How to have an authentic wedding

How to have an authentic wedding

Plan your wedding day so that it really is the best day of your life

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unique engagement image

After attending hundreds (millions) of weddings in the past, planning my own has been an eye opening experience. What to wear? How to wear it? Who to invite? How much money to spend?...the questions go on and on and on. Here is some of the most important advice I can impart to you while planning your wedding.

Team work. This is likely the first big event you and your love completely do together. Start it out right, and do it together. "Whatever she wants" isn't a phrase that I hear Matt say. It's our wedding and WE want to be infused in every part of it…not just me. There are some things I don't care about and there are some things he doesn't care about…but for the most part, make your decisions together.

This is just the beginning. Use your engagement time as more than a time to focus on material things and party planning. Spend some time reading books together, listen to sermons and invest in your pre-marital counseling. Matt and I are meeting with a couple who's marriage we respect along with a pastor. We've read through several books and are learning about how to love and respect each other. This time of waiting and planning is perfect for learning how to communicate and love each other well. Our reading list included:

-The Most Important Year in A Man's Life and The Most Important Year in A Woman's Life by Robert Wolgemuth, Mark DeVries, Bobbie Wolgemuth, and Susan DeVries -The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller -A Lasting Promise by Scott M. Stanley

Use your resources… but don't USE your resources. You're best high school friend is a DJ, he would do it for free, right? Free usually comes with a price tag…unfortunately especially when it's someones job, free or half price usually ends up in a bit of bitterness and feelings of disrespect. Don't short change your vendors and helpers. Leave tips and be careful who you ask to do things for free.

Think outside of the box. You would be amazed at what you can find at thrift stores. We have picked up incredible decor for our cake table and centerpieces…decor that we spend pennies on and can send it back to a thrift store after it's used.

Our ceremony will be held in the mountains and our focus for the decor is highlighting God's creation. When seeking out the space earlier this year we collected bags full of pine cones. Pine cones are wintery, no? The correct answer is indeed no. Make them what you want them to be. We will be sporting pine cone centerpieces and pinecone bouquets. A pine cone hat, you may be thinking… "don't be surprised" would be my response.

Does this really matter? When the days are narrowing down and any new project brings up more stress ask yourself if it really matters…will anyone really notice if we didn't get a picture in the slideshow of us during the first month of dating? Is it really going to make a difference if we have matching bedazzled slippers to leave the reception in?

couple walking in the distance

The numbers are horrifying? We aren't number fans but for some reason we were keeping a running tally of where every cent was allotted. As the planning got more detailed, so our budget rose and actually doubled what our dream budget would be. If it's not essential for you to be exactly on budget, and budget isn't fun for you…put together a system that is for you. We have a check list of what we need to pay for and are working out way to the bottom from there.

Quick tips for wedding bliss.

-It's okay to not get your way. -I am not a Bridezilla! If you say that, you are. -Instead of asking for deals, ask if you can get less of the vendors services instead. -Seek out vendor reviews. -Hold your visual expectations loosely. -Don't forget about your relationship. -Ask your parents what three things are important to them. -Try to seek out your vendor as a person rather than only talking about numbers and services. You spend a lot of time with these people, make sure you love them.

natural engagement photographer

Wedding Planners? Yes please. Even if your dream full service wedding planner is unavailable or unattainable, find a day of coordinator or someone close. Don't make your favorite aunt stay late and wake up early to make sure everything is going smoothly. An important goal of Matt and I's is that we aren't doing any work during the wedding day. This is almost impossible if you don't have someone putting everything together for you. Remember, this day is for you and it's such a big deal. Be sure that your planning is set up in a way that allows you to enjoy everything that you can.

best save the date ever


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As a wedding photographer, I've been to a million weddings and learned a lot of things at each one. Now as I prepare to be married myself, I would like to share with you my tips on how to make your wedding day the best day of your life.

