The universe always has a way of bringing to life that which is most meant to be at the time most supportive. Planning a wedding, are you? I’d love to share some insight that has not only come to life through planning mine and my hubby’s wedding, but also largely through documenting nearly a hundred weddings. Now, that’s some real talk. I’ve witnessed it, all. Wanna hear something crazy? My husband and I didn’t even know if we were actually going to be able to get married on our planned wedding date as my husbands visa from South Africa had been denied a year and a half before and it wasn’t guaranteed it would be approved the second time around. We did what our hearts told us to do and kept planning our weddings knowing it would unfold just as it should! His visa was approved at the beginning of November, our wedding, at the end of January, just a few months later! It’s couldn’t have been more perfect.
1. Find a venue that’s actually a venue :
Yikes, what does this really mean?!?
Well, we originally planned on getting married at an estate turned into a wedding venue. A new one at that. After signing the contract, things seemed to slow, and just didn’t feel right. The wedding was four months away and there were so many details that weren’t coming together. What happened? The universe stepped in. The couple that owned the estate took all weddings off the calendar for that year (and every year after). Yes, this meant we lost our wedding venue four months before our wedding AND it couldn’t have unfolded more beautifully!
2. Think out of the box for venues :
After losing our venue, we had to go back to the drawing board. Luckily, with having a January wedding date, being booked wasn’t too much of an issue. What was it then? We needed a venue that was relatively close to where the original one was as we had sent out the save-the-dates. Seeing as it was a winter wedding, we also needed a venue that could house us inside or outside or at least have a tent option. While at dinner at one of our local favorites restaurants, we saw a promotion for holiday parties. The light switch went off. We could buy out the rooftop deck and have our wedding there. We immediately inquired and what do you know, we had our wedding at this very place (see the vendors below).
3. Getting Ready location matters (and matters a lot for photography) :
Where are you and your partner getting ready? It really does matter as these are going to be your getting ready portraits.
Some questions to consider :
Is there ample light?
Do you like the hotel decor?
How close is your getting ready location to the venue?
Do you have enough space?
Are you a hotel or an airbnb type of soul?
Can you get ready at your venue?
4. Work closely with your photographer to get the images you desire :
Don’t be afraid to let them know exactly what you envision. After all, these are the tangible items you’ll have to share with your loved ones, future children, you name it!
Do you have a Pinterest board? Share it.
Saw a photo on instagram you loved? Save it.
Love certain aspects of your venue. Share it.
5. Ask for vendor referrals :
Before casting a huge net, ask around for local vendors. Those people you know have worked with before as it makes all the difference.
Word of mouth is truly the best kind of marketing, trust it (for both the positive and negative).
6. Do you research on your vendors :
Did you check out their reviews?
Have you witnessed pictures of their work?
Have you talked to them over the phone, facetime or in person?
Do you resonate with one another?
7. You get what you pay:
I don’t mean to be harsh as this is so very true. My husband and I paid for our wedding so I understand being on a budget all too well. There are certain areas where you can cut costs, but others not so much. Cheaper doesn’t necessarily mean better. Really think about who and what you’re booking.
For example : If florals are extremely important, don’t skimp out on your floral budget. If having a cake isn’t as important, get documents from a local donut shop. You see where I’m going?
8. Let your wedding be the perfect expression of your union, your love (I really mean this one):
Don’t feel like you have to do something just because it’s been done. Your wedding is meant to be the most perfect expression of your union, of your scared, intimate, intertwined love. With this, really think about the elements that make up your day.
For example :
Bouquet and garter toss -- Do this feel like you?
Wedding Party - Do you have souls in your life that wholeheartedly support you both?
Cake Cutting -- Do you want a cake? Maybe donuts? Do you want this to be private? For everyone to witness?
9. Slow Down:
The day truly goes so quickly. Slow down. Try your best not to over book yourself and stuff too much into the day. Create space and time to take it all in.
On the day, don’t commit to setting things up yourself, paying the vendors, welcoming guests. Let your wedding party, family and/or wedding coordinator do this!
10. Yet, timing really does matter :
Timing is so important as light, light is everything.
Some things to consider when creating your timeline :
When is sunset?
What do you want to be happening during sunset?
Where is the sun during your ceremony?
Does your arch provide enough shade and coverage for you?
11. Take a FULL GROUP PICTURE (you’ll thank me later):
Trust me on this one! It’s one of the four wedding images we have framed in our house!
It’s easy to do, either after the ceremony or before the DJ opens the dance floor (your DJ will love this idea too).
You’ll be go grateful you did. It’s the perfect little something to send with your thank-you’s!
12. Make sure there is plenty of time for romantic portraits:
After all, your wedding is about YOUR LOVE. Don’t rush your romantic portraits and be sure there is plenty of space, time and dynamic locations.
Ways to get creative to add more time for romantic portraits :
Share a first look (seeing each other before the ceremony)
First look isn’t for you, do a hold holding around your favorite tree or door.
An hour after the ceremony doesn’t feel like enough for family, full wedding party and romantic portraits? Just extend your cocktail hour to an hour and a half (as opposed to an hour).
13. Is a first look for you?
Do you want to see your partner before the ceremony?
Do you want to wait to see them walking down the aisle?
These are two very important questions to ask yourself. For each couple, the answer, is completely different.
Want to know my opinion, first looks are super supportive. Why?
You see each other way earlier on in your wedding day.
Your first time seeing each other is done so in private.
You have more time for romantic portraits.
You get to join cocktail hour instead of doing all your portraits in a short time frame.
14. How should I use/incorporate a wedding coordinator?
This, this could be a whole article in itself.
Full Planning : They help from beginning to end.
Month of Planning : They come in one month before the wedding to tie up any loose ends and bring it all home.
Day of Coordinator : Self explanatory.
We, personally didn’t have it in our budget to do full or month of planning. What was a necessity in our budget? Having a DAY OF coordinator. Please, please, please do yourself and everyone a favor and hire a day of coordinator. It will make the day go so quickly, smoothly and beautifully!
15. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it:
Did you read that correctly, if it doesn't feel right, don’t do it. Your wedding is the perfect expression of the two of you, NO ONE ELSE (sorry mom, sorry grandma, sorry bridesmaids).
16. If it feels right, do it :
Amen! If it feels right, do it. Listen to that intuition!
17. Videographer or No Videographer?
I get asked this question a lot. If I could change two things about our wedding, it would be hiring a videographer. Due to our budget, we didn’t have it in the plans. I so wish we did! Why? To hear our vows, to listen to the speeches and to watch the laughter, smiles and
dance trains from our reception.
18. Have fun throughout the planning process:
After all, this is your wedding! Have so much fun. If it’s stressing you out, commit to not taking/ planning or doing anything wedding related for certain days of the week of periods of time.
19. Don’t lose sight of the meaning behind your wedding, it’s an expression of your love :
This couldn’t be more true.
20. Use the support of your tribe:
This includes your friends, family, wedding party, vendors, social media forums, you name it!