When planning my own wedding, I learned that there were priorities for each of our vendors, and together, we needed to discuss the what’s and the why’s of each of them, before making any decisions.
Planning a wedding is emotional, and it’s as much an investment in your time, energy, and feelings as it is your money — so while it may seem like a cut and dry procedure to “keep this”, “nix that”, etc. - discussing the nuances of each are non-negotiable. Now’s the time to tap into your feelings, fiancés!
Oh, and just for perspective, remember I had planned hundreds of weddings before I started planning my own. Brent was a full-time pharmacist — AKA a groom who hadn’t put much thought into his own wedding day, as many don’t (love you, darling; and forgive my generalizing - it’s not always, but often very true) — so we needed to average our combined wedding knowledge and experiences and come up with our individual and shared “can’t get married without” lists.
These are the questions we asked ourselves and the notions we had to explore at a much deeper and more granular level:
Uncovering Your Wedding Priorities By Vendor:
Why must it be at X place?
My take: I wanted to stage our day in the locale where our love story unfolded, where we lived, and where my 91-year-old Grandfather could travel to — it could only be Chicago.
What that might mean for you: A place that has resonance for your relationship. Maybe you had your first date at an iconic historical spot in a major metropolitan city; maybe you only ever met somewhere halfway between the two of you during your ‘long-distance love’ era; maybe you’re hometown heroes, and you couldn’t possibly think of somewhere else to grow your marriage and family than the place you put your OG roots down in.
Why can’t it be at Y place?
My take: I wanted our wedding to not feel like work. This meant I not only wanted, but needed a venue I had no other emotional or logistical ties to (i.e. a spot I’ve worked at a bajillion times already).
What that might mean for you: That might just mean not getting married at the same venue your friends or siblings did or that your mom has mentioned more than a few times, much to your dismay (sorry, we know you love that country club, Mom, but perhaps it’s just not for us?)
Live Music, A Band, DJ or a hybrid? What makes you groove?
My take: We knew live music was where it’s at for us; we also knew that hearing lyrics to our processional music, a bit less common for ceremonies, was also a must because the songs we selected were so emotionally-charged (“Human” by the Killers for Brent and my Dad’s favorite “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland for me).
What it might mean for you: You may know you want a stacked setlist and barely any time to rest between dance numbers, but what songs do you need to have to hype your guests accordingly? What concerts do you go to? What do you blast on Spotify when your days have been amazing and, equally telling, really bad? What brings a smile to your face when you start envisioning your guests dressed-to-impress, tearing up the dance floor? The answers that lie within these questions will help you make the important decision about what avenue will best serve you and your guests when it comes to your wedding entertainment.
What do you love to eat, what does your family crave, and can it satisfy a whole room?
My take: I hate bread baskets. I knowww they serve a purpose (people can be quite hungry when they enter the reception, regardless of how fabulous the cocktail hour was!), and they are expected. BUT, I opted for individual charcuterie boards instead. Everyone got to nosh on what looked best to them, and our family loved them, because together, Brent & I make the most epic boards at every family events!
What it might mean for you: You and your fiancé are certified foodies, you’ve gone to cooking classes together, you’ll cancel plans to watch Top Chef together on Thursdays whenever it’s in-season, and you always bring an epicurean-inspired drink, app or entrée to your family gatherings and game nights with friends. Not everyone on your guest list is guaranteed to love a whole bunch of crudos at cocktail hour or a terrine during dinner, though, so instead - compromise! Go a bit more mainstream for your dinner fare to play to the comfort level of the masses, but display an experiential food station at cocktail hour or even some Wylie Dufresne-type molecular gastronomical desserts at your after-party to make sure your foodie sensibilities are satisfied!
What parts of the day do you want to add an exclamation point to?
My take: Because the ceremony was the most important part of the day for Brent and I, we wanted it to feel like an ethereal and emotional start to our celebration. As such, my love for a “crescendo of color” concept was born! By the time guests entered the reception there was nothing but rich, vibrant jewel tones as far as the eye could see! An intentional and bold transition born between ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception that our guests truly noticed and loved!
What it might mean for you: You know that your vows are going to be the most poignant part of your day or that your first dance is going to make each of you weak in the knees (in the best way), so you’ll want to work in details or special, statement aesthetics that accentuate the moments (and make for great photos!). What pulls on your heart strings? And when you can answer that, how are you going to design that juncture in the day so that it makes your hearts completely burst (again, in the best way!)?
What flowers speak to you in ways that far transcend their natural beauty?
My take: I held peonies (my favorite flower) and orchids (for my Thai heritage) in my bouquet as I said “I do” under Craspedia “billy balls.” A flower I personally attribute to the happiness and pure joy that is and was my late brother.
What it might mean for you: It could be the color, the drama, the simplicity, or the architectural genius of a special flower genus that makes you swoon (and yes, that word isn’t always my favorite, but I’m leaning into it here!). Flowers are a luxury, an extension of your wedding design and vibe outfitting, and we think there’s no better use for them than at your wedding.
What kinds of ensembles will make you feel extra decked-out, but also utterly and completely true to form?
My take: Brent and I have strong individual styles; he was not the groom I was going to “pick” something out for, nor direct him and his groomsmen on what to wear. We let one another do our thing and stepped into fashions like they were beacons of our personalities. Brent wore a custom teal tux and hand selected feather bow ties to match his groomsmens’ personalities and physical attributes (I love how red-haired Brady had flecks of amber in his!).
What it might mean for you: Worry less about “matching” or what “looks good in the fall vs. winter" and more on what speaks to you and the key players of your Wedding! Don’t forget to have FUN with fashion and pursue what is going to make you and your party members feel GOOD.
What written or unwritten, signature, and “so-us” things can we weave throughout the day/weekend?
My take: Notice how I added the word “branding?”I love telling a story through events and for us, the motifs were a continued floral print and an architectural feature of our wedding venue — along with a hidden Mickey, again, in honor of my brother (found in our wedding invitation and sprinkled throughout the venue that night!).
What it might mean for you: Just like your unique wedding hashtag, if you have one (and we are still absolutely team hashtag), your wedding should have stamps or hallmarks that feel totally like you/your partner, and/or acknowledge, reference, or pay tribute to something or someone in your life who means everything to you. Your guests will remember the fun they had at your wedding - that’s very important, of course! But, they’ll also remember all the special, intentional touches you incorporated into the day, and they’ll talk about those forever!
You’ll notice there may be other vendor categories we have (strategically) not yet covered, such as where you’ll
stay and get ready, transportation, and all those special “little something extras” as we call them at CJDE.
Purposefully done, let’s get your foundation poured before we keep building the house!
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