Confessions of a Former Bride
When Coleman and I got engaged in Hawaii in 2011, I wasn't yet shooting weddings, I had never been a bridesmaid and I probably had attended less than five weddings in my entire life. I had ZERO clue of what happened on a wedding day yet alone how to plan one.
The only thing we knew that we wanted from the start was a unique ceremony/reception location and to have a debt-free wedding.
Since our wedding five years ago, I have had the fortune of immersing myself in the industry as a wedding photographer and boy oh boy are there some things I would have done differently along with some things we did that I would still highly recommend. I figured I'd share my confessions and recommendations as a former bride now turned industry pro!
- Hire help. I was a control freak at the time (and still am)- not in a Bridezilla sense because I like to think I was still sweet as a pea (bridesmaids can you back me up here!?)- but I had to plan and be a part of every detail. Our wedding was unique in the sense that we rented out a piece of land on a lake in Wisconsin which had never been done before at this particular location (goal number one checked!) It was incredible but with it meant I had to plan EVERY single detail, the things you don't think of- like how are garbage cans going to get there, who is going empty them throughout the night etc? Luckily, we have very loving and generous family and friends who I detailed with a list of uhummm... "chores," I guess you could say? Looking back, I wish I would have hired a wedding planner and help so that our dear loved ones could enjoy the day and relax; after all the wedding was just as much for them as us.
- Take a honeymoon right after the wedding. I've only been on one honeymoon but I have a feeling there's just something about the hype and excitement of taking that trip right after the wedding day. We got married on a Saturday, spent Sunday relaxing and then flew off to the DR Monday. It still felt fun and appropriate to where my embellished "Bride," tank top to the airport- which meant lots of well wishes and excitement and a few free drinks from strangers on the plane down there! Plus after all of that hard work and planning, a vacay is definitely well deserved!
- Book a videographer. When we were going through our budget the first thing we cut was the videographer. Our rationale was, when in the world would we sit down and watch a video of ourselves? Fast forward five years later and this is my BIGGEST REGRET. Wedding videography has come so far and there are some insanely talented videographers. And to answer the question I posed above- I'd love to watch our wedding video every anniversary and someday show our little Rocco daddy's Magic Mike version of the garter toss and dance!
- Stay humble the day of. Although I was a control freak leading up to the wedding, when the day actually came I knew I had done everything in my power to communicate my desires for the day, but that doesn't mean everything would pan out as I envisioned and I went into the day ok with that. My only expectation the day of was that as long as Coleman showed up, I was going to have the best day ever-and I did! Even though you've spent hours on hours, and thousands of dollars on this day, try to remember what it's ultimately about- which is the union of you and your soulmate. Don't sweat the small stuff. Rain, wilted flowers, traffic or a late bridal party, in the big scheme of life and marriage, it's all small stuff.
- Stay within budget. Yes you only get one wedding day, but do you really want to spend the first few months of marriage or in some cases years paying off that one day? Someone once told me getting married was like buying a $20,000+ car and driving it off a cliff, it happens so quick and then it's gone (hence another reason to invest in a videographer!) Decide how much you want to spend and then work with your fiancé to determine priorities. We worked our butts off to ensure everything was paid in cash (goal number two checked!) I honestly feel the day was so much more enjoyable knowing that we didn't have any looming debt to face when we went back to reality after the honeymoon.
- Make your own memories! The year we were planning our wedding was the same year Pinterest blew up. I kid you not that I created a whole Pinterest board of wedding photographs that I had to have, and even worse I gave a collage of these photos with a timeline of when we were taking them to my wedding photographer. I now realize how awful and offensive this was to our photographer! After all, we hired her because we liked her vision, but giving her this collage of other photographer's work was basically a slap in the face saying that we weren't trusting that same vision we hired her for. Plus, no matter how hard you try, the Pinterest photo you adore- you will never be able to re-create it exactly; your hair, your dress, your wedding location, none of that will add up to be that exact same as what's in the photo you love and it simply won't measure up. So don't waste time trying to re-create someone else's memories, focus on creating your own and trusting your photographer. To this day I want to send our photographer an apology note for that-Kim we adore you and please forgive me for that!