Facebook Copy-color Created with Sketch.
Instagram-color Created with Sketch.


I am a destination wedding photographer. I focus on helping my clients feel relaxed and confident throughout their day. I provide a fun and laidback experience that provides my client with beautiful photos. I am located in Fredericksburg VA, but I shoot weddings everywhere! I LOVE traveling.



20 things you do NOT want to forget on your big day! Sign up to get it straight to your inbox!

Download the Free Wedding Checklist!

Listen now



Listen Now! 

How To Save Money On Your Wedding Day

Planning Your Dream Wedding

February 7, 2020

back to blog

Your wedding is the most important day of your life and you want it to be beautiful, perfect, and everything you’ve ever dreamed of, BUT that sounds expensive right?? 

Some brides think that their wedding has to be basic, boring, or non glamorous if they want to save money. They may feel intimidated by other people’s budgets and wish they could have a wedding just as beautiful. What they do not realize is that every wedding is different and every couple has things they are prioritize. These priorities are what the couple is most passionate about and what help the wedding stand out. Those passions are what you need to focus on when planning your wedding.

First things first,

What do you prioritize? These are things you end up splurging the most on. The prices of each of these can range from $1000-$7000

You can choose your Venue, the food, the Videography, or the Photography. The more things you prioritize, the more expensive your wedding becomes.


Lets say you prioritize having your dream venue. Define what is your dream venue. Is it a garden, a big historical building, something with a waterfront? Your venue doesn’t have to be expensive and sometimes you can find something equally as gorgeous and below the price of some of the most famous venues in the area. In my case, I wanted a venue fit for a princess. I looked at tons of castles and they were $4,000 and up. $4,000 was the average in my area, but I could barely afford it. I was a college student and only a beginner photographer. What I did not imagine when choosing the castle was how this would look in my pictures. This castle was very popular, but photographers I talked to warned me the photos will be too dark and I would need an amazing photographer if I was going to choose this venue. I knew I needed amazing pictures to remember this beautiful and expensive venue, but I realized dark photos were not really my style. I preferred light and airy photos and I started getting anxious that I will be disappointed in my photos. Later, the venue canceled on me and I was not able to find another decent castle within two hours of my location. I started looking at gardens. There were tons of gardens within 2 hours of driving, and there were historical buildings and house like venues that had gardens and ponds and everything I wanted in order to have the fairy like princess vibe I needed. I ended up with a place that would give me my dream photos and it was much cheaper than the castle. It was $1600 for a 12 hour rental of the whole area inside and out. It had beautiful garden landscaping and the bridal room was pink and gold (perfect for the princess theme). These images are from @SharonAshliePhotography

I recommend that if you want beautiful scenic pictures, look for venues that have gardens or ponds. Venues with ponds tend to be more expensive, but I guarantee you can find an affordable garden venue if you look within 2 hours of driving distance. I recommend searching Wedding Wire and the knot for gardens and historical venues. You may have to search through 100 venues until you find the perfect one. ( I did haha) You can find many affordable ones searching that way.
If you are the inside non-outdoorsy type of bride, I recommend searching for country clubs. I found many for around $1000-$2000 in my area. They tended to be one of the most affordable options.

Another option is eloping on a mountain. You can actually just go to a mountain, find the view you prefer, bring around 10 people and say your vows. This can bring some of the most amazing photos. Afterwards you can eat at a reception hall or even a restaurant.

You can also elope on the beach. If you choose a unpopular area, You can have the space for free with less people around. You can also check how much it may cost to rent out a spot of the beach.

Prioritizing Photography or Videography

I personally believe photography is one of the most important things on your wedding day. Your kids will grow up seeing those pictures on your wall and your guests will always talk about how beautiful you looked or how amazing that day was if they were there. Then, the next few generations will still have these pictures to show future generations. Something special about a photographer is if you have a good photographer, it doesn’t matter if your venue was $50 or if your flowers were all from wish and ebay. She or He will make that wedding look like it was a luxury wedding on the cover of vogue! And no I’m not kidding this is their job. You can actually save money by having a cheaper venue or cheaper flowers because you won’t be able to tell in pictures. If you have a light and airy style, you can guarantee great photos if you choose venues that have light colors. 

 Videography is also important, but generally because most people want to see the moment exactly how it happened. What I recommend is finding an amazing videography if that is what you prioritize and dream of, but if you don’t prioritize it, I recommend you at least buy a highlight video which is almost always affordable. It will have all the important moments you choose for a fraction of the main price. If you still can’t afford a videographer then you should actually encourage about 2-10 people that have great phones to record your moments. There are actually programs online that will edit the videos into one big highlight video. I wish I knew about this for my wedding! Here is a website where you can do that:


This is a similar option



I know I said you can’t tell in photos if your flowers are cheap and that’s generally true, but if you have a wedding arch and its decor is flowers, the more flowers the better! I know this sounds super expensive, but honestly it doesn’t have to be. I actually bought 70% of my flowers from Wish.com and the others from amazon because I was in a rush. I could have made a thick garland with the price of the garlands on wish. I could have bought 50 garlands and spent maybe $80 at most, but I waited till the last minute to order the rest. You can see what I mean at the bottom of the page. Sometimes wish can take up to a month. If you are in a rush, get your decor from amazon prime. If you don’t have amazon prime, see if a friend will let you order flowers from theirs. You can also get wooden or paper flowers if you like the look.


You can actually make your bouquets yourself. If you go to michaels, they actually will make the bouquets for you. Another thing you can do is build bouquets the day before from live flowers. You can get them costco and save a lot of money. You can also grow your own flowers if you plan in advance. Then your bouquets are basically free. Also, check facebook market and ebay for used bouquets in bulk. You also can try to borrow some from friend who recently got married or rent some.

