A Bride’s Guide to Wedding Budget

Bride's Guide to Wedding Budget

When you first get engaged, it’s all about the beautiful dress, the hunt for the perfect venue and deciding on your wedding party. The last thing you want to do is have to think about a budget. Unfortunately your budget is an important part of the wedding planning process. That’s why I created A Bride’s Guide to Wedding Budget!

A wedding budget will ensure that you’re spending wisely and that you and your fiancé don’t need to have any awkward conversations about money later on. Plus, the more you can save, the more money you’ll have for an amazing honeymoon. 

Many brides also tend to think that creating a budget means you’re never going to be able to have the wedding of your dreams. The truth is, having a budget forces you to think out the box, get more creative and stay on track at the same time. This is something that every couple is thankful for after their big day. 

A Bride’s Guide to Wedding Budget

Below are a few tips that you can use to stay on track financially as you create the budget for your wedding.

Bride's Guide to Wedding Budget

Chat about the details

Before you can start putting a budget together, you and your fiancé will need to chat about your vision for the day. Start making a note of all the expenses that you know you’ll need to factor in based on the type of wedding you’re looking to create. This includes everything from the cake and outfits to your transport and the venue. 

Once you have everything in a spreadsheet you can start deciding who is going to pay for what. Remember to include any contributions that your parents might be making too. Now that you know what your budget is, tick off the items that are a priority and mark the items that might need to take a backseat or be removed completely. Make sure that you use this spreadsheet to keep track of all of your expenses so that you can stick to your budget.  

Speak up

As you start researching and enquiring with various venues and vendors, chat to them about your budget and what options they have that would fit in with what you can afford. Ask as many questions as you need to so that you’re not signing up for something that might come with added expenses later on.

Work with a buffer

Working with a buffer is one of the best ways for you to stay on track.  Try and work with a buffer of at least 5% so that you still have some budget leftover for any last minute expenses and splurges. For example, if your wedding budget is $50 000, work on a budget of $47 500. 

Pay sooner rather than later

The sooner you can start paying venues and vendors, the better. Knowing that expenses are already taken care of can really relieve some of the planning pressure. Remember to use your spreadsheet to keep track of all payments that you’ve already made so that you know how much you’re still able to spend. 

Cash in on credit card rewards

Before you start making payments towards your wedding, try and find out about any credit card reward offers that you might be able to take advantage of. Many credit card companies offer clients points that can be exchanged for cash or vacation miles, something that will really come in handy when planning your honeymoon. 

I love getting 2% cash back on my Discover Card!! CLICK HERE to become a Discover Cardmember and get a $50 Statement Credit when you make your first purchase within three months. Then, earn rewards with every purchase after that.

Wedding Planning Checklist

8 Uses for Your Engagement Photos

Boho engagement

Booking an engagement session is also a great way for you to work with the photographer who will be shooting your wedding, it’s like getting a test run of what to expect on your big day. But, what exactly can you do with all those fabulous images? Here are 8 ways you can put your engagement photos to use.

How to Use Your Engagement Photos

1. Save the Dates

One of the most popular reasons to have engagement photos done is to use them for save the date cards. You can get really creative with different props to let people know when your big day is approaching.

2. Invitations

If you are skipping the save the date card and just sending our invitations you can use your engagement photos for that as well. There are many different components to a wedding invitation from the actual invitations, RSVP, menu cards, directions and hotel accommodations lists to the stamps, envelopes, and address labels. There are many places you can use your professional engagement pictures to give your wedding invitations a more personal touch.

3. Guest Book

Creating a customized guest book is a great way to display your engagement photos. You can keep your guest book simple with just an image on the cover with blank pages for guests to sign or you can make it a little more personal. Some couples have included a few pages in the sign in book that lets their guests know how they met, fell in love and end up saying ‘I Do”.

4. Photos for Your Home

There is no better way to start the new life you will be sharing than decorating your new home with your photos. Having your engagement images hanging on the walls in frames around your home is the perfect way to remember the special bond you two share.

5. Displaying at Your Wedding

There are many ways you can use your engagement photos to decorate your reception venue. You can have large prints made to line the walls of your venue or have a few framed and allow your guest to sign it.

6. Photo Montage for Reception or Rehearsal Dinner

Having a sideshow playing as your guests enter the reception area or even to show at your rehearsal dinner is a great way to get your guest talking and adds a little sentimental value. Why wouldn’t you include a few of your engagement photos in it?

7. Party Favor/Gift for Guests

Key chains, postcards, and t-shirts even can all be made with your image on them. You’ll want your guests to take home something special to remember your wedding day by. Even if getting a coffee mug isn’t something you think your guests would appreciate, you can still have little escort cards personalized with your engagement photo.

