The 4 Most Important Decisions:
We know that planning your wedding is the greatest time in your life, but it can also be extremely stressful & overwhelming! We speak with lots of brides who are at different places in their planning process & one thing we’ve found is once you have the main parts of your fairy tale taken care of, the rest usually all falls into place! Yes, we need to know where Aunt Millie sits & which song not to play once the best man has had a few, but little details come easier once you’ve nailed out the big 4!
So, in this post, we are going to list the 4 most important decisions & reasons or advice on how to make them easier. Most of these are common sense, but you’ll be surprised how many of these can be the biggest cause of stress to your planning.
We have listed these 4 decisions in the order of importance as we see them as well as the order of importance of booking based on availability for a specific date. The “less crucial” items such as your dress & cake are not necessarily based on your wedding date per se, nor will it grossly affect your wedding should it take you a bit longer to make a decision, whereas the venue & photography team can only accommodate one wedding per date so the urgency is greatly increased.
Once you have made a decision on this list, or if you’ve already made one or more of the decisions on this list, feel free to check them off & continue down to the next decision. You’ll find having your decisions crossed off either on paper, your phone, or in your mind will bring your stress level down as well.
“Ugh! I waited too long I guess! The only venues left that have my wedding date open are all rustic themes & you know we are so not rustic, but what can we do!?” This is a sigh we have heard all too often. Venues are, in our opinion, the first & most important decision every couple needs to make when planning their wedding. The reason is simple, they can only book one wedding per date & there are hundreds of other brides all competing for your Saturday at their venue.
Having worked in the wedding business for over 10 years & having worked with so many amazing venues, we can tell you that each venue wants to accommodate every bride they can, but days are limited. In past years there has been an increase in brides having their wedding on nontraditional days such as Thursday, Friday, or Sunday. Many claim its because of schedule or family, but the biggest reason is because the venue they wanted was available on that day so they changed their original wedding date to accommodate the venue.
Yes you can get married anywhere you like. Yes we’ve provided wedding photography at some of the largest venues in Oklahoma & in some back yards as well. No, this won’t affect your love for your spouse, or your life together, but one thing we always tell our couples is we don’t want you to have to settle for something you didn’t want all because you waited too long.
Venues come in all shapes & sizes as well as themes from rustic, to Victorian, to urban, to grand. There is a venue to fit the style you’ve always dreamed about, but you can be sure, there’s another bride who wants that style as well.
So our advice is to first decide what style you want. Once you’ve done that, do a search for that kind of style online or you can see one of our posts about that style of venue. We love featuring venues that we think are amazing & post several venues on the blog each month as well list our top picks for each style. Once you find a few that you’d like to tour, call & book a tour as soon as you can. Depending on how far away your wedding date is will determine how quickly you need to make a decision. Venues usually book a year or more out so waiting until the last minute will be a major gamble. So, have your deposit ready & find the place that speaks to your heart.
Whew! You have a place to get married! It’s gorgeous! It fits your style & you can already picture the tables & the dance floor, but if you don’t choose the right Photographers, these memories could be lost. This decision is one that we hold very dear. As Premier Wedding Photographers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we consider picking the right team for your day extremely important. You are putting a lot of time, effort, & money into your wedding so you need to have the right team of Photographers to capture those memories.
This is the one decision that can be extremely stressful. There are so many different Photographers at all different price ranges. This a decision where budget does make a bit of a difference, but you also have to ask yourself what value your wedding photos bring to you. Photography is one of those wedding details where you really do get what you pay for.
There are many things to consider when looking for your perfect Photography team. For example, is there just one Photographer or 2? Do they include an album, an engagement session, video, or do they just give you a disk of only images? Each couple values something different so it depends on what you want for your day. In our experience we have found that while budget is a concern, those couples who truly value their photos & want to capture the best memories from their day aren’t as concerned about this detail. We have had weddings where we are the biggest part of the budget or the biggest part of their day because the art we create was the main thing they wanted.
If you’d like more information about what to ask a potential Wedding Photographer, see our post: HERE
Our advice for taking care of this detail is to first decide what options you are wanting from your Photography Team before you start looking. If all you’re wanting is a disk of images & the right to go print yourself, then look for Photographers who provide this service. There’s nothing wrong with this, just know what you want. If you want a gorgeous album professionally designed, video, prints, canvas art for your walls & other options, then look at photographers who provide it.
