5 Ways to Get Beautiful Wedding Photos on a Tight Budget

Editor’s Note: The Ultimate Wedding Photo & Video Summit is a weekly post where the some of the Hudson Valley’s top wedding photographers and videographers share their insights on the most commonly asked questions about wedding photography and videography. Each week through December, learn from the very best so you can make smart and educated decisions when it comes to preserving your special day. Click on any photo to be taken to the photographer’s website. This is not a sponsored post; no compensation was received or exchanged for the purpose of this blog post or for the promotion of the photographer.

 

Today’s contributor is Erica Leman of Sweet Alice Photography

 

We all know that weddings are expensive and today, many couples find themselves paying for most, if not all of it themselves. Many couples today also have other financial obligations to take care of such as student loans, rent or savings for a down payment on a house, or even family or child-related expenses.

 

wedding photos tight budget

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

With all of that, budgets are tight, and some are extremely tight, but no matter how tight your budget gets, the one thing you should never eliminate from your wedding budget is photography.

 

It’s very easy to say you’ll have a friend or family member take them, but in the end, you will most likely regret that decision when you are looking back at your album years later and see subpar photos. Unless your friend is a professional, you aren’t going to get the photos you really want or deserve to have as part of your legacy. Do you really want your friend or family member taking your photos instead of enjoying their night? Remember, they want to enjoy their day, and can’t really enjoy themselves if they are photographing you all night and “working”. It also puts a lot of pressure on them as well.

 

RELATED: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT  WEDDING PHOTOS TAKEN AND IMAGES CHOSEN

 

Additionally, and most importantly, your photos are not a purchase, they are an INVESTMENT you are making to yourself, your memories, and your family. Don’t think that just because you don’t have that much money to invest, you can’t hire a great photographer. In fact, the opposite is true.

 

We spoke to Erica Leman, lead photographer for Sweet Alice Photography, about what couples who are on a very tight budget can do about saving money on wedding photography.

 

 

Why is she the perfect person to answer this question? Because she was a bride on a budget. She says “Believe me, I totally understand tight budgets! I was the bride who had everything in a spreadsheet to make sure we didn’t go over our budget and had to finance my own wedding dress. I cried when I didn’t think I could find a photographer in our budget – and I was a wedding photographer! Budgets are a big piece of wedding planning, and ensuring that you don’t overspend is key when you are starting a life together.”

 

RELATED: PHOTOGRAPHY TRENDS AND HIGHLIGHT VIDEOS – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

wedding photos tight budget

Photo Credit: Sweet Alice Photography

What are some conversations you can have with your photographer if you are on a tight budget?

 

As a photographer and a budget-conscious bride, Leman says don’t assume you can’t afford a photographer just because you have that much budgeted for it. Having a conversation with your photographer is a must and these are some things she suggests:

 

Think about the hours of coverage you want? “If you don’t need an entire day’s worth of photography coverage, ask your photographer what type of hourly options may be available,” she says.
 

Think about your album. Leman says “If your photographer includes an album as a part of your wedding package, ask if that may be taken out, either to save money or in favor of more hourly coverage.” I might even add asking if you could purchase your album at a later date when you have more money to invest in one. Maybe as a nice first-year anniversary gift. That’s what I did (after thinking that I would make my album myself and realized it was never going to happen). 

 

Ask about second photographers. “If your photographer shoots with a second photographer, ask if their hours can either be reduced or completely negated,” says Leman.

 

How about a trade? Leman has a great thought. She says “If you offer a good or service yourself, ask your photographer if they may be willing to accept a partial barter as a portion of the payment.” Of course, this all has to be agreed upon beforehand and spoken about in depth prior to signing any contract. Plus, not all photographers may be interested in doing that.

 

Keep an open mind. Leman says “When looking for ways to stay on budget with your photographer, please be open to their suggestions, as well as the fact that they may not be able to accommodate your request. Not every photographer likes to shoot weddings solo, and they may not be able to accept barters as a form of payment. It’s ok to move on, and find someone who may better fit your financial needs.”

 

We’d love to know, if you are a couple who had a candid conversation with your photographer about your budget, what are you doing to keep your budget in tact?

 

Please join us next week when we hear from another great Hudson Valley Photographer answering the most common photo/video questions couples have

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8 Easy Ways to Save Money as a Wedding Guest

Planning a wedding is expensive, but sometimes being a wedding guest can be extremely costly as well. We love our friends and family, and we love that they are getting married, but if you get invited to several weddings a year, or even one every few years, it can be a source of a lot of anxiety and stress. Between gifts, travel, hotel rooms, showers, and what you are going to wear, being a guest is anything but cheap.

