Katie and the Wedding Personality

As a child, I grew up next-door to Katie, playing dress-up and telling stories. In high school, Katie’s family moved, which was sad for us, but both of us were glad that she would still attend the same school. Moving 10 minutes away, however, changed Katie’s life forever. There in the rural outskirts of town, she met Jacob. Jacob was a year ahead in school, and wasn’t connected with the same circles as Katie, which meant they never had reason to know each other previously. As neighbors though, he noticed her quickly, and made an effort to ask her out on dates. Jacob graduated and served voluntarily as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The pair wrote each other diligently for two years and each kept a stack of letters from the other.

Now, four years later from first meeting each other, and all grown up now, Katie and Jacob have decided to spend the rest of their lives together. They were married in Provo, Utah on April 21, 2016. She was a beautiful bride, glowing in her mother’s white bridal gown.

I felt so happkatie and jacoby and privileged to help make their day possible, even in the smallest of ways, by setting up the reception. One of the highlights for me as an amateur wedding planner was unboxing the decorations and feeling like I was unboxing a little of Katie’s personality.

Katie is a horticulture major, and has always loved plants. She chose to highlight that passion in her reception décor with ferns, pinecones, acorns, tree cookies, and white lilacs. Katie has also always been a reader and loved to write, so choosing the event room at the local library was a perfect choice in venue.

 

 

 

As we set up the trees, birch arch, photos and centerpieces, I was overwhelmed by how lovely it all was – and it was because I knew it was Katie’s wedding. Not her mother’s. Not her aunt’s. Hers. This is an essential principle that every bride needs to understand, accept and embrace as they plan their wedding. Your wedding should reflect who you are as a couple.

Arizona Foothills Magazine put it very well: “Wedding planning can be such a whirlwind of venues, dresses, flowers, and food that you can forget to incorporate one of the most important details- YOU, darling! Integrating your personality as a couple into the details of your wedding is essential and it can be more than just choosing your favorite colors and favorite food. When your wedding reflects who you are not only will you enjoy your wedding more, but so will your guests.”

There is an endless sea of wedding inspiration on Pinterest, blogs, and bridal magazines and with so many ideas, it can be really hard to define what you want your wedding to look like. Julianne Hough, famous for her roles as a professional dancer and actress also writes a personal blog, and she also expressed the overwhelming decision she faced even before getting engaged about what style she wanted to express on her wedding day. She used a mood board to define each of these styles, a method that many brides can benefit from. (This is the site she refers to for more information about mood boards) See her blog post here.

But it’s not only about deciding who you want to portray or what style of dress you want to wear. It’s about bringing in the little details that make a day special. Repetition of small details can be what completes an experience. Why do you think Disney Theme Parks use “hidden” (aka “subliminal”) Mickeys?

PopSugar talked with celebrity wedding planner Mindy Weiss “about ways to add some personality to your big day.” She shared her expert advice to make your wedding “unmistakably ‘you.'” Before a brief summary of some of PopSugar and Weiss’ tips, keep this in mind: “When infusing you and your partner’s personality into the wedding, ask yourself: what is something about the two of you that people would recognize as soon as they walk into the room — that would make them go, ‘Oh, this is definitely fill-in-the-blank’s wedding’?”

  1. Your venue – whether it’s a sentimental location to you as a couple (the place of your first date, etc.) or if the event itself can reflect the setting and culture of another place important to you, places mean a lot and can hold a lot of sentimental value that typify you as a person and as a couple.
  2. Include hobbies, careers and passions that each of you have. Whether you’re sports fanatics or book worms, there are ways to incorporate the things that are important in your everyday life.
  3. Themes and details from a favorite book, television show, or movie can add personality to your wedding that will make your guests smile knowingly.
  4. “Pick wedding traditions that are unique to your and your partner’s cultures and history, and ditch traditions you don’t feel connected to.” If you don’t want to stand in a receiving line, don’t! If it’s important to wear another color besides white in your cultural heritage, don’t be afraid to wear something bold. Be creative and true to yourselves.
  5. Ask your friends what they did to personalize their weddings and take note when you attend weddings about what from their personalities they were able to communicate through the details.

I know I took note when I helped with Katie’s reception. It can be so motivating and inspiring to plan a wedding when it includes things you love personally for yourself, your fiancée, or your family. Design it for you, not social obligations.