8. Social Media Images

The best way to use your engagement photos is to have them as your profile pictures on your social media accounts. What better way to not only show off your stunning images but to also let everyone know you two will be tying the knot!

Wedding Planning and COVID-19

Old Union Baptist Church Wedding

We are in this together!

So much has changed so quickly in our wold and nation in the last week. Wedding planning and COVID-19 has produced so many questions and uncertainty as we are encouraged not to gather in groups of 10 or more and to practice social distancing.

The world as we know it has changed. And spring weddings have been impacted. I have been on the phone with several brides this week rescheduling all the March, April and early May weddings I had booked. My heart breaks for every couple who is faced with postponing the big event they have been planning and looking forward to for so long!

Our Biblical Response to COVID-19

While our church and ministry have suspended all larger gatherings in cooperation with government requests, we are continuing to observe our Biblical Response to COVID-19 by checking on our neighbors and meeting needs as we are able. This will not change.

Staying Informed

As so much false information circulates on social media, it has become more important than ever to stay informed through reliable sources. We are keeping up with Fox News and the Mississippi State Department of Health for reliable information as the virus progresses.

Wedding Planning and COVID-19

As we navigate this together, I wanted to share a few tips:

Communicate with your wedding vendors

Communication is KEY as plans are changing rapidly! If you need to adjust your plans, or even reschedule all together, it is important to maintain clear communication with all of your wedding vendors. Make sure your vendors send you contract addendums to confirm and clarify all changes.

Communicate with your wedding guests

Do you have a wedding website? FaceBook Group? Or email list? If not, then now is the time to set it up. You can create a FREE Wedding Website using one of the beautiful templates on Minted. This is a great way to keep wedding guests up to date on your changing plans.

Offer virtual attendance to your guests

Do your new wedding plans include keeping your upcoming wedding date, but having a small family only ceremony? Include your guest via the web! FaceBook Live and YouTube Live are two options to provide guests a way to attend your wedding virtually!


As we enter uncharted territory, my encouragement to each of us is to pray without ceasing. God does not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Do not allow fear or worry to dominate your thoughts and decisions! Take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2).

Download our free Psalm 91 NLT printable to post in your home and declare over yourself, your family and community! Let’s pray without ceasing and see this virus defeated in Jesus’ Name!

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National Day of Prayer

Proclamation on the National Day of Prayer for all Americans Affected by the Coronavirus Pandemic and for our National Response Efforts

In our times of greatest need, Americans have always turned to prayer to help guide us through trials and periods of uncertainty.  As we continue to face the unique challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans are unable to gather in their churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship.  But in this time we must not cease asking God for added wisdom, comfort, and strength, and we must especially pray for those who have suffered harm or who have lost loved ones.  I ask you to join me in a day of prayer for all people who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and to pray for God’s healing hand to be placed on the people of our Nation.

As your President, I ask you to pray for the health and well-being of your fellow Americans and to remember that no problem is too big for God to handle.  We should all take to heart the holy words found in 1 Peter 5:7:  “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.”  Let us pray that all those affected by the virus will feel the presence of our Lord’s protection and love during this time.  With God’s help, we will overcome this threat.

I am not one to get into political debates EVER.

That said, I am THANKFUL that we have a president who calls us to PRAY and even quotes BIBLE during this time of national emergency. Please join us in this National Day of Prayer!

Today we are honoring the request of our President and Mississippi State Governor by worshipping from home.

Romans 13:1

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Click here to read more about Meridith Lee Photography’s Coronavirus Action Plan.

Coronavirus Action Plan!

Open letter to current and future MLP brides & grooms concerning our Coronavirus Action Plan!

I hope planning your wedding has been going smoothly! I wanted to check in and see how you are doing in light of the recent coronavirus outbreak updates. I know how stressful wedding planning can be, and this certainly doesn’t help!

I want to assure you that I have every intention of fulfilling my role at your wedding and that my business and I are prepared. I am declaring Psalm 91 over my family, my couples, and all your wedding guests! I am also staying updated on the latest information from the CDC, the WHO and local and state authorities; acting responsibly by avoiding travel to outbreak hotspots; practicing social distancing by holding most meetings online instead of in person; swapping hugs for a friendly wave; and, last but not least, practicing good hand hygiene. 

I also wanted to let you know that I am part of a network of very talented and like-minded photographers who have agreed to cover one another in case of emergencies. If one of us is diagnosed with coronavirus, we will all work together to make sure that person’s brides and grooms are served with the same level of love and professionalism on their wedding day!

As an added resource, here is a link to a FREE PDF file by Ciarra Claire Fine Art that can be sent digitally to your wedding guests to address the current situation. With lots of prayer and a good plan in place I am confident that your wedding day will be the special day you have always dreamed of!

