Today’s helpful guest post comes to us from Kimberli Lowe Photography in Fort Worth, Texas. Enjoy!

When planning your wedding, budget, compromise and prioritization is the key to staying on track. No matter what kind of wedding you are planning, chances are good you have to monitor finances. Finding ways to stretch that budget means being able to fit in all of your wedding day vision without taking on a 2nd job. High profile vendors provide the best budgeting opportunities.

Considering your funds, your 3 highest priced categories are generally venue, catering, photography. Economizing without sacrificing on these 3 categories is actually easier than you might think. Start by creating a list of your top 2-3 vendors in each category and then narrowing it down. Meet them in person, whenever possible. While a portfolio might be impressive, ensure there is a great vibe between you and the vendor. Working around personality conflicts is not something you want to do on your wedding day.

Read the full post after the cut!

Narrow your list to your top 2 or 3 vendors

After you’ve found your ideal vendors, find out if they’re exhibiting at, or hosting an open house. Bridal fairs are notoriously overwhelming. Sometimes upwards of 50 vendors will be exhibiting in each category. Mobs of brides and their friends swell the aisles, and boisterous limited time offers from the vendors add frantic urgency.

Have a plan if you do attend a bridal fair. Walk in knowing which vendors you’re interested in. Take advantage of specials they are offering without worrying about impulse shopping or feeling like you have to flee. Better yet, attend an open house at a venue rather than a large bridal fair. Most will offer just one vendor in each category and smart deals to sweeten the pot. Bonus, you get to see your venue with actual people in it. An open house tends to be a much more low-key and you should get a little more time to visit with the vendors.

Find out if they need any trades

It might sound silly, but everyone needs great bridal marketing to attract great brides. Sometimes venues have new additions and need some photos taken in their new areas. Venues such as Hollow Hills in Fort Worth, add on or redecorate and need new marketing for their new areas. Most vendors are hesitant to ask couples to help them out, but if you approach them, they might have some needs and be willing to trade.

Photographers, such as myself, often offer discounts if you’re willing to model for engagement shoots at a new venue they’re interested in marketing for.  Caterer’s often are looking for great images with live people and genuine reviews. Locally, I work with many vendors putting together styled wedding shoots. Real engaged couples add a dynamic that models just can’t fully emulate (you can’t fake real love). In exchange for modeling for a styled shoot, I always offer the couple a substantial discount on my services for their real weddings.

As a bonus, the engaged couples often find one or several of their vendors throughout the shoot. Experiencing the vendors in action, it’s like taking your wedding for a test drive. Ask about programs they might have available? Are there referral programs, discounts for military, off season rates or publication discounts? While each vendor has their own policy and might not offer any, it never hurts to ask.

All Photos by Kimberli Lowe Photography

Economize your time and resources

By economize, I’m referring to ideas such as using your engagement photos for your guest book. Bringing along props to your engagement shoot and capture an image for your thank you cards, seating cards, or your invitations. Most photographers will allow a wardrobe change to ensure you have variety in the photos you send out. With a little pre-planning and a consult with your photographer, you can ensure that the photos meet your needs and look exceptional. Work with your photographer on your timeline BEFORE finalizing any other vendors. Preparation and first look photos are often a priority for brides, but only allowing yourself 30 minutes would not allow you sufficient time. Delaying the wedding to get all of the images you want, you run the risk of vendors accruing overtime.

Discussing the vision for your wedding with your photographer ahead of time ensures a more accurate timeline. Often, I find that if I help a couple nudge a few events one way or another, they actually need me for much less time than they originally thought. With a smaller photography package you can splurge on something else, like customized cocktail napkins. While weddings can get pricey, most vendors are in the business because they truly embrace being surrounded by love and want the best for each couple. Be honest with your vendors if you really want to work with them, but need help nudging your budget a little.

Kimberli Lowe is a Fort Worth Wedding Photographer who believes that each bride deserves a romantic and joyful day and images to cherish for a lifetime. She doesn’t make silly promises, just silly jokes, loves coffee, wine, Ireland and Frank Sinatra and wishes she had time to own a horse.

To learn more about Kimberli Lowe Photography, please visit her WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile.