Smart Spending: Splurge Vs. Save

The most important thing when you’re sitting down to create your wedding budget is to think about your overall vision for your wedding. What do you want your guests to remember and take away from your big day? What images come to mind when you think about it? This will drive how you decide to spend your money. Maybe the dress is the most important thing to you, then that will be a category that you decide to splurge on to make sure it is absolutely perfect. Maybe the food is what you want to be the focal point of the day or perhaps it’s the décor and the ambiance you want to stand out. Whatever you decide, make sure you plan and budget accordingly. My personal advice, pick three categories that are most important to you. Then pick three categories that you can save a little money on by budgeting to accommodate accordingly. The rest will fall into place. However you decide to go about starting your budget, it is important to start planning with a goal in mind. This will make sure that everything is accounted for and nothing shows up at the last minute as a surprise expense. Start with a checklist! Check out the basic categories outlined below however feel free to make it your own as it is your big day. Personalization is key to make your wedding as unique and special as the two of you. 


The Stationary: 

Stationary doesn’t just start and stop with invitations. Think about programs, menus, escort cards, even a guest book could fall under this category. There are an overwhelming amount of resources out there about all things stationary; let’s break it down a little bit more. 

Ways to Save: 

B. Jones Photography
  • Will guests have to travel long distances to come to your wedding? If so, save the dates would be the polite thing to send about four to six months before the wedding so they can begin to plan travel accommodations. To save a little extra, consider only sending save the dates to those out of town guests; they’re the ones who need the most notice.

  • Look into some local companies who specialize in digital printing. Technology is the way of the future! Paper Fling in Kirkland is one of my personal favorites; they have some really unique options.

  • Consider having the program as part of the entryway into the wedding. Instead of printing individual programs for every guest, you could have a large sign with all the information they need. Think about hiring a calligrapher; it adds an elegant touch in all the details of the wedding! Or to save some money, take some classes and try your hand (no pun intended!) at it. Practice makes perfect, make sure you get enough practice in to feel comfortable. If not, hire a professional! You won’t regret it.

Ways to Splurge: 

  • Letterpress will always be a timeless, classic, and elegant way to announce your wedding. Add some letterpress details to your stationary to take them to the next level. Pike St Press in Seattle and Kirkland does some amazing work.

  • Calligraphy is a massive trend right now that sets the tone for the whole day before it even begins. I highly recommend looking into hiring a calligrapher to address your invitations for you. There is nothing like handwritten details! You could also have your calligrapher create your escort cards; it doubles as a small gift for guests to take home with them after the party is over as well!

  • Do you love gold as much as I do? Foil will be your new best friend! So many companies are adding this option to their arsenal and I cannot get enough. It is classy, elegant, and a special touch to all of your stationary.


The Dress: 

This is the dress you’ve been dreaming about ever since you were a little girl. How do you want to feel on your wedding day? Do you want to sparkle? Do you want to shine? What’s most important is that you feel just like you. 

Ways to Save: 

Gown by Ysa Makino from Mea Marie Bridal. Makeup by Elizabeth Marie Makeup.

Gown by Ysa Makino from Mea Marie Bridal. Makeup by Elizabeth Marie Makeup.

  • Check out the sample rack! Samples are a great way to still get that designer dress for a fraction of the price. Don’t worry if it’s not your size, alterations can work wonders and still be cheaper than ordering a dress most of the time. Be sure to check with the store’s alterations expert before walking out with your dream gown.

  • Love the princess look? Who doesn’t want to feel like royalty on their special day? A great way to get away without a hem is to add more layers underneath your dress! Adds more poof (love!) and you won’t trip all night long.

  • One of my favorite shops is Blue Sky Bridal. They specialize in consignment wedding gowns but they’re not just any consignment store. They take great care and pride in their dresses and you will definitely still get the bridal experience. They have price points and designers for every budget, low and high.

Ways to Splurge: 

  • It’s your wedding day! You’ll hold onto these pictures forever; this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so give yourself a once in a lifetime experience. Many salons offer the ultimate luxury experience. MeaMarie is one of my favorites, they carry so many different designers that you are sure to find something that suites your style!

