Wedding photography for joyful couples that specializes in capturing both stunning portraits and candid moments to help you remember both the look and feel of your wedding day.
 Based in Raleigh, NC. Available for travel.

Where to Splurge on Your Wedding

5 Vendors You Don’t Want to Skimp on For Your Wedding

When it comes to your wedding, everything adds up quick! Some of the costs you probably have accounted for, such as the venue and catering. However, once you get started, you soon realize that there are a lot of little charges that add up: the invitations, the décor, the dress alterations (the list goes on). While there are a few places that you can choose to save money (you can see my recommendations on ways to save here), there are a few vendors that you want to splurge on!

Why You Should Splurge on Some Vendors

When it comes to many wedding vendors, you pay for what you get. More expensive vendors tend to have more experience, more money invested in their businesses, and quite possibly more time to serve you since they haven’t had to overbook themselves with many low-paying clients. While the quality of some vendors may not affect the overall feel of your day, others totally make or break it! When you go to lay out your budget, I recommend prioritizing a large portion of it for the following five vendors!

1. Wedding Coordinator

A good wedding planner or day-of-coordinator will save you so much headache on the wedding day! They help you make a wedding day timeline, tell everyone where to be and when, and serve as the touch-point for all of your vendors if and when something goes wrong! They make sure that you are and your family get to enjoy the day rather than coordinate it yourselves! Many planners offer a few packages that range from full-service wedding planning down to just day-of-coordinating. If you need to save money, opt for day-of-coordinating. If you don’t want the hassle of finding the vendors yourself, go for full-service planning.

Estimate 10-15% of your wedding budget for your wedding planner or coordinator.

A few wedding planners in the Raleigh-Durham area that I recommend are Harmony Weddings and Events, Something Fabulous Weddings, and Raleigh Weddings.

2. Photography/Videography

At the end of your wedding, there are two things that you walk away with: your dress, and your photos. Guess where my wedding dress is? In a closet. Where are my photos? On the walls, in albums, even on my computer screensaver. They’re everywhere! Your wedding photographer and videographer preserve the memories of your day. You will come back to these over and over again for decades to come. Trust me, you want high quality photos that truly show how your wedding day looked and felt!

Plan to spend at least $2,500-$3,000 on your wedding photography alone for professional services.

You can check out more information about my photography services here!

the bradford wedding venue

3. Venue

Your wedding venue sets the tone for your day. Do you want a rustic barn wedding? Something light and airy? Or a cool, modern industrial space? The look and feel of your wedding hinge in large part on your venue. Some factors to keep in mind when choosing a venue include:

  • Guest capacity (for both ceremony and dinner)
  • What is included with the rental—some venues include tables and chairs, others don’t. Some require use of their own caterer while others allow you to choose.
  • Whether they have outdoor ceremony spaces and indoor backups in case of bad weather
  • The look of the getting ready rooms – ample space and natural light are important!
  • How many hours you get the space on a wedding day

Wedding venues in the area vary widely in cost, but the average venue rental in 2023 is $7,500 for a weekend day.

You can check out my list of top recommended venues in the Raleigh-Durham area here!

4. DJ/Entertainment

Your DJ is super important when it comes time for the reception. They help with the flow of events from dinner to toasts to dancing, and they often serve as the emcee for the night. Make sure you pick this one carefully, as I have seen my fair share of just plain awkward individuals leading the night. A good DJ or band can be the different between your guests (and you) feeling uncomfortable or having the time of their life! Typically, a live band costs more than a DJ, so if you need to save money, opt for a highly rated DJ company.

Expect to spend about 5% of your overall budget on a good wedding DJ.

the barn of chapel hill wedding venue

5. Florist

Florals add such a beautiful touch to your wedding day! You can definitely go big with floral displays at your ceremony and in table centerpieces, and this will surely wow your guests! To save money, instead, you could opt to keep it simple with nice bouquets and boutonnieres, and a few small table arrangements.  Either way, I recommend going for a good professional florist. I’ve seen people choose cheap florists or try to DIY their bouquets, and they often end up with wilting flowers. Go with someone who will have fresh, beautiful flowers crafted just for you!

Depending on your preferences, you could estimate about 10% of your budget on florals.

Bonus: Catering

I’m adding catering as a bonus, because I think you could go either way with this one—bear with me here! A professional wedding caterer can run anywhere from $50-$200 per person when you include appetizers, dinner, beverages, and gratuity. Just think—if you have 100 guests at $150 a person, you’re spending $15,000 on food alone! If you’re looking for a classy seated dinner with and passed hors d’oeuvres, then yes, please splurge on your caterer! However, if you’re okay with a buffet and catering from a local restaurant, you could cut down on this budget significantly. NC BBQ tends to be a cheaper option.

Please check with the rules of your venue. Many venues require you to use their own catering company or one from their recommended list of caterers.

Related Posts of Interest:

10 Amazing Wedding Venues Near Raleigh, NC

10 Tips for a Stress-Free Wedding Day

The Photographer Behind the Lens

I'm Megan, a wedding photographer based in Raleigh, NC who is obsessed with telling love stories through the art of photography. I'd love the chance to tell your unique love story, too!

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