We celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary in April and it got me thinking about our wedding as I went through our album for the 100th time. So, I thought it would be fun to share some reflections on my wedding to help anyone n the process of wedding planning right now. My husband Scott and I met at Dickinson College at the end of our freshmen year. We started dating in our junior year and have been together ever since. We got married on April 12, 2008 at The Fox Hill Inn, in Brookfield, CT. I was a high school history teacher at the time and Scott was an actuary. So much has changed in our lives since then – not the least of which includes the state we live in and both of our careers!
When we got married, Pinterest didn’t exist yet (let that one sink in!). Plus, I was in no way connected to the wedding industry. We were also the first children in each of our families to get married. Simply put, I know SO MUCH MORE now. I’m much more in touch with trends and traditions, and I’ve had the privilege of capturing 100+ incredible weddings. Given all of that, there are some things I’d do differently if I could go back to wedding planning and start again. Don’t get me wrong, we had the most amazing wedding day and I love thinking back on it often. There are many things that I wouldn’t change at all. But I’m just being honest that we missed some opportunities to make our day even more special. Let’s start with the things we did that I would do over and over again and then dig into things I’d change.
Wedding Panning – Things I’d Do Again:
1) Hire A Band – We had the absolute best time dancing and singing along with our band. The live music was so much fun! We adored the high energy and talent that our band brought to our reception. Scott even surprised me by getting up in front of everyone and playing guitar and signing Stand By Me. The band set him up and even offered to accompany him!
2) Thank Our Guests – We wrote a short thank you letter that we included in each of the bags guests received at the hotel. It was a chance to acknowledge them and thank them for coming, for supporting us, and for loving us. Being able to thank each of our guests and acknowledge the important role they played in our lives and our relationship was really special. I’m glad we went beyond a welcome tag to share something heartfelt in writing.
3) A First Look – Scott and I wanted to be together for as much of our wedding day as possible. And we wanted to be at as much of our wedding celebration as possible. A first look took care of both of those for us. Instead of waiting until 5 o’clock to see him at the ceremony, we had a private reveal moment somewhere around 2pm and took our time. Then our wedding party and family joined us for portraits. It was a wonderful opportunity to spend intimate time with our best friends and immediate family before everyone else arrived. Read more about why you may love a first look, too.
4) Have An Ice Cream Sundae Bar – Scott isn’t a huge fan of cake. Now ice cream, that’s his all-time favorite dessert. Naturally, we opted for the ice cream sundae bar! Our venue had on-site catering and our wedding collection there included a cake, so we had both, which was nice. People loved the ice cream sundae bar and the chance to choose their own toppings. Plus, it was the perfect treat when they took a break from dancing later in the evening. It was such a hit, I’d definitely do this again.
5) Invest In Photography When Wedding Planning– Are you surprised?! Even though we got married before I became a photographer, I was already obsessed with photography and with preserving beautiful memories of our day. I knew that the photos would become part of the legacy of our marriage. Long story short, investing in photography was never a question.
Wedding Planning – Things I’d Do Differently:
1) Have A Smaller Guest Count – We had about 110 people at our wedding and it was truly lovely. But if I did it again, I’d go even smaller to somewhere around 60 people. There were guests we still barely got to see or talk to on our wedding day and keeping the guest count smaller would ensure we got time with everyone. It would also force us to make sure every person on the list was deeply important to us.
2) Write Our Own Vows – We were a bit nervous about being center stage. Because of nerves we opted to recite back the vows the officiant led us through. We did have a say in the exact wording, but now I REALLY wish we’d taken the time to get more personal and write our own vows. So many of my couples do this and it’s always incredibly emotional and beautiful to hear them. Plus, the ceremony instantly has so much more personality because of it. We’re planning a vow renewal when we hit our 15th anniversary. You better believe we’ll be writing our own vows that time around!
3) Invest More In Flowers & Stationery When Wedding Planning – Flowers do so much of the heavy lifting in terms of setting the mood and adding beauty to the day. I love tulips and there were plenty at our wedding, but they were simple and even sparse in some places. I wish we’d gone for more. We also got our flowers through a grocery store florist. It wasn’t the kind of bespoke or high quality experience I want for my LRP couples. Similarly, I wish we invested in a custom suite with a stationer, rather than going the DIY route we went. Stationery sets the tone for the wedding and is one of the only physical remnants of the day besides the photos. So I wish we’d created a beautiful suite that was personal and that we could now have as a keepsake. Read more about working with a custom stationer here.
4) Have Someone Close To Us Officiate – Maybe this was something people did and I just didn’t know it, but having someone we love get a one-day certificate to officiate our wedding just never even crossed our minds. Our Justice of the Peace was a really nice guy, but he met with us twice and that was it. The ceremony was thoughtful but not personal. In recent years, at the weddings I’ve photographed, it’s become more of the norm to have a loved one officiate and I adore it. They’re able to make the ceremony super tailored to the couple and share memories that are engaging for the guests.
5) Skip Wedding Favors & Donate To A Good Cause Instead – Ever-obsessed with photography, our 2×3 silver-frame favors also acted as escort cards. They were simple and elegant enough, but many of them got left behind at the end of the night. And they weren’t really a personal touch or meaningful in any way. Instead, Scott and I would choose to donate to a cause we believe in. I do this annually in my business, donating to the MSPCA or the Boys and Girls Club in each of my couples names. And it’s one of the things I’m most grateful that my business allows me to do. We spent so much money on our wedding, that I wish we’d taken the opportunity to donate to a good cause.