Wedding Planning Kind of Sucks.
If you’re in the thick of wedding planning, you’re probably feeling pretty overwhelmed right now. Between checklists on The Knot and your budget spreadsheet, figuring out how to have your siblings that don’t get along spend the afternoon in the same room, and where to seat Aunt Linda’s new husband you’ve never met, you may have found yourself saying “I wish I could just elope” (side note, YOU CAN) more than once. But I get it; you do love your family. You have special friends you want by your side, and you honestly want the crazy dance party energy into the wee hours of the morning. So, what is an engaged couple to do?
Take a deep breath and refocus for a second, and read the next sentence aloud.
Weddings are about more than the details.
Stop. Read that again, and repeat after me: My wedding is about more than the details.
Let’s get back to the heart of what weddings are actually about; two people promising to love, support, cherish, respect, and honor each other for the rest of their lives. The wedding industry has taken a wedding, one of the most sacred, intimate, and personal days of a person’s life, and turned it into a giant performance full of must-dos, check lists, and other people’s expectations. We’re here to help cut through all of that chaos and get back to what your wedding day is truly about: The commitment you’re making to each other.
So how do you make your wedding day feel more YOU, even when you’re still opting for a more traditional-looking wedding? It all comes down to experience, intentionality, and a hefty dose of knowing how and when to just say no. In this post we’re going to explore some of the ways you can slow down and take back your wedding day from the chaos of the wedding industry tornado and make it more about you two, the commitment you’re making, and the people who are there to support and celebrate with you.
5 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR TRADITIONAL WEDDING FEEL MORE INTENTIONAL
1. MAKE AN INTENTIONAL WEDDING MISSION STATEMENT
Sit down with your fiancé(e) and make a list of the things that matter the most to you two for your wedding. The key word here is intentionality. Make this list intentional, not just another checklist. Set aside an evening, open a bottle of wine, and really dream about how you want your wedding day to feel. Close your eyes and picture the day. What are the absolute non-negotiable things about your day that you simply cannot compromise on? We don’t mean specifics, like the flavor of cake or your first dance song, we mean big-picture general vibe things. Do you want it to be a big loud celebratory sort of day or a more quiet, introspective, intimate sort of day? Do you want to be surrounded by family and friends or do you want to carve out time for just the two of you? Do you want to slow down and really FEEL your feelings?
Use this list to create a wedding-day mission statement that you and your fiancé(e) are both on board with. Anytime you are faced with a decision about the wedding, from guest list to decor to timeline to vendors as yourselves “does this align with our mission statement?” and you’ll find intentionality seeping into every aspect of your day. Stay true to the elements that mean the most to you two, so you can let go of the things that don’t mean as much or aren’t as important.
2. HAVE A FIRST LOOK
Let me start by saying that if NOT having a first look is one of the most important things to you two, then don’t do one! When we say “don’t listen to anyone else when it comes to your wedding decisions” that includes us. Stick to what feels right and true to you. However, if you are on the fence because you picture a first look as an awkward trap where one spouse has to conjure up a picture-perfect reaction and then you move on to the next thing, DO NOT worry; that is NOT how we do things!
We want everything on your wedding day to be centered around the experience you have; we don’t want you to do anything just for the sake of photos. So when we orchestrate a first look, we allow at least an hour for that experience. This time is for you two to recenter on what the day is about, and step away from the noise and bustle of the rest of the celebration. We photograph you two seeing each other for the first time however you want (we can do the typical ‘tap on the shoulder’ thing, or we can have you two come together more naturally. It’s up to you!). We capture that moment, and then we step away and give you all 10-15 minutes alone with no camera so you two can just BE together. No pressure, no expectations. Just time to take a breath and BE.
For the second half of this time, we encourage you two to think outside the box and plan a mini-date on your wedding day. What’s something you all love doing together? Do you want to take a walk, go for a bike ride, have a beer or coffee? Let’s do it. Do you want to write your own vows and say them to each other privately during this time, and save traditional vows for the more public ceremony? We got you. Do you want to exchange letters or gifts, or pack a time capsule to open on an anniversary? Absolutely! You two can do whatever you want. Have your dog or child(ren) come join you for part of it too if that’s what sings to you!
The point of this time is to step away from the chaos that is inevitably caused by bringing lots of people together. Even if a more traditional wedding with a wedding party and dancing is exactly what you want, it can still be overwhelming to have all those people around you, no matter how much you love them. So we encourage you to carve out time for just you two to relax, take a breath, and recenter on what this day is truly about; your commitment to each other.
3. DITCH THE POSED PHOTOS
I know, as a photographer it sounds weird for me to be saying this, but it’s ok to not have any posed photos on your wedding day! Your day should be about the experience you two have, not about getting good photos. If you have a photo in mind you want from your wedding day, chances are you don’t actually want the photo, you want the memory and the experience that goes with that photo. If you’re so focused all day on “getting the photos you want” you might forget to actually experience the day as it actually happens, and you might find at the end of the day that the photos actually have completely replaced your memories, rather than enhancing them.