When booking a photographer, the advice we have is book quickly. Now, that’s not to say book without knowing who you’re hiring. If you’ve met them at a bridal show, seen their work online, followed them on facebook, etc & you want their style for your day, then why wait? Like venues, photographers can only accommodate one wedding per date & even though there are numerous photographers in any given city, if this is the photographer you want, then snatch them up.
Most photographers only require a retainer to hold your date. Each Photographer is different in what kind of retainer they require, but most give you plenty of time to discuss details & pay the balance.
Once you have the perfect venue & your dream team of Photographers, now it’s time to dip into your “Princess Style” & choose your dress.
Ok, you’ve got your venue & you’ve connected with your photography team, now it’s time to wrap yourself in some wedding dress goodness! Now this decision is one that lots of brides make at all different points in their wedding planning. We’ve worked with some brides who’ve had their wedding dress picked out long before they met their Prince Charming!
Some brides pick more than one dress for the different parts of their day! One more formal for the photos & ceremony & another for the reception. The thing to remember here is there’s no right or wrong decision when it comes to your wedding dress! What matters is that you feel beautiful. You feeling like the princess you are will show in your pictures.
Picking your dress is not as important as far as urgency on this list unless you’re working with a shop or designer that requires a specific amount of time for fitting & adjustments. The truth is there are so many dresses & dress shops of all prices, styles, & even colors. Yes, colors. Not every bride goes for the traditional all white!
Usually, finding your wedding dress does not present a ton of stress for the bride unless times goes by & you’re still looking for it 3 weeks before your big day!
So advice for selecting your dress is simplistic but also involved. First of all you have to decide on the style. Yes, as a wedding photographer, I am aware of how many different styles of wedding dresses there are. Haha! The style of dress that you “say yes” to should reflect your desires. No matter what someone else might tell you, body type should play no role in determining what you wear. Like I said earlier, find a dress that makes you feel beautiful.
Once you’ve found your perfect style, inquire about the fittings. If they have it readily available in your size then fittings should be somewhat brief & few. Most Dress designers make a variety of sizes for every style dress so it’s just a matter of the shop ordering one for you if they don’t happen to have one in stock. The thing about fittings is, go! It may seem like a lot of repetition but trust me, we’ve seen brides who go to put on their dress right before their first look & there’s a problem. Your wedding day is not the time to work out any design or fitting issues. So do your due diligence & ensure your stress free dress!
Yay! You now have a place to get married, your photography team is meshing with your style & has a clear goal for your story, & you have your dress! Man, can you feel the stress peeling off!? You’re almost done with your top 4! One more! Hang in there, you can do it!
Ok here’s where the rubber meets the road. This decision involves more than just look, it involves price, taste, design, size, tiers, on & on! Wait what if we did cupcakes!? Wait, what about the groom’s cake!?
There’s a lot of factors with your wedding cake choice. What if the place you found has the perfect design but you don’t like any of their samples? What if they can’t make the groom’s cake the way he wants it? This can cause major stress but look on the bright side! You’re on the last point of the most important decisions! No matter what else happens, you have your man, he promised he’d show up! You have your castle to get married in, we’ll be there to capture it, & Cinderella tweeted you to express her jealousy of the dress you’re going to wear! It’s going really well!
Stay calm & cake on!
Having a plan is the biggest piece of advice we can give, but like the other decisions, sometimes you have to alter that plan. If you choose to use a professional cake maker, then you’re pretty safe as far as being able to match taste with the design you want. This is their business, so they have to be able to accommodate every type of style & want. If you choose to go with a individual or maybe a close friend or relative, you may be more limited on choices. Obviously taste is a big factor. It doesn’t matter how pretty your cake is if no one wants to eat it. Haha
Of course, there are a hundred & sometimes even a thousand other decisions to be made about your day! There’s the DJ, the centerpieces, the wedding planner, the music, the food, etc & keep checking back as we are writing more posts in our Wedding Tip Series that will cover all of these & more!
The point of this first main post is to give you a good planning foundation so you can look at the rest of your wedding with less stress. No matter how big or small your final wedding is, once you know out the main four, you have the confidence you need to make the other decisions.
If you have any questions concerning anything we discussed in this post, or if you have other questions relating to your wedding day whether that be Photography, planning, décor, theme, schedule, etc. feel free to reach out to us. We are here to answer any questions you may have.
Stay tuned for the next post in the “Wedding Tip Series“ coming soon…