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Wedding Planning for Millennials

Natural, Traditional or Hip and New?

By now, you get that this is your wedding and you need to consider your own hopes, thoughts and dreams first. The look and feel of your wedding should speak to who you are and let everyone in on your personality traits, sensibilities and uniqueness.

This is a time to really let your inner self come out, shed any limiting beliefs you may have had about what a wedding should be, and create the look and feel that feels right to you. In other words, it’s time to have YOUR wedding, not A wedding.

The Natural Wedding

A natural wedding may refer to the venue you choose, the accessories and decorations, or both. We typically think of a natural wedding as being outdoors.

Some of the features that can be included in a natural wedding include:

  • A rustic outdoor bar

  • Elevated hanging lanterns

  • Rustic ceremony arch

  • Simple, natural table settings

  • Chalkboard menus or escort card display

The Traditional Wedding

If you are a traditionalist at heart, you’ll have some tried and true guidelines to follow when planning your wedding. Some of the features of a traditional wedding include:

  • A church as the ceremony venue

  • A hall or ballroom as the reception venue

  • Assigned seating at the wedding and reception

  • Traditional wedding photos

  • Clean and luxurious décor

  • Elegant wedding invitations

  • Neat, one-color flower arrangements and bouquets

The Hip Wedding

If you are the type to let your quirky nature shine through and want that to spill over into your wedding, then you are basically just limited to your own imagination. When you think hip and new, your guests are sure to be entertained and you will feel at ease knowing you remained true to your own personality. Here are fun ideas to include in a hip wedding:

  • Multi color bouquets

  • Quirky wedding transportation like school buses

  • Personalized cake pops for escort cards

  • Customized welcome bags

  • Photo booth for guest

  • Creative lighting at your venue

  • Unusual, non-traditional wedding music

Keep in mind; you can also combine elements from each of these types of weddings to create a look and feel that are truly unique. You may get a few raised eyebrows or a question or two from family and friends, but it’s your day so go all out and really make it about you!

Important Tips for Your Interfaith Wedding

One of the most sensitive situations that can develop when planning a wedding is when the bride and groom belong to different religious faiths. Naturally, different faiths means different customs and traditions, and it’s common for one person to feel they are being slighted or have to make concessions to accommodate the other.

And that says nothing about the families getting involved. Some interfaith weddings can result in pure anarchy once family members and close friends begin injecting their opinions. Luckily, it’s possible to have a perfectly wonderful interfaith wedding that’s about love and connection and no one needs to feel like they have had to sacrifice their ideals.

One Ceremony or Two?

Perhaps the easiest way to solve any issues is to just have two ceremonies. It’s a great way to honor both faiths and may even help bring the families together. You can hold both ceremonies on the same day or on different days whichever works best for you and your partner.

Communicate Openly

Open communication between you and your partner is the key ingredient to making an interfaith wedding work. Be open and honest and make all your feelings known, so you can work through them together and come to an understanding that works for everyone.

Plan for a Longer Engagement

Sometimes, extending the length of your engagement to a year or even longer will give you the time to get all the kinks worked out without any unwanted stress. Take the time to closely examine the role religion will play in your wedding and come up with compromises on both sides that will make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Be Open to Education

Both you and your families need to become educated on the other’s faith and culture. Participate openly and willingly and make an effort to understand, so your spouse-to-be will feel as though you truly care about what is important to them. Learning as much as possible will also help the ceremony flow and go off without issue.

The Key Is an Open Mind

No one said that having an interfaith wedding wouldn’t require work, but it’s work that is well worth it when you consider the reward. We don’t all have to agree on everything, but your wedding is about love and connection, so with an open mind you can make it through any barriers and join together the way you’ve always imagined.

As soon as you start feeling even the slightest twinge of anxiety about the idea of an interfaith wedding, keep in mind that many have pulled it off successfully before you, and it’s just up to the people involved to make it happen. As long as you maintain the theme of love, everything will work out fine.

How to Mentally Prepare for Your Wedding…

If you’re like most savvy brides-to-be, you know precisely how you want your big day to unfold. And while “magic” should always be the ultimate goal, the journey from that first vision to the wedding day can be fraught with hiccups, pitfalls and stressful situations.

