Weddings are expensive. For the most part, there's no getting around that. But sometimes, especially under pressure or stress, it's easy to forget that at the end of the day everyone in attendance is there to celebrate the union of a loving couple. Those moments are more meaningful than the color of the bouquets, the way the napkins are folded and the presents left on the guest tables that most likely will be forgotten anyway.
Of course, to the bride and groom who are planning their special day, these details are extremely important and contribute to the memories. But as you plan for your wedding, remember not to lose sight of what the day is actually about.
That being said, how do you determine what you can and can't leave out of the budget? Start by sitting with your partner, eyes closed. Then describe your perfect wedding to him or her. Which details stand out to you? Make sure one of you is writing down what you say. Then open your eyes and observe your list.
Next, draw two columns, one for "must-haves" and one for "maybes." Some people must have purple lilies everywhere because they signify something special to the twosome. Others couldn't care less about flowers, but the music has to be epic.
Once you begin to paint the picture of how your wedding day looks to you, you will be able to step back and see where you can cut costs. For example, if you have a playlist of your favorite tunes, perhaps you could cut costs on a live band or fancy DJ. You might have your heart set on a very pricey location for your reception, but feel nothing about expensive bridesmaid dresses.
Areas in which you shouldn't try to bargain are with the photographers, the videographers, and the food and alcohol suppliers. The photographs and video are extremely important because the day is going to fly by for you, and having everything documented will not only provide years of happy memories for you, but also for your future kids, their kids, etc. Don't try to cut corners here. Go with someone reputable whose work you respect and value so that you can relax and enjoy the moments as they happen.
Regarding food and alcohol, you want your guests to have enough to eat to fill them up, and you want the food to be quality. If providing high-end plates feels out of reach, there are creative ways to get around that without lowering expectations for quality. You could rent a food truck with excellent reviews, have a buffet or plan an earlier wedding and reception with an abundance of appetizers. Avoid hiring a catering company by which you aren't completely blown away. And of course, unless you're throwing a dry wedding reception, make sure there is plenty of booze to go around.
Once you are able to step back from the emotions associated with planning the "perfect" day, you can take comfort in knowing that for the most part people will only remember what they have in front of them, and not what they don't. The thoughtful, sentimental details are the most significant elements of any wedding. Have fun, and find ways to tie in your personalities as often as possible. With more than 83 million hits to prove how much people want to see something unique, the viral wedding ceremony dance titled "JK Wedding Entrance Dance" on YouTube is a perfect tool for inspiration.
Create an environment that allows people to cut loose. The more fun you have the more fun they will have in return. After all, it is a celebration!