5 Tips on How to Create a High End Wedding For Under 15k

Do you want to know how to take your $15,000 wedding budget and turn it into the wedding of your dreams? Making those pinterest boards a reality can be a bit of work but I’m going to share some basic tips on how you can get what you want when you have a strict budget. I’m also sharing images and information from one of my very own couples, Susie and Jeff. They have been gracious enough to let me in on some of their behind the scenes planning. This information is somewhat based on their own wedding planning experience but also my own expertise I’ve grown into over the years. So lets get to it!

Whether you are newly engaged or in the thick of wedding planning, we can all agree that you likely have some sort of expectations for your wedding day. If you’ve already started wedding planning, you probably realized that you might not be able to get every thing you want. In 2015, the average wedding in Canada (including a honey moon) was $30,717 and 75% of brides agreed they were likely to spend more than anticipated on their wedding. As someone who offers a service that contributes to that average, and who also loves the results of a $30,000+ wedding, I also understand that not every couple has this budget to work with. Although we always talk about the wedding day simply just being about the couple, the moments, and everyone being together, you are still dropping thousands of dollars on your special day, so of course you care about what it all looks like. Who wants to spend $30,000 on something only to say “Well it’s not really about this stuff”. Ahh, it kind of is if you’re willing to spend that money in the first place. It doesn’t mean you care more about your wedding details than your spouse, it just means you want your day to reflect who you are as a couple. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that! SO, whether you have $10,000 to play with or you have $30,000 to play with, there are always ways to get what you want you just need to be willing to think outside the box! If you have no idea what I am going on about… Keep reading because I am going to share The Top 5 Ways You can Create a High End Wedding for Under $15,000

1. MAKE A LIST OF NON NEGOTIABLE’S AND STICK TO IT
For Susie and Jeff, the most important thing to them on their wedding day was the atmosphere. Susie knew that if she allowed her guest list to grow it would have taken away from the atmosphere her budget allowed her to create. She knew that having lots of flowers was something she loved the idea of and decided right from the hop that she would be willing to sacrifice other things in order to get that warm and cozy atmosphere she’d been dreaming of. I always say this but it’s so much easier (and cost effective) to make an impact in a smaller venue than it is a really large space.

2. BE OKAY WITH THE FACT THAT YOU CAN’T PLEASE EVERYONE
I’m going to tell you something you probably already know, but everyone has an opinion and they won’t be afraid to share it when the time comes for you to plan. Especially if they are contributing to any of your wedding costs. At the end of the day, it is still your day and you need to just be okay with the fact that people won’t always get your vision. I can’t stress this one enough, because if you listen to everyone’s opinion I can promise you by the time your wedding is over you’ll realize it wasn’t exactly how you planned it to be and you’ll wonder how you got to where you are. It’s also much harder to shift gears and say no when you are months into planning than it is to just be up front with people right from the start. I know this sounds harsh but I say it because I hear all of the stories, the regrets, the should haves and so on. I was once a bride too, so I get it and I understand how hard it is to stick to your guns but trust me when I say it is SO worth it. If you aren’t cookie cutter, then the one huge party you throw in your lifetime shouldn’t be either.

3. EDUCATE YOUR FAMILY ON NEW WEDDING TRENDS AND TRADITIONS
Incase you haven’t noticed, weddings have evolved a LOT over the past decade. Yes things cost a lot of money, and maybe there is some pressure for #weddinggoals but at the same time it also means anything goes (with the exception of camo themed weddings, that’s not okay!). Times have changed, and while there are still so many wedding traditions that I absolutely love, couples don’t need to comply to any of them if they don’t fit with who they are. It’s important for your loved ones to understand that your wedding probably won’t look like theirs did, and that’s okay. It might even help to show or tell them about other people who have done something similar. Keep in mind it’s not about convincing people of things and getting their stamp of approval, because in the end they may still think you are crazy to see each other before the ceremony or whatever it might be. The only person that needs to approve is you and your partner but if you want to be a nice bride, I reccommend trying to educate those who will have opinions as much as you can!

