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Why do weddings cost so much? Because Quality Matters.

So what does that mean? — Quality Matters— And if only wedding costs were as cheap as that phrase is simple.

It means there are costs that hiring professionals can add to your wedding, here are some challenging places to cut costs.  The goal of this post is to give couples a look under the hood so to speak at the wedding industry.  Hopefully, give an understanding of wedding costs and why some couples get sticker shock. The following is not an exhaustive list but based on experience with other clients and their weddings since 2003.



Mosaic of 900 wedding pictures, William and Mary Wren Chapel in Williamsburg

Mosaic of 900 wedding pictures, William and Mary Wren Chapel in Williamsburg

Your photographer/videographer will probably be one of your biggest wedding costs.  So do you pay for a name or do you pay for value?  Sometimes you pay for both.   This will require you to research a lot of studios.

So what do you look for to determine quality and value? 

But at minimum, your photographer/videographer should have professional equipment that can cost in the tens of thousands.  And when wedding trends change, so does the need for photographer/videographer to upgrade equipment.  Drones anyone?  Which you guessed it, using a drone commercially can costs in the thousands or tens of thousands, not including the federal license needed to operate a drone at a wedding.   A single digital camera can cost 5 and even 30k.  Then the photographer/videographer has cards, batteries, cases, straps, insurance, computers that need upgrading every 3 years and so on.  Then if the photographer/videographer has a second staff, do they have to be paid, do they have insurance to pay for, and their gas and equipment have to be paid for as well. It’s an expensive passion.

Why I’m obviously partial to photography and videography, there’s another reason I put first.   And the biggest reason photography/videography costs are so hard to cut.  After your wedding, the cake is eaten, decorations are taken down after you’ve recovered from your awesome honeymoon, and even after a month, a year or decade, nothing lets you relive and share your wedding like services from a quality photographer and videographer. Nothing.


The Venue

Shirley Plantation, Charles City, VA Wedding

Here’s where you can save money by picking the right venue.  Some venues have a lot of overhead or extra costs that don’t directly benefit you. Some are full service providing a lot of included vendors such as food, coordination, tents and so on, some venues are not full service.  If you pay X amount of money, how much of that goes towards your wedding services.  OR are you paying for extra benefits you never see?  For example, some venues charge extra if you don’t use their choice of vendors.  So maybe finding one that allows you to bring your own vendors might be a better choice.  Or finding a venue that will allow your own caterer without an extra charge, or negotiate the price of bringing your own caterer. But if you really really want to be married at Shirley Plantation (pictured above), then the cost may be the cost.



We can’t stress enough the importance of having someone experienced to handle your wedding coordination, even if it’s only for the ‘Day of’.  We’ve had brides struggle to handle the numerous fast-moving decisions happening on a wedding day.  And instead of enjoying time getting ready, a bride may be dealing with friend drama, a vendor that’s late, a groomsman that’s lost, a cake that needs to be kept cool in June etc.  So having an experienced coordinator is super important.   And picking a coordinator is as challenging as picking any other vendor.  There are a hundred-plus considerations when putting a wedding together.  In the end, someone who has your back works for you, and takes the stress from you will help you have a great wedding and more fun without becoming overwhelmed.


For those couples who want a good time at their reception, it’s really hard to cut DJ wedding costs since experience and equipment are so important for your DJ choice.  Similar to your photographer or videographer, you DJ has equipment costs, song licensing costs, insurance and so on.  And when hiring a DJ, equipment matters.   Having a DJ with the right equipment and understanding of how to work with a crowd, really really matters. Quality DJ equipment can run in the thousands.

—Of all the wedding costs, your Photographer/Videographer, Venue, Coordinator, and DJ are harder to skimp on because doing so often leads to less quality.—


So what do you do?

Many couples decide to cut wedding costs.  Where should you cut wedding costs?  Here are some places that may have flexibility, but only so much.

  • Your videographer and/or photographer will preserve your wedding day for you.  If you skimp on the cost of these two, you have to ask what you’re giving up.  Will they have the best equipment, number of staff, do they provide all the services such as wedding album design?
  • Your venue is important.  But make sure it delivers.  You saw some awesome pictures of the venue, but are you getting married at the same time those pictures were taken?  If you saw a spring wedding and are getting married in October, the vegetation will be different which means your pictures will look different.  If you want a nice spring barn wedding, get married in the spring at a barn.  Because if you do it in October, the grass may more dead and the sun will definitely affect your pictures. So keep that in mind.
  • Flowers: I don’t pretend to be nor do I play a Florist on TV.  There are so many ways to do your flowers.  You can, do them yourself, have a professional florist do them, find a friend that can help, you can get them from a million (not really a million) different places.  You can do, silk flowers, wooden flowers, real flowers even candy flowers. Your professional florist will have a great understanding of how to save money while still having flowers that represent your day.


  • Food and Drink: Well, here’s where it can get touchy.  Some couples want their reception to be a big party so they spend on food and drink accordingly. One of the questions I see mostly his how much to spend on food and drink.  Do you want a sit-down dinner, or does a buffet save you money (and time at the reception.)  Do you want to do an open bar or just beer and wine?  Ultimately, wine or liquor costs can really impact your budget.  Are your drinks free to your guests, or do they pay for them?  Maybe wine and beer are better. Maybe guests buy their own drinks.
  • Your cake/cupcakes are a nice treat for your guests.  But can you cut corners, depends.  Taste, design, and ultimately quality matters.  And someone who knows how to bake for 100 to 200 guests and has handled weddings before matters.  Do you want a lot of exquisite detail on your cake or can you save by having less? It’s tough to cut corners, but your baker can help you crunch the numbers.

In the End

Wedding costs are hard to avoid because weddings are after all productions. Even flying to Vegas to get married by Elvis will cost airfare, rental, gas and 106.95 for Elvis.

Our advice is to take a breath, do a lot of homework, meet every vendor you’re considering ask questions and more questions.  Sometimes you’ll find a better deal with a smaller studio that has less overhead.  Use our wedding tips for hiring vendors.    In many aspects of wedding costs, you often get what you pay for.  Be sure to check out our tips on hiring vendors and vendor questions.

The views above are based on a decade or more of listening to our clients.   Do you have an idea on how to save money without sacrificing quality, leave your comment below.

If you’d like to contact us or are looking for videography or photography for your wedding, contact us today.

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