 

However, take a deep breath and relax. Part of the reason guests may feel so overwhelmed is because of preconceived notions they have about what a gift should be. First, and foremost, know that the rule that you should at least cover your plate is not the rule anymore. So that should make you feel a little better.

 

Second, you have to remember that most of the time, those who invited you know what’s going on in your life. They aren’t going to expect an expensive gift if they know your budget is strapped. Last, remember that you are invited to a wedding because the couple wants your presence, not your presents. They aren’t inviting you because of the gift they think you are going to give them, and if they are, you may not want to go to that wedding.

 

So, knowing that, I’m going to share 8 EASY ways to save money as a wedding guest without breaking the bank.

 

Save money on your wardrobe

 

Going to a wedding is a great excuse to go shopping for a new outfit, but this can be problematic if you are attending a lot of weddings or don’t have the extra money to spend on a new outfit. Here are some ways to get around that. First, take a look at your closet and see what you have. If you have a little black dress or even a dress you normally wear to business meetings, you can always jazz that up with accessories, sweaters or shoes that are considerably less than buying a whole new outfit.

 

Also, take a look at whose weddings you are going to. Chances are, most times guests who are at one wedding are not going to be at another you go to, so wearing the same outfit again, is not the end of the world. However, if you know some of the same people are going to be there, that’s where changing up your accessories can be a great help if you are worried that people might notice you are wearing the same outfit.

 

Photo Credit: JT Sander

Save money by just saying “No”

 

If your mailbox is getting flooded with wedding invitations and with each one you feel worse and worse, do yourself a favor and just say no. Just because you get a wedding invite, it doesn’t mean you have to go. Choose the ones that mean the most to you and just go to those only. If you are really troubled by saying no, talk to the couple and just explain your situation. You might be pleasantly surprised by their reaction.

 

Save money by making gifts

 

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

If you are crafty, have a special talent, provide services or love to cook, making a wedding gift is a GREAT alternative to buying a gift and is guaranteed to be more memorable than a check in an envelope. Some of the greatest wedding gifts I received were handmade and now decorate our home. If you provide a service, gift the couple a complimentary service. If you love to cook, make them a basket full of your homemade treats or meals that they can freeze and save for a rainy day. If you love to plan parties, suggest throwing brunch the next day at your home. When you think outside the box, there’s several alternatives to keeping your bank account in check.

 

RELATED: 5 Secrets to Being an Awesome Wedding Guest
 

Save money by taking advantage of hotel room blocks or cheaper alternatives

 

If you are attending a wedding out of town and need to stay overnight, always ask the couple if they have rooms reserved in a hotel room block. Check out the price before you book. Often times, hotel room blocks do come at a discounted rate, but not all the time. Even so, the discounted rate could still be pretty pricey. If it fits within your budget, great! If not, search the surrounding area for hotels that might be cheaper.

 

Save money by using coupons or sales on registry gifts

 

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

While many couples have a wedding gift registry, it doesn’t mean that you have to get those gifts from those particular stores. There are pros and cons to this. The obvious con is that if you decide to purchase an item from a registry list at a different store, there is no way for that couple, or other guests, to know that item was purchased, therefore the couple could end up with duplicate gifts.

 

The plus side to this is that by searching for the same gift at a different location, you could be saving a ton of money. Between coupons and sales, an item that costs $100 from the registered store could be half that somewhere else. This does take time to do the research to see where you can find that item cheaper, but if it means saving money, it might be worth it.
 

RELATED: 7 Practical Ways to Create Your Awesome Wedding Registry

 

Save money with free shipping

 

If you can’t find a gift anywhere else cheaper through coupons or sales, you might want to look for free shipping options. You could save quite a bit on shipping, particularly if an item is heavy. What you also want to do, if you get free shipping, is have the item directly shipped to the couple, this way, eliminating having to incur the cost of shipping the item you just had shipped to your house, shipped to them.

 

Save money by “chipping in”

 

If you and others you know are going to the same wedding, you might consider chipping in, not only with the gift, but with travel fares as well. You can all chip in a get the couple a great gift that all of you might not have been able to afford on your own. You might also want to consider carpooling and chipping in on travel costs such as rental cars, gas, tolls, or even hotel rooms. Consider rooming with those friends instead of getting a room all to yourself.

 

Save money by literally saving money

 

Last, but not least, if you do decide to go to all the weddings you’ve been invited to and want to give a gift or money, the best way to save money is by literally saving money. You know months in advance what weddings you are going to. Take a moment to sit down and make a list of all the expenses associated with those weddings and literally just start putting money aside each week to cover all your costs. A little bit each week will add up pretty fast.

 

What are some of the best ways you’ve saved money as a wedding guest?

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