4. PUT SOME THOUGHT INTO WHERE YOU WILL BE GETTING READY
We spend the biggest chunk of the day at your getting ready locations! Approximately two hours, which is more time than we usually spend on your bride and groom portraits. If your wedding theme is soft, and neutral or bright and classic then it makes sense to try and find a spot that reflects that style. If you are getting married on a farm, then find an old farm house to get ready in. If your wedding is oozing elegance, then find the most elegant looking place you can get your hands on. Your getting ready location not only sets the tone for your photography, but it also sets the tone for your day. I reccommend picking a place you feel somewhat connected to, whether it be the house you grew up in, or a unique airbnb that speaks to your style, make sure you actually like the space and that it has really good natural light. If you are getting ready in a hotel, I would suggest asking for a room that gets more sunlight. Sometimes you get stuck in a room that is on the opposite side from where the sun is and you don’t realize until it’s too late. The other is that you don’t need an enormous amount of space, I would rather have one teeny tiny little nook to work with that has KILLER light, than this huge space that is dark and gloomy. Of course you want to be comfortable as you are getting ready but keep that in mind when it comes time to make a decision. As a wedding photographer it’s my job to make everything look as best as it possibly can. I can almost always make anything work, but if it were me I’d want to have the best possible lighting all day long. Not just for photos, but because it just feels nice to be in bright and inviting spaces. (And what bride wants to be getting her makeup done in a basement? Am I right?) Lastly, here is the point I am trying to make… If you have killer light for all of your detail and prep shots I can make your wedding look like you dropped way more than $15,000! Lighting is everything friends, add that to the non negotiable list! haha

5. DONT STOP REEVALUATING YOUR PRIORITIES
Don’t stop checking in with your budget. It’s easy to say, this is what I want and where I will spend my money but when you hit the dress store and realize all of the dresses you like are way over budget, you will be forced to make a decision. This is where you really just need to think outside of the box and keep coming back to what it is that you want most. I’ve read so many articles where wedding professionals break down a $15,000 budget and where you should put your money but because each couple is different, I really don’t think there is a one size fits all and there are too many variables to go off an exact “how to” guide. I know it sounds vague but it’s worth it to make sacrifices along the way to get what you really want. For example, Susie’s wedding dress was actually a prom dress so she saved a lot of money in this category and was able to put that money toward her “atmosphere”, aka flower budget! Maybe your wedding dress is YOUR top priority, and if that is the case then you will need to find ways to downscale other categories.

I hope this was somewhat helpful and if you are in the thick of wedding planning, I applaud you because it’s a lot of hard work! To finish off this post, I thought it would be helpful to share Susie and Jeff’s wedding day timeline so you can get a true feel for the flow of her day and how things were executed.

SUSIE & JEFF’S WEDDING TIMELINE:

8:00am: Hair and Makeup Begins for the bride and her four bridesmaids in the white sunroom at the airbnb.
12:00pm: Photographer arrives at airbnb to being shooting wedding details in the bedroom.
12:45pm: Photos of girls in their robes or getting ready attire. Everyone will need to be ready at this point. Bride should be starting makeup at 12:00pm when photographer arrives so she’ll be finishing her makeup when the details wrap.
1:00pm: Bride getting into her dress and second photographer leaves to photograph the groom and his guys at the Holiday Inn.
1:15pm: Bridal Portraits
1:30pm: Buffer Time or if there is any sort of gift exchange happening this is when it would be. Otherwise it’s just a good buffer because things ALWAYS run over in the morning.
(We actually did run over schedule here, so we were thankful to have that extra half hour scheduled in)
2:00pm: First Look with just Susie and Jeff
2:30pm: Bridal Party Portraits
3:15pm: Family Portraits
4:00pm: Head to ceremony to set up and photograph space untouched while bride and groom take a breather before ceremony.
4:30pm: Intimate Ceremony at St Patricks Museum in Sydney followed by short receiving line.
(60 guests in attendance)
5:00pm: Bride & Groom’s Sunset Portraits while wedding stylists, florist and caterers set up for supper.
(in our case, there wasn’t much of a sunset but this is where we shot the photos of  S&J on the church steps…This was a total shooting time of ten minutes)
5:15pm: Photographers shoot the supper table and decor before guests come back inside.
6:00pm: Supper for immediate families and wedding party.
(24 guests in attendance. There were no formal speeches planned but the father of the groom gave a toast to the couple)
7:30pm: Family members made their way over to Flavor On The Water, The groom and groomsmen went back to the hotel room and the bride and her girls had a dance party at the ceremony and supper site.
8:00pm: Reception across the street at Flavor On The Water, where all friends and family are invited. Hors D’Oeuvres will be served and bride and groom will share their first dance at 9:00pm.
(100 guests in attendance)