The weeks leading up to your wedding day will be filled appointments with various vendors, you will be finalizing the details of your wedding timeline with your photographer, your DJ will want songs such as your entrance song, your first dance songs your father and daughter dance, your Limo is going to want to confirm the locations and times they will be picking you up and dropping you off.

Even the day itself can be emotionally draining and take away from the overall experience, if you aren’t mentally prepared for what’s to come.

Take a look at some of the things mentally strong brides do to keep calm to enjoy their wedding day.

Visualize Success

When you visualize an event or activity going off without a hitch, it helps to program your nervous system and will help you be strong mentally as the day approaches. For at least 10 – 20 minutes per day, visualize every aspect of your wedding taking place exactly how you want it to go, and feel the emotion you want to feel, as if it is actually happening.

Take Care of Your Body

To stay mentally strong, you can’t ignore the intrinsic connection between body and mind. In the weeks leading up to your wedding, make it a priority to move your body regularly, take in proper nutrition and get enough rest every night. Things like sleep deprivation and poor nutrition can whittle away at your mental reserves and wear you down, so honor your body and do right by it during the wedding planning process.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Micromanaging all or even several aspects of your wedding can and will lead to undue stress that will affect your mental state on the big day. Mentally strong brides know when to pick their battles. Don’t sweat the stuff that won’t affect the quality of your wedding.

Outsource Where Applicable

You don’t need to hand over all the duties of your wedding planning to professionals, but it will help to keep you emotionally strong if you outsource some of the tasks. Ideally, determine which tasks you feel will cause the most stress, then outsource to a professional or delegate to members of your bridal party, relatives, etc.

Eyes on the Prize

It’s important not to lose sight of your wedding goals as the day approaches. And that doesn’t mean turning into Bridezilla. It just means to keep your goals in mind, check in regularly to see that you are taking actions to accomplish them and make adjustments when needed. Following the other tips in this email will help.

Keeping Your Day Simple

You may not think the KISS principle of ‘keep it simple, stupid’ would apply to your wedding. After all, isn’t this the one day where you get to be as extravagant and elaborate as you want? The answer is yes, this is that day, but it doesn’t mean you need to make the day’s events overly complex.

In fact, keeping it simple will allow you to enjoy your wedding day in ways you likely haven’t considered, and will keep your stress levels at a minimum. Most brides find that their wedding day goes by much faster than they had anticipated, and those who do opt for simplicity are usually happy the did.

Along with hiring a wedding planner, here are some ways you can simplify your wedding day:

Plan your wedding day as early as possible

By having a basic structure of your wedding day nailed down as early as possible you can then work out many of the kinks in your wedding day before they happen.

Example: Many of the weddings we photograph have some form of party bus, due to the large bridal parties. A vehicle that has commercial plates can’t take parkways. Knowing this in advance will allow you to allocate more time for travel, so you don’t run late.

If you are going to a park, the last thing you want to find out is that you need a permit 2 weeks prior to your wedding.

I would highly suggest sitting down with your photographer about a month – 6 weeks prior to your wedding to go over the details of your day.

Hiring the right vendors

Let’s face it, you get what you pay for. If you found your wedding photographer off of Craigslist, chances are, they have no idea what they are doing. Cheaper is not always better. Hiring the right photographer, videographer, DJ, Limo company and hair and make-up teams are going to be essential for having a stress-free wedding.

Decorations and Favors

Some people really go all out when it comes to wedding decorations and favors, but you can lean toward simple and still have as much of an effect on your guests. Candles and basic flower arrangements will give just as much ambiance to your venue as more complex, elaborate decorations.

Smaller Bridal Parties

We have photographed 1000’s of weddings and we love bridal parties as much as the next wedding photographer, however, the bigger the bridal party the more likely you are to have a bit more stress on and before your wedding day.

For guys, a bigger bridal party is no big deal, but for girls, it means you could have to get up 3 hours earlier to do your hair and make-up. That is the difference from an 8am start time to 5am start time.

Getting Too Emotional About Your Choices

Emotional attachment is a common thing in all areas of life. However, when you introduce this trait into your wedding plans, you’re in for a pile of stress and potential heartache.

