In my past 5 years as an intimate wedding photographer, I’ve been lucky enough to photograph unique weddings in Calgary, Canmore, Banff, Vancouver Island and even New Zealand! I’ve seen weddings done a lot of different ways and with a lot of different styles. Although every wedding is special because of the people I’m photographing, along the way a few things have really stood out that made some weddings unforgettable. Here are a few of my suggestions and ideas for making your wedding authentically you and maybe saving a few dollars along the way.
KEEP IT SMALL!
I can’t emphasize this one enough. Nearly all of my favourite weddings to photograph have had a small guest list. This means under 50 guests. When you have a smaller guest list it makes a huge difference in so many ways. Not only does this ensure that every guest is really important to you & your relationship, but you are able to spend quality time and be present with everyone without feeling rushed or like you are missing out on something. A small guest list opens up a number of different venue possibilities, allows you to have more of budget for other things that might be important to you, and also is less restrictive for timelines! In my experience everything runs a lot more smoothly and with a lot less stress when there are fewer people to worry about.
WEAR SOMETHING YOU LOVE
This is one thing that I’ve only seen a few times but it always gets me really excited. Brides, your wedding dress doesn’t have to be white. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be a dress! Wedding jumpsuit anyone?! I’ve seen ladies rock black dresses, mismatched bridesmaids outfits, knee high wedding boots, fur coats, headpieces, leather jackets, moccasins for shoes, you name it. Grooms, your suit can be custom-made and actually comfortable. You can buy something that you will even wear again! Some of my favourites have been floral suits and ties, jackets with skulls on the inside, groomsmen in chuck taylors, pit vipers for sunnies etc. Your personal style is something that you’ve been working for years by the time your wedding day rolls around, so make sure that whatever you wear really feels like you!
GET YOUR FRIENDS & FAMILY INVOLVED!
I know this can be a controversial one so proceed with caution. But in my opinion, while it can be really nice for everyone to relax and simply be a guest at your wedding, I believe most people really love being asked to contribute to making your day as amazing as it can be. I don’t doubt that you know some incredible people and that at least some of them would be more than willing to play a role in your wedding. Having a potluck dinner is one way to save costs and have a communal experience. Have a girls night and learn flower arranging, ask your talented bestie do your hair & makeup or stationary, bottle your own wine made from your grandmothers plums, invite an extra hilarious friend do your wedding ceremony, sing you down the aisle or DJ the dance party (if they know how to read the crowd!). These special touches can’t ever be replicated and you will remember the experiences more vividly than you would have otherwise.
PICK A COOL VENUE (OR MAKE ONE YOURSELF!)
If you managed to keep your wedding on the more intimate side, then this tip is definitely for you! Here’s an insiders tip: ANYWHERE can be a wedding venue if you really want it to. Some of my favourite weddings to date have been DIY backyard weddings. Find a friend or family member with an awesome property outside of the city, or plant some flowers and build your own arch. If you can’t find the right space, reach out to some unique restaurants in your area and ask if they would be willing to host a wedding. Venues that don’t focus on weddings are usually stoked to host one! If there is something you love to do or a place you love to spend time, like a provincial campground or a favourite view, then a camping wedding is also a really great option!
DO WHAT YOU WANT
The most important thing to remember about planning a wedding is that ultimately, it’s a day for, and to celebrate, you. Yes, it’s important to your families and friends, but the day wouldn’t happen if you two weren’t in love and getting married. It’s easy to get swept away in what other people want and expect, but stay true to your own wants and desires and you will walk away from your wedding day glowing and with no regrets.