Weddings are one of the biggest and exciting milestones a person can reach. However, many times, couples end up swamped with the logistics of planning an event and the reality of dealing with family drama. Couples get bulldozed over by family and friends on how their wedding day should look. It’s often frowned upon in society to say no to things but couples end up having weddings that are stressful. Most couples barely get to spend the day together or take in all the celebration because weddings are such a whirlwind of events. Couples end up wishing their wedding was over already due to the stress of planning and trying to make everyone happy.
With the COVID-19 pandemic putting a hold to traditional big weddings and events, many engaged couples are wondering how to go about their wedding day. To all my engaged folks out there dealing with the current pandemic, these thoughts might’ve crossed your mind more than once:
- “Do I postpone my wedding to next year?”
- “Should I elope?”
- “Should I forego my big wedding and do an intimate micro wedding?”
All three choices are valid but in this blog post, I’ll be talking about the third option and share why having an intimate wedding can help you have a more intentional and stress-free day.
Weddings have become less about the couple and more about entertaining a bunch of guests. Let’s change that.
You don’t have to follow tradition. You do you boo. It takes great intention to go against the grain but it will make your wedding day more meaningful.
I care about people living the life they want to live. I’m enthusiastic and encouraging in helping people feel okay about going after their dreams and passion to do what they want to do, rather than what they feel like they have to do.
If you can’t elope even if the idea is enticing, for whatever reason, you can still have an intentional wedding day.
It’ll require some courage for some but it’ll be so worth it. Here’s 10 ways to make sure you can have an intentional wedding.
1. Have an intimate wedding.
The easiest way to have an intentional wedding is to have an intimate one.
This means limiting the number of guests you invite and only inviting the people nearest and dearest to you who have and still create a positive direct impact in your life. Yes, some feelings may get hurt in the process not inviting the high school acquaintance you haven’t talked to in over 10 years, but being careful about who you invite is important.
Large weddings require you to greet more guests and keep them entertained, which can make your wedding feel like a huge production.
It requires a different kind of energy to keep a big party going. Keeping it small and intimate lets you relax in the company of a chosen few and spend more time with them, especially more time with your spouse. It will make your wedding day seem less overwhelming if it’s a small circle of your people. Also, if you’re introverted, a big wedding can be mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausting.
*With the current COVID-19 pandemic putting an indefinite hold on the wedding industry, this year, many couples are choosing to have an intimate wedding day with just a few people present. Social distance, wear your masks, and make sure your venue and vendors are all practicing good hygiene and cleanliness! You can choose to involve more people on your wedding day by broadcasting your wedding day through Zoom but if you feel too much pressure having more eyeballs on you, keep the guest list simple and small.
Being aware of your needs and intentionally guarding your boundaries and limit will let you enjoy your wedding day more.
2. Be firm and clear with your intentions.
If you want more “just you” time with the person you’re marrying, discuss with your photographer ways to have more intimate time so that they know that this is a high priority in the wedding timeline.
Let your family and friends know as well, kindly but firmly, the kind of intentional wedding you want to have that is true to you, even if you have to say no sometimes to their well-intended advice to invite someone you’ve never talked to before for the sake of not offending so-and-so.
3. Get a coordinator or wedding planner.
Everyone told me how stressful their wedding day was, how it flew by, and how they didn’t even eat dinner or enjoy all the people in their lives they had gathered for the day!
I highly recommend having an experienced wedding planner and/or day-of coordinator to keep the schedule in check and deal with any mishaps that might come up during the wedding day. It’ll make your day less stressful and give you some room to breathe, relax, and actually enjoy your day. Let the professionals handle the nitty gritty while you just celebrate on your wedding day and take in all the love and excitement!
Let the professionals handle the nitty gritty while you just celebrate on your wedding day and take in all the love and excitement!
Hiring a wedding coordinator or planner ensures that you enjoy the thousands of dollars (ouch) you spend on the big day! You’re already consumed with wedding jitters so you don’t need to be worrying about timelines and coordinating with venues on your big day. Just let yourself be led along. Hiring a great wedding planner or day-of coordinator is one of the best investments you’ll make (aside from your photographer to capture everything you’ve worked so hard to plan).
4. Do a first look.
Traditionally, grooms didn’t get to see their bride till the wedding march.
Today, first looks have become a popular option for couples who just want more time together. It carves out a chunk of time for you and your boo to see each other and shake off the wedding jitters. Your person is the one who brings you the most comfort so seeing them before walking down the aisle is sure to calm the both of you.
First looks are beautiful and intimate and allows you to have a private, emotional moment together without prying eyes.