  • Can’t decide between two gowns or loving one but something just doesn’t seem right? Make it a one of kind piece. Make an appointment with a seamstress that specializes in wedding dresses and design your dream dress from start to finish. Or meet with an alterations expert and see if you can combine two elements from gowns you love. Watch your vision come to life!

  • If you really can’t decide between two dresses or two different styles, why don’t you have a real Cinderella moment and have an outfit change from the ceremony to the reception? You’re the star of the show, take full advantage of it!


The Accessories: 

Your outfit definitely is not complete once you find your dress. Now it’s time to pick out your shoes, jewelry, hair style, and makeup. All of this is driven by the dress you chose. Don’t forget your something old, something borrowed, something new, and something blue! 

Ways to Save: 


  • Shop early and often! That has always been my motto. If you want to find something on sale, you’re going to have to look for it. Nordstrom offers price matching on many designer brands when they go on sale somewhere else; I always search “price matched” on their website to see what I can find. Kate Spade for 25% off or more, anyone? Yes please. This is a great tip for bridesmaids’ gifts as well. Stalk that sale page. There’s a lot of treasures on there!

Ways to Splurge: 

  • Monograms are hot this year. Besides, who wouldn’t love a personalized piece to keep forever? Consider adding personalized engraved pieces to your outfit, whether it’s a bracelet, locket to pin on your bouquet, or even a patch sewn on the inside of your dress, you can never go wrong with personalization.

  • Just like your dress, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to wear the shoes of your dreams as well! Don’t be afraid to check out your favorite designer. Many have come out with their own bridal line as well. Nordstrom Bellevue has a brand new company called Shoes of Prey where you can literally design your own pair of shoes, start to finish, colors, fabrics, style, everything.


The Venue: 

The setting of your wedding is arguably the most important decision to make. It is the center of the entire day and the backdrop to every other element. No matter what kind of wedding you decide to have, every wedding has a venue, big or small. It can be as simple as a backyard or as elaborate as a grand ballroom. Just make sure it reflects both you and your fiancé’s style.  

Ways to Save: 

Woodmark Hotel Wedding

Woodmark Hotel

  • Consider having your wedding in the off season. Often, venues offer discounts if you have an early spring or fall wedding. The weather will likely still be nice, if not even a little better because it’s not as warm as summer and you’ll avoid potential guest conflicts due to summer vacations.

  • Cannot imagine your wedding in any other season than summer but still want to save some money on the venue? Ask if they offer a weekday or daytime discount! Sometimes having a Friday evening or Saturday morning ceremony, you can still have the same experience for a little bit less. Score!

Ways to Splurge: 

  • Look into all-inclusive venues! It takes out all of the worry and stress of planning if a contract is already set up with a caterer, baker, and coordinator. You can be sure that they are some of the best if your dream venue has hired them! Ask to see pictures of previous weddings before you set anything in stone to make sure it fits within your vision.

  • Destination weddings are the ultimate way to celebrate your love and commitment to one another with your friends and family. Imagine saying your “I dos” on a sunset beach in paradise. Dreamy.


The Food: 

For some brides, food is the essence to the whole wedding. It sets the tone for the rest of the night and can leave the guests with something to remember. For others, it’s just another component in the grand scheme of things. This is a great item to reevaluate and decide where it sits on your list of priorities. Is this an item that you want to splurge a little bit or save some money? It can go either way easily without completely changing the tone of your wedding. 

Ways to Save: 

B. Jones Photography
  • Sometimes offering “heavy appetizers” instead of a full course dinner can save some money, depending on what items you pick. Ask your caterer to show you options at different price points to customize to fit your needs.

  • Consider having a buffet instead of a plated dinner. It’s not always cheaper but with strategic planning, it can be more economical as you can serve different foods and it’s easier for the caterer to keep the food fresh and warm. You can also save money with staffing costs, as a buffet requires less servers.

Ways to Splurge: 

  • The sky is the limit as far as food is concerned! You can look into your favorite high-end restaurant as many of them offer catering services. Ask if they’re able to serve your favorite meal; that will definitely be a night to remember!


