In the age of the Internet and a camera in everyone’s pocket, it’s easy to fall into the trap of planning your wedding with social media in mind. Back in the day, wedding photos would only come out every now and then in a family album or hanging on the wall, but now they live forever online. This really ups the stakes. Not only will everyone you’ve ever known see pics on Facebook or Instagram, but there’s also Pinterest and wedding blogs to think about. It used to be that most people would go to a couple of weddings a year, so a trend wouldn’t seem ‘overdone’, but with the exposure we have to weddings online now, people see things millions of times before you get to it. If that doesn’t worry you at all, great! Teach us your ways! But for many of us, the pressure to ‘compete’ and to have something perfect to show on social media is too much.
So how can you make sure you stay grounded?
1. Focus on the experiences, not just the decor
When planning your big day, it’s easy to get caught up in appearances: the way things look rather than how they feel. It’s a good idea to take a step back and think about the feel of things, both literally and figuratively.
Consider other senses beside visual:
• Touch – Opt for soft fabrics when you choose outfits and table cloths, choose wedding invitations that you want to run your hands over (letterpress is a good bet!), provide comfortable seating and think about how you can keep the temperature pleasant for guests.
• Sound – Think about what music you will play when, who will be in charge of microphones and such to avoid awful screeches from the equipment, and
• Smell – Our sense of smell carries the most vivid memories, so you don’t want your wedding to be what people think of anytime they smell a musty old church or disinfectant in a reception hall. Flowers and candles are both common at weddings and are good options to add some pleasant aromas, but make sure the scents are working together and aren’t too overpowering.
• Taste – This should take care of itself with a good choice of caterer and wedding cake, but you can also provide mints or other small lollies or snacks throughout the day and maybe consider having a signature drink of some sort.
• Peace Of Mind – Deal and fix all problems before your wedding day. Consider getting a life cover, paying off your debts, or making amends with friends you've had issues with. It's easier to cherish this special event in your life without these predicaments that continuously bother your conscience.
• Soul – The day will, of course, be full of soulful moments, but consider what makes you feel good in your heart as well as your senses. Ethically sourced wedding supplies or an eco-friendly venue might be just the thing, or incorporating all your family members to honour their presence in your lives.
You should also consider the vibe of the day and the things you can do to add meaning rather than just style. Picture your wedding day and think about what you would like to feel and what you would like to remember, then make that happen. Think from the feelings outward, rather than from what looks good in the pictures inward.
Example: You are extremely close with your grandma and are inspired by her 60 year marriage. Why not plan a few moments before the ceremony to sit with her and hear some words of advice and encouragement? Will this make for some great photos? You betcha. But the photos will be meaningful because you planned the moment to be meaningful. This will always work better than planning a good photo and trying to add meaning into it in reverse.
2. Choose your photographer carefully
When it comes to stress about getting good wedding photos, you should be able to delegate most of it to your photographer. Choose someone you have confidence in and you can rest easy knowing they will make sure everything looks amazing, even if it isn’t all perfect in real life. A great photographer will know what to take pictures of and what to leave out, and you will trust them enough not to feel like you have to direct them all day or pose for the camera constantly. When choosing a photographer you should also consider their style and personality. Ideally you want them to always be where they need to be but never in the way or taking too much of your attention. Check reviews from past clients and look for evidence they are warm, non-intrusive and natural when taking photos. The best kind of photographer just feels like another guest rather than an interruption.
3. Consider some no-photo time
Try to plan some time in your day where there will be no photos so you can take a break and focus on the emotions of the day. This might mean breakfast with your bridesmaids before the photographer gets there, or scheduling in half an hour to journal before you head to the church. It could mean that you ask guests not to take photos while you’re walking down the aisle or during your vows. You might take a couple of minutes after the ceremony just as a couple to focus on each other in the mad rush of everything. There’s no right or wrong way to go about this, but don’t be afraid to mark out some time in the day when you don’t have to worry about the cameras and you can fully enjoy the moment.
4. Plan your ‘inspiration’ time
Wedding planning can become a frustrating and overwhelming loop if inspiration-seeking is allowed to go on too long. With all the beautiful weddings and trends featured online, it can be easy to get caught up in trying to compete and it is often difficult to commit to a style. The best way to handle this is to choose a few high quality sources for inspiration – favourite blogs or Pinterest accounts – and giving yourself a reasonable time limit on this sort of thing. That might mean you only browse inspiration for the first couple of months of wedding planning, until you have a basic idea of what your options are. It might mean you only browse certain things up until you make a decision on that element of the wedding (like not looking at pictures of dresses after you’ve picked out your dress!) to avoid buyer’s remorse and second guessing yourself. It might even just mean that you limit your inspiration browsing to a couple of hours a day or a couple of days out of the week. This all depends on your personality and your tendencies. Essentially, this is about trying to turn your mind away from the aesthetics of the wedding and toward the practicalities of planning and putting what you love into practice.
There is nothing quite as exciting as getting wedding photos back, but you should enjoy them as a memento of how enjoyable the day was, not just as something that looks pretty. Be sure to plan for a wedding day that feels even better than it looks, and you will really have something to share on social media.
Maddison is a writer, communications professional, postgrad student, part-time librarian, and occasional wedding photographer. She is a regular contributor to Paperlust, and loves words and drinking cups of tea.
by Maddison Wallace