Four weeks from now, I’ll be a married Grown-Up Pokemon Trainer. We will be packing our bags, saying our farewells to our friends and family, and wrapping up our whirlwind of a wedding weekend.
That’s then, but this is now. And right now, I’m in what I refer to the week before tech week for our wedding. We are starting to feel the pressure as we complete our finishing touches and finalizing details. We are behind on some parts and ahead on others, but we have been through event planning before and know it will all work out. As for the financial part, our main strategy to keep our budget in check is priority spending.
Priority spending determines what are the most important things we want for our wedding. By setting our spending priorities early on, we can budget more money earlier in our process for our priorities. They also keep us on a budget by keeping our spending oblivious to our non-priorities’ cute charms.
Our priorities are to have a big wedding, videography with the photography, and a D.J.
Having a “Big” Wedding
When I tell people that we are having a wedding with over 150 guests, I am told that I’m wasting my time and money. We know having a small wedding could easily save us $3,000. We aren’t having a wedding to just get married. For me, it is important to have everyone in my life to celebrate this important life keystone with me. They all helped me get to this point in my life, and will continue to support me through the rest of it. Including them in our special day is our way of giving them a giant “Thank You” the deserve for all they do for us. We are very fortunate our families are so supportive and loving, especially since we’re a queer couple.
One big Snorlax in the road was that it turned into a destination wedding for us. In order for our guests to attend, we found a city that was a fair driving distance away from a majority of the guests and where major airport was, Minneapolis.
Being a destination wedding, we found venues that include almost everything. Our ceremony site is in a garden and the beauty of the location means no extra decorations. Our reception venue includes all linens, dishes, set up, decorations, catering and bartending. They also include the third-party wedding cheesecake and any entertainment we chose in their price. Both locations even provide a coordinator for us to make sure everything happens as planned.
Photography and Videography
I grew up time traveling by watching my parent’s wedding video over and over again. I probably remember their wedding better than most of the people who were there. So videography became very important to me when planning our wedding. I want our future children to be able to travel through time too.
Our initial budget for photography and videography was a low sweep for how much we really needed to budget. Our guide book, Getting Groomed, recommended $2,000 for a photographer and videographer. Our research determined that we would need at least double that for what we were looking for.
Another dilemma we ran into repeatedly was that everyone included engagement photos in their wedding packages, but wouldn’t smack down the price if we cut them. Since this was a destination wedding and we were looking at local photographers, we would have needed to travel to Minneapolis to get our money’s worth of engagement photos on schedule. That was just not an expense we were willing to pay.
After more searching, we found a national company, George Street Photo & Video, that does both photography and videography using local photographers in New York City as well as Minneapolis. This meant we took our engagement photos in New York City as part of our wedding package, we still have local photographers and videographers in Minneapolis and we only pay one company.
Having a DJ
For us, the reception is one of the most important parts of the wedding day. It’s where both of our families will join as one family to celebrate with dancing, food, and drinks. We come from families that love to dance and we have five hours of dancing scheduled. So, when it came to planning the music for the night, we knew we wanted a D.J.
D.J.s are professionals who pay attention to the event and adjust the music accordingly. They can provide a shaped soundtrack to the afternoon, happy hour, as it moves into the evening, dinner and dancing. They also can respond to the dance floor and play music that encourages our guests to dance. The D.J. we booked has a massive library of music to pull from and will be able to play a good mix of fast, slow, group dance and other various genres. Playlists on MP3 players and Spotify are less expensive than a D.J., but I have never seen them shape an evening. We have attended two weddings that used Spotify for their music. It transformed the dance floor into "just another bar" in less than 30 minutes. We don’t want a bar, we want a party.
Using Our Long Engagement
Having a two-year engagement allowed us a lot of opportunities to save money on our priorities. Signing contracts for our venues in 2015 allowed us to lock-on the 2015 prices. It also allowed us to book special packages for our photography/videography and D.J. These special packages prevented us from spending at least $2,500 in additional equipment and $1,000 in add-ons that we would have been purchasing anyhow.
The two years also gave us countless opportunities to find sales on our non-priorities. I was able to buy a three-piece suit on sale for $125. My fiancé’s boss gave him an unused suit when cleaning out his closet. He accepted it and got it tailored for $100. Our wedding rings cost $15 on Amazon, so we got back ups and a size larger for our "intense gravity" years. We also spent the last year slowly acquiring our centerpieces, lanterns with battery candles, and only spent $500.
With less than four weeks, the anticipation keeps building but we won’t flinch. Next week we’ll get a tailwind blowing from behind to give us that extra push we need.
Let’s chat: Do you have any pre-wedding advice for future brides, grooms, and other people preparing for their wedding?
How I’m Saving Over $16,000 on My Wedding by Rethinking This One Thing- The Luxe Strategist
Wedding Savings Accounts: How I Saved For My Wedding- Get Rich Slowly