So, you got engaged – YAY! – Congratulations!!!!
Before you start trying on dresses or tuxes, booking your entertainment, or sampling a bite of cake — look at the big picture and determine the overall vibe and feeling that you want to set on your wedding day.
One of the hardest things about wedding planning is deciding on your wedding vision, your wedding style, and your wedding themes. While they are all uniquely different concepts, they work together in a major way. You might want some elements of artsy alternative, combined with the makings of a rustic barnyard. Settling on an overarching concept and sticking to it is the easiest way to plan a wedding that feels totally connected and looks like you—and trust me, it will make your life a lot easier as you weed through all the options in the weeks and months to come. Most importantly, you’ll ultimately need to clearly communicate that vision to your florists, bakers, caterers and so on so that they’re on the same page as you.
Step 1: Think Big
The beginning of the process is the dreaming phase, so don’t worry about how something will work or how much it will cost. And don’t even consider what your parents will think. Picture your dream wedding. What do you see? Here are a couple of questions to consider while everything is coming together in your head.
- Big or Small
- Home or Away
- Outdoors or Indoors
Step 2: Gather and Save Inspiration
To get a better idea of what you want (and definitely don’t want), spend some time checking out bridal magazines, books, blogs and real wedding photos. Don’t limit yourself to browsing just the obvious sources. Something as unlikely as a wallpaper pattern or a pretty perfume package design can spark an idea. Fabrics, color chips, stationery and trinkets are all great starting points too. Collect your ideas on your shared Pinterest board — it’s one of the best ways to keep everything organized. It will also help you identify common threads and visualize how various elements will look together.
Step 3: Figure Out the Formality
How fancy or casual do you want to go? Do you want to see your guests all dressed up at a sit-down dinner? Or will it be more casual with informal seating and stations? The setting of your wedding can also dictate the vision—a beach wedding calls for a more laid-back vibe, while a ballroom may require a more classic and elegant wedding. And don’t forget about your own personal styles and the kind of atmosphere that best speaks to you two as a couple. Do you like hosting intimate dinner parties, getting decked out and partying until dawn, or throwing a low-key poolside picnic? Whatever you decide, you’ll want to carry your chosen formality through every aspect of your wedding, from the stationery to the parting favor.
Step 4: Narrow in on Your Style
The more specific you get with your vision, the easier it will be for you to choose your details and convey your ideas to your vendors—the tighter your theme the better. Instead of stopping at “glam,” decide whether you want art-deco glam or old-Hollywood glam. Your theme can be anything from a favorite era, hobby or place to your heritage or culture. To help shape the style, think of interesting hobbies you and your partner have in common. Maybe you both love golf or share an appreciation of art. Or perhaps there’s a place you two hold dear, like the campsite where you got engaged or the tropical island where you fell in love.
Reminder: Don’t load up on too many ideas. It’s great if you love period pieces and your spouse-to-be is into gaming, but trying to combine both on your wedding day will likely lead to a disjointed affair. Do your best to compromise on one concept and stick to it.
Step 5: Pick Your Colors
Color is a unifying factor among all your wedding elements, from your wedding website to the bridesmaid dresses. Take a look at a color wheel to determine which shades you’re drawn to. The easiest way to make all of your wedding elements come together is to stick with one main color and an accent color, or two equally prominent complementary colors (colors that are directly opposite each other on the color wheel, like green and pink or yellow and purple) for a bright contrast. But don’t feel limited to just two colors—adding neutral or metallic accents will make your palette pop. You could also choose an analogous scheme—putting together three colors that fall side by side on the color wheel, like blue, periwinkle and violet, to bring out the subtle nuances of one color family.
Step 6: Choose your Branding
A branding motif is the last flourish that can tie together the overall look of your wedding—it can show up anywhere from the invitation to the cake. It’s typically a pattern, shape or insignia that conveys your style (i.e., monogram, family crest,pattern or leaf icon). Whatever you choose should reinforce the mood you’re trying to create.
Step 7: Don’t Forget the Vibe
As you’re planning, remember that the theme obviously affects the look of your wedding, but it can also set the tone. An evening wedding in a grand ballroom meant to imitate the roaring twenties will ramp the elegance up a notch, while a barbeque on the beach will have guests kicking off their shoes and enjoying a beer right out of the bottle. Either is great, as long as it feels right to you. You want your personalities and passions to shine through, which is what ultimately makes your wedding stand out and feel special.
Step 8: Name it and Claim it
Now that you have thought about how each and every detail of your wedding can be catered to your likes, wants, and specifications, what would you call your theme and overall vision? Don’t look back — Once we move forward with your vision, too many changes can make the event feel disconnected.