The Best ways to Have a Bougie Wedding on a Budget

The Best ways to Have a Bougie Wedding on a Budget

Let’s not mince words, weddings can be expensive AF. Yes, if you go on less traditional routes you can have a wedding that falls below the average spend of a wedding, but not everyone wants to have a 20 person guest list or to elope. Some people want to have those they love at their wedding and to go the traditional route. And that’s ok! The best weddings I have been to have had overwhelming amounts of love showered on the couple, which is what this is all about. So let’s dig into the best ways to have a bougie wedding on a budget!

Bougie Wedding on a Budget?


Before getting into the nitty gritty on how to have a bougie wedding with a hopefully lowered price tag, I want to discuss expectations. I recently read an article that couples, before doing research, think they will spend half of what a traditional wedding costs. What does this mean? It means a lot of couples have sticker shock when inquiring with vendors!! Even though most sites and professionals say “set a budget” as the first thing you do before wedding planning, I think it’s more prudent to Google average pricing for big ticket vendors, so you aren’t losing your mind at a floral or cake quote. Or, set a dollar amount you think a wedding would cost and double it. I know, I know, it sucks!

So how do you have a wedding that feels like the both of you, invites all those who are most important, and not spend $100k? Let’s dig in!!Bougie wedding bride in Austin Texas by Swish and Click Photography

Pick Your Top 3 Must Haves

When I was getting married I knew I wanted to have amazing food, great music and beautiful photography. Feeding those I loved well and giving them a kick butt party was really important to us. And then having wedding photography that allowed me to remember my day was important. I can tell you that Robert still remembers the price per person for our wedding, but I don’t mind because I knew everyone was being fed well!! And those wedding photographs? They pepper my home! I have also have a few wedding albums to boot. Thus, I advise you to have a top 3 or 5 things that you truly want to invest in and stick to it. I guarantee you, you will get distracted by other things along the way, but if you stay within 10% of your budget for the item, it all washes out in the end.

Go Paperless {Mostly}

As more and more Millennials and Gen Zers start to get married, some wedding traditions are less popular, like paper invitations and the like. With digital being the thing these days, you not only can send out invites electronically for the wedding, you can do save the dates and manage RSVP’s as well. Like crap, all of it one place? Thank you, yes!! One of my favorite places is Paperless Post {no ads, just a genuine love for them}. They have cute designs and it’s an easy way to manage the RSVP list. There are other sites that do this too, and the overall cost of paperless is much less expensive than a paper invite. I would probably print 5 to 10 actual invitations for grandparents, as they are most likely not as tech savvy as everyone else. Plus, they love collecting wedding invitations as momentos.

Other paper things that be cut back on are things like the menu on the table settings, place cards and a program for the wedding ceremony. Almost all of these things can be printed on a large piece of paper and mounted or cut out entirely. Some people opt to have the place cards replaced for a creative board where people look to see what table they are at, which I find to be a fun alternative to a place table at Villa Cocomar in the Domincan Republic by Swish and Click Photography

Do a First Look & Fake Exit

I say these things for one big reason: you can maximize your time with your wedding photographer {and videographer if you have both}. 20 years ago it was not done to see each other before the ceremony, and thus all photos were done after said ceremony. These days I would say 60% of my couples are opting to do a first look. It’s really smart to do this because 1. it gets you a ton more photos together just the two of you 2. almost all of the formal photos will be done before the ceremony. Imagine finishing the ceremony and being able to walk right into cocktail time and be able to see your guests? And if your cocktail time isn’t a full hour, that means you can get right into dinner, and let’s not lie, we are all hungry at this point! If you make your cocktail time less than an hour, this also means you are making your photography coverage needs shorter in time because you aren’t needing a huge buffer time in between things.

As for a fake exit, there are two very strong points to doing this. 1. your grandparents are truly exhausted after dinner, the first dance and cake cutting and they want to go rest. They will not make it to 11pm or later for an exit. As well, the earlier you do a fake exit, the less drunk people there are…holding sparkly things on fire…possibly lighting you or themselves on fire. You know what else this means? Again, a shorter day for your photography/video team. If you have them start with you getting ready up to 11pm or midnight, that’s coverage upwards of 12 hours, which is typically one of the higher wedding packages. If you do 8 hours with a first look and fake exit, I guarantee you will have the images you want from your wedding. You will also have wiggle room to buy a lower package from them.

Read all the Contracts Closely

I have heard horror stories of couples not reading contracts thoroughly and having hidden fees smack them in the face! Make sure common surcharges like cake-cutting and permit fees are listed in your contract, as well as knowing what happens if damage happens on the property or extra unaccounted for guests come. It’s important to read everything thoroughly and ask questions. I also have been known to troll groups and message boards looking for worst case scenarios to be able to anticipate for things I don’t think of. Also, yes I might be an anxious person when it comes to these things!Bougie wedding at The Dunlavy in Houston Texas by Swish and Click Photography

Forgo Party Favors

This is also a tradition that I have been seeing go the way of the dinosaurs. In fact I can’t remember a wedding in recent memory that has had party favors! Also, this applies to welcome bags or any other gifts that tradition might dictate for you to include in your wedding budget. When I was getting married I made thank you gifts for my bridesmaids, and if you know me, you know my abilities lie elsewhere. But I also cooked them an amazing dinner that we still talk about to this day! Sometimes the best gift is your time.

Guest List

But Christine! I thought you just said not to cut down the guest list! Actually!! I said to invite those you love the most. If you are inviting people you haven’t seen in a year or people your parents are pressuring you to, you need to reassess. I say this with love! Also your cousin twice removed probably wouldn’t invite you to their wedding, so why are they on your list? I had a hard rule for my invitation list: if I knew without a doubt I wouldn’t be invited to their wedding, they didn’t get an invite. This rule cut out unwanted extras, like coworkers I was on the fence about, or old friends I hadn’t seen in years. Getting your list nice and tight will mean spending less on food, drink, invites, all of it! And not everyone will say yes, so keep some people on your backup list 🙂

If you notice I decidedly left off certain things like flowers, the gown/tux, the food and music off this because truly? To me, it’s those things that make a wedding feel bougie. When you look and feeling sexy, that’s bougie. When your space feels gorgeous, that’s bougie. And when the food and drink are succulent, that’s bougie. Is there anything you felt I missed? Lay it on me!

More Magical Weddings Tips:

You’d Never Guess my Secret to Awesome Engagement Photos

How to Have a July 4th Wedding that’s Glamorous

Where in Houston to do your Engagement Session

Bougie wedding flowers at Houston arboretum in Houston Texas by Swish and Click PhotographyChristine Wright Swish + Click PhotographyLove my work? Want me to capture you and yours? Let’s talk!! It’s easy, my email address is or inquire with a form. Let’s have a heart-to-heart, get excited about the possibilities of your wedding or session and come up with a plan that is uniquely you! I want to hear from you!

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