As a former bride and a wedding photographer/videographer’s wife, I often see the same issue come up for brides – an overwhelming sense of having no clue where to begin when it comes to planning the big day.
Even choosing a planner can be overwhelming. You ask yourself, “how do I want to organize myself? Does this planner have too many details? Does this planner address all my needs? Am I even a ‘planner kind of bride?!’”
So, how do you ground yourself? How do you create a place to come back to in the midst of numerous options and various opinions from your friends, soon-to-be-in-laws, and the internet algorithm that just heard you’re engaged?
Create an anchor for you and your partner before all the chaos begins.
It’s the core or who you are, what you represent, and your values. When you and others experience these things about you and your partner, they get a taste or your essence – that intangible, yet intrinsic quality of who you both are that sticks with them when the day is done. So, when all the flowers have died, the cake is eaten, and the blisters have healed from dancing the night away, ask yourself, “how do we want to remember our day? What feelings do we want others to associate with our day?
Believe it or not, coming up with five descriptive words for your day can anchor your wedding planning process and make confusing decisions simple.
For my husband and I, this Is the first thing we did. And trust me, it wasn’t because we were wise and above it all. It was because of a wedding planner that I purchased. The planner prompted us to do this from the start, and so we had our anchor which helped us cut through the chaos.
The words we came up with were:
So, how did these words affect our decision making?
Well, intimate meant that when considering seating arrangements, we wanted people to feel close to one another. So we didn’t do the big round table with the centerpiece that could create a disconnect between people.
Wes & Jenna, first dance // Photo by Alec Vanderboom
Intentional meant that we hand selected every single song that was played at our wedding. We literally created a playlist for every moment: the pre-ceremony music, post-ceremony/ mock-tail hour, reception area opening for guests, wedding party entrance, first dance thru the end of the reception and our send off. This was actually a really fun process for my husband and me to do together, and it also helped relieve some stress as we blew off some steam drinking wine and listening to great music as we planned. We also decided that wedding favors weren’t an important item for us to throw money into, and so we created a QR code that we made available to our guests at their tables if they wanted to check out our wedding day playlist – that was our wedding favor, some good vibes.
Wes & Jenna, wedding reception // Photo by Alec Vanderboom
Joyful allowed us to consider how our friends may experience moments or joy at our wedding So, we thought through what the venue had to offer. They had a fire pit and yard games available for rent – a low cost way to provide some fun for our guests. We also ensured that the songs that were on our playlist would bring people to the dance floor. Lastly, we recruited our wedding party (actually just straight up told them) to get people out on the dance floor, and our DJ helped with this as well.
Yard games during mocktail hour // Photo by Alec Vanderboom
Fire pit during mocktail hour // Photo by Alec Vanderboom
Everybody on the dance floor // Photo by Alec Vanderboom
Authentic meant that we wanted people to be, see, and remember their true selves on our day. We love candid photos (it’s one of my husband’s photography styles that he loves to capture), and so we chose a photographer that we knew would capture people authentically. We also opted for a polaroid picture guest book so that people could capture themselves authentically no phone photos, no filters – just straight up what you shoot is what we get’ photos.
Candid laughter // Photo by Alec Vanderboom
Post ceremony congrats hugs // Photo by Alec Vanderboom
First look with father of the bride moment // Photo by Alec Vanderboom
Lastly, we wanted our guests to feel Relaxed. So, we posted our timeline of everything they could expect in a common area. This way they didn’t feel like they had to wait around because they might miss something. They knew when things would happen, and we stayed on time to respect the time they were spending with us. We also didn’t want them to feel anxious about getting in food lines or missing out on cake. So, we opted to have the food already set at their tables when they entered the reception area, and we had the cake delivered to their tables so they didn’t have to endure waiting in any lines.
Cake time // Photo by Alec Vanderboom
You may have read through our anchor words and how they played out at our wedding thinking. “no way, that is totally not my personality.” Great! It’s ok if we’re different. So, what IS you and your partners essence? Even if you’ve already made some decisions, it’s not too late to create your anchor. So, pour some wine with your partner, make a list, and discover how you want to remember the most important day of your lives. Cheers!
The wife of a wedding photographer,
Our Photographer // Alec Vanderboom, Kansas City, MO based
If you’d like to chat with my husband and I on what your anchors could be, we’d be more than happy to connect! He is a photographer and videographer but we both want you to be confident in your decisions for your big day first. Fill out a contact form and let’s chat!