We are less than two months away from our big day and I am way behind on sharing the things I have learned and experienced. We've been engaged for a long and short four months and as each day gets closer we become more and more excited for the wedding and even more excited for life together as best friends.

picture of matt zoeller and jackie nuxoll

Your grandma will just die…"Your grandma will just die if you wear that on your head," my mom told me. I responded with, "We'll, it's going to be really sad to see grandma die on my wedding day." I love my grandma, don't get me wrong, but expect that everyone may hate something that you do. Good thing it's not their wedding.

If it's not fun, don't do it. If the garter toss is not fun for you, don't do it. If you think veils look like halloween costumes, don't wear it. Folding five hundred candy boxes…fun? Yes, don't do it. But, but don't we have to have the cake cutting? Say it with me now… "I don't have to do it."

If it's not fun or meaningful to you, don't do it. Do your single friends really want to be pointed out and brought to the dance floor to get lucky, catch a bouquet and "be next>" I have been to weddings where I am not sure if anyone is having fun. Will you regret it? When figuring out where to spend your budget, ask yourself, will I regret this…will I look back in 500 years and kick myself for not spending the extra million on that garter. Which leads in to my next point…

Focus on the important things/Is it fun? When deciding who was going to photograph my wedding (which started prior to even meeting Matt) I tossed and turned through my options. My all time favorite photographers would cost almost our entire budget. I thought I could hodge podge all of my photographer friends "Joe could do the couple photos," "Moe could do the reception," "Boe could do the wedding party," and then I asked myself, "Would that be fun?" It was pretty clear that no one would think that would be fun, including myself. Then I decided that I would rather not have photos than have images that I didn't like… OR, I could set up a timer or have my bridesmaids take photos…Matt and I could even take pictures of each other! We'll save tons!!

da. da. da. da. da. Shortly after, God blessed me with the most wonderful photographer. We will be spending oh…30ish percent of our budget on him. Why? Because we would regret it if we didn't. We don't care about the cake, we don't care about my shoes…but the photography, that is important to us.

Guest list. Oh…we can invite them…I'm sure they won't come. No no no. They will come. Invite only those who you really want to be there.

It's okay if everyone is not involved. This one was a difficult sacrifice for me. I wanted 6 flowergirls and 12 personal attendants because I love them all, but also because I wanted to not make people feel left out. We've found that simplicity makes us happy and that trying to please everyone is an endless and fruitless pursuit. Do what you want to do, but there really is no need for 12 personal attendants.

Make a list, check it twice. Make a monthly check list. One for the essentials and one for the non-essentials. If you do not complete the non-essentials, you are still allowed to cross it off the list (which is always fun) but leave it out. Wedding planning is a second full time job that you actually have to pay to do. Yet , you have no obligation to complete many of the problems. In some situations, stress can be your choice. Make your lists, check them twice. You don't always have to be stressed.

Hire someone you trust and make yourself trust them. From a vendors perspective, there is nothing more damaging than feeling not trusted. Signing that contract is more than saying I will pay you, it's saying I believe in you and trust you. I absolutely do my best work when a client believes in me which thankfully is the case more than not. Even if you don't fully trust your vendor and it's to late to change, pretend. You're likely to get poor results when your vendors aren't feeling loved. It's the circle of life.

Your vision and expectations. How to get the best out of your vendors...In trusting your vendors you essentially are trusting in their gifts and work flow. If they tell you pine needles will not go well in the soup but you just love pine soup…trust their expertise.

Your vendors live and breathe the business. My dress is currently being made and my pintrest board titled "dresses" doesn't have a dress in the mix that looks anything like my dress being made. There is no model or bride I tagged that is me. In showing my seamstress who I am and trusting her, I have a dress that I could have never expected or envisioned. It's perfectly me. Again, from a vendors perspective, no two people can see things the same way. Hire someone for what they see and check the reality and clarity of your expectations.

picture of couple in the city and mountains

Personality. "Maybe we shouldn't do this epic save the date because no one will get it," was a thought that passed through our minds for a brief second. Though we had to explain it to most people, everyone loved it because it was us. The more you are you, the more meaningful and enjoyable the celebration to everyone.

best save the date ever