inspiration? how to start personalizing your wedding: 4 steps

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming, especially at the beginning when you first start reading blogs and magazines and online forums… there is SOOO much information out there, that it’s easy to become confused about what you really want! I certainly discovered this firsthand recently, when I began planning my own wedding. (Within days, I was the proud subscriber to about 13 wedding blogs!) Being a wedding photographer, I do have a bit of an advantage heading into the whole planning process… I’ve learned that it’s the details that make each wedding unique, and I’ve been exposed to so many of my brides’ different personal touches, so I have a great feel for what my options are. But it’s STILL seemingly impossible to narrow down all these ideas into a small handful of ‘just right.’ Like surfing the online wedding blogs and boards, it’s information overload. And I, like most other brides out there, just don’t have the time (and the desire for all that stress!) to let myself get bogged down by it. So what to do?? How to figure out your theme, colors, and general vibe? Here’s what I found to work for me…

Step 1: Avoid the temptation to follow every wedding blog out there! You don’t want to find yourself spending hours each day catching up on the latest posts. Talk about stressful! Pick 1-2 of your favorite blogs, bookmark them, follow them, and that’s it. There is a lot of duplicate information out there, it gets shared from blog to blog, and you’ll find most everything you need to know in just one or two places. And you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Step 2: Turn off your computer, sit down with your fiance, and write down what you absolutely don’t want on your wedding day. Great, now you can cross the hula dancers off the list. This is a great time to start tossing around ideas about what might work, too! Like these adorable little Heinz ketchup favors / placecards that Leah and Quentin incorporated into their Pittsburgh-proud wedding at the Heinz History Center… Love ‘em!





Step 4: COLOR. For lots of people, here’s where it gets complicated. (Certainly for me!) Now you have your vibe and probably your venue, so it’s time to start playing with color combinations. First, rule out any colors that might clash with the decor in your venue or not quite fit in with your theme (ie a flashier selection of red/gold/black might not be the best fit for a natural-themed relaxed outdoor celebration). Next, what colors are you naturally drawn to? What colors will your bridesmaids refuse to wear? For me, this was a 2-month-long dilemma. I tried making my own inspiration board (more on this in another post) and pulled endless paint swatches and spools of thread in colors I really loved. I even found a really cool button that I thought would be a nice starting point. But I kept changing my mind (See Step 1!!!). So I took a trip to JoAnn’s and browsed their endless selections of fabrics until I found one that I fell in love with. It was absolutely perfect! Here’s my inspiration piece- the colors and style that I will be building my wedding around.



Now fabric might not be your thing. Maybe your inspiration piece is an album cover, favorite painting or model car, a vase, or even an old postcard. But the concept is the same- finding one standalone piece that positively inspires you, that you know in your heart you can build a wedding

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around. It doesn’t even have to be something that you include in your wedding at all! As long as it has its own artistic style and color that you can use, you’re set.


If you’re interested, here are a couple more photos of fabrics I picked up that day. I will be making my own flowers, table runners, and other DIY items… some of which I’ll probably share with you.

Step 3: What kind of vibe do you want? Picking this is a lot easier than you might think… My guess is that if you’re more of a formal country club kind of person, then you won’t be getting hitched in a barn. Think about how the two of you spend your free time. Are you avid readers? Look into local libraries for extra space. World travelers? How about an airplane hangar or an Italian restaurant bearing authentic Tuscan food reminiscent of where he proposed? Do you enjoy drinking wine or relaxing in the country together? Try a vineyard or even an orchard for a more relaxed vibe. Don’t be afraid to get creative when considering locations! Check out these couples’ stories for some more inspiration.

Here is a setup from Melissa and Mark‘s intimate, relaxed, afternoon reception at the Barn at Fallingwater, a warm, green location that was a perfect fit for their eco-friendly homespun wedding this past fall.

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