You know those people who spend their whole lives dreaming of their weddings? The ones who have everything planned out to the last detail … well before they’re actually engaged. They’ve spent years of curating Pinterest boards that will help them make their dream a reality. They believe that the day they walk down the aisle will be the biggest day of their life.
I wasn’t one of those brides.
I was the type of bride that wanted to have a nice wedding but would rather spend time planning my honeymoon. I wanted to spend my summer hiking and riding trails and camping and traveling, not drawing up seating charts or picking menus. Don’t get me wrong, I was stoked to be marrying my best friend – I just wasn’t super stoked about the process.
One of the reasons I became a wedding photographer was to help those kinds of couples – the ones that feel a little bit left out by the wedding industry. The ones who care more about having an amazing time with their friends and families in an awesome place than whether their day is the most lavish wedding ever.
I have some advice for those kinds of couples (gleaned from the trenches of the wedding industry) and reflections on my own experience as a not-super-enthused bride. And I’d like to share those with you all!
So without further ado, here is my best advice for non-traditional brides (and grooms – because we don’t discriminate!)
Figure out what YOU want.
This is the number one piece of advice I would give to any couple who is stoked to be married but not super excited about having a big, fancy wedding. There can be a lot of pressure when it comes to weddings, both real and perceived. You may feel like eloping isn’t an option even though its what you really want to do. You may think that you have to have an enormous church wedding when what you really want to do is say your vows on a ranch in the mountains. Maybe you want to wear cowboy boots but think you have to wear heals. Maybe the idea of a garter toss makes you cringe. Maybe you hate dancing in public. Maybe you want to get married on the shores of a lake in the mountains with only your nearest and dearest in attendance.
I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. Consider this your official permission to come up with the wedding of your dreams, whatever that looks like, and plan THAT. Keep the important people in your lives in mind but remember that at the end of it all this is your day and they’re going to be psyched to see you happy.
Pick the things that matter most and focus on THOSE – let the other things go.
Its so easy to get bogged down in the details of a wedding – and many of them you probably won’t remember. Eight years later I can’t tell you what we had for dinner at our wedding but I do remember that our dog was a part of it (and that she knocked over a vase when I walked down the aisle but that’s a story for another day!). I remember the reading from Oh the Places You’ll Go (because “Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way!” is pretty much the perfect description of our life) and how much fun I had with my friends and family. I don’t remember where everyone sat or what my bridesmaid’s shoes looked like. Because those things didn’t matter to me.
I’d encourage you to pick the things that matter the most – whether it’s the venue, the vibe, or that keg of beer from your favorite brewery – and focus on those. Those are the things you’ll remember and that will matter the most.
Pick your vendors wisely.
The wedding industry is pretty well saturated and there are vendors out their to match every couple’s style and vision for their day. The key is to pick those vendors wisely. If you are super laid-back and the last thing you want is for anyone to be stressed on your wedding day, don’t pick a wedding coordinator that is high stress and super into sticking to the schedule. If you want your photographer or videographer to go with the flow and be ok when things go wrong, look for that in their personality. Your vendors will play a big role in how your day goes and how it will all feel. Be sure to pick folks that match that vibe. And once you’ve found a vendor you love? Ask them to recommend others. Like attracts like and any planner/photographer/videographer/whatever worth their salt will be happy to help their clients find people they will LOVE!
Step away from Pinterest and the wedding blogs.
This isn’t going to make me super popular in the wedding blog world but I’m going to say it: If the wedding blogs are stressing you out and you’re not finding what you see super inspiring, just step away. Same goes for Pinterest. Some people love looking at this stuff (and as a wedding professional I love looking at them!) but for a lot of couples for whom planning their wedding isn’t their #1 idea of fun, these things can just cause additional anxiety. Instead, look to the things that inspire you outside of the wedding industry. Maybe its climbing mountains or playing with dogs or working in the garden. Focus on that stuff and build your day around it.
Remember the big picture.
I guess this is advice for anyone who is getting married but its especially true for those who aren’t super into wedding planning. At the end of the day what matters is that you and your future spouse and whoever you choose to be at your wedding are there celebrating one of life’s biggest commitments. Whether you plan the most beautiful wedding on the face of the earth with hundreds of your nearest and dearest, have an intimate affair on a friend’s farm, or say your vows in front of a waterfall with only an officiant and photographer to witness it, you won’t remember the details. You won’t remember what the day looked like, you’ll remember what it felt like.
So take a deep breath, friends. You’ve got this. I’m sure of it.