Wedding Reception Forum

SOUND OFF! What was a waste? what was worth it?

For those of you that already had your perfect day, I would like your experienced opinion on the little extras that you HAD to have when you were planning. What was completely worth the expense? And what do you barely even remember being there?
Personalized cocktail napkins? Photo booth? Lawn games?
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Re: SOUND OFF! What was a waste? what was worth it?

  • slothiegalslothiegal The Sloth Farm member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper
    I can't stress enough how much a good photographer is worth.  We cut a bit of money other places (i.e., had smaller favors, didn't upgrade linens, etc.) in order to book a couple whose work we really, really liked.  (On that note, if you can spring for a second photographer, I also highly recommend that--we worked with a husband and wife team; the wife took a lot of the posed photos while the husband captured candid shots during that time.)

    A big hit at our reception was an ice cream sundae bar, which was an extra we threw in at the last minute.

    I really wanted a photo booth, but unfortunately we couldn't swing it.  Really though, I didn't miss it at all.  We got TONS of photos as is, and I was so busy dancing/drinking/talking, I don't think I would've even used it myself (I didn't even get a piece of cake!  :(  )

    IMO, i think personalized things are a waste of money.  I don't really care for them as a guest (why do I want your name/date on something?) and I think it often comes off as tacky.  The one thing we did have personalized were a set of champagne flutes, but those were only for H and me.
    Anniversary

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    holyguacamole79
  • We really did not have many extras at my daughter's wedding in the way of candy bar, photo booth etc., because we spent the majority of the budget on a better photographer and a great band.  We were thrilled with both choices because the band had people on the dance floor all night, some forgot to eat, and the pictures (which is all you have left at the end of the day) were spectacular.  
    My son's wedding had a slightly higher budget because both sides put in significant amounts of money.  So they had the great band and photographer plus photo booth and candy bar.  I would say if the money is there, the guests really enjoy it, but if it is a budget strain, then no, nobody really misses either.
  • I'm with PPs - the photographer is absolutely key. A year and a half later, I can look at those pictures and they really capture all the emotion of the day. I too had two photographers there - the main one captured most of the posed shots while her assistant was off to the side getting candid ones of us. The candid ones, for the most part, turned out to be my favorites - pictures of us laughing with our families or just looking at each other but without being all posy-posy.

    Also, the food. We splurged on the food, and it was completely worth it.

    Personally, I think things like chair covers/decorations and the like are not worth it at all, so we didn't have any of that. I've never understood having people pay all that money just to cover up a perfectly fine chair. 

    Oh, and picking the right venue is key, not just for the place itself but for the people you'll be working with there. Our venue was an old plantation home run by a lovely older couple that live there - he will officiate if you would like, and she acts as DOC. For our wedding, she said she had bought some twinkle lights for some of the trees around the property, and she asked if we would mind if she put them out that day. Free decor? Yes, please! They really went above and beyond our expectations, and I felt like we got seriously bang for our back with them.
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    weddingcactusPrettyGirlLostjaprincess24
  • Worth it, photographer. If you shop around you can still find good quality dj's & venue's with great food. They might not be super fancy, but still very nice. We kept things simple & elegant which kept our prices down. I tried not to go for many extras. I think one of my extras that wasn't needed were the menu's I made up. But those cost me more time then money. I just got a heavy card stock, found a nice print & made them up to be 5 x 7 size & then got a cute decorative corner cutter to make the corners prettier. I found out later people thought the venue provided those, which I took as a compliment. Did we need those? No, but I thought it would be nice when people arrived to know what the food options were going to be.
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I really cut out a lot of extras. We chose to spend the bulk of our budget on venue, food, drinks, photography and the DJ. I didn't do favors, and I didn't do flowers either, and I'm so happy with that. I did add on a photo booth, and that was really fun. 

    I did pay extra for a cake that ended up collapsing, all because I wanted something different. So that sucked. I should have just gone with a simple, plain looking one. 

