To be honest, I was lucky, and loved planning my wedding, but I still found it hard to get started, and find inspiration for the unique wedding I wanted, I had wedding magazines up to my eye-balls, Pinterest Boards as long as my arm, but still I needed more inspiration…
Not only did I love planning my wedding, I’ve also spent the last 5, or is it 6 (?!)? years helping others to plan theirs (and providing them with the tools to do so. Whether it’s a wedding planner book, electronic tools or even professional wedding planning software,… you name it, I’ve got it, but first, you need to find the right inspiration to make you want to get started planning.
As you’ve identified in the title, this list does not include Pinterest or even wedding magazines. Of course, they can be great tools, but as you use them to find inspiration, keep in mind that these weddings are often very expensive weddings, ‘whoa’ destinations (and ‘wow’ budgets), or even what the wedding industry calls a “styled shoot”. A styled shoot is essentially advertising, where supremely talented wedding vendors collaborate (florist, photographer, stylist, dress designer, make-up artist, etc) to create perfectly styled images that can be used on their respective blogs, in advertising, wedding magazines, and on Pinterest! Those curated shoots has neither been created for a wedding of 100+ guests, nor has anyone actually had to pay for them.
I much prefer to see real life-style weddings, and especially see what people have done differently.
1. An unexpected but incredible tool to plan your wedding… instagram!
When I first wrote this article in 2016 the year I got married, this was most definitely an untapped tool, but in 2022 it’s a no-brainer. Instagram has had a major upgrade over the years, and now you can save photos to inspiration folders, flicking through your favourites at a moment’s notice.
To get started, obviously follow @shesaidyes, @somethingblue and @forgetmenot_journals…. You can browse through some of our real wedding inspiration, use the hashtag search function, e.g. #aucklandwedding #nzwedding #waihekewedding #fijiwedding. You can also search by through a venue’s tagged photos or browse their hashtags, e.g. #mudbrickvineyard, #gracehill #ascensionestate and see if there’s a “place” registered there to browse too.
Finally, and this brings me onto my second best tool to plan your wedding… if a photographer has tagged wedding photos there, head to their website to see the full set, as you might even discover an unknown gem!
2. Google Venue names to find real wedding features
Once you’ve identified a couple of potential venues, take to Google Search to find out more. For example, if you google “The Tree Church” and “Wedding Photographer”, the second link is to The Official Photographers’ website (our photographers!) where you can see an entire album of wedding photos there, or come across the real wedding fallery on a blog like this one. This is an ideal way to find your wedding photographer, as working with photographers who are familiar with the wedding venue is of huge value. Even if you know your wedding photographers already, you can draw a lot of inspiration from others’ wedding photos, style and theme, by using Google search terms. Put the venue in quotation marks, such as “Markovina Vineyard” or “Old Forest School“.
3. Ask Facebook groups for recommendations (and pick up treasures)
A couple of notes on Facebook groups here, and it may not be just what you were thinking. There are many Facebook groups that discuss planning, where you can share inspiration, ask for help and get advice. They are also a treasure trove of second hand (used once!) goods, think wedding signage, bridesmaids dresses, cake knife sets and more.
Depending on the average age of your guests, and whether you’ve been able to keep your parents off Facebook, creating a private Facebook group can be incredibly useful to communicate with your guests.
We started a Facebook group and managed to have over 60 of our 75 guests connected there. We advised of traffic delays en route, asked if anyone had room in their vehicles for another stranded guest, and let them know when we had to change the rehearsal dinner location due to weather. Following the wedding, all of our guests could make friends easily too, and the next of our friends’ weddings will actually include new friends that they made at our wedding.
4. Write it down – it’s the best free therapy you can get
I am sure I don’t need to convince you that you need a wedding planner book, or wedding folder, but you possibly haven’t thought about the benefits of actually keeping a wedding diary during your engagement. As well as keeping all your to-do’s, your vendor contacts, budget, guest list (and more and more), it is also incredibly therapeutic and incredible for stress and anxiety to gather your thoughts, vent your frustrations, and keep a diary of this very special time. What I hadn’t anticipated though, til right at the end, was how useful these thoughts would be later. A collection of musings on our lives together, what was important to us, how excited we were to see our friends flock in from around the world, and how much I was looking forward to marrying (!!!) my love. My wedding diary helped me to write my vows and my wedding speech, and is now such a beautiful keepsake of the time.
To incorporate these ideas into a wedding planner book, the little white book begins with a few pages on the proposal, and your love story – what brought you together, what made you forever, and what you want from a life spent with one another in future. Beyond all the traditional planning tools, it’s also (and 6 years on, I believe it’s the only wedding planner which is also a 12 month diary – undated weekly spreads for recording each day’s plans, events and reflections.
Using the little white book will help with mindfulness, reflection, and your very important vow-writing, it’s just so much more than a wedding planner.
5. Just ask newlyweds
While we all want slightly different things for our wedding day, chances are, you’ll agree with most couples on something. Those recently married won’t take much convincing to share – many newlyweds find that in the months after your own wedding, you miss fussing thinking (and talking) incessantly about your own big day. If one of your friends (or colleagues, or distant acquaintances) are newlywed, chances are they’ll love to help, whether it’s sharing their wedding budget or talking about their honeymoon – newlyweds are a great resource for information, vendor and venue recommendations. It can be really helpful to get a sort of ‘lay of the land’ in terms of how much various elements of a wedding cost in your town or city, and flicking through their wedding photos might be inspirational too.
Of course, a bonus sixth has to be browsing the real weddings we have featured – a great mix of diverse, cultural and colourful weddings and elopements. Here’s a few from some of our favourites.