You can splurge on your bridal bouquet if you want it to be more fancy. I ordered my bouquet online from https://www.facebook.com/Single-stems-artificial-wedding-flowers-1562764023964881/

This is a another picture from my photographer.

Other choices I recommend are:


She made these flowers in these pictures I’ve shot below and I have heard great things from my clients about her affordability.

I also recommend

https://www.instagram.com/floraandmischief/ She also has beautiful and affordable arrangements and I took these pictures of her work.

What do you prioritize in details? invites, dresses, or shoes?

Save the Dates and Invites:

Some order fancy invites made from amazing calligraphers with wax stamps and everything. If that is what you are passionate about, then I encourage it, but if you just want beautiful invites I can recommend:

Groupon is a place full of amazing coupons. There is still a coupon out where you can create 25 invites for $7 or 125 for $25. This the link I used to buy mine


They also have a new one for this website that is still a great deal


Another option would be Vista print or printing them yourself on postcard paper.


The most affordable and beautiful dresses I found are from https://www.cocomelody.com/wedding-dresses .They have a great reputation, but if you are into something else or can’t find your dream dress, I recommend checking www.lunss.com for custom made dresses. You can tell them your dream dress idea, and they will make it for you.You can can get it customized from other places, but I personally know they are affordable. I had a two piece overlay/mermaid wedding dress made by them for $946. This is a picture from @sharonAshliephotography without the overlay.


You can check amazon and they definitely have some great options

These shoes from Amazon look more beautiful in person if you are into super high heels.


I also recommend etsy. You can get custom made luxurious looking shoes for much cheaper than the name brand shoes. You can also buy a plain formal heel from any store and sew on, iron on, or clip on embellishments from etsy and they will look just like the name brand shoes. These are an example: 



What do you gift your bridesmaids?

Makeup artist, hair stylist, gift box, handmade gift, bridesmaid dress

I recommend getting a makeup artist for everyone as your gift. Everyone will look their absolute best, and it does not have to be pricey. Mine was $35 per person. Some makeup artists run deals depending on the bridal party size. If your venue isn’t too far, you can come to the makeup artist’s place and get it done so you don’t have to pay for travel. You could also get a hairstylist for them instead if they are already amazing at makeup. Another option would be to pay for their dresses. An affordable place to get dresses are lulus.com and https://www.ever-pretty.com/collections/bridesmaid-dresses  Here is also a cute one from Amazon https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RS9PJ7B/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

If you can’t afford any of those things, you can buy everyone a gift. I got a makeup artist for my bridesmaids, but I later decided to gift them custom chocolates from

https://www.instagram.com/myfavoritesweetsfavors/ The ones bellow are ones she made for the wedding and a picture my photographer took @sharonAshliephotography and the ones below that photo are ones I photographed for her. After photographing these and actually trying them. I became obsessed and had to give some to my bridal party. You can also gift jewelry. I actually love jewelry from Walmart.

Other gift ideas are small bottles of champagne with cute ribbons around them. Speaking of champagne. If you have a lot of beer and wine drinkers coming to the wedding, I recommend bringing your own wine and beer and hiring an affordable bartender. Mine was $175 total for 6 hours and the wine and beer came to only $200 total. It’s a lot cheaper if you buy in bulk.


The next to last thing is food. Food can be the most expensive. It is possible to find a decent caterer for $13-$16 a plate, but that is usually the cheapest you can find for a wedding caterer. You really have to look. Mine was $13 a person. If you happen to have your wedding in North Carolina, My caterer was called Above and Beyond Catering in High Point NC. Besides searching for the rare affordable caterer, there is nothing wrong with having pizza or barbeque sandwiches. You can also get cheap catering from places like arbys and a few mediterrean and seafood restaurants. Check your local restaurants and you might be surprised.


I personally don’t think you need a dj, but you can find newer djs that have the equipment. I’m friends with a couple of them. Good DJ’s are really worth their price though if that is something they are passionate about.

You can find newer ones for $200-$500

Otherwise, you can bring a big speaker and have someone controlling the playlist for you.


Lets say you were able to save a ton of money after only spending more on your priorities. You can now have luxurious extras if you want. You can add a carriage ride (usually $300-$700) or you can hire a band, wedding artist, or violinist (around $1000), but this is if you can afford it after saving. You can also get a beautiful circle or hexagon arch. You can actually make one yourself out of pvc. Here is the one I made, but it is more of a Heart shape. If you want to know how I made it just message me. I don’t mind. 🙂

Another picture from @SharonAshliePhotography

I hope this helped and that your wedding planning goes wonderful becoming everything you ever dreamed it would be!

  1. Kymberly Fields says:

    Do you do Nags Head weddings? If so what’s the cost? Your photos are stunning!

    • Mary Winford says:

      Hello! Thank you Yes I love Nags Head. It is a bit far from my hometown, but my travel fee is pretty small 🙂 My rates start at $1300. Fill out the form in the Contact section of my website and let me know more about your wedding 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

share this post:

GUIDE: 25 Pose Ideas for Photographers 

Behind the Scenes - Brides Magazine Styled Shoot

Easy Fall Mulled Cider Recipe for Two!

check out these popular posts!

New here?

Facebook Copy-color Created with Sketch.
Instagram-color Created with Sketch.


I am a destination wedding photographer. I focus on helping my clients feel relaxed and confident throughout their day. I provide a fun and laidback experience that provides my client with beautiful photos. I am located in Fredericksburg VA, but I shoot weddings everywhere! I LOVE traveling.