up on the floor. Spent too much on supplies for DIY projects and a few random items that I couldn't return. Don't buy wedding stuff you're not absolutely certain about that can't be returned after at least a month.

  18. I'm really satisfied with everything else I spent money on. My favorite expense was my custom jewelry by a local artisan, fiance thought I spent too much but I was so incredibly happy with it. We got some great deals, and very little was wasted.

  19. What an awesome and useful thread this is!

    We are currently planning our wedding in March 2014 and we are on a tight budget. We sat down early on and decided what was important to us and what wasnt. What is: reception food (since we're only having 50 guests, one of our favourite restaurants can do a set menu for a really good price in a private dining room which we're stoked about), photo's (not sure how we're going to tackle this one cos the photographer we would like is hugely expensive…) and a ceremony barefoot on the beach. What isnt: what we'll be wearing (he's wearing a three piece suit he already owns, my dress and the girls dresses will be simple and easy and custom made by a friend of a friend, with no veil or head piece or anything), fancy cakes and trimmings (instead of a wedding cake, we're having a feijoa and apple pie baked by my MIL), and cars (we'll likely borrow a car of his parents and drive ourselves to the reception!). We're making our own simple invites and have a free wedding website for all of the fiddly details (directions, reception, no gifts please, etc). I will probably have a very simple bouquet made from flax flowers, and as the private dining room where we're having our reception doesnt accommodate dancing, I cant wait to go out on the town in my wedding dress! A very good friend of mine is my hairdresser and will be travelling to attend the wedding and do my hair, and she'll be 8 months pregnant! Her wealth of wedding knowledge has been invaluable and I love knowing that, if all else fails, I will have beautiful hair when I marry my blondie barefoot on the beach!

    After reading all of the above replies, I think I will dig harder on the photographer thing tho…

  20. One more voice for the advantages of an awesome photographer. We had a rehearsal dinner with 120 people the night before the wedding (with a light reception at the church for 400 people, and an intimate family dinner for 60 on the day of the actual wedding) and only thought to hire the photographer for the wedding day. My husband's mother paid the extra to have him come to the family dinner. He got SUCH amazing photos of people having fun that I really wish we had him take photos at the rehearsal dinner because some people could only come that night and couldn't come the day of the wedding, so we have NO photos of a handful of family and friends. 🙁

  21. Photography, hands down, is the area to concentrate significant time, energy and money. Good photography will show off every detail of the wedding, make you look great and feel great every time you open your album or glance at the framed pictures on your wall.
    Unless there are strong feelings against serving alcohol, build some alcoholic beverages into your budget. I'm not saying a full, open-bar, is the only way to go, but offering a limited amount and/or menu of drinks is appreciated by those who would like to raise a glass.
    As for spending less, look at the little stuff – favors, flowers, table numbers, etc. The endless amount of "things" that can be included in a wedding, especially a theme wedding, can bust a budget fast.

  22. This thread has been super helpful! We're getting married at my parents' home in August, so there's a lot of deciding how 'wedding'-ish we have to go since we're hoping to keep everything laid back. I'm very against putting up lots of money for flowers, so it's awesome to see so many of you have named it one of the lesser-valued (after the fact) expenses. Seeing the consensus about photography is VERY helpful. My biggest question mark regarding our wedding is iPod vs. DJ. We're hoping to hook up a great borrowed sound system, keep a microphone accessible, and program our tunes. We're getting A LOT of pressure to hire a DJ, but since we're both social people who are happy to hop on the mike and get people up to dance, we don't see the need. I'm seeing mixed thoughts here. Does anyone have any opinions on the matter?

    • We hired a DJ for our wedding just because we didn't have a sound system at our location and the headache of setting it up was something we were willing to pay to avoid. We also didn't want to have to worry about music selection throughout the night since music can have a huge influence on the tone of a party.

      That being said, one of my best friends had an iPod reception and it was just fine. She had a sound system at her location and her playlist was good. A DJ was not missed at her wedding and would have been an unnecessary expense for her.

  23. I wish we had put money aside for a honeymoon. We moved our wedding up because we had saved faster than expected and literally could not wait to get married. But now because of our budget and our schedules, we haven't even planned a honeymoon yet. We had a great party, but we want to have a special trip just for us.

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