I’d love to know how you’re feeling about the situation. Are there any questions or concerns about your event I can help address? Please share in the comments below and let’s pray through this together!

Click here to download a free downloadable printable of Psalm 91.

12 Must Have Wedding Detail Shots

Mississippi Wedding details

The dress, the flowers, the bridal party and all the decorations, there are a lot of things you’ll want to remember and reminisce on from your wedding day. While some of these details may be obvious there are others that you might not have thought about, This list will give you some ideas of the must have shots you’ll want to look back on for years to come.

Capture These on Your Wedding Day

1. Dress

While there will be plenty of shots of you in your wedding dress, and you have probably snapped hundreds on your phone, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to have a beautiful shot of your dress hanging in the morning sunlight before you put it on.

2. Rings

You’ll want your photographer to use their creative skills to take beautiful images of your wedding rings bands.

3. Shoes

Your shoes may not get as much attention as they deserve on your wedding day, but they really bring your whole look together. You’ll want to have the details of your shoes captured as well.

4. Special Mementos

Whether it’s a necklace, earrings or a special charm wrapped around your wedding bouquet to remember a loved one, these little mementos are something you’ll want to have documented.

5. Getting Ready

From getting your hair done, having your makeup done to being zipped and buttoned into your dress, the getting ready shots are some of the most fun and sentimental shots you won’t want to miss.

6. Notes and Gifts

Most brides and grooms exchange little love notes or gifts the morning of the wedding and the moment you read these sweet notes are definitely ones you will want to cherish and remember.

7. Bride Glamour Shot

Once your hair and makeup is perfectly done and you are dressed and ready for your walk down the aisle, you’ll want to take a few moments to get some of those high fashion styled shots of just you.

8. First Look

There is nothing quite like the expression your soon-to-be spouse gives when they see you for the first time all done up in your wedding attire. While in the past this was left for the big moment when the bride walks down the aisle, a first look can really enhance this moment. The first look allows you to see each other for the first time without having to keep your composure in front of all your guests. It allows you to get a genuine and natural reaction to seeing each other and can result in incredibly beautiful moments you won’t want to miss.

9. Children

The flower girls, the ring bearer or just some of the adorably dressed children of the guests attending your wedding will make for sweet images that will bring a smile to your face.

10. Reception Details

There are a lot of things that you’ll want to have pictures of at your reception site. You’ll want to allow your photographer to get into the reception prior to your guests arriving so they can capture the table settings, escort cards, guest books and more untouched.

11. Speeches

Not only will you want pictures of the person giving the speech but you will also want your reactions and your guests’ reactions to the speeches.

12. Farewell

There are so many ways to capture your departure and this is one thing you don’t want to leave out. Whether you are running out the door with your guest throwing flower petals or lighting sparklers you’ll want to have your farewell captured to remember how you ended your big day.

5 Simple Poses that Every Bride Should Try

Mississippi Winter Wedding

Even though your wedding photographer will guide you every step of the way, it doesn’t hurt to know a few tricks yourself.

Place your hands on your hips.

This is quite a common pose but it works wonders for your body. Keep your toes together and turned at a forty-five degree angle with a pop in the font knee. Place your corresponding hand on your hip. Slightly angle your body towards the camera for that slimming effect. It’s important to make it look natural though.

Get to know your better side.

Spend some time in front of the mirror and discover which side of your face is the better side. We all have one. Take a few selfies with your phone to see the results for yourself.

Sitting pretty.

How you sit makes a huge difference to your photos too. One of the best poses is when you cross your legs at the ankle. For an extra slimming effect, ever so slightly draw your arms and shoulders inwards.

Lighting matters.

Soft lights and natural lighting are the best for hiding any minor imperfections. Make sure that the room you’re getting ready in doesn’t have any harsh lighting and ensure that you won’t be sitting under any bright lights during the reception.

Angles make a difference.

When it comes to your portraits, the shots should always be taken at eye-level or from above. Low angles will give you that dreaded double chin effect so avoid taking photos at that level. If you would like to look taller in your photos, try and stay away from tall objects or very tall people, it really does make a huge difference.

5 Tips to Memorable Wedding Favors

Wedding Favors

Wedding favors are a great way to show your guests you appreciate their support and to give them something to remember the wedding day by, but often these tokens get left behind or tossed the morning after. To guarantee your gifts get noticed (and appreciated), follow these tips on picking out the perfect favors.