  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I feel that spending money on food, bar, entertainment for the guests and then photography for you is where your money should go first.

    Extras like personalized napkins, chair covers, special overlays, candy bars, photo booths are nice, but really do not enhance the guest's experience or even yours really.   If you have a little left over after the major ones are taken care of, then you can add those things, but really they are not things that generally have a high impact on the whole experience.   

    I mean how often to you hear "OMG, those chair covers were amazing at the wedding last night!"  You don't.  Sure people like things like candy bars (HUGE hit at my own wedding), but it's not something people would miss if it's not there.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    PrettyGirlLost
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Ditto PPs.  People don't remember your embossed cocktail napkins or if the overlay on the table matched your bridesmaids' dresses.  Focus on the food, drinks, and get a good photographer.
  • Skip the personalized favors. I always leave them at my place setting. I don't want a koozie, frame, or glass with your name and wedding date on it. You aren't the King and Queen of England. I don't worship you, and I don't need a souvenir of your wedding, other than my own photos. Personalized favors are a huge waste of money and are totally a product of the wedding industry. Don't feed the industry.

    Our priorities were: food, photography, alcohol, venue that would hold our guests comfortably. Everything else was trivial. I wanted our guests to be well-fed and have a good time, and I wanted our pictures to look great. Once we figured out how much money we had left over, it went toward our clothing, decor, dessert, etc. I don't understand why people put tons of money into things like flowers. It doesn't matter how pretty your venue looks if people don't get enough to eat and have to pay for their drinks. I'd rather sit at a table with no centerpieces than pay for my drinks all night.
    I can't get over personalized napkins. People must realize these napkins end up in the trash almost immediately. You are quite literally throwing money in the trash. So unnecessary.

    We haven't gotten married yet but already went through the list of "this is probably a waste of money"... That included printed menus, programs, chair covers, and wedding favors.

    We upgraded our bar package, upgraded our meat choices, added a late night sweet snack, and added more items to our welcome bags for out of town guests.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    wrigleyvillePrettyGirlLost
  • cbus13cbus13 member
    10 Comments 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Anniversary
    edited December 2014
    worth it: (1) Photographer, (2) Venue, (3) Food and Open Bar, (4) DJ, (5) Flowers
    - we brought in 150 big macs and cheeseburgers from McDonalds at 10 PM and this was a HUGE hit. Kept the party going and great for photo ops. Def my favorite part

    not worth it: (1) overlays [while I thought they were pretty, not sure many people noticed], (2) favors [luckily we got ours for a steal, but most people left them on the table], (3) wedding programs, (4) spending a fortune on a big cake [could have opted for a more simple one, but hey i loved my cake]

    *This all being said, a lot of people complimented me on the overall feel of the wedding and that was due to the all the little touches we added. So while you try to save money, make sure to not compromise the look/feel of your wedding! 

    [edited to add blurb about mcdonalds]
    indianaalum
  • Worth it:
    -photographer- first and foremost. Out of all our wedding expenses, this was our biggest one and well worth it.
    -venues (we had ceremony and reception at different places)
    -food
    -open bar
    -DJ
    -photo booth (we got it at a steal at $400, so we didn't splurge much)
    -lighting- it set the mood and allowed us to skimp on decorations

    Not worth it
    -DOC- we didn't have many decorations, and H was so nervous, he ended up setting everything up with his groomsmen. All the DOC really ended up doing was coordinating the ceremony
    -personalized napkins. I bought them when TK had a sale, and not only were they hideous in person, but I don't even know if they got put out because we have a shit ton left


    thesilverbride
  • vmj23vmj23 member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 250 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited December 2014

