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Times are Tough - Some Budget Wedding Planning Tips
by Howard Kier

Times are tough all over.  There is a reason why wedding photographers charge what we do.  Your wedding day is important and there is only one chance to photograph the first kiss or the first dance.  It's got to be right!

Before you start looking at wedding photographers, decide exactly what you and your fiancée want to have photographed.  These photographs will provide you with visual reminders to help you remember your wedding day.  So if a photo is not taken, you will most likely forget that particular detail.  Your wedding photography is an investment.  An investment in your memories.

Your wedding day has several major phases.  They are Getting Ready, The Ceremony, and Reception. Obviously you want to have the ceremony photographed.  Can you do without the getting ready photos?  Before you answer, you should know that is when most photographers take photos of the bride, her entourage, the groom and his entourage.

Could you live without reception photos?  At the reception, your photographer will photograph, the room, the settings, the cake, the head table, and all of the planned activities (introductions, toasts, prayer, cake cutting, first dance, table photos of all guests, bride/father dance, groom/mother dance, and the garter/bouquet toss).  Plus there will be some guests that forgo the ceremony and will only be at the reception.

What about disposable cameras at the reception?  Simply put, people with disposable cameras don't know what to take photos of. Next, those cameras are not able to handle the challenging conditions which exist at receptions.  You will take a great risk that something will be missed.  Worse yet, somebody will get the bright idea of taking photos in the bathroom.

So what can you do?  The key is to minimize the amount of time you'll need the photographer.  One way to do this is reduce the amount of time between the ceremony and the reception.  Then reduce the cocktail hour to thirty minutes.  Actually, if you can have your ceremony and reception in the same location you can really reduce the down time.  

At the reception, cut the cake immediately upon after you are introduced.  Recently I had a client who tossed her bouquet (that is usually the last planned wedding event) from the church steps just before she got into the limo.  It was a little over five hours from the start of her ceremony until the groom/mother dance was completed.  All that was left to photograph was the guests dancing and having fun.  With some thought and careful planning you can reduce the time required for your photographer to six hours or less.

Another major cost of the photography is the album.  The one thing you don’t want to do is skimp on the album’s quality.  After all it needs to last long enough to become a family heirloom for your descendents.  There are two ways to reduce the size of your album and hence the cost.  The first is to reduce the actual page size.  I’ve seen some beautiful 10”x10” or 6”x9” books.  The other alternative is to reduce the number of pages in your wedding album.

Planning a wedding involves many decisions and compromises.  If saving money is an overriding consideration for you, then you may need to give up something else in order have the photographer you want at a price you can afford.

A Chicago Illinois professional wedding photographer and owner of Magical Moments Photography, Howard's honors and achievements include becoming one of the first local Certified Professional Wedding Photographers. His work has been published in "Chicago Style Weddings," "Wedding Guide Chicago," "The Perfect Wedding Guide,"  and the "Daily Herald."

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