Not Your Mama’s Wedding

I wanted to write a blog about wedding planning, and as I started to do some research on best tips (beyond what I’ve seen in the 100+ weddings I have shot), I realized times – they are a changing!

Today’s weddings are no longer your Mama’s wedding. And let me let you in on a secret – your big day can be anything you want it to be.

Here are a few ideas that may seem utterly crazy to some, but make so much sense to today’s bride.

Let’s start with size.

Your wedding DOES NOT have to include everyone and their mama. It’s OK not to invite the neighbor you’re not so close with, or the co-workers you only tolerate M-F from 9-5. Remember that each person you invite needs a space at the table, food to eat, and room on the dance floor. I have been to receptions where it is so packed you can hardly move. Make sure your space is filled appropriately, and only with those you truly want to be there!

So many venues, oh my!

I can imagine this one will get me a few dirty looks from your grandma, but here it goes: you don’t have to get married in a church and have the reception in the fellowship hall downstairs. There are so many amazing venues today, that you could really get married anywhere. I’ve shot weddings in barns, in the park, in a family member’s back yard, in the Caribbean, at breweries, and in hotels. There are so many options these days – it is almost trendier not to get married in a church. Also, having your friends ordained to perform your ceremony at these non-church locations is super non-traditional and really trendy right now.

Do you really have THAT many friends?

Let’s talk about bridal parties for a minute. I have shot a wedding with just a maid of honor and best man, and I have shot a wedding with 15 attendants on each side. So, what’s popular today? Somewhere around seven on each side. Is it necessary to have all of these people stand beside you? Maybe. Maybe not. It all comes down to what you want. But in the big scheme of things, nobody cares how many people are in your party (except maybe your photographer who will have to come up with fun photos for 30+ people). It’s OK not to include your soon-to-be sister-in-law or that cousin you are no longer close with. Pick a few of your closest friends and make them feel special. Once you hit the 15 mark, no one feels special for being asked to participate – trust me.

Don’t forget Grandma’s photo.

While most millennial brides have rolled their eyes at having family photos taken at the altar, this is a traditional part of the wedding day that should stay (for the most part) well into the future. Most of the time I refer to these as “Mom Photos” because they are the ones your mom wants the most. But for the sake of this blog, I’m going to shake it up a bit. Instead of doing traditional photos at the altar, take your family outside or to a park nearby. The more color (and beautiful natural light) you add will make these normally traditional poses seem more modern and appealing to the younger generations. And drop the extended family. They can have their pictures taken at the reception. Reserve those portraits for your immediately family only. It will save time for you as well!

Hold on, I’m about to freak everyone out!

I want to talk about doing photos BEFORE the ceremony. Now, before you start worrying about your mom having a heart attack, let me explain. It is VERY traditional for the groom to see the bride for the first time while walking down the aisle. You will not be missing this moment by doing photos before for TWO reasons. First reason is because your photographer will help you do a “reveal.” This is where the groom has a blind fold or is facing another direction until instructed to turn and see the bride for the first time. What makes this more amazing is that you can enjoy that moment alone together, and not with 150 guests staring at you. And second is because you will still feel that rush of emotion while walking down the aisle. If the groom was going to cry when he first sees you, it’s because his soon-to-be wife is walking toward him to pledge her love forever, not because he likes the dress you’re wearing. That emotion will still be there and will still be just as magical.

Here are some benefits of doing photos before. You get the jitters out of the way. By the time the wedding starts, you’ll be much more relaxed and able to actually enjoy the ceremony. You won’t have to cut photography time because the ceremony started late/ended late or the receiving line took too long. The portraits always get cut to make it to the reception on time – this should prevent that. You will also save time on family portraits because you’ll be less likely to have to track people down to take the photos.

Well, then what do we do during cocktail hour?!

You attend it, and mingle with your guests! This is what also makes doing photos beforehand so sweet. Instead of doing a receiving line that takes forever, skip it and greet your guests during cocktail hour. This also saves you from having to spend half your reception making sure you say “hi” and “thanks for coming” to every guest. It’s a perfect, uninterrupted hour to spend with your guests. I highly recommend it.

Keep the dancing, ditch the rest.

Reception traditions have reigned for hundreds of years. I think it’s time for a break. Keep your first dances and open dance floor and ditch the rest. Bouquet/garter toss is humiliating to those who have to try to catch, which then makes it uncomfortable for the bride and groom to NAG their friends to get up there to do it. Spare everyone the embarrassment and get rid of it. Also, the dollar dance – just say no. By the time the DJ gets around to this, most of the older generation who would have participated has went home, and you’re left, again, nagging people to participate (and to give you money!). I will let you keep the anniversary dance – well, maybe only for a little longer. Even that is getting old… Use a photobooth or selfie station to keep your guests having a good time if they’re not on the dance floor.

And lastly…

Go with the late night snack instead.

Want to be really untraditional? Instead of getting a salad/soup as the first course of your meal, ask if you can do pizza around 9 p.m. Nothing says “let’s keep this night going” more than a late night snack!


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