Borrowed and blue: Planning a wedding

Alicia Ann Daw is a film & digital wedding photographer who specializes in New York City and European destination weddings. With over 15 years of experience photographing weddings, she's spent two decades globetrotting to over 37 countries and working with clients around the world. She delivers images that are effortlessly romantic and chic, telling a story about the start of your heritage in a way that will leave you in awe.


The ring is on your finger, you’ve been dreaming about this day since you were a little girl and now, all of a sudden…you have no idea what you want. In this day and age where ideas about and we are flooded with pressure to be the “Pinterest bride”, design a magazine-worthy wedding, and make sure we don’t have our wedding be the same as everyone else, it’s really easy to lose focus on what really matters.

When I began planning our wedding I knew that, first and foremost, I wanted it to reflect Adam and I. For some couples, that’s easy. For us…well, we are about as opposite as they come. My personal preference would have been to have glitter fall from the ceiling at any given point while Adam would have loved a wedding where we exchanged I do’s and went to Chick-fil-a for dinner. But it was important to me to find a way to capitalize on our common ground. Ultimately, your wedding day should be a reflection of you and your relationship. It should be a day that you could see yourself and your fiancé thoroughly enjoying. And it should be a day that you look back on proudly, not because of all your crazy Pinterest ideas that played out, but because it was a day that screamed “US” and everyone important to you was there to enjoy and celebrate that.

With that in mind, here are my…

1. Dream
You’ve likely been thinking about this day for as long as you can remember. Take some time to sit down with your soon-to-be Mr. and dream big. Maybe you want a Mariachi Band, maybe you can’t imagine a wedding without an incredible Venetian table. Whatever it is, dream and dream big. Logistics and budgets can be dealt with later. For now…enjoy the moment and think about what elements would be in your absolute dream wedding. And then…

2. Make. A. Budget.
This was, by far, the thing I was looking forward to the least. I mean, who of us loves sitting around and talking about how we will spend the equivalent of a down payment on a house on one day? But on the other hand this is the ONE DAY you will have everyone you love, together in one place, to celebrate the fact that you found your one and only. So suck it up. Sit down together, with your parents if they are contributing, and determine an overall budget and start breaking it up into categories (food, flowers, photography, attire, etc). Use this wedding budget Google Doc to help keep track of it all. And then, most of all, determine to stick to that budget.

3. Get organized!
Whether that means heading to your local Barnes & Noble and picking up a planner, or using the online tools that we recommend, determine early on that you will get organized and stay organized!

4. Make a list of what you have in common
Are you both foodies? Do you both love the outdoors? Is your favorite date night playing staying home and board games? Maybe you both have an affinity for navy stripes (me too!!). Find the common ground between the two of you and let that set the stage for your wedding.

5. Start a Pinterest board
I know what you’re thinking. You are probably like “DUH! I have one! I’ve been pinning to it for 2 years!”. Start another one. Let this one be the one that has pins of the things you will actually be doing on your wedding day. Make it a secret board and share it with the key players in your wedding (Mom, MOH, and…of course…your photographer). When you begin seeing all the things on one board you will see how the day looks and feels. Does it all flow together? It’s here that you’ll realize that the glitter and roses centerpieces maybe don’t go with mason jars and a bonfire. Make sure that everything from the programs to the menus, ties to centerpieces all have one cohesive look. This will also make it much more likely for you to get published in a magazine or online blog if you are interested in doing so.

6. Make an inspiration board.
I did this in photoshop, but there are plenty of applications online for you to do this. Try Polyvore, or maybe even create another secret Pinterest board for your inspiration. This board should capture the aesthetic of the wedding with no more than 10 images. Let these images define the vibe, the look and the feel of your wedding. Every decision you make for your wedding will be run through the filter of your inspiration board to make sure it corresponds well.

7. Decide, Rethink, Decide, Rethink
So there was this one time that I saw a picture of a couple during their first dance and glitter was falling from the ceiling. Glitter, I tell you. And instantly I was like … GLITTERRRRRRR!!!! YES!!! I want glitter to fall from the ceiling too!!! But before I made that happen I sat on the decision for a bit. Well, really only a day, because the look I saw on Adam’s face when I proposed the idea was more than enough to clue me in to the reality that glitter was not, in fact, a good idea. Beside, we are hoping to do everything under the open sky, so there technically isn’t a ceiling.

Before you make any big decisions or purchases for your wedding, stop and sit on it for a week or so. Those ribbons will still be there a week later. And so will the vats of glitter that you intend on dumping over yourself (and your guests!) during your first dance. No, but seriously, I would love you forever if you are a bride of mine and do that. You will instantly be promoted to my all-time favorite bride. Even if your guests hate me (and you!) because for it.

8. Determine what everyone’s 3 things are
Remember this blog post? Go read it again. Then send it to your Mom. And your soon to be Mother in law. Then come back and thank me.

9. Relax
This should be an enjoyable process. Before Adam and I got engaged I told him I was so nervous that once we got engaged we’d fight a ton over wedding decisions and that I’d constantly be at odds with him and my parents. I told him I didn’t want to stress or cry over anything. I can honestly say that both Adam and my Mom have been super easy to work with and I have not shed a single tear over wedding stress or decisions. Our marriage mentors told me that this should be a non-negotiable and the wedding planning process is supposed to be 100% enjoyable. he was the first one I’ve ever heard say that and I felt like he gave me permission to just enjoy it. And also gave me something to work towards, knowing I SHOULD go into it with a goal of not being stressed and not shedding any tears. Word to the wise: VOW to make that your story. You won’t regret it.

10. Work on your relationship
I know, I know. This isn’t technically part of “wedding planning”. But you know what, way more important than wedding planning is MARRIAGE PLANNING. A recent study determined that the average couple spends as much as 10 hours a week planning their wedding, but only 3 hours in total working on their relationship and planning what they want their marriage to look like. Your marriage should be way more beautiful than your wedding and where you put your time is where you’ll reap the benefits. Take some time for each other between now and your wedding sit down and talk about what you envision your marriage looking like. Decide on going through a few books together (I recommend this, this and this to start with). Go on a marriage retreat. And go on dates. Plenty and plenty of dates. Preferably every week.

  1. Love this post and the link to the 3 things post too!! As I just became recently engaged, I definitely love the idea of an inspiration board with just 10 images – to keep it simple obviously and have a secret wedding board. I need to do that 🙂 Thanks for the awesome advice Alicia!

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