In our experienced opinion, a wedding is a day to be spent in comfort; in your paradise created by the surroundings and the people. It's not a day for donning uncomfortable clothing and doing unemotional dances in front of your entire guest list. It's THE day of all days to just DO YOU. Even though the wedding industry has done an amazing job at setting the bar super high for couples, it's like each year there's a new trend we don't understand that couples feel they need to include in their day. Consider this your permission slip to play hooky on all that.
You might be asking why I care what other people do or why I'm spending my sunny Sunday writing this blog post. It's just that so often we hear brides comment throughout their wedding day that they can't breath or sit down because the dress is too constricting. Or they're snapping at someone for tugging on the veil... they can't walk far because their shoes hurt... the bouquet is heavy. The list goes on, but I think you get the point. Same for the groom and sometimes even the parents. They're worried the guests are waiting too long and so they're trying to rush everyone. The groom is more concerned with having time to chillax with his dudes. It happens at every wedding...and I'll never understand it.
We can't stress enough to couples how truly POSSIBLE it is to have a beautiful and meaningful wedding without the pomp & circumstance. And how OKAY it really is to just do you, keep things honest and real. Guests and family will still come, they'll love you still and they'll drink your booze. It'll be amazing. We know it.
Now, don't get this wrong, as photographers we absolutely love beautiful veils, vintage cars and stiletto heels...they make awesome and interesting photographs. But we also think that your wedding day is not the time to set a stage for appearance sake. We're artists, sure, and we love making unique photography but what we REALLY love is authenticity. That's why we try to work with our couples very early in our experience with them to guide (read coax and nudge ever so sweetly) into having a day that is centered on THEM.
How can you achieve an honest and real wedding for yourself? Here are my tips as a former DIY bride, event coordinator and now, wedding photographer.
- Don't hit up Pinterest right away:
You got engaged and the first thing you probably did was go to Pinterest and start pinning like a man-person. Or...like many of us dreamers, you already had your dream wedding board. Pinterest will serve you much better if used as a tool to build the ideas you come up with on your own, as a couple. It's purpose is for inspiration but it's so overwhelmingly endless & cluttered that instead of inspiring it has the opposite affect. Next,
- List the priorities
Before talking about colors and decor or any of that stuff sit together and make a list of your top 3-4 priorities for the day. I don't necessarily mean budgetary or style priorities. Instead work out what is most important to you to experience/be in the moment for? This takes a little bit of self-awareness and looking inward at who you are individually and as a couple. From our own experience as an example; one of my priorities was to be comfortable in my dress. I don't dress up a lot and I find constricting clothing to be one of the most frustrating things ever...so I knew that a lace sleeve or beads or anything tight on my waste would take me out of the day and be a literal thorn in my side. I KNEW that wasn't going to work for me ahead of time. My dress was the most comfortable thing ever. We also wanted to put a priority on OUR moments together, because we really like hanging out just us. We didn't want to partake in too many formalities that involved being in front of everyone. So we allotted plenty of time for our first look and made our first dance right at sunset because that is our favorite part of any day, it just so happened to fit perfectly right after cocktail hour. We also stood alone at the altar even though we had a huge bridal party...and we didn't spend the hot afternoon traipsing around with them for photos either because...chaos. That's how we made the day work for us, there are a number of other changes you could make to the standard wedding ideals to make it more honest and real for you.
- Plan alone
Get the foundation down together, know how many people/budget/locations/style etc before asking any family members or friends for their opinions. Everyone will inevitably project their wedding views and opinions on to your day so you want to make sure that you KNOW what YOU want before your vision gets clouded by other people's ideas.
- Make sure it means something
If the tradition doesn't mean something to you both personally, skip it. Making sure each aspect of your wedding is meaningful will keep things not only simpler but make sure it stays authentic. Choosing venues, vendors, photo locations, style details all for personal meaning is the easiest, fastest and probably cheapest way to plan a real & honest wedding. This is not the time to head to Pinterest for ideas...instead pull out your scrapbooks and old photos...look inward not outward for inspiration.
- Just some advice
After playing a part in hundreds of weddings, we have a ton of advice...most of which is hard for people to hear.
There are a few reasons your wedding might turn out to be a far cry from what you wanted in your dreams. Maybe a wedding is important to you and you don't want all the pomp and circumstance...but someone else is paying. Or maybe you "don't have the money" for what you want so you settle for something easy. Or maybe the guest list got way out of hand because your mom invited all her work friends. Whatever it may be...it's possible, it happens.
Weddings have a heartbeat, they start taking on a life of their own from the minute the engagement seed is planted. This is the one thing you need to remember: A wedding day is important because it's the celebration of your love and marriage. It's the display of your commitment to one another and the outward gift of gratitude for the support given to you by the people in your lives. That's all it is. It doesn't need to be lavish and expensive to be that.
So many times we see the person footing the bill hijack a couple's wedding and make it more about them or the details than about the couple and that always breaks our hearts. Couples who ordinarily wouldn't have big, traditional weddings are forced into awkward celebrations with hoards of people because their parents (or whoever) is footing most of the bill wants it that way. So, our advice is simple...if you fit into that category, pay for it yourself or have a really important conversation about it well before making any plans.
If you're in the "can't afford it" boat, think outside the box. I've seen the most beautiful weddings set up in park pavilions where most of the details were free. Simple is honest but it doesn't have to be shabby. It's not in the details in this case, it's in the meaning. Keep it simple and keep it meaningful and you'll end the day with a full heart.