Guest Post By: Melissa Thompson
Few events are more intimidating, stressful, and expensive to plan than a wedding — between choosing a date, selecting a venue, buying a dress, and naming your wedding party, the prospect of an elopement can become pretty tempting! But for most people, a wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to celebrate a union with friends and family. That means that, while it might be tempting to cut corners on your big day, there are some essential services that you just shouldn’t skip.
Professional wedding photography is expensive, and rightfully so — a professional photographer can make you and your beloved look amazing, and give you images you’ll cherish for years to come. But the cost of this wedding service can leave many wondering if they shouldn’t just hand out disposable cameras, or rely on guests to snap photos of the event with their smart phones.
However, when you fail to book a professional photographer, you run the risk of getting, at best, a bunch of pretty bad wedding photos and, at worst, having no photos of your wedding day at all. A professional photographer is worth the cost. And if you’re on a budget, talk to your photographer about paring down the standard wedding photography package — maybe you can do without pre-wedding photos of your groom’s bowtie gracefully draped over one of his shoes. Book your photographer eight to nine months before the wedding and make sure you’re both on the same page about what you want from your pictures before the wedding day arrives.
2. A DJ (or Band)
You might think that you don’t need a DJ or live band to play at your wedding reception; after all, an iPod or laptop hooked up to some decent speakers will be just fine, right? But few things can ruin a wedding reception faster than a guest who hogs the playlist and refuses to take requests. Even worse, what if the aforementioned laptop crashes in the middle of the reception, leaving guests in silence as someone scrambles to hook a phone up to the venue’s sound system? Hiring a professional DJ or wedding band can help forestall these catastrophes, ensuring that there are no interruptions to the festivities, that the correct songs are played in the right order, and that everyone’s requests are weighed equally. Hire your musical entertainment about nine months before the wedding — but not before listening to their stuff (if it’s a band) or talking about your musical preferences for the event (if it’s a DJ).
Have you ever tried to prepare a meal for 300 people by yourself? Even if you have, you have enough to do in the days before your wedding to have to also worry about cooking a huge meal for your guests and vendors. The right caterer will prepare meat and vegan or vegetarian options for your guests, but it’s also important that you’re able to choose an appropriate meal for your vendors. If you’re feeding your vendors something different than what you’re feeding your guests, make sure you put that in the contract before they sign — and don’t forget band roadies, photographers’ assistants, and others who might be working behind the scenes. Start looking for caterers as soon as you’ve settled on a venue, about nine to 10 months before the wedding.
4. A Limousine for the Wedding Party
Hiring a limo for the wedding party might seem extravagant, but it’s often the easiest way to get everyone to and from the ceremony and reception — especially if the bride is going to be wearing a gown with a long train or a large, full skirt. For example, an NYC wedding limousine is far preferable to taking a taxi to the wedding, and of course, there’s simply no question of traveling to your wedding on the subway. Limos add a touch of glamour and class to the wedding, but hiring a limo also ensures that your wedding party — and perhaps, even some of your guests — are in the hands of a trustworthy driver. Make sure to hire wedding transportation at least four months before the wedding.
5. Child Care
If you’ve ever had to look after children at a formal event — or, for that matter, if you’ve ever been a child at a formal event — then you know that child care is the one wedding service all of your guests will appreciate. Of course, you shouldn’t segregate children from your ceremony or reception, but it will be nice for both children and adults alike if, after the meal is eaten, kids can hang out together in a separate area, under the watchful eye of a professional, while their parents enjoy the party in their own way. Adult guests will be able to relax, and young guests will stay entertained, too. Plan to book your wedding childcare about six months in advance.
Planning a wedding typically involves booking numerous services, and costs can easily add up. When it’s time to plan your wedding, it’s important to know which services you should skip — and which you shouldn’t. By making room in your budget for the most essential services, you can throw a party you and your guests will remember for years to come without going broke.