Yes, you read that right! 5 easy, budget-friendly planning tips for an epicwedding! With over ten years in the wedding industry, I am here today to give you five simple planning tips to guarantee your wedding day is unforgettable! As a New Jersey wedding photographer I have seen elaborate affairs, small and intimate ceremonies and everything in between. I want to share with you some ways to guarantee your wedding day exceeds your (and your friends and families!) expectations! Learn some of the most memorable and fun things I have seen by working behind the scenes at weddings for over a decade.
Before I share my five easy planning tips for an epic wedding with you, there is something we need to discuss.
The B word. Budget. Budgets and wedding planning go hand in hand. Yes, everything from over the top from florals to top-shelf liquor can add to your wedding day experience but I promise you don’t have to break the bank to have an amazing wedding. Make your budget and stick to it. Going into debt is not the way to start a life together and debt makes your day stressful, not better.
1. Personality. Ask friends and family to give you three words that describe you as individuals and as a couple. Write those words down. When you see the same words repeating over and over again focus in on those aspects and make sure your wedding reflects that! Don’t let people give you basic words like kind, beautiful, fun. Ask them to dig deeper. Words like vibrant, sentimental, energetic, and eclectic are great places to start. Vibrant can be shown in your colors and florals that you would have purchased anyway. Sentimental can be as easy as using restaurants you have gone on dates to as table names. Energetic can be as simple as having an energy drink station with a framed note asking guests to try and keep up with you on the dancefloor. Eclectic can be as simple as having each table centerpiece be something different you have collected from antique or thrift stores, or even better yet borrowed from family and friends to tell a story.
2. Change up your ceremony. Tradition is beautiful but to have something unique you don’t need to kick all traditions to the curb or spend any additional money. Have your cocktail hour first and let guests settle into your ceremony with a full stomach and a drink in their hand. Have someone in your family or circle of friends perform your ceremony and have them tell a personal story about you. Ask the people who know you best to share with the officiant memorable stories from their perspective about the development of your relationship. Have your grandma be your flower girl. Ask your guests to participate in the blessing of the rings during your ceremony. If you already are a unique couple who doesn’t follow the rules, surprise others by using very traditional vows.
3. Engagement. And no, not when you were proposed to! So far I have mentioned things you can do and have, this is about making time to spend with your guests and enjoying! The details make for pretty photos and a beautiful album but engaging with your guests by spending time and making memories is essential for an epic wedding. . The wedding day is hectic and it’s hard to spend quality time with everyone but there a few things you can do to maximize your time. Having a first look allows you to complete all photo formalities before the ceremony and give you your cocktail hour to spend time with guests. Make it a priority to spend time both on and off the dancefloor. While your friends and outrageous Aunts may be on the dancefloor the entire night, many of your relatives and friends will be at their tables telling stories and laughing. Be conscious of splitting your time and making your rounds. In twenty years you may not remember getting your groove on to “Apple Bottom Jeans” but you will remember those two minutes you spent with the Uncle you barely see and exchanging some pleasantries and stories.
4. Pay attention to details. I don’t mean the ones you can see, I mean the ones you feel. The fact that your napkins are the same shade of white as your tablecloths are great and make for a visually cohesive space. Those details are pretty. The details I am talking about go far beyond that. Small details make people feel valued and special. Is your grandfather’s favorite song “Brown Eyed Girl”? Play it and have all your girl cousins take a few seconds of the song to dance with him. Does your mom always have spearmint gum in her purse? Have some in the bathroom basket and tell her you didn’t want her to go without. Are your college friends missing the big game? Designate someone to tell the DJ every time they score and have him announce it right over the music to ensure guests aren’t glued to their phones and can celebrate together. It is your wedding day but your guests and loved ones have put a lot of time, energy and expenses to share this day with you. Let them feel valued, acknowledged and appreciated.
5. The energy in the room. I don’t care if you are getting married at a firehouse or a luxury estate. The energy in the room is something that can’t be bought but will make your wedding unforgettable. Get your guests excited. Start with your invitations and set the tone with the wording you choose to set everyone up for an amazing night. Don’t just send invites and expect RSVPs. Reach out. Be connected. Include a line on your RSVP for a song request to get people excited to potentially have a small say in your day. Ask your godmother what she is most excited about for your wedding day and ask a friend to make sure she gets what she wants from that moment. Ask friends through the planning process to give you their best piece of advice and take it. Arrange with your caterer to have your dad’s favorite dipping sauce served with something at the cocktail hour. In place of a traditional cake ask all the women in your family to make a favorite dessert recipe and have notes explaining who brought what in a classy and unique way. Skip the boring custom drink names like Bride-tini and go for something that tells part of your story, like the name of the street your grandparents had their first home on. All of these things require thought and attention before the wedding. Show your guests you value and appreciate them before your big day and they will walk in the door feeling like a part of the celebration. We all want to feel valued and important and will always want to party ten times harder when we are invested in what we are celebrating. Give your time to your guests in small ways before your wedding and the energy will be off the charts and the wedding celbration an epic and unforgettable event.