How do you start planning a wedding when you don’t know what you want? It seems odd that I didn’t have any sort of vision for my wedding when I first started planning, especially considering my fiancé and I were together for over five years before he proposed. Defining and creating the vision for your wedding is a big task that encompasses every aspect of your wedding planning, so it’s important to determine what you want.
Do you want a summer or winter wedding? Do you want a formal event, something more rustic and informal, or even a destination wedding? Do you want a specific theme? One of the most helpful exercises was something I learned from a bridal magazine: make a list of ten specific words or short phrases that you associate with your wedding. The more concise you can be by picking just a few words to describe a concept, the better. The first few words on my list were easy enough for me to think of, but after that, I had to think much harder to make sure each one was meaningful and specific. You probably won’t think of all ten in your first sitting, or even in your first month or two of planning. I’m over a year into my engagement (about three months away from my wedding) and I still don’t have all ten, but the ones I do have on my list have helped me define my vision.
When you start noticing that you’re continually being drawn to something specific, work on describing it with a short phrase and add it to your list. Bring your list with you when you meet with your vendors like the florist or even the cake decorator-it will help them understand the vision you are trying to create and they may even help you add to your list.
As you begin exploring the options and creating your list of ten words to describe your wedding, take a little time to imagine the ideal experience for your wedding. What stands out as the most important part(s) (food, cake, music, venue, flowers, etc.)? What do you want to be able to say after your wedding, or what do you want your wedding to say about you and your fiancé? What do you want your guests to say about your wedding when they leave at the end of the night? Think about the answers to these questions and go from there to develop your vision.
I have gained inspiration along the way from many sources, including magazines, vendors, friends and family. I did lots of browsing-I highly encourage you to do the same! As you’re browsing, make a note when something catches your eye or figure out the reason why you love a certain detail-you’ll start to notice a common theme (whether it’s a certain shade or style for your color scheme or outfits, or a certain decorative detail like flowers in mason jars). Also look through pictures of other weddings to find flowers, décor, or color combinations that speak to you. Magazines are also helpful resources, but don’t just limit yourself to bridal magazines-also look at publications for gardening, home décor, etc. that might seem outside the box.
When you find something you like in a magazine, mark the page. For me, it was helpful to use small sticky notes or colored sticky tabs to mark something I liked. You can even use color-coded tabs for each different area of your wedding-flowers, bridesmaids dresses, centerpiece concepts, seating charts, invitations, etiquette, etc.
(As a side note, don’t feel obligated to buy every brand new bridal magazine on the news stand-borrow older ones from friends who are already married, or check with the local library to see if they have copies that were donated. You will still find lots of great ideas even if the magazine isn’t filled with today’s latest trends. If you already have tons of magazines, don’t throw them away after you get married-donate them or pass them on to the next bride. It saves everyone money-bridal magazines are expensive and when you’re on a budget, you want your money going toward the actual wedding, not the magazines!)
Anyway, back to sources of inspiration…watch wedding shows on tv-it’s free access to creative concepts you might otherwise have to pay a wedding coordinator for. There are also great local resources available as you search for elements to incorporate into your wedding vision. Attend bridal events in your local area to meet vendors in person and see their work. Look at photo galleries on the websites for venues and photographers-you’ll probably find creative ideas from photographers, wedding coordinators and other local brides. What better way to visualize how your event space will look than to find photos from other weddings at the same venue?
The vision for your wedding will continue to develop throughout the planning process, so don’t worry if you don’t have an exact vision right away. I am still about three months away from my wedding, and my scattered ideas are just starting to come together to form a cohesive vision. As you meet with and/or book each vendor, you will get additional ideas that enhance and move your vision forward. Eventually, the fragments of ideas you’ve collected during your planning will all come together in perfect harmony to create the vision for your ideal wedding.
Until next time, best of luck creating your ultimate wedding vision!