Okay guys, this has been on my heart for a while now. I’ve photographed over 60 weddings and elopements since going full time as a wedding photographer in 2016 as well as destination vow renewals and honeymoon sessions. And I’ve noticed a huge problem. Far too many couples are still telling me that their wedding day was only done the way they did it to please their family. Like WHAT?! Isn’t this so backwards? Shouldn’t your wedding day be about the two of you? Whether that means celebrating with family and friends or not the decision on how you celebrate is still YOURS. To often after the excitement about getting engaged to the love of your life wears down a bit it’s replaced instead by family and friends expectations on what you should do. You love these people so you want to please them so you go along with it at first but as time goes on it feels less and less about the two of you and your love than it does about what tradition, society or family wants from you. Inevitably the two of you start to feel worn out, stressed and maybe even a little disappointed.
IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY! Take a deep breath and let me help show you another way. It requires lovingly telling the people you love no. But guess what? If they truly love you it’s okay to say no sometimes because they don’t love you just because you say yes to them all the time. Right? Like let’s be real, you haven’t always done things the way your parents want have you? They still love you anyways don’t they? (If they don’t that’s another issue that I know is tough and I plan to dedicate a whole blog to dealing with abusive or estranged family when wedding planning.) You don’t always like to do the same things your friends do but you’re still friends anyways, right? So why give yourself the pressure of trying to do your wedding day the way other people want you to? Yes, your decision may disappoint some people but that isn’t going to be the end of the world. At the end of the day the people who truly love you will just be happy for you guys and your marriage, which is the whole point.
Okay so now that we have that out of the way, let me take this minute to ask you what is your wedding dream? A sunset wedding celebration at a vineyard, a small private elopement in the middle of the woods just the two of you, an escape to another country just you and 20 of your closest friends and family, a big wedding soaked in the traditions of your culture and religion, a wedding at a zoo or on an African Safari surrounded by the animals you love and admire…. Your options are endless. There really isn’t anything you can’t do. So how do you figure out what the two of you want?
Sit down together and go through your priorities. Who do you want there? Just the few who have been there for you through the bad and good times, or do you want a big celebration? What kind of location is important to you to say I Do in? Outside? Inside? At your church? In another country that you fell in love with? At a bar or coffee shop that you met at? There are very few restrictions. Don’t let anyone tell you no, unless its illegal. lol. Just find out what important to the both of you and make steps towards that goal and once you are together have a good and firm understanding on what you want it will be easier to stand together and say this is how we are going to do it.
I am going to show you some examples of my couples who truly chose a day that stayed true to them and hopefully they will inspire to say yes to your own dream day.
I am going to start with Sam & Seth’s (The adorable couple at the start of this blog) Adirondack Elopement because it’s fresh in my memory. Seth & Samantha chose to celebrate their day alone in the woods with only me and their officiant present. They laughed and cried together as they read their vows to one another and then we spent the rest of the time hiking and being in awe of the beauty that the Adirondacks has to offer. As we were hiking together they told me they couldn’t imagine doing their day differently. Zero regrets. Just love. Unfortunately I’ve heard a very different sentiment from several of my other couples who chose not to elope just to please their family. One groom even was told not he “better not cry” right before he was about to see his bride for the first time. 🙁 Who gets the right to tell anyone how to react in that moment? No one should in my opinion. It’s a hard thing to be that vulnerable in front of 100-200 people and it’s okay if that’s not how you wanna spend your wedding day. You’re allowed to have a moment alone together on the day you choose each other forever.
Next up is Angel & Jon. They eloped before their wedding date they had planned but still chose to hold that date and have an intimate celebration and even recite their vows again at her childhood home. It was a day full of incredible love, laughter and memories. Their day could not have been more of a perfect reflection of who these two are and I was so honored to be there to capture every last moment and detail. Read more about their day here. https://bethelannphotography.com/2018/07/18/an-intimate-backyard-wedding-angel-and-jon/
Next up is Kayla and Mike. Kayla and Mike too had an intimate wedding at her childhood home but they chose to have an adventure session just the two of them the day after. They enjoyed the community on the first day with their friends and family and the next day the soaked every last moment together in alone in nature. We played in waterfalls all day and it was absolutely heavenly. As they are both Park Rangers not celebrating outdoors just didn’t feel right to them.
Steve and Shikha had a big traditional Indian wedding but chose to do so in a barn which confused most of her friends and family for awhile but it’s what they wanted. I love watching different cultures celebrate love and Indian weddings are one of my absolute favorites! The color, the dancing and everything mixed is one of the best ways I’ve seen to celebrate a new marriage! Steve and Shikha actually came back and hired me for a honeymoon/adventure session in India and it was an absolute honor to see them again enjoying marriage and adventuring together!
Sharon and Bob are the type of couple you can just tell they fought hard for their love and have been through a lot. It was an absolute honor to see them get their happy ending. They chose to celebrate their love story in their backyard with just a few friends and family over a bonfire. It was intimate, simple and beautiful. You can read more about it here if you want. https://bethelannphotography.com/2017/11/29/emotional-backyard-wedding/
Amanda and Nick had an intimate wedding at Yosemite National Park. Nick’s mom preformed the ceremony and after they say I do they popped champagne and hugged their family before they went off alone with me to hike and enjoy the magic of golden hour in Yosemite. They had both grown up right outside of Yosemite and it never lost it’s magic for them. You can read more about it here. https://bethelannphotography.com/2017/11/08/intimate-yosemite-wedding/
Kacey and Nolan had a traditional wedding but at a less than usual venue where the star guest were Zebras, Alpacas, and Bison. Your wedding day dream is never to strange, too weird or impossible! If it’s what the two of you want, then do it! You can read more about their day here. https://bethelannphotography.com/2018/08/29/a-hidden-valley-animal-adventure-wedding-kacey-and-nolan/
These are just a drop in the bucket of the ways you can choose to celebrate your day. Basically if you can dream it up, it’s possible. Want fly to Italy and spend a weak drinking wine with your friends, do it! Want to get lost in Iceland together, do it! Want to get married in your backyard, do it!
In short, your day is YOUR day and you can celebrate your love however YOU want. It’s hard to say no to other people but this is one of those times where it’s really important you do. This is the day you celebrate YOUR love story, YOUR marriage and no one but the two of you should decide how you celebrate it. If you need any help I will always be in your corner and help you say yes to your dream day!
I’m sending all my love and courage to you. Say no to the big wedding if you don’t want it and it’s stressing you out. Elope and don’t tell anyone and still have the wedding. Whatever feels right for you guys. Just don’t let anyone pressure you into doing things their way because you only get to do your wedding day once, so do it your way. <3