Think practically

Like any good gift, you’ll want to put some thought into your selection. Before you dish out the cash take a moment to reflect—is this something you would want? You don’t want your favor to collect dust or—worse yet—end up in the trash, so consider something that’s practical or even edible.  Edible favors are a fail-safe option guests can enjoy at the reception or on their way home. Among those in the “something useful” category are locally roasted coffee, luggage tags or acrylic frames for the photo booth pictures taken at your reception.

Skip the monogram

Resist the urge to put your initials and wedding date on everything. Personalizing the favors is a fast way to turn a useful gift into something guests will pass on. For example, guests who enjoy entertaining would find coasters handy, but no one (excluding your mother) will want to display coasters featuring your engagement photo. The one exception to skipping the monogram is packaging.  It’s totally fine to put your personal touch on the boxes, bags, ribbons or labels. It’ll make for a pretty presentation, but won’t put off your guests.

Make it meaningful.

Choose favors that express your personalities, speak to the wedding’s setting or share something you love with your guests. Are you both into wine? Mini wine bottles with personalized labels will go over big. Share a piece of your unique heritage by giving out tins of cookies or pastries with a family recipe attached. You could even make a donation to a cause close to your heart in lieu of traditional favors. Let guests know of the donation by placing a note at each place setting or table.

Try before you buy.

Once you’ve decided on your favors, do a trial run (especially if you’re buying them online). Order a sample before you hit “buy now” and end up with 100 favors you hate—you want to make sure the truffles taste good or the handcrafted soaps are the right scent. Even if you’re just purchasing personalized tags or packaging to wrap homemade gifts, ask to see a proof to make sure everything is spelled correctly. Order favors one month before the wedding to allow yourself time to assemble, if necessary.

Wrap it up.

Personalized packaging can go a long way when it comes to these tiny tokens. From colorful boxes and clear cellophane bags to tiny tin pails and slim silver canisters, your favor packaging can, and should, make as much of an impact as what’s inside it. Remember, edible favors require special packaging. Paper bags or boxes can quickly absorb the grease of cookies or custom popcorn (leaving you with an unsightly favor box). Line the container with wax paper before adding any edible goodies to keep grease from leaking through.

Top Tips for Planning Your Reception Tables

Disney Inspired Wedding at Old Waverly

Your reception tables will play a big role in the overall atmosphere of your wedding day. There are various shapes and sizes for you to choose from, each option adding a unique touch to your reception area. The shape and size that you choose will depend on your specific wedding style and the space that you’ve chosen to have your reception in. 

Here are the options that you have available to you. 

Square or Rectangle Tables

These shapes are best for events that are taking place in unconventional areas such as under a tent or on a lawn and are a great way to create borders in your reception area. This doesn’t mean that you need to line them up perfectly either. Square or rectangle tables can be placed at different angles to create a unique look and feel. If you will be using this table shape, be sure to use an even number of chairs and quality linens to soften any edges. 

Round Tables

Round tables are used most often for events because they work in just about any space. If you do want to make things more interesting though, try using a few tables of different sizes. Beautiful chairs, cutlery, linens, and flowers can really bring these classic tables to life. 

Banquet Tables.

Since banquet tables are longer, they generally work well in larger reception areas. Banquet tables work well when organized in U or L shapes but you could also place them in rows.  Using décor of different heights and sizes helps break these larger tables up; candle holders and vases being some examples. Use runners of different textures or square plates to add some character to the tables. 

Remember that while you need to choose the right table for your unique space, the tables act as a base for your reception area and can be used to create any style and atmosphere you want on your wedding day. 

The 3 Most Important Questions to Ask Your Wedding Photographer

Your photographer will be capturing all the special moments throughout your wedding day, the photos that you’ll be looking back on for years to come.

To give you some added peace of mind and to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible when it comes to your wedding photos, here are the most important questions to ask your photographer before your big day.

Will you be bringing an assistant or second photographer with you?

There are so many special moments that happen during your wedding day that a second photographer is always a great idea if one is available. If your photographer will be bringing someone along, find out how long they have been working together and ask to see a few of the second photographer’s shots to make sure that you are happy with their style and abilities as well.

What happens if you can’t make it to the wedding? 

This is not something that a lot of brides remember to ask their photographer. If your photographer gets ill or there’s a family emergency, what plan do they have in place to ensure that you still get photos on your wedding day? If they have a backup photographer lined up, you should find out as much as possible about them to make sure that their style is still in line with what you’re looking for. It’s also best to find out about any extra fees that you might need to pay if you end up using the backup photographer.  

Do you have any backup equipment? 

This is extremely important because as much as you would like to rely on technology, things can go wrong. Make sure that your photographer not only has a backup camera but multiple lenses and flashes too. 

Never be reluctant to ask your photographer any questions that you think are important. This is a day you have put a lot of time and effort into so it’s only natural to want to feel at-ease as your wedding day gets closer.