Looking back on that special day now, Katie is so glad that she did her best to not stress about tradition and people’s expectations. The most important thing for her was to be surrounded by what she loved most in this world. In the end, it’s not about what others say, this day should be about love; that applies to the design of the event, who is chosen to be there, and the couple. A wedding is not just a hallmark for the extended family, but as a couple promises to love each other forever, a new family is created. This is greater than any social traditions or expectations.

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Halley’s Story & The Importance of a Day-of Coordinator

halleybrideAs a young woman, Halley decided on a whim that she wanted to study abroad the second semester of her junior year in college.

“It seemed that all of my friends were either going abroad or had some big plan, and I wanted in on the action. It was down to two choices, the University of Helsinki in Finland and the University of Limerick in Ireland. The day I went to the study abroad advisor’s office to give my answer, I hadn’t a clue which I would choose. When the advisor asked, I answered, ‘Ireland.’ It felt like the right answer, so I stuck with it. I’d always loved everything Irish and felt like it just made sense.”

When Halley moved to Ireland, she met Eoin at church. Eoin made it clear from very early on how he felt about Halley. There was a “to-and-fro” relationship between the two while Halley was Ireland, which ended after Halley returned to the United States to continue her studies and have further adventures independently.

However, “Even when we weren’t together [Eoin] made sure to let me know that he was there for me, no matter what turns our relationship took. It took me a little longer to realise how much I really loved him, and he definitely helped his case by keeping himself in my life, no matter how small. Sometimes the end is really the end. In our case, the answer was, ‘Just wait a little while.'” 

halleyandeoin2Eoin and Halley decided to get married on August 10, 2012. Their first priority was to be married in Kansas City, Missouri, near Halley’s hometown. “The second thing we knew was we wanted to make it a relaxed but fun affair. Kind of a BBQ, but better dressed. We definitely accomplished that. We had our reception at a beautiful hall near my favorite lake. We danced and chatted, and ate our weight in cake and watermelon. I remember my feet hurting like mad by the end of the night and Eoin carrying my shoes for me; looking after me from the very start.”

Getting married over such a great distance offered it’s fair share of challenges. Eoin was 4,000 miles away until 4 or 5 days before the wedding. Halley had to find and purchase new attire for the groom and groomsman last minute because of a big jump in temperature in Missouri right before the wedding; a big curveball for a bride with little to no experience in menswear.

But in retrospect, the biggest thing Halley would do differently would be not to rely so much on family and friends to pull off the day. “It was great knowing we had so many people who loved us and wanted to do what they could to help pull off the day. But the morning of the wedding I ended up getting ready on my own as my parents, siblings, and best friends were all at the hall or working on the cake. It would have been nice if they had been able to sit back and enjoy the day as well rather than worry about tablecloths or food prep.”

Though I typically am an advocate for using your resources and connections, this should never over-balance the importance of hiring professionals – especially a day-of wedding coordinator.

Every Last Detail and Here Comes the Guide are both wedding blogs that offer detailed reasons why you should hire a professional instead of a friend. Both had similar notions:

  1. A professional has experience facing the pressures of this important day. They’ve planned for contingencies and won’t require the same level of direction as your friends or family would in the chaos of the day.
  2. Their focus is on your needs and their job. Here Comes the Guide says, “You can tell them what to do and they’ll carry out your directives. Friends and relatives are also guests, and might neglect their ‘job.’ Plus, working with a professional is a straightforward business arrangement, while working with friends and family can lead to awkward situations and damaged relationships.”
  3. You get what you pay for. Though you may save money by asking a friend, the quality of a professional’s work is undeniable. They have better equipment, training, and experience that all work together to deliver the best results. It’s the difference between Cousin Violet making the cake the morning of, only for it to sink and melt, or the professional baker who spends days preparing to deliver a masterpiece that is tasty to both the eye and the tastebuds.

One of the most invaluable professionals you could invest in, especially with Halley’s story in mind, is the day-of coordinator. The Huffington Post offered this insight:

“An often poorly understood concept, the day-of coordinator can be a lifesaver for couples who don’t have the budget for a full-service planner; couples who thought they could do it all alone and then realize, close to the wedding, that they were wrong; and couples who actually manage to plan it all alone, but then wisely realize that they shouldn’t leave the day-of nitty-gritty in the hands of their mother or maid of honor. Remember, your family and friends are your guests too, and you want them to be able to relax and enjoy your wedding.”

The Huffington Post interviewed seasoned planner Fallon Carter to discuss what a day-of coordinator is, and what to expect when working with one.

