Caili’s Top wedding priorities: Where to Save vs. Splurge

Every time I photograph a wedding I get inspiration for my own future wedding. I notice what I do and don’t like, what has the biggest impact on how enjoyable the night is, and what seems less necessary. Through wedding experience as a vendor, I developed my own wedding priorities for when I was planning my own event.

Weddings are expensive and figuring out your priorities allows you to better choose what to save vs. splurge on. I’ve split up my personal values in first, second, and third tiers.


1. The people present

The number of people you invite dictates how much food, how big the venue, how many chairs, etc. The number of people present at your wedding is the biggest determinant of how much you’ll end up spending. A smaller wedding (or even elopement) can be really stunning and intimate. However, a wedding is one of the few opportunities you have to bring together everyone you love.

Inviting everyone I truly cared about was a priority for me – even knowing that each person who attended would be an additional $___ to spend. I was willing to spend less on everything else in order to have a more-full family/friend reunion.

Garden Valley Ranch Wedding Pink Sparkly

2. I Wanted the Guests Present to Have a Good Time

This had many implications as I planned my wedding day. To name a few…

  1. Spending more on a fantastic MC/DJ instead of spending more on flowers/decor
  2. I was willing to spend a considerable chunk of money on alcohol
  3. I did a first look so I could minimize time away from guests
Casa Bella Bay Area Wedding Photography Caili Chung

3. Photography

I genuinely believe wedding photography really matters. A wedding requires a lot of planning. A wedding is the only opportunity to bring together all your most important people in one spot. Your photographer needs to be trusted to do all this justice. Your photos are the only thing you take away from your wedding (other than your spouse)!

In addition, your photographer will be right next to you for the entire day. If you don’t like your photographer as a person, having them so present may feel uncomfortable. You want to be surrounded by people who increase the joy of your wedding day.

It’s not enough to hire a talented photographer, you should hire a wedding photographer. Everything is easier with practice and experience really pays off at a wedding. A seasoned wedding photographer knows how to handle any situation and create beautiful work. Be sure to ask to see examples of photographs taken in low lighting! An experienced photographer will also know how to direct large groups. They’ll know the best places to stand for good angles. They’ll have backup gear just in case of technical difficulties. And they’ll have a plan regarding how long it takes to take the photos you want.

Weddings can be high stress and a seasoned wedding photographer will handle the pressure and still create gorgeous images.

Cinnabar Hills Wedding Rainy San Jose

4. I Wanted to Show Off Utah

Your venue sets the vibe of a large part of your wedding. That doesn’t mean it needs to be incredibly expensive, but it does mean that your venue should be chosen with care.

The right venue can make everything look gorgeous even if the smaller details are lacking. Sometimes when brides choose a less expensive venue, they require a lot of decor to spruce it up and ultimately end up with a bigger headache (and expense).

4. Something creative/unique

It can be your venue. It can be your altar arrangement. It can be some decor element. I’ve been weddings that clearly had a large budget, but I think something unique is a lot more memorable than giant flower centerpieces.

Saharai and Luis had the most incredible mountain backdrop during their ceremony

Brittany and Karl had colorful jars, spare flowers, and candles lining their venue. It was stunning and set the vibe of their chill, fun day.

Muir Beach Wedding Photography Caili Chung

The bride is Chinese & the groom was from England. They had food stations with cuisine from their various cultures (fish & chips, dim sum, etc) to celebrate their backgrounds.

Garden Valley Ranch Wedding Pink Sparkly

Allison loves dinosaurs. During her wedding she had little dinosaurs incorporated through all her decor.

Mills College Oakland Wedding Caili Chung Photography

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming! But I gotchu 😉 After going to so many events as a photographer, I’ve got plenty of recommendations and experience with everything wedding-related. Click here to learn more about the Caili Chung Photography Wedding Experience <3

For Brides


Caili’s Top wedding priorities: Where to Save vs. Splurge

share this post


get in touch!

want to learn more about working with caili?

download ,my session style guide

we will be in touch soon

thank you