Videographer! ...I've been bugging DH about wanting to watch our stuff again, but we've been busy. Maybe I need to pull the pregnant card.
Granted, we got a steal on ours, because we know filmmakers, but... worth it SO much. Ours actually emailed me earlier this spring for a review, because she's joining a wedding videography company, thanks to her experience with us!
Don't ever, ever, EVER try to save your money on food, you will regret it every time. While we ended up with an all-inclusive venue that was lower than expected, that was because of location/style... not the food.
For you: venue you love with an excellent staff; high quality photographer & videographer.
For guests: good food, full bar, DJ (or live musicians) that know what they are doing and will keep the party going.
We paid more for the venue/menu/beverage options daughter & SIL really wanted and all were worth every penny! Her DJ was awesome, but he was actually significantly less expensive than the area average, same with the videographers.... Comparison shop like crazy, daughter stayed in budget and LOVED every vendor, so do research and pay attention to how well you "fit" with vendors you interview -- great, customer-focused vendors are priceless!
On the "persuasion" question, we paid for 80% of the wedding (FOG paid 15% and B&G paid the remainder). The only thing FOB balked at paying for was videography -- he thought it was a waste, but daughter knew she'd regret not having it so she paid for that herself and is so glad she did.
The planner/day of coordinator (not too expensive) but worth EVERY PENNY! But really splurged on pretty rental furniture for the reception and it was also worth it, everyone loved that there were nice couches and seats to hang out on
Photography was the biggest thing for me. I didn't care about much else, I just wanted pretty pictures of us on our day. It worked out because I found a husband and wife team who did beautiful work and even when we had to downsize our guest list to 14 (due to covid) we still kept the photographers. They got pictures of everything!