Shelly Pate

How to Enjoy the Process: Wedding Planning Tips and Advice

Not every couple gets excited about planning their wedding. While some have a vision from the start, each couple will experience the process differently. Wedding planning is an involved experience that requires many decisions, vendor management, and coordination. This is why couples hire a wedding planner or wedding coordinator to ease these steps! No matter the route you choose, these top wedding planning tips and advice will help!

For more wedding planning tips, check out my Wedding Tips Series below!

Your Wedding Planning Checklist: The First Step

Once my sister got engaged, the first step she took was asking for my advice on how to plan a wedding. Before we got into the nitty gritty of a wedding planning timeline, we started with what most couples forget to consider: their mindset. My sister had to plan while keeping in mind sensitive family health issues and wanting to budget for a house. It’s easy to become stressed and overwhelmed when there are outside factors that strongly affect the options for your wedding vision.

Even though I could have started by pulling from my practical wedding planning tips and advice, I know that what strongly affects implementing those tips is your mindset. So that’s where we started!

Wedding Planning Tips and Advice to Reframe Your Mindset

wedding dress hangs on window

There are many thoughts I can share on wedding planning how to’s from my experience as a Washington, DC and destination wedding photographer. As I guide my couples through their wedding timeline planning, the most common roadblock I witness is their own mindset.

I find that somewhere in the middle of the wedding planning stages a couple will hit a wall due to stress or overwhelm. Even couples who use either a planner or their photographer as the elopement planner, stressors can still arise. The following are the wedding planning tips and advice I shared with my sister that can help both the practicals and the emotions of planning a wedding.

#1 Your Wedding Day is for YOU

One fact that’s easy to forget as you’re swept up by wedding planning is that this day is for you two and everyone else is a guest. Not that providing a great guest experience isn’t important, but it’s not the primary purpose of the day. In other words, you should celebrate how YOU want to without catering to the pressures of family, friends or traditions.

The wedding day is a pivotal moment at the start of your life together and should not be spent pleasing others. There’s no reason to ever look back thinking, “I wish I had not done this,” or “I was stressed throughout the whole experience.” Remembering whose day it is will keep these thoughts from ever entering your mind!

 #2 Design a Day That Reflects You

It’s OK to break traditions that don’t mean anything to you while still keeping the ones that do! This could include going without a wedding party or not having them stand up front with you. Be OK with saying “No” to traditional wedding day features that don’t matter to you. 

couple stands with wedding party at outdoor wedding venue

Another reality of wedding planning is that getting married can be expensive and you might not be able to do everything you originally planned. Start by making a list of your wedding priorities and then shape your wedding budget around it. If you value preserving the day’s memories, you will invest more in your wedding photography costs than other areas of the day.

couple twirls beside lake at outdoor wedding

Structuring the day by what you value most may also involve tough decisions that exclude certain elements or cut your guest list. A 70-guest wedding is considered a medium, not a small wedding and the catering cost will still be high at this size. Options for lowering the overall cost include skipping a full dinner and opting for more of a cocktail party celebration instead.

I’ve watched couples use different wedding planning tips and advice to create days that echo them:

couple walks down aisle together at winery wedding
couple poses together in fall vineyard following wedding planning tips and advice

#3 Filter Through Outside Opinions

couple stands on patio together at sunset

Know that you can expect unsolicited opinions to come especially from those closest to you. Your loved ones may want to share their own opinions about what your wedding day should look like. Don’t forget that the day is yours to design, to celebrate your relationship and create your memories. The wedding planning tips and advice you choose to follow is completely up to you.

Even though it’s such a great resource for wedding inspiration, be careful with Pinterest. Don’t let your heart become set on something that is out of your budget like an intricate floral arrangement. Instead of setting yourself up for disappointment, look for color palettes over specific decor ideas.

My sister soon became bombarded with so many opinions that she couldn’t even remember her own wedding vision. I was able to remind her that she had always wanted something smaller, and she then felt more settled in her decision. It is very overwhelming being asked about details sometimes only days after becoming engaged. I advise pursuing a one-month exploration period to discover your own preferences before asking or taking anyone else’s–including mine!

wildflower wedding bouquet following wedding planning tips and advice

My sister expressed that she really appreciated the advice, particularly that it’s permissible to ask for space while figuring out what you want. This can be such a game changer!

Find more wedding planning tips and advice on How to Plan a Wedding Budget Without Losing Your Wedding Vision!

CASE STUDY: Samantha and Don

couple kisses at outdoor vineyard wedding following wedding planning tips and advice

What this couple valued most was time with their people. Samantha is from the Netherlands so she had guests arriving from all over the world. The bride also always dreamed of doing a Viennese waltz at her wedding so these two did lots of prep. Placing the priority on the guests and first dance was part of the reasons why they chose the venue.

couple has first dance together at wedding reception

The reception space of the Stone Tower Winery has plenty of room for dancing and they loved how it felt like an escape. In their own words, what these two wanted most from their day was a focus on “the joy of the day and our love for each other. Also, fun, lightheartedness and connection with family and friends.”

couple walks through outdoor vineyard following wedding planning tips and advice
couple kisses under fall leaves on wedding day

Wedding Vendors

Venue | Stone Tower Winery
Photographer | Shelly Pate Photography
Florist | Walking Wind Farm & Florist
Musicians | The Sweater Set & Moonshine Party Band
Catering | Heirloom Catering & Event Design
Planner | Laura Louise Events
Cake | LuluBell Cakes
Dress | TLC Bridal Boutique, Allure Bridals
HMUA | Best Face Forward
Rentals | Select Event Group


Wedding Tips Series

Part 1: Make the Most of Your Wedding Morning Getting Ready
Part 2: Best Wedding Day Tips: How to Plan a Relaxed Wedding
Part 3: Private Moment Inspiration: More Than Just Your Wedding First Look
Part 4: Wedding Photography Packages: Knowing How to Choose the Best Fit
Part 5: Getting the Best Wedding Day Photos – Tips & Ideas for Wedding Photo Poses
Part 6: Unique Wedding Planning Tips for a Smooth Wedding Day

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