We always encourage our couples not to do anything for the sake of a photo; we want everything to be centered around your experience. So we’ve come up with some fun ways to create environments where genuine emotion has time and space to be felt, which results in amazing photos. For example, you want good photos with your wedding party, but you DON’T want everyone walking in awkward lines, tripping over each other and fake laughing at each other’s teeth. We feel you, and we got you.
Picture this: You’ve just finished your first look and spent a whole hour with your fiancé(e) enjoying each other’s company and re-centering on the purpose of the day. Suddenly, all your best friends come running up to you, and you get to spend another hour just hanging out with them, enjoying their company, laughing, popping bottles, and celebrating. AND you have a photographer there to capture it all, so you get amazing, natural, FUN wedding party photos without having to fake laugh once!!
Welcome to the “pre-ception”, which is a chunk of time (usually after your first look), intentionally set aside to spend with your wedding party just hanging out and having fun. What do you all love to do together? Play board games? Pop some bottles? Have a beer? Toss some cornhole? Visit a local brewery or beach bar? We can totally make that happen!! It’s all in the timing; if you set aside intentional time for the things you care about and schedule the day so these chunks of time aren’t rushed or overlooked you can pull off pretty much anything on your wedding day!
You can even invite your family to join towards the end so you can integrate natural, genuine family photos into this time as well. Voila! Not a single posed photo in sight!
4. CONSIDER A HYBRID WEDDING CELEBRATION
You love the idea of a sunrise elopement on a mountaintop, with the fog clinging to the hollows in the valley and the purple-orange-rose colored light spilling over the ridge in the distance as you and your spouse promise to love each other forever. Total privacy, complete freedom. Buuuuuut you also know your mom would be heartbroken if she wasn’t able to witness your wedding, and you have lots of good friends you genuinely want to celebrate with. How do you reconcile these two very legitimate desires and create a wedding day that checks all your boxes?
YOU CAN HAVE BOTH. We’re experts at helping couples think outside the box and break the traditional wedding mold. You can totally have a private elopement-style experience the morning of or even the day before your wedding, either just you two or you two and your closest family and friends, and STILL have a crazy dance party at a brewery that night with a larger group. It’s YOUR wedding day and you don’t have to settle for someone else’s rules.
We would love to help you think through how to combine your Asheville elopement dreams with the expectations of your family and your desire to party with your friends. Check out this amazing hybrid elopement-wedding in Asheville and this awesome part elopement-part brewery wedding for some more inspiration!
5. BOOK ENOUGH TIME WITH YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER
If you’re reading this article, it’s because you value your experience on your wedding day and want to keep the day feeling as genuine as possible. So you might be thinking “well, I don’t want a photographer following me around ALL day, so I’ll just book them for a few hours to capture the important stuff, and then get on with enjoying my day. An all-day photoshoot sounds like a nightmare”. Don’t worry, that sounds like a nightmare to us too! So that’s not how we do things. Because here’s the thing: the “important stuff” isn’t the pinterest board of images you have in your mind; it’s the things that happen in the in-between moments, when you forget your shot list and the timeline and just BE in the moment with the people you love. Those genuine, emotional in-between moments need time and space to be felt.
It sounds counterintuitive, but the more hours of photography coverage you have, the LESS about photos the day becomes. When you only book a few hours, you end up having to cram all the “events” of the day into your photo coverage, rather than just giving them time and space to unfold naturally and just having a photographer there to capture them as they happen. Booking fewer hours may feel like a good idea when you’re planning, especially if you’re nervous about feeling like you have paparazzi following you all day, but in the end that’s going to create an environment where you feel shuffled from one photo-op to another, and your photographer is rushed, hampered creatively, and forced to draw your attention more often than not so they can “get everything” before their time is up.
Do you want a genuine-feeling day where you get to totally be yourself and just let things happen naturally? Are you super excited about some of these ideas and can’t wait to implement them to make your day feel more “you”? BOOK ALL-DAY COVERAGE. The most magical, emotional photos come as a result of creating space for genuine emotion to be felt, and that space only comes when you and your photographer are able to forget about the timeline and just go with the flow of the day.
The bottom line, when it comes to making your wedding day feel more intentional, is to know what you and your future spouse value the most, and keep that as the guiding light for all your wedding-related decisions. Here at Wilder Weddings Co, we value intentionality, experience, and genuine emotion more than we value perfectly-posed photos and picture-perfect kodak moments. If those are things you two value as well, we’ll probably be a great fit for each other! We would love to schedule a call with you two to hear more about your day and help you brainstorm how to make it your own. Drop us a line and let’s get this adventure started!