The Flowers: 

Flowers sometimes get left to the backburner. I think this is a fatal mistake. Your bouquet is going to be in almost every picture, don’t you want it to be absolutely perfect? Don’t just settle for the first florist you find. Shop around like you would for the rest of your accessories! Floral décor is a work of art and everyone has a different style.  Make sure your flower arrangements fit into the story of your wedding. 

Ways to Save: 

Bouquet By Bella Fiori

Bouquet By Bella Fiori

  • Look at what’s going to be in season for your wedding and stick with those blooms. A huge bonus is that because they will be available everywhere, you will have “pick of the bunch.” Only the most perfect flowers will do!

  • Warning, this can be time consuming so make sure you are well “staffed” and prepared! However, a great tip is to order some of your flowers wholesale. Costco or Sam’s club is a great resource for this but you can also go to your favorite local flower shop to order stems. The night before your wedding you can get a team together to set up either your centerpieces or other elements you have prepped ahead of time. I would not recommend trying to do everything; it is a lot harder than it looks and requires a lot of time. The last thing you want is to be stressing over flower arrangements right before you get married! Nonetheless, it’s a great way to save some money if you have the skills and feel confident contributing a little bit. It could be as simple as doing the arrangements for the guestbook table or for the aisle. Think small. Leave the big things to the professionals so you can have a stress-free day!

Ways to Splurge: 

  • Just because something is out of season doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to have for your wedding. Dreaming of peonies for a winter wedding? Ask your florist if it’s even possible! You never know. They might be able to work some magic for you!

  • There are some incredible artists out there. Flowers aren’t just limited to bouquets and centerpieces. Come up with something creative and new, if your florist is up for it.


The Photographer: 

Another very key component that you cannot leave out. Pictures last forever. They are one of the only things you will have from your wedding forever, no matter where you go. Fifty years from now, what do you want your pictures to look like? How do you want to remember your wedding? 

Heirloom Leather Album

Heirloom Leather Album

Ways to Save: 

  • Set a timeline! Sometimes you don’t need a photographer for the full 12 hours. Schedule an appointment and explain your plan for the day, then decide how many hours of photography you actually need.

  • The Associate program is a great option for those who want the high-end look for a wedding on a budget.

Ways to Splurge: 

  • Consider a second shooter. Often, having more than one angle helps add a whole new element to your wedding photos and gives you more selection when choosing your favorites. Never miss a moment!

  • Is videography something that’s important to you? That’s a whole other topic of discussion. Definitely something you should ask yourself when deciding your budget.


The Favors: 

Destination Wedding Welcome Gift. Seabrook nautical fine art wed

This is the last item that the guests get to take home with them as a remembrance of the evening. What do you want their biggest takeaway to be? Drive it home here. What’s your ultimate vision for this wedding?

Ways to Save: 

  • What about a DIY? Be savvy though, it’s easy to spend just as much if not more than traditional favors but Pinterest can be your go-to guide here. A do-it-yourself favor is a great way to end the night with a personalize touch. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to finish well before the wedding festivities begin (I’m not speaking from experience or anything…)

  • Another great option is to make a donation to charity in honor of your guests. On their way out, have little notecards they can take home explaining where you donated and why it’s near and dear to your hearts. Give back to the community!

Ways to Splurge: 

  • Wedding favors definitely don’t have to be cookies or bubbles, although there is nothing wrong with that, there is so much more room for creativity. What are some things that represent you two as a couple? Do you have something that “screams” you? Local vendors are the best for this! Have a favorite coffee shop? Buy some coffee in bulk and stuff it in little bags with a cute saying like “love is brewing.” You get the idea. Think outside of the box!


Last piece of advice, no matter how big or small your budget is, I always, always, always recommend hiring a coordinator for the day of your wedding. They will make sure all of the small details are taken care of to ensure that your wedding is a success. They also will take the weight off of your shoulders by handling any small (or big) emergencies that happen to pop up as they almost always do; it wouldn’t be a wedding without at least something going wrong! A coordinator will handle it for you so all you need to do is sit back, relax, and get married! Always remember, that’s the goal here, to celebrate your love and commitment to your fiancé because love conquers all. 

Written by B. Jones Bride: Abby Armstrong