“We coordinate the logistics of your wedding day to make sure that everything that you have spent months planning runs exactly how you envisioned. From the arrival times of the florist, limo pickup and drop offs to packing all your gifts and goodies at the end of the night, the day-of coordinator will take care of it all.”

This means that having a wedding coordinator the day-of will free up the bride, her friends and family from the stressful responsibilities that limit the time they have to be truly present with each other on such a special day. A day-of wedding coordinator will reduce stress, offer professional leadership in the execution of individual vendors and the overall design of the event, and will be able to think of and focus on details that may have been forgotten.

In telling your love story, I hope you remember the people you were with on your wedding day, not the stress of last-minute coordination. That’s a professional’s job – not the bride’s.

Thanks to Halley and Eoin for sharing their story, and may there be many more happy years to come for them both.

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So You Want Photos from Your Wedding

A little over a year ago, I was sitting down at a friend’s house, happily looking through old photo albums, admiring how beautiful she was as a bride. But as we looked through the photos of her wedding day, we noticed they were few in number, and not professional-quality. This is her story:

“The reason I don’t have the pictures I want is down to my own lack of wedding planning know-how. My photographer was a friend – who didn’t want to actually do the job because it is such a high pressure event – in that, you have to get it right for the bride and groom. She was right – I should have hired a professional. I should have not penny pinched so much. I shouldn’t have worried about guests so much, and should have concentrated on making our day special for us! I should have listened to the world less (the world telling me that ‘this is your day,’ when in fact it should have been our day) – it didn’t help that my groom didn’t care how it all happened.”

There are generations of stories about love, weddings, and wedding missteps. Every couple has a story, whether it is present, past or future. There is something to learn from every couple’s story. There are key things that every prospective bride and groom can learn from my friend’s experience:

  • Of all the elements of a wedding, photos last the longest.
  • Don’t sacrifice time taking photos for your guests’ benefit.
  • The cost-benefit ratio still favors a professional wedding photographer.

 

A picture is worth a thousand words is the time-old adage, and no bride and groom should forget it. Years from now, photos will be one of the only mementos from the most special day of your life. Pablo Picasso once said, “Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.” Though Picasso was a painter, the art of photography delivers the same promise. Photos can metaphorically transport you back to that day, and sometimes, on the hardest of days (or the best of days) you’ll want to be able to relive those emotions you experienced. That’s why so many couples and professionals will tell you that wedding photography should be a major priority in your planning.

 

A professional photographer is key to capturing some of the best snapshots of your big day. Brady Puryear, a professional photographer said,

“Over the years I have come to learn something about wedding photography which is that when the client is paired with the right photographer the photos come out AMAZING, but when the vision of the bride and the style of the photographer don’t match up, nobody gets what they really wanted.”

Photographers shoot in a variety of styles, and what style a photographer prefers can be one of the defining attributes in choosing your photographer. Styles are typically described as traditional, editorial, or photojournalistic, as Puryear explains on his blog

Your Perfect Wedding Photographer is a website that has a plethora of information about photographers, advice for couples planning a wedding, and real-life weddings and photography. They featured an article that outlines “How to Choose Your Wedding Photographer in 8 Easy Steps”, which may be a resource for you to further explore how to go about making this important decision, as they explain principles like experience, consistency, testimonials and trust.

 

I emphasized the importance of a professional photographer first because it is the wisest, safest, and typically best-quality option for weddings. However, the rise of social media has offered new ideas on how your guests can interact with your wedding by using the amateur photography skills they use everyday. Here are just a few ideas:

The Wedding #Hashtag – Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook all are #hashtag enabled. Instagram in particular is built for photo collection using your smartphone camera. By creating your own #weddinghashtag (ex: #EricAriel2016) and inviting friends and family to post candid snapshots on their Instagram accounts with the #hashtag, you can easily collect photos that a photographer may not get the chance to capture.

These Instagram posts with your special #hashtag can be transferred to a Dropbox file here.

Social Print Studio will print your Instagram photos into a calendar, a book, or displayable prints.

There are also private smartphone apps like Wedding Party that can connect the couple with their guests, including any photos that guests take on the day of.

Another popular idea is to provide your guests with a polaroid or disposable camera. Polaroid photos pasted into a blank album have become a popular alternative to a guest book, and a disposable camera is an affordable option that can easily be developed after the wedding.

 

No matter what your approach to wedding photography is, remember, it’s all about telling YOUR story as a couple in a way that you’ll remember fondly for generations to come.

 

I hope you’ve found some creative ideas here. Don’t hesitate to subscribe, comment, and share! Happy Wedding Planning!