    I didn't really have any "extras" beyond what I felt were needed, but I did have a smaller wedding (75 guests) and therefore was able to spend more on getting exactly what I wanted.    What I had, and wouldn't change...a venue that I absolutely LOVED, great food, great service.   I didn't add on any upgrades but had plenty in the package offered (cocktail hour, multi course meal, wedding cake, open bar, all the linens).   I did spend more then I originally planned on a dress...I thought I'd stay under $1000 but spent $2000 plus alterations.  I put it on and had to have it, and it was worth it.  After that dress I couldn't settle for a different one.  I loved my photographer (who wasn't even expensive but amazing).  I made my own album but spent a few hundred on it.   Loved my dj.  There really wasn't anything that didn't turn out the way I wanted.  I did some stuff myself, which was a lot of work but the "look" I was going for...made my own invites, card box, favors(butter crunch candy). 


    Things I skipped: programs, table numbers (used the ones venue provided because I ran out of time to make them), I didn't have any type of photo booths, candy bars, etc. and I didn't miss any of them. 

  • chibiyuichibiyui The Boring Part of MD member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    I think that the two things that people enjoyed the most were,

    1. Milkshakes. We had a milkshake truck serve our guests milkshakes. It was a hit and was about 500 bucks.

    2. We rented from our DOC a sofa, love seat and coffee table that sat outside and overlooked the river our venue was near. It was away from the dance floor, so it provided a quieter space for our guests. People were chilling on it all night. That was about 50 bucks.
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    Anniversary
  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    We pretty much had everything exactly as we wanted. I thought our money was very well spent.

    If I had a do-over I probably would have spent less on flowers (my bouquet ended up being huge, and I would have preferred something much smaller) and I probably would have picked a different dress (not because I didn't like it, but after all the pressure I put on myself to OMG-pick-the-PERFECT-dress I ended up not even really caring what I wore the day-of, so I would have picked something different maybe...or maybe not, since I did like my dress quite a bit).

    We had an incredibly intimate ceremony, and it was planned in part by some wonderful people whom we feel very close to, so I honestly can't imagine things being much better!
  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    I lurked here a year while planning our wedding, so I knew the pitfalls to avoid for the most part, like personalized napkins. I also knew to avoid special flutes, but I did consider getting them anyway and wasted way too long looking for them. Glad in the end we opted not to get them. Something we did have that wasn't worth it was wine for the toast. We had a morning wedding and lunch reception with mimosas, and then a glass of wine for everyone for the toast. I am betting most of that wine was never consumed. I also wasted an OBSCENE amount of time looking for personalized stamps before I asked myself when was the last time I even noticed a stamp and on trying to find labels for our favors that were the same shade of coral as the ribbons on them. 
    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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  • thisismynickname2thisismynickname2 City By The Lake member
    5000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    My wedding, in the grand scheme of things, was bare bones as far as "extras." We had ours at an upscale restaurant so there was no need to decorate the place further. The venue provided all the basic linens, small flowers, and table numbers. Bouquets for me and the bridal party were fake flowers.

    I did make nice programs and think I had to take nearly all of them home. They're lovely, but technically just a waste of money. I was going to skip them completely but since we had a lightly religious ceremony with quite a few readings, I figured I should give folks the outline so they knew what to expect. 

    I had to buy our own cake cutter and spent about $40 on a nice set. I was super happy to use those again for pie and cake at Thanksgiving! Yay for reusable stuff!
    My MIL picked out a super cute cake topper. It garnered a lot of compliments and made her very happy, so that expense ($80!) was worth it. 
    My MIL also found our favors-- Frango mint chocolates. For everyone that didn't take theirs home, there were other guests around scooping them up. Worth it. 

