Wedding Planning 101 – The 3 things rule and a contest!

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.


It started just a few hours after we got engaged. I hadn’t even told my mom yet because I wanted to wait until we got home from the city, but the people I did tell started with the questions.

Where’s the wedding gonna be?

What date are you thinking?

Who’s gonna shoot YOUR wedding???

So much for reveling in the moment, apparently I was expected to begin planning the wedding the second he popped the question. I told Adam I wanted to take 3 weeks and just enjoy our engagement without making any wedding plans. A few days later I thought to myself “Who am I kidding? The most enjoyable thing about being engaged is planning the wedding!“. I knew, still, that we were potentially in for a long road ahead of planning, decisions, and strong opinions. I am the firstborn in my family and he is an only child so, between the two of us, opinions are not lacking. Both of us are pretty stubborn, and both of us like things a certain way. And that’s just the two of us. Throw our parents into the mix, all of which are equally as opinionated, and all of a sudden the idea of planning a wedding became a daunting task. How in the world was I ever going to keep everyone happy?

A lot of people kept saying to me “It’s YOUR day. You need to do what YOU want, not what everyone else wants“. I agree with that, for the most part, and I frequently tell my own clients that very thing, but the truth is that it kinda is your parents day as well. Depending on your cultural background and relationship with your parents, there is a decent chance that mom has been dreaming of this day just as much as you. And mom usually has plenty of opinions on what should or should not happen, who should or should not be invited, and what kind of dress you should and shouldn’t wear. I knew I was strong enough to not just let everyone else dictate what the day would be like, but I also knew that I wanted to keep all the parents happy. This wasn’t a me-against-them thing, it was a family celebration! I think this is especially true of Latin cultures, but I’ve seen it happen across the board, no matter what the cultural background is. And I knew that our case would not be any different, our parents would have opinions on what should happen, and we would have our own ideas of what we think should happen.

Insert the 3 things rule. This is, quite possibly, the idea I am most proud of in my life because thus far, it has saved us a TON of stress. The 3 things rule basically states that each party involved (Me + Adam + my parents + his parents) get to choose 3 things. 3 areas that are important to them for the wedding. 3 battlefields to shed blood on. That doesn’t mean that we can’t have any say in any of the other areas but it means that the final decision is made by the person/couple who that area was one of their 3 things. For example, my parents chose Food, Guest list, and Entertainment. That means that although I can tell them what kind of food I had in mind or things that Adam and I like, ultimately, the final decision on food is up to them. My 3 things were ambiance/decor/vibe of the whole day, the dress, and the photographer (not necessarily in that order. That means when I tell my mom that, although we are planning a wedding in 4.5 months, I want us to hand sew 175 cloth napkins, she can’t go crazy on me and tell me that we don’t have enough time. Because having homemade cloth napkins is important to me. As well as the homemade pillows for the bonfire, hand stenciled aisle runner, custom signs, and hand potted basil. 😉 I’m a bit of an over achiever. It also means that while I can tell her what kind of food we prefer, ultimately she and my dad are making the final call on it.

This 3 things rule has, thus far, saved us an immense amount of stress and potential arguing because we are each left to focus on our own things for the wedding. If you have a challenging mother who wants to dictate everything for your wedding (maybe because that’s what her mom did for her?), I’d encourage you to share this blog post with her. And, mom, if you are reading this….your little girl wants to respect your opinion, but it IS her day. Make sure you see her heart behind the crazy modern ideas she has. I know you might be paying for a good chunk of the wedding, but you want it to be everything she’s dreamed of from the time she was little. Choose your 3 things, and then let her do the rest. 🙂

So far the wedding planning process has been a breeze and a ton of fun…both for me and my mom, and I think even Adam would agree that it hasn’t been that bad. So, choose your 3 things wisely, and get to work on making them the best they can be.

NOW….a contest!!! For a long time I’ve been wanting to do a series on wedding planning, but I just can’t come up with any creative names for it. I feel like there are so many “wedding wednesday”, “wedding 101”, etc out there. I want something unique and creative. So I am enlisting you, dear internet and faithful readers, to help me. Comment below with a creative name for this series and whichever one I choose I’ll send that person a $25 Starbucks giftcard! Get your thinking caps on. Annnnnd, GO!!

  1. Jola says:

    “Nuptials Exposed”

    Brings together the wedding and your passion for photography 🙂

  2. Mom says:

    Bridal Bliss

    and YES,planning has been FUN 🙂

  3. Lauren says:

    How about: How to Plan a Wedding in less than 6 Months and Not Kill Anyone? 😉

  4. D. Paz says:

    Rio Maize, Butter Creme, Canary. Yes they are different. or It’s my day but it only works with all of you. or I have a budget but I’m following my politician’s lead. How “whatever you want” can drive you crazy. I have many more if you are interested. (more form Adam’s point of view)

  5. I love the three things rule!!! LOVE it!


    “Handmade Napkins and Potted Basil”
    “Planning Parties…” or something…
    -naming it your wedding colors
    “Clothe Napkins”
    “The Wedding Diaries”

    : )

    so happy for you lovely!

  6. Amy says:

    What do you think of ‘Engaging Planning’? Double meaning, pun intended. 🙂

    ‘Wedding Exposure’?

  7. The Offbeat Bride

    P.S. I love Starbucks 😉

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