Written by Ryan
Having gotten married 5 years ago (time flies!), I’ve had some time to reflect on the decisions we made when planning our big day. I live and breathe the wedding world. I grew up in it when I started as an assistant at a wedding studio at the young age of 16. So it was actually a shock to me that when it came to planning my own wedding, I didn’t have the faintest idea as to all the things it takes to plan a wedding.
There are lots of magazine articles out there about timelines and questions to ask but I wanted to give you an insider’s, no BS, view on how to think about it and a few insider pointers.
Setting your priorities
What do you want?
I think most people don’t know what they want from their wedding. I know I didn’t. I knew I loved my fiancé and I knew I wanted her to be my wife. We were still pretty young and, while we did have some core values, it was easy to get swept up in wedding trends and details. If family is the most important thing to you, then doing special things for your family should be a big part of your priorities. When you go to meet with vendors, tell them how important your family is to you and how you are looking for ways to make them feel special. If you love to party and you want everyone to just have a wild night to remember be sure to find people who get behind that.
We wanted something fairly small, since we don’t love being the centre of attention. We wanted to know that we could have quality time with everyone important to us. So we chose a small venue. We had communal tables so everyone from each group of our lives could be together. We kept the décor low to the table so people would be able to see each other and talk.
Looking back we did a lot of things right and true to ourselves, though I’d be lying if I said it was intentional!
What is important to you as a couple?
It is super easy to get caught up in this year’s wedding trends, be it donut towers, cupcake stands, candy bars. But defining what is important to you as a couple is what is going to make the day that much more special. I love a donut bar as much as the next guy, don’t get me wrong. But looking back on the 100+ weddings I’ve photographed it was the emotionally intense moments that stand out to me. That is my bent. So if stopping in at that special spot only you two know about for your portraits instead of going to the most epic spot is going to make your day that much better and more memorable, we’ll be there with you 110%.
What do you want to remember?
Letting your vendors know these values I’ve been talking about is really going to shape who you choose. Let them know what you want to remember most when you think back on your wedding day.
Ask your friends
We are really fortunate to be largely a referral based business. That’s 100% because of the relationships we’ve built, not just with our couples, but with their families and friends. Asking your friends who got married about their vendors, even if they didn’t have a great experience with someone, can be so helpful in finding out what worked and what didn’t and learning from that.
It’s not your parents wedding, but they need to be included
One of my biggest regrets about our wedding was not including our families more in the planning. My wife and I are very independent and like to think we are that “different” couple. Our parents had some strong opinions about our wedding, including wanting to throw a big wedding and inviting all their friends. We knew that having a really big wedding wouldn’t work for us, since we don’t like being the centre of attention. But once we set that boundary, it became easy to think that all the future decisions should also be 100% ours.
This was tough, because we are both very close with our families but we also don’t like being told what to do. I think had we taken more time to include them in our vision, and show them what we were excited about and why, we could have had more fun with our families in the planning.
There is no “best”
Last time I checked, there were about 1000 wedding photographers in Toronto. Some are definitely better than others but, more than anything, some are better for you than others. The same is true for all your other vendors.
Yes…I know on our homepage we have a quote that says “The Best Wedding Photographers in Toronto” but that’s what our client Amanda said. And we were the best photographers for her.
With that said, look for people who treat you really well! You are likely going to be working with them for a year. Choose people who have your best interests at heart. Many wedding vendors are out to make their portfolio better and sometimes that doesn’t coincide with creating a genuine experience for you.
Things to ask and not to ask your vendors (at least right away)
We get so many e-mails that just say “what are your prices?” and I totally get it. You want to know that you are not wasting your time and are also not wasting your vendor’s time. And we often don’t know what to ask, right?
Most really good vendors you get in touch with don’t want to be commoditized. We got into this because we
love it! We want to work with people who value what we do and are going to be as excited for us to be at their wedding as we will be excited to be there. In that first e-mail, tell them what was exciting to you about their services. Tell them what you value as a couple, and let them know what budget you are working within. While we don’t want to be comparison shopped for the “best price” we do want to work with people that can afford us, and if your budget isn’t within that range, chances are a good vendor will do their best to recommend someone who is.
If you have a vendor you really connect with ask them for recommendations. We are always getting asked about good videographers to work with, but we also know amazing florists, planners and event venues. Ask us what we’ve seen recently that got us excited.