From the moment I scrolled past it on my Instagram feed a few weeks ago, it has lit a slow-burning fire within me that I have not been able to put out. It’s been there, not exactly growing, but not quite diminishing, either. What was it that frustrated me to my core? A blog post on how to brand your wedding.
Before I slay the entire idea, let me preface this properly: We support wedding decisions that are right for you, which of course vary from couple to couple. What we do not support is the unceasing deluge of “Wedding Musts” that only make it more difficult for you to sort through all the ideas out there. That process is exhausting and, oftentimes, it’s only the most determined and prepared couples who make it through without their vision being weighed down by newfound must-haves.
“Don’t let the experts and Aunt Cathys tarnish your choices.”
In a recent episode of NPR’s Hidden Brain, they discussed the study showing a correlation between couples who spent a large sum of money on their wedding and the possibility of a divorce later on. Just because you spend $50,000 on your wedding doesn’t mean your marriage won’t last, but it’s a no-brainer that if you put more stock in your relationship and what marriage means for you both, then you’re already off to a solid start.
As photographers (and creatives in general), of course we love a beautifully put-together wedding with delightful details, but your own event needs to make sense in accordance with who you are. Caleb and I chose to have an hors d’oeuvre reception in my grandparents’ backyard– we wanted to encourage mingling between our two families, exploration of the candlelit backyard, and wonder at the transformed everyday location.
We aren’t the stuffy dinner types– can you imagine us holding court over rows and rows of tables? We bucked the large wedding party (one person each, no flower girl or ring bearer) and the formal dances (we had a gypsy jazz band). We threw out the notion that we needed to entertain our guests between the ceremony and reception– instead, we provided a few hours in between, giving them the chance to go out to dinner before arriving at the reception refreshed and ready to mingle. This all sounds like us, right?
My point is that if something isn’t right for you, then it’s simply that– not right for you. This can be difficult when your wedding is paid in part, or entirely, by someone other than yourselves. And it can be even harder when those same people insist on things they want even if they don’t jive with your wants. Perhaps, in some situations, this is an opportunity to thank them for their offered contribution and let them know you prefer to go out on your own.
In the end, do what is right for you (I know, I know, we’re broken records over here). Go with your gut. When you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options and ideas and traditions, sleep on it. Ask the people who know you the best (and take you into consideration) what they think about those custom-embroidered dinner napkins or professional hand-lettered chalkboards.
You want to know the one thing you won’t regret throughout all the decisions you make in the planning process? Having artifacts and memories for the rest of your life. No, this is not a sales pitch, this is an affirmation. After speaking with past clients, friends, family, and strangers, they all agree on one thing: They cherish the photos of the day they took a huge step together. Some look at them on a daily basis, others once or twice a week. The couples who, for various reasons, opted out of portraits regret not having proper documentation to look back on and reminisce. And my regret is simply not incorporating our wedding photos into our home earlier (and I still want to have more printed).
We are in the business of preserving memories and providing the warmth of nostalgia– two themes with which we have had a love affair since childhood. And, for whatever reason, we feel a sense of protection over your wedding. Don’t let the experts and Aunt Cathys tarnish your choices. You know yourselves and you know what feels right. Have confidence in your choices, don’t sweat the small stuff, and enjoy your big day together.
We’ll see you at the end of the aisle.