    ________________________________


  • I will add, regarding ceremony programs, that I am in agreement that they're a bit of a waste. We did include them in our wedding, but in a non-traditional way, which worked well. We got cheap hand fans (the kind that fold up) and I printed out mini programs that I tied to the ends with ribbon. Since we weren't doing any big introductions for the reception, I thought it would be a nice way to give a little extra acknowledgement to our BP and parents, as well as to highlight the fact that the 3 readers were all our sisters. I don't know if anyone else cared about the mini-programs or not, but those fans came in really handy! It was about 80 and sunny out that day (perfect weather for VA for that time of year), so they were good for the guests to have for the ceremony - and I had one in my hand all night on the dance floor :-)
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  • jenni1221 said:

    I didn't really have any "extras" beyond what I felt were needed, but I did have a smaller wedding (75 guests) and therefore was able to spend more on getting exactly what I wanted.    What I had, and wouldn't change...a venue that I absolutely LOVED, great food, great service.   I didn't add on any upgrades but had plenty in the package offered (cocktail hour, multi course meal, wedding cake, open bar, all the linens).   I did spend more then I originally planned on a dress...I thought I'd stay under $1000 but spent $2000 plus alterations.  I put it on and had to have it, and it was worth it.  After that dress I couldn't settle for a different one.  I loved my photographer (who wasn't even expensive but amazing).  I made my own album but spent a few hundred on it.   Loved my dj.  There really wasn't anything that didn't turn out the way I wanted.  I did some stuff myself, which was a lot of work but the "look" I was going for...made my own invites, card box, favors(butter crunch candy). 


    Things I skipped: programs, table numbers (used the ones venue provided because I ran out of time to make them), I didn't have any type of photo booths, candy bars, etc. and I didn't miss any of them. 


  • Jenni1221 I think just described my wedding.I was married at a B&B in early December and the B&B was decorated beautifully for a Christmas tour which was a week later so no expensive decorations or floral arrangements for me.  My gown was custom made (white velvet) and still came in around $1200.  My photographer was also amazing, fun and reasonable and I had a harpist who was wonderful.  I also spent the bulk of my budget on my caterer.  I absolutely agree that I have been to many weddings and remember little besides the food was great or the food was inedible.  I am one of those fortunate people who, if I had it to do over again, wouldn't change a thing,  The few little frou frou things I had were insignificant.  I did have monogrammed cocktail napkins, but they were only a few dollars. so I didn't really care.  I did not have a wedding cake because I don't like wedding cake and I wasn't going to spend a fortune for fancy frosting.  Instead my caterer did a gorgeous croqembouche, which everyone loved.  As I said I would do it all over again exactly as I did it in heart beat, but I pretty much knew what my priorities were going into the planning - small, intimate wedding with close friends and family, great food, charming venue and gorgeous dress and oh yes, an amazing groom (and we were married four years ago).
  • Worth it: photographer, entertainment (dueling pianos), food, cake. People are still raving about our cake months later, and one friend had the exact same one for her baby shower.

    Things we skipped with no regrets: anything personalized/monogrammed, professionally done centerpieces (I DIYed them via 50flowers), photobooth, anything for tossing/exiting purposes. 

    The one and only custom thing I do wish we had gotten - I had designed some custom drink coasters that said "Please don't take my drink; I'm dancing!" that people could have set on top of their glass if they stepped away for a moment. They sound cheesy, yes, but it turned out our bartenders were mixing SUPER STRONG so lots of people tried to let their drink sit for a few minutes to let the ice melt, but then the waitstaff bussed them away. The coasters would have only been about $100 but we came home from our honeymoon to a bar tab that was $2000 higher than the estimate. Not all of that could have been avoided (our guests had a GREAT time) but I do think the cost would have been off set at least. This won't be the case for every wedding/bartender though.

    And in hindsight... the passed hors d'oeuvres might have not been worth it. Quite a few people said they were never able to "catch" the waiters with the apps. As much as I loved the "fanciness" factor of passed food, our guests might have been happier with a higher proportion of displayed items.

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  • tcnoble said:
    I can't get over personalized napkins. People must realize these napkins end up in the trash almost immediately. You are quite literally throwing money in the trash. So unnecessary.