As you plan out the details of your wedding, you are going to make hundreds of choices about a wide range of different things such as the right wedding photographer, the perfect DJ, your dream wedding dress, which limo should you and your husband choose and what songs would you like for your first dance & your parent dances. Some of these choices will be minor and some will be major, but if you get too hung up on any of them, it’s going to cause a problem.

Showing Emotion vs. Being Emotional

Showing emotion is a good thing, even a great thing. It is with emotion that we create and maintain lasting relationships and it will be crucial in your marriage. However, there is a big difference between having emotion and “being emotional”. One is positive and empowering the other is debilitating and negative.

Dangers of Getting Hung Up on One Thing

When you become overly emotional about your choices and get hung up on one thing, you may create a domino effect that causes several other areas to suffer. It is your wedding and you deserve to get what you want, but it’s important to remember that it is about the entire day and not just one specific component. Giving too much attention to one area will only take attention and energy away from something else.

Be Mindful of Where You Attach Meaning

All of us have thousands of different thoughts every single day, and most just come and go without issue. But when you attach meaning to certain thoughts you give them power that doesn’t end up serving you in the end.

If, for example, the florist doesn’t have the exact flowers you wanted for your bouquet or your bridesmaids bouquet and you become hyper focused on that in a negative way, you aren’t helping yourself at all. Not only are you getting upset over something you have no control over, but also you are wasting time that can be spent more productively. When things don’t go the way you want, spend your energy finding a solution instead of attaching to a thought that doesn’t serve you.

Your Wedding Your Way

Once the announcement has been made and the date set, it’s time to start planning one of the most important days of your life. And while it may seem obvious from the outside looking in that this day should be about you, many brides-to-be have a lot of trouble remembering that.

You Only Get Married Once

If you find that things seem to be shifting away from what you’d originally envisioned, remind yourself that this is your wedding, and you’re entitled to do it your own way. If certain family members aren’t fond of your place settings, some friends don’t like the date or you get negative feedback on the details of the ceremony, just stay true to your vision and don’t let it bother you.

It’s Ok to be Selfish

The fact that you have a big heart and want all of your guests to enjoy themselves is wonderful, but this is the one time that it’s ok to be selfish. The reason everyone is coming to your wedding is to celebrate you and your partner as you embark on this life journey, so embrace that spirit.

Don’t Lose Sight of the Purpose

As you go through each stage of the planning process, stop and ask yourself if this is exactly how YOU want it. If the answer is no, or you’re unsure, make some adjustments. It’s very easy to get sidetracked and distracted with all the activity and input from various sources, but if you lose sight of the purpose of the day, you will only end up being disappointed.

They are Your Memories

Here’s an exercise for you to try. Imagine sitting with your partner 5 or 10 years from now, looking through your wedding photos or watching the video and remembering your wedding day.

How does it make you feel?

  • Are you filled with love and gratitude because it was everything you’d hoped and more?

  • Do you wish things had been different and that you’d stuck to your own vision?

  • Are you indifferent?

  • Do you feel regret?

The reality is, these are your memories and the only person you need to please is yourself. Keep everyone else’s wants and needs in the back of your mind, but always stay true to your own, so when you look back in that wedding album and watch your videos, the only thing you will feel is love.

Getting the Important Details Right

There is no question that your wedding is going to be about details, more details and then even more details. There are so many different facets to a successful wedding that all need to come together on that one day, which is why so many people associate weddings with stress.

A big mistake that many brides-to-be make is worrying about details that don’t matter and then not getting the truly important details right. It can be tricky to maneuver, and a few wrong decisions could cost you not only the memories that you want but the experience you always dreamed of.

How to Know Which Details are Important

With so many different details to consider, how do you know which ones are important and which ones are less important? There is no concrete answer to this question because every bride is different and every wedding is different. What matters to you may not matter at all to someone else.

Some Details Worth Sweating Over

Of course, there are details that do make a difference and you will want to get right. These would be the ones that are right out there for everyone to see and can have an impact on the experience of your guests.

Some of the details you want to get right include:

  • Hiring the right vendors

(Photographers, Videographers, Hair and Make-Up, DJ & Limo)

  • Invitations (name, date, time, etc.)