It’s harder to let your guard down when there’s a hundred eyeballs on you, as well-meaning those eyeballs are. Your spouse gets to see you with your walls down as you see each other looking beautiful and radiant. These intimate raw moments bring couples together because they see a piece of your heart. It’s something I encourage all my couples to do.
First looks also allow you to get your bridal and wedding party portraits done and out of the way so you have more time during cocktail hour to mingle with guests.
Who knows? Maybe during your first look, you’ll get to make your future spouse literally laugh out loud as you show him the body tape used to keep your dress together (like this sweet couple here)!
5. Do private vows.
You can pour your heart out to your spouse without any judgement from others. As much as you love your guests, there’s still sometimes a bit of resistant to bare your heart and soul. If you’re a private person, you don’t have to force yourself to say your deepest thoughts to anyone but your spouse. You can be as blissfully vulnerable as you want. Best time to do this in a traditional wedding setting is during the first look as you read or say your vows to each other.
You can write them in a beautiful vow book and have as an heirloom keepsake to reread later in your marriage days to remember the emotions and soul-binding promises you said to each other.
A tangible piece of the wedding day besides your photos that will whisk you back is always a beautiful memento for the day.
6. Prioritize sunset photos.
It gives you time to sneak away during the reception to get some of the best photos of the day, the kind that you’ll choose to hang in your new home.
Give you and your spouse some quiet time to just breathe each other in and enjoy the first sunset as newlyweds.
Get away from the crowd a bit to celebrate with just your spouse. Let the wedding day sink in as you realize that you are married. This time is just for you.
7. Set your boundaries.
It’s scary saying no and putting your foot down to guard your boundaries against family. Couples need a safe place to do what they want to do even if they feel scared or nervous to make the jump. As a wedding photographer, I want my clients to have that safe place where they can be themselves. Your wedding day can be intentional and meaningful (not a performance running around like a headless chicken trying to please everyone). I want to encourage them to be true to themselves.
8. Skip the things that don’t matter to you even if it’s “tradition.”
If doing a special first dance with your aged grandparents is more important to you than doing the obligatory garter toss or bouquet toss, by all means, toss that tradition out the window and focus on the things that matter to you (such as more time with your spouse or your family and friends). You don’t have to do anything that doesn’t feel like you, even if society and tradition calls for it.
Cutting down on traditional wedding things that aren’t important to you will allow you to have more time on the things that actually matter to you.
Make your own rules on your wedding day.
9. Slow down and give plenty of cushion in the schedule so you can actually enjoy your day.
When planning your wedding schedule, add plenty of cushion in the schedule even if it seems like it’d be enough time. On paper, the schedule might look good enough to have everything one after the other but it’s better to anticipate things running a little behind schedule.
Also, make sure to carve out some time after your morning prep to do some gorgeous bridal portraits near a window. After all, your photos are the few tangible things left to remember your wedding day as you page through your heirloom wedding album years from now. You’re all glammed up looking your best so enjoy the moment with some timeless portrait.
One of the reasons weddings are so stressful is that there’s such a strict timeline to get everything done. Having a flexible schedule takes off a lot of pressure.
Weddings are notorious for falling behind schedule and for the wedding couple who planned every minute without any cushion will have an extremely stressful day as their plan goes up to flames. Have an extended gap between the ceremony and reception. You can choose to have a couple hours of breathing time after the ceremony so that you and your spouse can take a breather and relax. Maybe you can have a ceremony in the morning and late afternoon reception. Or if you’re doing a destination wedding at a resort or hotel, you can opt to have a multi-day wedding so that your wedding day is spaced out. This gives you room to choose days to enjoy free time with your spouse, wedding party, guests, exploring the location, etc.
10. Have a destination wedding.
I want to empower couples to go after their dreams and not live a borrowed life dictated by others. Some people dream of traveling and want to have an epic destination wedding with a small number of guests to make it more special and intimate but feel held back by their fear of the unknown and other’s expectations. I want to be a guide and help them take the leap to explore the world. The world is too big to be stuck in one spot for the rest of your life. I want to show them the world and help them realize that they are limitless. Destination weddings create a memorable and beautiful experience for everyone present.
One of the reasons I love destination weddings is that couples often choose to have multiple days of photography, giving us hours (instead of minutes) to explore the region and to create artfully composed, editorial-style portraits in a variety of unique landscapes.
Whether you elope or choose to have an intimate intentional wedding, don’t let someone else write your story.
Now that you know 10 ways to have an intentional wedding, go out and have it! Even if others have made the decisions for you up until now, on your wedding day, it’s the start of a new chapter. Take the leap and be the author of your own life.