    We haven't gotten married yet but already went through the list of "this is probably a waste of money"... That included printed menus, programs, chair covers, and wedding favors.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    I lost the box when I edited to focus on this part. 

    We had personalized napkins at the reception, but they were part of the service that the venue provided. I NEVER would have bought them on my own. They were really cute and look adorable in the scrapbook, but I guarantee that no one else remembers them. Heck, my husband may not even remember them. 

    I printed programs at home, and they turned out to be a waste, since hardly anyone read them. We had an after party at a venue where my husband often plays music. I made a Facebook event, told people by word of mouth, and I printed the address and directions inside the program. I learned later that several people didn't go, because they thought the after party was only for certain people. We didn't book the venue for the after party until almost the last minute, so that information didn't go with the wedding invitations, but still, I did everything I could thing of! I asked some of those people if they had looked at the programs, and they all said no. 

    I, like many others, skipped out on things so I could pay for a good photographer. At the end of the day, all you have left are pictures. 

    I saved money by ordering flowers from Sam's Club. I ordered all pink roses, and then I assembled thr bouquets and boutineres. It took a while, but my mom and little sister surprised me by offering to help. I saved HUNDREDS by doing it this way. I had a very full bouquet and dozens of flowers left over for additional decorations. 

  • We just had our wedding a month ago. Like many brides to be I spent hours on pinterest looking for ideas. I wanted ceremony programs, personalized napkins, petals to throw as we exited the ceremony, personalized sandals for our guest (so they could take off their heels and dance), I also wanted a live band to play... at the end of the day we didn't have any of those things. I am so glad we didn't spent the money on any of them. My only regret is probably the sandals (lots of people dancing barefoot.. LOL). We did hire a DOC and we loved her. Totally worthit not having to stress about anything that day. Candy/dessert station was awesome, my guests are still taking about that one and the photobooth. We had uplighting and a monogram, however our venue had floor to ceiling windows overlooking the marina i dont think we really needed the lighting. We had a guitar group playing for dinner and it was awesome. Also, photographer and videographer are a must....you spend a lot of money on a wedding and you miss have of it because you are busy with your guests, its nice to see the pictures and look at the details you missed.
  • I'll come back and post after my wedding, but as a guest (who loves candy) I usually go to the candy buffet, load up, eat 2 pieces and shove the rest in my purse, never to be eaten. They look really nice, though, so candy buffets double as a decor item. No one ever saves the programs. They may take them home, but they end up in the trash within a couple of weeks.

    I went to a wedding where the couple spent a fortune on renting chandeliers to put in places around the venue. The problem is, they were in places no one went so I was one of the few who even noticed.
  • plainjane0415plainjane0415 The hills of Tennessee member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    I haven't had my wedding yet, but I'm going to say that engagement pics are a waste of money.  I just got all of mine back and now I'm thinking, what am I going to do with these? Wedding pics I feel will be different because I will want to print and frame some of those, but engagement pics, right now I'm really at a loss.
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  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited January 2015
    Worth it- food, drinks, DJ, photographer.

    Not worth it- programs, personalized favors, chair covers, monogrammed napkins or monogrammed up lighting, uplighting in general, real flowers.

    I used silks in my bouquets and table arrangements and they were beautiful.  I could not justify spending thousands and thousands of dollars on flowers that get thrown out and many times are already browning as you are walking down the aisle- I have seen that many, many, times.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


  • I haven't had my wedding yet, but I'm going to say that engagement pics are a waste of money.  I just got all of mine back and now I'm thinking, what am I going to do with these? Wedding pics I feel will be different because I will want to print and frame some of those, but engagement pics, right now I'm really at a loss.
    We created our own guest book (actually, they were loose-leaf scrapbook pages I had printed to use as a guest book) with our engagement photos. Now they're part of the wedding guestbook, which is part of a larger wedding scrapbook I have. I thought that was a good way to not "lose" the engagement photos.



