Having been a stationer and an event planner for nearly 20 years, I have worked with literally hundreds of couples each year. I have realized that the common thing that causes the most stress for couples planning a wedding is too much input. Crippling indecision from the barrage of beautiful viable options is what derails even the most down-to-earth wedding planning, and I find the couples who enjoy the process the most are those who have a clear vision (whether they realize or not) and stick with it.
This information overload has definitely gotten worse over the last 10 years. While no one loves wedding websites and magazines more than me, I find that, for newly-engaged couples, the explosion of input, suggestions and perfectly-staged photos isn't necessarily helpful in the beginning. They end up with so many ideas, too many photos, too many directions, and way too many beautiful things they love and no clue how to manage it all cohesively. But don't fear! I have a super simple secret.
My foolproof method, that I've found to be helpful to so many couples, is simply to start your wedding planning with seven words. Do this BEFORE you run to Pinterest and blogs to start making endless story boards and tear sheets. Those are endlessly fun -- I know! And we'll get there, I promise.
Before you look at anyone else's vision, create your own. Really think about what you want. Take an evening over dinner, an afternoon in the park or over a glass of wine and develop your verbal story board. Tell the story of your wedding in seven words: three colors and four adjectives. Marketing execs call it the "elevator speech" or "the brief". Boil it down to the most basic elements.
It is an exercise in creative visualization of sorts. What do you see in your mind's eye for your wedding? What do you want your day to feel like for you, your family, your guests? What colors speak to you/do you gravitate towards (not necessarily what's trendy) and will work in the room and set the tone? When you picture YOUR wedding in your mind? What are the elements that tell the story of your day?
I realized years later that this is how I planned my own wedding (in six months while running a burgeoning business seven days a week.) When I went to my vendors and friends I would present my "brief." I would say "think vintage, 1950's, 4th of July, fancy, family picnic; parasols, grassy, happy, warm, swingy. The colors are watermelon, kiwi and sunflower yellow." OK, I know that's more than four words, but this was before I perfected the system. Everyone knew exactly what I was going for when it came to the dress, the florist, the cake baker, even the officiant.
I know it sounds a little dorky but it really works and is well worth the exercise. Here are some examples:
Black, gold and blush: sophisticated, formal, timeless, romantic
is a very different feel than ...
Fuchsia, orange and lime: festive, bubbly, retro, dance-party
Ivory, brown and moss: woodland, rustic, elegant, bohemian...
Get the system?
This is how to create the vision of your wedding in a verbal storyboard. You can make it an exercise for you and your partner, elicit help from your parents if they are involved. It is a great way to get everyone to focus on both the big picture and the fine details in one swoop. The best part is you can pick adjectives from different lists to incorporate what is most important to each participant to tell your collective story. Ask your partner or your mom or dad what their adjectives are and you may get a very different list than yours. It is such an interesting way to get the discussion started and get everyone on the same page.
Now here's the hard part: once you have this blueprint, the bones if you will, "the brief," try not to deviate. Bring it as your guide when planning and shopping for the wedding, when you go to the caterer, the florist, etc. Having this simple verbal storyline to start the conversation will really help you convey your vision clearly and keep you focused and on track. Then every time you start down a path of blindly following all the very beautiful choices and indecision creeps in, ask yourself: does this fit my "storyboard"?
Now pin away and rip out pages from magazines to your heart's desire.
But before you do, ask yourself "does this fit into my vision?" I promise this doesn't make you a bridezilla. I also don't suggest being obsessive or inflexible about it. But I find this kind of definition really helps clean out the clutter and focuses you on what you really want out of your day. If you must, you can have five adjectives, but no more than three colors. Trust me, it works.