Petronella Lugemwa is an international wedding and marriage proposal photographer, speaker, writer and storyteller based out of the New York area who specializes in helping multicultural couples celebrate their love in a modern way and believes that what makes you different makes you beautiful. As a wedding photographer, Petronella sees it all and has put together a list for us all about how she sees couples spending money on elements at the wedding day that really don’t ‘matter’ to guests. We’re talking about impact, priorities, and putting the money where it really matters on your wedding day.
Top ways couples spend money that doesn’t matter to guests
*1. Investing in decor that’s trendy that will “look” good for Instagram or social media but doesn't mean anything to you. *
- This list includes: attire, shoes, decor, wedding traditions like garter toss, diamond encrusted cake cutting knife engraved with your name.
- Decide why you’re doing something. Don’t do something because you feel like you’re supposed to do it. There is no “must have."
- What does it mean to you as an individual vs couple?
- Story: Sweetheart tables with all the things - initials, candlesticks, signage, florals, sparkly linens = Innate ability to tell when something is intentional.
- Guests want to see you happy. If you're doing something purely out of obligation and it doesn’t mean much to you, it’ll show in your photos & guest experience.
- Who are the most important people: family, out of town guests traveled far, grandparents, who might not be there much longer.
- How can I make the most important people feel special
2. Too much Cocktail Hour or Dessert Food
- A room overflowing with cocktail food means no one will eat dinner & cake.
- A room with too many desserts but most of your guests aren’t into dessert or because it’s a Sunday wedding, guests head out soon after speeches, so the food goes to waste.
- Think about who your guests are & when you’re having wedding - what makes sense in terms of food.
- What day & time of day - will my guests enjoy this & actually eat this?
3. Ceremony Chair cover upgrades
- Invest in comfortable, good chairs that look good on their own Most ceremony are short Ceremony chair cover takes away overall decor.
4. Favors: A grab bag filled with a hodgepodge of random favors chosen because that’s you feel like you need to put together
- 1. a. Story: I’m sorry our favors were so cheap vs expensive favors like some friend’s wedding -
- Robes & lotion & makeup
- Think about your guests
- Story: rum cake = ties back to person’s culture
- Better to have 1 intentionally curated, thoughtful favor OR nothing
5. A specific shot list of specific Pinterest images curated for “the Gram”
- Curate a list of 25 Pinterest images in 3 different locations that end up making guests waiting for hours during cocktail hour for you to show up
- Your guests won’t care that you have
- Most of my clients love the images that happen organically
- So much can’t control on day, it’s hard to say I want this specific Pinterest image
- Decide if it’s worth it to you to get ready several hours earlier or the day after the wedding
- to do a shot list of 25 Pinterest images in different locations before the wedding
6. Ambient Lighting vs Uplighting vs Upgraded Laser Lighting from DJ
- My recommendation is always continuous, clean, white or yellow lighting on the dance floor
- and colored lighting as uplighting on the sides vs on dance floor
- Opt for clean, natural light from lighting professionals = colored lighting can look cool for
- reception dancing but during first dance
- Story: couple hired lighting team who put up blue lights but her look was all white
- Make sure lighting will not overpower decor and color or theme
- Story: colored spot lighting during first dance
- Guests: the DJ & MC make the wedding celebration fun. If the entertainment isn’t great, strobe lighting isn’t going to make the wedding more fun for the guests.
7. Drone Footage
- Sounds cool but it’s only worth it if the location is spectacular or has scenery. If you’re getting married in a building or barn
- Upgrading to have 1 - 2min of drone won’t make guests go wow
- STORY: Make sure you have permission to fly a drone. Might upgrade to get a drone and
- then find out you need a permit or your location is within 10miles of an airport, so the drone won’t even go up.
8. Fancy Escort Cards
- Most are immediately looked at & thrown away
- Invest in an overall escort card display vs each card
- Use the escort cards to educate the guests about who you are, make it into a game to network with other guests or share info a charitable cause
- If it’s a fancy escort card, have the escort card do more than just find a seat
9. Luxe Stationery for Invitations for all guests
- Go all out on stationary for your family and a select key guests
- For everyone else, opt for stationery that conveys the vibe of your wedding but doesn’t have all the bells & whistles of the luxe, upgraded stationary = most guests won't notice Note that additional details like wax seal, on the stationery will cost extra shipping but it’s worth it to create a keepsake for family and yourself, maybe not for those who won’t appreciate it as much
10. Guest List
- Are the people attending your wedding important to you and your families
- Tricky subject: inviting people out of obligation could mean an awkward guest experience
- Guests can impact the vibe of the wedding & your experience of your wedding - choose wisely
Key Takeaways: What You Should Do
Create a list of all the things & then agree on the 3 things matters to you and focus on that. Be intentional about a few things
Figure out who’s coming to the wedding & create an experience caters to them vs “Gram or what supposed to do
How to make most important people feel special
What the Guest Experience about Entertainment
c. Flow of the day
d. Most important people Getting to spend time with you on dance floor
e. Have visuals that bring to life the story of your day through photography & videography
f. Hire a team armed with information about what matters to you & who will stand up for you
knowing what matters too you hired with your best
g. Invest in Your Own Planner & Designer vs Venue Coordinator
Venue coordinator is there to ensure day flows according to what’s best for the venue
“Please don’t do chair covers.” - Michelle
“Spend your money where you want, but just pick something that makes sense for you.” - Petronella
“A venue coordinator is not a planner. They are there to make sure the venue’s needs are met.” - Petronella
“I really think people should just have fun, be themselves, be authentic. You don’t have to do anything.” - Petronella
“If you’re having fun, your photos will be wonderful.” - Christy
PHONE: (415) 723-1625 Leave us a message and you might hear your voice on the show! PATREON: www.patreon.com/thebigweddingplanningpodcast