Just as there are a few things I wish I would’ve done differently while planning mine and Justin’s wedding, there are actually more things I’m happy that we did. I’m not here to write an actual novel, though. So for the sake of this post we’ll keep it to five.
Everyone is different in this regard, so just because this was good for me doesn’t mean it will be for you. We got engaged on December 7, 2012 and got married on November 9, 2013 – just over 11 months later. I felt that it was a comfortable enough amount of time to get everything done within but not so long that it felt like we were engaged FOREVER. I have some friends who’ve had engagements that fall closer to the two year mark who have said it truly did feel like forever before their wedding day arrived.
While I do think one year is plenty of time to get everything done, I understand why engagements are sometimes longer. If you need time to save up to pay for it or if you have to extend it in order to book certain vendors or venues that you’re dead set on having, then by all means do it! But don’t feel like your engagement has to be long just to get everything done. It doesn’t.
With a wedding date of November 9, the sun set around 4:30 on our wedding day. We scheduled our ceremony for 4PM which basically forced us to do a first look if we wanted any bridal party and bride and groom photos while it was still daylight. That detail aside, though, I’m still happy we did one. It took the pressure off and gave us a chance to truly express our feelings in a private setting. And guess what? Seeing Justin as I walked down the aisle wasn’t any less emotional or memorable because we had already seen each other.
Beyond that, though, I didn’t feel like we were making our guests wait for hours between the ceremony and reception. They went straight from the church to the reception venue, enjoyed a cocktail hour with appetizers and headed into the reception. Given the chance, I’d do it the same way in a heartbeat.
Shameless self plug? Perhaps. But I still stand by this one. To be one-hundred percent honest, I knew who I wanted to photograph my wedding before I even met Justin. This is probably mostly due to being a photographer myself, but I was dead set on having her. As in, we chose our wedding date based on her availability. Seriously.
Y’all. If you’re going to skimp on something in your budget, for the love of all that is holy don’t let it be your photographer. Your photos are the ONLY thing you take with you once the day is over. Of all the regrets I hear from people after they’ve gotten married, not spending enough on a wedding photographer is usually the most frequent. You probably don’t even understand how incredible and exceptional your wedding day will be at this point. You can’t begin to fathom the emotions you’ll feel and the moments you’ll experience. You’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t hire someone to capture every bit of it as beautifully and vividly as you remember it happening.
The majority of weddings I shoot choose a DJ over a band. And I get it. It’s usually a safer choice. But here’s the truth: the weddings I shoot with a good band are almost always more fun. There’s an energy that a live band can bring that you don’t always get with a DJ. And don’t get me wrong. There are absolutely some awesome DJs out there! But if you can find a good band, DO IT.
Our friends and family kept the dance floor full all. night. long. This is partially because they like to dance, but it’s also due to the way the band engaged the crowd and made them want to stay out there. It was, without a doubt, the most fun night of my life. And obviously for more reasons than the band, but I still think they played a big part in it.
We LOVE our wedding video. LOVE. IT. Clearly I love photos too, but being able to watch the events of the day in motion is so special. Actually watching myself walk up to Justin and tap him on the shoulder for our first look, watching the walk down the aisle, hearing the words in the letters we wrote to one another, seeing us sway to and fro for our first dance, hearing the words in our speeches… these things are only possible with video.
Your day flies by so quickly it’s unreal. There are so many tiny moments that you’ll easily forget in the blur of the day, but if you have a video (and good photos) to look back on, it’ll all come back to you.
I could really and truly talk for an eternity about all of the things I’m happy that we did when it comes to our wedding. And the things that were right for us may not be the right fit for you. Everyone has different priorities, and I get that. But figure out what those priorities are, explore your options and make decisions accordingly. And after you get married you’ll have your own lengthy list of things you’ll be happy you did as well.