  • Wedding Dress

  • A solid realistic timeline

  • Lighting in your reception venue

  • Any menu restrictions for your guests

  • A solid strategy for kids at the wedding

  • Seating arrangements

Not Everything Will Go According to Plan

Regardless of which details make it onto your “getting it right” list, just know that some things won't go according to plan. If you have a wedding planner in your corner, it will be easier to troubleshoot issues when they come about, but even if you don’t, having a good mental attitude and positive state of mind will make a world of difference.

That’s not to say you’re going to have a completely stress-free wedding because you probably won’t. But you can mitigate a lot of the potentially stressful situations before they get too serious, and being secure in the knowledge that not everything will go exactly how you want is a good step in that direction.

Where Are Your Wedding Guests Going to Stay?

Depending on factors like the size of your wedding and how many of your guests will be coming in from out of town, you may need to secure suitable accommodations for a large group of people. And while it’s not necessarily your responsibility to find lodgings for every single guest, making this aspect as easy as possible for everyone is still the right thing to do.

If you are having a small wedding and are fine with people staying at your place, that’s certainly your prerogative, however, when you consider the magnitude of the day it’s probably easier to make other arrangements.

Hotel Block

One way to keep all of your out-of-town guests together is to reserve an entire hotel block for them. When you have everyone close together like this, it will be easier for you to coordinate their movement to and from venues and events, plus they will have an opportunity to spend time together outside of official wedding.

For many guests, it will likely be a reunion, and for others a chance to welcome one another to their respective families. Naturally, you should book any hotels far in advance, after you have finalized the important dates for your wedding.

Air BnB / VRBO

If you lean more towards giving your guests the freedom to choose where they stay, then you may want to consider using Air BnB or VRBO. This option offers some benefits that a standard hotel doesn’t, such as having the option to cook your own meals in a kitchen and having more space for guests to move around. They can also choose to group up if they want to, but won’t feel obligated.

If you have guests that are going to stay in town for up to a week or more, then the Air BnB / VRBO route deserves consideration. Many guests will appreciate the homier feel of an Air BnB as opposed to a hotel.

In the end, make the decision based on factors that make the most sense to you. If you aren’t sure, talk it over with some of the guests that will be using the accommodation and ask which they would prefer. Sometimes, the answers you get will surprise you. Just like anything else, making assumptions can often backfire.

Wedding Etiquette Tips You Should Know

Wedding etiquette is a topic that can easily get lost among all the other things that are going on during the wedding planning process. You have so much to do, and if you are like most people, you haven’t taken the time to learn the finer points of wedding etiquette. In some cases, you’ll have a friend or family member that can give you the details, but just in case that’s not the reality, here are some wedding etiquette points worth remembering.

How to Treat Those Who are Paying

If there is one person, or a handful of people, footing the bill for your wedding, some or all of them may want to have a say in how things go. It’s not uncommon for family members who are paying to want a say in the venue, the caterer, flowers, reception menu, the bar and other elements of the wedding.

And while there isn’t a hard and fast rule on how much say they should have, it is a good idea to work it out ahead of time. You want to have as smooth a process as possible, which isn’t possible if there is conflict and miscommunication with anyone that has paid for the wedding. Naturally, you want to give them first-class treatment, just work out the roles and level of influence beforehand.

It’s also a good piece of wedding etiquette to include the people paying for your wedding on the wedding invitations. Since they are providing the financial support needed to make your big day a reality, they deserve special mention on your invitations.

If They Were Invited to the Shower…

Another wedding etiquette tidbit involves people who were at your bridal shower. As a quick rule, if they were invited to the shower, they should be invited to the wedding. It doesn’t look good if you invited them to the party where they are supposed to bring a gift, and then leave them out of the wedding day festivities. And what if they were invited to the shower and didn’t go? That one is up to you, but if you’re unsure and want to stay on the right side of wedding etiquette, go ahead and invite them to the wedding.

Which Guests Will Be Part of Your Life in 5 or 10 Years?

Trying to figure out whom to invite or not invite can be a source of stress for many brides. You don’t want the guest list to get out of control, but at the same time, you don’t want to ruffle any feathers and hurt anyone’s feelings. Keep in mind that you don’t have to invite absolutely everyone. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if this person will still be an important part of your life in 5 or 10 years, then round out your list that way.

