It's no secret that a wedding is the most expensive party most people will ever throw.
The special day can really batter your bank account so, to get a better idea of what's not worth the splurge, Insider consulted with a range of wedding-industry experts.
Personalized party favors will probably be left behind at the reception. Brittany Finkle, founder and CEO of bridal-accessory rental company Happily Ever Borrowed, told Insider that personalized wedding favors are oftentimes a waste of a couple's money and effort. "Trust us, no one remembers the tchotchke you gave away at your wedding," said Finkle. "And if you monogram something with your names and wedding date on it, guests definitely won't want to take it home. Why would someone want a tote bag reminding them of their friend's wedding?" If you just can't bear to let your guests leave without a token of your appreciation, Finkle said you might want to opt for something edible, like a box of sweets or a locally produced food item.
Multi-part invitations or fancy envelopes are typically not worth the money. Finkle told Insider that, for most couples, over-the-top invites with intricate extras like key chains and decorated envelopes are an unnecessary expense. "There is no reason to waste all of that paper and weigh down your invitations. The envelope is the first thing that goes in the trash. If you want to make a statement, put more money towards the invite itself and get a thicker card-stock, or pay for embossing or engraving. That's the part that people will keep on the fridge until your wedding day," she explained. In addition, some couples might want to skip physical invitations altogether and instead rely on a wedding website to keep track of RSVPs.
Photo booths can be a fun addition to a wedding reception, but they are definitely not a necessity. Elopement and wedding planner Karen Norian told Insider that pricey booths aren't always the best and most affordable way to capture special moments. "Many companies charge by the hour, so having a photo booth during the entirety of your reception likely means you'll be charged hundreds of dollars. And the only thing the photo booth is really doing is taking additional photos of you and your guests," she said. Instead, Norian suggested relying on your wedding photographer to capture candid moments of your friends and family during your reception. You can also consider purchasing a few disposable cameras and asking your guests to capture the magic on their own.
Printed programs can be costly and they aren't always necessary. Wedding planner and designer Brian Worley told Insider that printed wedding programs can be an expensive and unnecessary extra. "Program on the seats for each guest is a total waste of money — unless you are having a wedding outside in the heat and it can double as a fan. These programs just wind up in the trash, and the guests at your wedding should already have a pretty good idea of who is in your bridal party," said Worley. That said, programs may be helpful if you're having a wedding with hundreds of guests or if any of your attendees may not be familiar with the religious or cultural traditions in your ceremony.
A champagne toast is oftentimes a wedding staple, but supplying bubbly for your entire guest list can put a dent in your budget. "The truth is that most of the champagne in the glasses will not end up being consumed. If you plan a toast, let your guests use the glasses they already have with whatever beverage they have chosen to drink," Worley told Insider. If you decide to go for a champagne toast, check with your venue to see if they have flutes you can rent or use for free so that you can avoid spending even more on glassware.
Paying top dollar for extravagant floral arrangements isn't always worth it. Las Vegas wedding coordinator Whitney Cox told Insider that you don't need to spend a lot on flowers to wow guests. "Cost doesn't necessarily equal impact when you're talking about wedding flowers. A lot of people assume you need to spend a lot to have a nice floral display, but choosing a few 'statement blooms' that might be more expensive and balancing them out with well-placed greenery can have just as much of an impact," said Cox. If you want an unconventional look on a tight budget, you can also opt for centerpieces made of other materials like uncut ripe fruit, colorful sand, or fragrant plants like mint or eucalyptus.
Ceremony backdrops are pretty, but they are sometimes a waste of money. Floral arches, customized signage, and expertly draped linens are all ways to make a ceremony location pop but all that decoration comes with a cost. "Though you can't deny that ceremony decor certainly enhances the space, the price tag for a ceremony set-up can easily total thousands of dollars. Your wedding day at its core is about the commitment you're making to your partner, not about what is going to look best for photos," said Norian. Instead of throwing your cash at a photo-friendly ceremony backdrop, Norian suggested focusing instead on smaller ceremony details, such as customized vow books that you can keep with you long after your wedding day ends.
Trendy dessert stations can actually be more expensive than wedding cakes. f you're thinking of forgoing a classic wedding cake for a buffet of sweets and candy, you may be in for some sticker shock. "Ordering lots of different sweets for a crowd can burn a hole in your pocket, and because they're perishable, there is very little you can do with the desserts once the big day is over. There's a world of variety when it comes to modern wedding cakes in both look and flavor, so sticking with this traditional dessert can actually save you some serious cash," said Norian. Wedding cakes have a reputation for being costly, but you can skirt some of the expense by requesting that only one section of the cake be real. The remainder can be cardboard decorated with icing, and guests can be served slices from a more affordable sheet cake after the cake-cutting ceremony is over.
Confetti is fun, but it can also be a messy extra expense. Alice Bil, wedding photographer and owner of StudioEPIC Photography, told Insider that including confetti in your wedding festivities is usually more of a hassle than it's worth. "Confetti is a huge pain. It lasts for a few seconds and amuses the guests, but always requires a large cleanup and is frequently frowned upon by a lot of venues. Some venues will even charge you for cleanup if confetti is used, and that can be costly," she told Insider. If you're in love with the idea of things flying through the air after your ceremony but don't want to pay a hefty cleaning fee, ask your venue if they allow bubble-blowing as an alternative.
You don't have to serve your guests expensive late-night snacks. To keep their guests comfortable as they party into the wee hours, some couples decide to serve a second small meal later in the evening. However, these snacks can tack on plenty of extra dollars to your final wedding bill. "A lot of couples arrange for a late-night food table. However, in most cases, some of the guests are already gone and the rest are already full or don't want to eat late," said Bil. "Most of the time, this food largely goes to waste and can be expensive to provide." Instead of a full spread of post-dinner snack options, consider serving a late dinner or setting out a few small bites such as fresh fruit or antipasto.
In general, couples may want to reconsider spending money on anything overly trendy, especially if it has no sentimental value. Extravagant touches like releasing live doves, setting off fireworks, or hiring professional dancers can actually distract from the true focus of the wedding: the couple. "Wedding blogs are always showcasing new trends, and it's easy to get caught up in wanting to have the latest and greatest at your wedding," said Worley. "It's important to focus on your style as a couple, so when you look at your pictures years later, the event feels like a representation of you."
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