wedding photography bride getting ready

Budget wedding – Creating the perfect wedding without spending too much

Never apologise to your photographer for having a ‘budget wedding’!

Are you getting Married? Don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend? Concerned about the idea of having a ‘budget wedding’? This is going to be important, so please read on!

As I do before every wedding booking, I sat down with the future bride to discuss the big day! All was going well, we were talking about the wedding when the Bride suddenly dropped in enthusiasm. Under her breathe she says “I’m sorry, it’s not going to be anything exciting, our wedding budget is pretty low so it won’t be at an exciting venue or anything like that”. I was a bit taken back, but asked what that had to do with her wedding. She explained “We wanted to get married by the beach or in a forest, somewhere the photos will look amazing, but we couldn’t afford it, so sorry, but the images might be a bit boring”. As she said it, she laughed it off like it wasn’t upsetting her, but I knew it was. 

budget wedding bride and groom wedding photography
Bride and Groom in back of vintage car

I hate to say that a Bride was completely wrong, but she was. I explained to her that the location, the venue, heck the dress, the hair or makeup…none of it was going to make, or break her big day, so long as she didn’t let it. As it turned out, her best friends and her family were all going to be there, as well as the love of her life. The room full of her favourite people in the world. I had to ask, “do you not think that will make the day? What else do you need?” I think she was taken back by that, but it made her think.

After a few awkward moments of silence, she asked me “have you ever done a low budget wedding that was good?” Hard to say, but what I have done is weddings where budget was not the primary concern. I explained that having the best people at your wedding, your family and friends was all you needed. That genuine happiness that is floating around the room is amazing. That is what will make you smile, make you laugh and help create memories of the best day of your life. Not the dress, not the venue, not the amount of money you spent. So let’s see how to have the wedding of your dreams, without breaking the bank!

Location is not everything!

I understand this one, because majority of people love taking photos of beautiful landscapes. But take it from a wedding photographer, location is not everything. If you can afford a beautiful cliffside wedding overlooking the beach, then go for it! However if you can’t, don’t panic. If you book the right photographer (read more on that here), regardless of the background or the scenery, it will make little difference. Think of it this way – In 50 years, when you look back at your wedding photography, will you be looking at the beautiful water behind you, or will you be focusing on you and your guests, remembering how amazing the day was and how in love you were? Exactly!

With Jade and Kyle’s rustic farm wedding, they utilised a family friends farm. Essentially a backyard, it was perfect. The set up, the vibe, the functionality, everything was amazing. They were not bound by a venues rules and guidelines, free to have the time of their lives. And the kicker, they spent only a fraction of what a venue would have cost. You need to ask yourself, does spending on this venue add value to your wedding? If not, you might be better off allocating that money to something else. 

budget wedding bride and groom wedding photography
Bride and groom cheeky first kiss

“But I have to get my dress hand crafted and imported from Italy”

Another very common reason Brides blow their budgets…the dress! I understand this one, you have grown up looking at wedding dresses. You have seen them in movies, TV shows, magazines, online, at friends and family weddings. Obviously you want the best wedding dress possible. I love where your head is at. However, let’s go over why spending $15,000+ on a wedding dress can be a bad idea, and a surefire way to destroying caches of a budget wedding.

Think about this for a second. You go to the shopping centre and see an amazing new appliance for your kitchen. Immediately you look at the price tag which says $599! “But I will only use this once or twice probably” you say to yourself. Do you buy it? Probably not. Why is this? Because you won’t be getting ‘value for money’ on the appliance. If you were going to use it weekly, then you would likely purchase it. 

Purchasing a wedding dress is the exact same thing. You will only ever wear this once (hopefully), so can you justify spending an excessive amount of money on a dress that will only be worn for 1 day? If you can, then by all means go for it. There is nothing wrong with wanting an expensive dress, many of which are stunning. The problem arises when you blow your budget on a dress that you can’t afford because you think you need to spend a lot of money to get a quality dress. 

There are many dressmakers out there who don’t have a brand name, and as a result don’t charge excessive prices. As a wedding photographer, I can tell you I have shot brides dresses costing $1,500 (see here for examples), and up to dresses costing $10,000+. Can I be honest? I would never have known without the Bride telling me. Both beautiful dresses, don’t get me wrong. But could that $8,500 saving be better spent elsewhere on your wedding? A question you should seriously consider. 

bride and father first wedding dance
Bride in beautiful gown has first dance with father

It’s time to eat!

Who doesn’t love food? But who loves paying an arm and a leg for food when they could get awesome food for a quarter the cost? Jade and Kyle were a step ahead of the game with there wedding. Call it a budget wedding if you will, but I call it funky, cool and exciting. They hired a food truck to come and serve their guests at the reception. Serving up Nachos, Mini Sliders, Schnitzels and Chips amongst other fan favourites, this truck was a huge success. Guests could eat whatever they wanted. They could go back for seconds, thirds, or even fourths. 

This works well if you don’t want to do a traditional sit down dinner with set courses. If you would prefer your guests to be able to stand and mingle all night whilst eating. this option is certainly worth considering. And the good news? It will free up a lot of money for you to allocate elsewhere in your wedding!

food truck serving food at budget wedding
Food truck serving up street food at backyard wedding

“I’ve saved so much money, what can I do?”

So far you have probably saved a fair bit of money, without necessarily compromising on quality. So where do you put this additional money? Three key areas:


This one should be obvious. Your wedding is only as good as the people you invite. It is not uncommon for a couple to have to cull guests who they actually would like to attend the wedding, simply because they don’t have the budget for it. But now you do! Your budget wedding means you can now afford to invite extra guests. This means you have more friends and family on your big day which will increase your happiness. Tell me what’s bad about that?

Wedding photography

I won’t bore you with the details about wedding photography in this article. If you want to read a bit more on why spending a little more on wedding photography is usually a good move, you can read here. But rest assured, whilst you don’t need to spend $10,000+ on wedding photography, you will want to free up some decent money in your budget wedding to afford a professional photographer. 

Wedding’s over, what’s next?

The Honeymoon! If you can save a little bit of money after all of this, why not put it onto your honeymoon? Take an extra week in Hawaii or enjoy a bit more spending money in Italy! This is going to help craft an even better, more magical honeymoon. One piece of information I hear regularly from past brides is this: “If I could do it all again, I would spend less on the wedding, and more on the honeymoon”. Lucky for you, you can already do that. 

wedding guests at budget wedding
Guests having a great time at chilled backyard event!

What have I learnt?

Never apologise to your photographer (or any vendor) for having a budget wedding. Remember that a budget wedding does not mean a cheap wedding. It also does not mean a low quality wedding. You know where you can save money and you know where you can choose to spend a little bit extra. If you follow these guidelines it will increase the value for money you get. Your wedding day will look beautiful, your guests will enjoy themselves and you will forever look back on your wedding photography with fond memories of it all.  

If you still have questions, or would like to get in touch, I would be happy to help, and happy to discuss your big day. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you thought.

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