    Really worth it, for me personally, was getting the DOC who really just kept everything moving that day. I didn't have to worry about anything. Everything was perfectly set up, and everyone knew where they were supposed to be when, and it just made the whole event flow. 

    Also worth it for me was having on-site hair and makeup people come in to do me, the moms, and the bridal party (essentially, anyone who wanted it). It was great not having to leave the hotel in the morning, and just really a nice experience for all of us. 

    And we splurged a bit on the DJ. That was important to us that we had someone that wouldn't be a "typical" wedding DJ with lame songs and tacky comments. It cost a few hundred extra, but made a difference, we felt. 

    We didn't do too much "extras" at all (actually no flowers aside from my bouquet, we just used greenery for the centerpieces and it was gorgeous). One thing that I did put time and money into, however, was making sure the "side tables" for the escort cards, guest book, etc. looked pretty. I literally never saw those tables myself, and don't think they really ended up adding much to the overall look of the space. 
  • I haven't had my wedding yet, but I'm going to say that engagement pics are a waste of money.  I just got all of mine back and now I'm thinking, what am I going to do with these? Wedding pics I feel will be different because I will want to print and frame some of those, but engagement pics, right now I'm really at a loss.
    I disagree somewhat on this. I think having done the engagement session will make our actual wedding photos better. FI and I are really not good in front of a camera and spending an hour or so with our photographer taught us a lot about being photographed. It was included in our package though so we didn't have to decide whether to spend extra on it. 
    image
    Amanderson1290
  • I haven't had my wedding yet, but I'm going to say that engagement pics are a waste of money.  I just got all of mine back and now I'm thinking, what am I going to do with these? Wedding pics I feel will be different because I will want to print and frame some of those, but engagement pics, right now I'm really at a loss.
    I disagree somewhat on this. I think having done the engagement session will make our actual wedding photos better. FI and I are really not good in front of a camera and spending an hour or so with our photographer taught us a lot about being photographed. It was included in our package though so we didn't have to decide whether to spend extra on it. 
    Agreed! Ours was included in our package, but I think the engagement shoot would've been worth the extra cost even if it wasn't included. Getting to know our photographer was nice because now I trust her for the actual wedding (getting the photos back and seeing that they were great gave me extra peace of mind, even though I had looked over plenty of other shoots she's done before booking her), and now FI and I are more comfortable and have an idea of what poses look good and what looks awkward/silly. 
    --

    Amanderson1290
  • jenijoykjenijoyk member
    Tenth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments First Answer
    edited January 2015
    Extras that we thought were worth it: hiring a guy to fry fresh churros for a late night snack, our DOC (who saved the day 100 times over), and our welcome bags for hotel guests. Also, inviting all our guests to drinks the night before the wedding. Everyone had so much fun, and it was worth it to see everyone before the big day. We covered drinks and appetizers for two hours and it was definitely worth the money.

    Things that weren't worth the money: I spent so much time and money on DIY shit that did not pan out. I wish at the very start I had just realized I'd end up paying a florist anyway and let it go. We also spent way too much money on a mariachi band because my husband was obsessed with finding THE BEST ONE EVER. We should have just gotten a normal mariachi band for half the price. But that was his thing so I let it go. 

    Also we spent $2k on a videographer that turned out to be a psychopath and our video is SO BAD I would have gotten better footage and better sound if I had just set up an ipad in the back on a tripod. 
  • indianaalumindianaalum member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited January 2015
    I can't think of anything that I thought was a waste.

    Big hits:

    Extra Dessert Bar (we had cake already)
    My favors of Macarons
    Photobooth
    Late Night Snacks (PEOPLE LOVED THESE)
    "supplies" in the bathrooms. People complimented me

    Basically, spend money on food. i kept hearing over and over how good (and how much) food we had at our wedding. It's that stuff that counts


    regrets:

    wish I had a video grapher. We did it DIY and it got messed up
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