As a wedding photographer, I’ve been to more weddings than I can count. Now that’s it’s time for me to plan my own wedding, I continuously get comments like, “You must know exactly what you want!” The truth is: Wedding planning is still tough for me! I can’t help but look back on all the things I’ve seen and photographed and contemplate what I really liked. Over the course of my first few weeks of planning, there are a few conclusions I’ve come to, so I figured I’d share them here:
- Budget & hire based on your priorities (and no one else’s). After getting engaged, you start to get a lot of advice and opinions from others. While everyone means well, it can be incredibly daunting to feel like you have to listen to and please everyone. You and your partner are the ones who get to call the shots here. I had so many people tell me how much they loved their wedding video and that I needed to have one. I never felt a need to hire a videographer, but then I began to think twice. Others’ advice made me question my own priorities. In the end, I’m “sticking to my guns” and using the money I could spend on a videographer on more florals and music. Write out a list of your highest priorities and then plan in that order.
- Hire PEOPLE, not things. You know that Maya Angelou quote, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”? I’ve found that this applies in wedding planning. When it comes to hiring a photographer, makeup artist, or any vendor, hire the person you like the most. There are plenty of talented vendors who can deliver a great product. However, everyone does things a little differently and the vendor’s personality will speak to the experience you will have. Hire the person you want to hang out with on the most special day of your life, rather than the price tag or the product. You won’t remember every flower in your bouquet, but you will remember the florist who went above and beyond to help you make decisions or made you feel like a movie star!
- Make a decision and move on. These days, there is no “wrong answer” when it comes to wedding planning. You can get married in a church, a field of sunflowers, or in an aquarium with sharks. Creativity is encouraged! However, this can also mean the amount of choices and the pressure to be “unique” can be overwhelming. I’ve learned that if you find something you like and feel good about, move on! I only talked to two wedding planners, but one made me feel so comfortable and confident, I didn’t think twice about signing the contract! (Shoutout to Ashley Skeie!) Don’t overthink it. Don’t feel like you need to “shop around” to ensure you’re getting the best deal. This is the best way to take the excitement of wedding planning and turn it into a cluster of stress! Just pull the trigger when it feels right!
- The people make the day. I’ve been to many weddings, and here’s a little secret: At their core, every wedding day is the same. You get ready with your closest friends and family, you put on a fancy outfit, you exchange a promise with your partner in front of family and friends, then you celebrate with a meal and a party. Ultimately, as long as those things happen, you should be happy! The bridesmaid dresses, the table settings, and the “signature cocktail” are all fun, but they are ultimately forgettable. What stands out to me at the end of each wedding is how I felt. I’ve left weddings where I can’t stop smiling on my drive home, because the dance floor was bumpin’, the couples’ families were happy and supportive, and the couple was beaming all day. THAT is what makes a difference on a wedding day. So spend more time choosing your guest list and your wedding party than your linens. The rest is just details.
- There is no wrong answer. “Traditional” can mean many things depending on your religion or your family. In this day and age, however, having a wedding that is unique is totally in style. I’ve learned that there are literally no wrong answers! As long as you and your partner are happy, the decision is right. I felt a lot of pressure initially to run my wedding similarly to others I’ve seen or follow “rules” that I’ve heard before. However, as soon as I began looking at wedding planning without restrictions, things fell into place faster. Forget the rules and just do what YOU want!
If you have any questions about wedding planning, please don’t hesitate to reach out! If you have any other advice to provide to future brides, I would love to hear it!
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