At the end of the day, when the vows have been said, the lips have kissed, when the last strains of music have faded,(...) what's left?
I have a confession to make; I spend a LOT of time on photography forums ;) I love it because I get to hear life experiences, different ways of doing business, see TONS of different bodies of work, and hear lots of different questions.
One scenario I see happen quite often is an email that wedding photographers get from clients. The gist of the email is this "We LOVE your work, but we just can't afford the extra $500"
Now before I get to my response, I just want to say this; being on a strict budget is not a bad thing!! Everyone has a budget, and sticking to it is important, no matter how big or small that budget may be. :)
My solution, luckily, is quite simple and practical! Prioritize and itemize your budget!!! It sounds so simple, and yet so many couples don't do this at all! Simply put, when you are creating your wedding budget, make sure you put a priority on each item. So if your top priority is your dress, put a number 1 next to that. Here's the reason for prioritizing; a wedding budget is a fluid thing. You will likely have to move money around within your budget to make everything fit. Some things will cost more, and some things will cost less. So with a prioritized budget, you have a built in scale! You don't take away from number 1, you take away from number 10 to ADD to number 1.
Now one thing to consider when creating and prioritizing your budget; What's left? At the end of the day, when the vows have been said, the lips have kissed, when the last strains of music have faded, the last piece of cake has been eaten, the last bobby pin pulled out of your hair, the dress hung in the closet, the chairs folded up, and you are on your way to your honeymoon, what do you have left of the most special day of your life? Is that expensive meal you provided for your guest left? Are the fancy chairs you splurged on left?
Just in case you were wondering, it's the photographs ;) The photographs are what you have left. Years down the road when you want to remember your wedding day, you pull out your album. You see the expression on your husband's face as he sees you for the first time. You see the tears in your mother's eyes as she gives you away. You see the look of love on your father's face as he sways on the dance floor with his baby girl. You see the day, that moment that has been frozen in time forever, that was the beginning of your life together.