Do You Have Your Wedding Emergency Kits Ready?

Troubleshooting should be on your mind as you make the final preparations for your wedding day. Obviously, you don’t want anything to go wrong, but things happen and it’s better to be prepared than scrambling for a solution that may not show up.

For both the bride and groom, having an emergency kit packed and ready to go can provide you with peace of mind and potentially get you out of a tight jam. Here are some must-have to include in your emergency kits:

Emergency Kit for the Bride

In your emergency kit for brides, you should have things like:

  • Sewing Kit

  • Bottle of water

  • Easy to eat snacks

  • Clear nail polish

  • Super glue

  • Lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, foundation, etc.

  • Pain relievers

  • Bandages

  • Tissues

  • Moist towelettes

  • Perfume and deodorant

  • Toothbrush / toothpaste

  • Dental floss

  • Breath mints or gum

  • Cash and ID

  • Cell phone

  • Sanitary supplies

Emergency Kit for the Groom

In your emergency kit for grooms, you should include:

  • Deodorant

  • Toothbrush / toothpaste

  • Dental floss

  • Lip balm

  • Antacids

  • Pain relievers

  • Bottled water

  • Easy to eat snacks

  • Tissues

  • Moist towelettes

  • Lint brush

  • Stain remover

  • Extra cufflinks

  • Sewing kit

  • Shoeshine towel

  • Hem tape

  • Cash and ID

  • Cell phone

When In Doubt…

Even though this may seem like overkill, and repetitive between the two kits, this is one day you really don’t want to take any chances. You have no idea if a problem will arise when the two of you aren’t together, so don’t just assume you can borrow from each other’s kit if needed.

When in doubt, over pack rather than under pack. It won’t hurt anything to have extra, but it could certainly cause some stress and scrambling around if you need something and don’t have it. A poorly packed emergency kit could also interfere with your wedding day timeline if you need to take extra time.

As long as you remember to include the emergency kit when you are working out the details of the big day, then you’ll be covered for any small, unforeseen problems. What could have ended up being an unfortunate and forgettable part of your wedding day will be nothing more than a minor inconvenience.

Should You Have Kids and Pets at Your Wedding?

Kids and pets are a couple of topics that raise several questions and have the potential to cause a good amount of stress during your wedding planning process. More specifically, should either of them be invited and included in the wedding?

Usually, there is no quick yes or no response to this question because there are several different factors to consider before making a decision.

A Definite No Makes It Easy

If you are of the mind that you don’t want kids or pets at your wedding and that’s that, then your decision is an easy one. As long as you and your partner are in agreement, you can let your guests know that the wedding is just for adults well in advance so they have time to make the necessary arrangements.

Are You Playing It Safe or Just Paranoid?

Of course, if your first inclination is a ‘no’ but there is no specific reason, you may want to sit with it for a bit just to be sure. Are you just being safe because you want the perfect wedding and feel that kids or pets could jeopardize that? Or has a little unrealistic paranoia begun to slip in?

What to Do with Your Fur Babies?

If you feel that you’d like a pet or pets to be part of your wedding, it’s a good idea to ask a handful of important questions before making a final decision.

Q: Why are they there?

What role would you like them to play at your wedding? Do you just want to have them in attendance because they are part of the family? Do you want them to act as a ring bearer? Some other role?

Q: Does their temperament fit your wedding?

Your dog or cat may seem relaxed at home, but will they still be that way in the midst of all the excitement that is your wedding day? If you can answer a definitive yes, then everything should be fine. If you’re unsure, opt for safety first and consider leaving them at home.

Q: Does the venue allow pets?

This seems like a basic question, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to ask and then find out later it’s not allowed.

Q: Are there any guest issues?

It’s true that this day is about you, but you also don’t want a guest with a severe dog or cat allergy to have a reaction during your big day.

Q: Who is going to be in charge?

Naturally, you are going to be occupied for much of the day, so it’s important to delegate pet responsibility to someone else. Choose someone you feel comfortable with that knows your pet.

What to Do with Kids?

Having kids at a wedding is different than pets at a wedding, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan ahead. If you’ve decided to welcome kids at your wedding, a little planning will make a big difference. Decide if you’d like a specific kid section so they can mingle with one another and consider hiring or providing babysitters so the adults can have a great time but the kids are still happy and comfortable.

The “kids and pets” question is usually black and white for most brides, and if you follow these tips and suggestions, you can have both at your wedding and still have a magical day!

Creating the Overall Experience for Your Guests and Yourself

The goal of any bride-to-be is to create an enjoyable and memorable experience for her guests and herself. Sometimes, the road to a wonderful wedding experience can be paved with pitfalls and challenges, but if you’re able to maintain focus and keep your end goal in mind, you will be able to pull it off.

One important aspect of creating the best experience possible is making sure each component of the wedding flows seamlessly into the next. The overall theme should be present in each stage of the wedding, and you should pay attention to things like the season, table settings and venue.

Following Seasonal Trends

Naturally, the planning will be different for a summer wedding than it will be for a winter wedding. You can’t wear your favorite summer dress for outdoor winter wedding photos because it just wouldn’t make sense. The same is true for wearing a heavier winter dress for summer photos. The idea is to follow the seasonal trends with your photos, so when you look back at them you can “feel” what it was like and re-live your magical day all over again.

Setting the Table

Your table settings are another great opportunity to enhance everyone’s experience. Little things like making sure everyone at each table can see one another around flower arrangements and table settings can make a big difference. The level of elegance and extravagance in your table settings is another factor, as more elaborate settings will create a different experience than if you lean toward more a rustic setting. And the season you are married in will also have a factor on your choice of flowers, as you may be limited to what’s available in that season which will affect the experience of your guests.

There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to creating the overall feel and experience for your wedding. A formal dinner setting will create a different experience than a more minimalist setting. An abundance of seasonal flowers will create a different experience than one small bouquet on each table.

Deciding What Matters

The key is to stay true to your own values, beliefs and desire for what you want your wedding to be and then craft a memorable experience for everyone else from that base. You undoubtedly want every little detail to be perfect, but that is rarely the case, so decide what really matters when it comes to creating the ideal wedding experience and build from there.

In the end, your happiness and the love that’s evident between you and your partner will make the biggest difference in the overall experience.

Are You Worried About Meeting Everyone’s Expectations?

The word ‘expectation’ will likely be come up as you plan your wedding; sometimes in a positive light and sometimes not so positive. And while you may try your best to eliminate the word from your wedding planning vocabulary, it’s only natural for everyone involved to have some type of expectation for your special day.

It’s a good idea to remember that what determines whether your wedding was a success or not is the memories that people take with them. It’s all about perception, and even though it’s not possible to meet everyone’s expectations, if you do a little time traveling in your mind you should be able to improve your chances.

What Do You Want to Remember?

If you envision being married and living your new life in the future, what will you want to remember about your wedding when you look back? Just like with every other facet of your wedding day, it’s important to remember that this is your wedding and this day is about you first.

If you end up reversing the order and thinking of your guests first, the memories you’ll have may not be as fond as you’d like them to be. Taking a “guest-first” approach may end up with you feeling resentment as time goes by instead of looking back with fulfillment and love.

What Do You Want Your Guests to Remember?

That’s not to say that you should disregard what your guests want and only focus on yourself. The fact that you thought enough of them to ask them to share your special day shows you want them to have a good time.

In order to make sure they also have fond memories, perform the same exercise that you did with yourself. Ask what you’d like them to remember about your wedding. What takeaways you’d like them to have. And then, you can plan accordingly as long as it doesn’t interfere with your own experience and memories.

The Best of Both Worlds

Luckily, with some creative planning and attention to detail, you can keep it fun for everyone and ensure that you and your wedding guests take away beautiful memories. Some of the keys to making this happen include:

  • Keeping the lines of communication open and being upfront with parents, bridesmaids, friends and anyone else close to you

  • Making your intentions known very early in the process

  • Asking others what they want and trying to accommodate as much as possible

  • Enlisting the help of a professional planner who has been there before

It’s also wise to remember that there are different layers of wedding guest, and that the memories of a close friend or family member will differ from those of the ‘plus one’ of a guest you aren’t as close to. As long as you keep the ‘it’s your wedding’ mantra front and center through out the process, you can feel confident that your memories will be ones to cherish and that your guests will place your wedding near the top of their list.