des moines, iowa and beyond

workflow & systems strategist

The top wedding planning must-have that you need to know about!

Sweet Beginnings

You are looking at that spreadsheet and having sticker shock each time you contact another stellar vendor that you dream about working with to bring your wedding dreams to life. Every email that hits your inbox has you feeling like you might want to take your dad up on that elopement offer, right? Investing in your wedding celebration is a stressor for many engaged couples and I’m often asked what you really need to invest in, as opposed to holding fast to your budget for that area. What is the one thing that you should never compromise on when planning your wedding? That one wedding planning must-have?

Before I get ahead of myself, I have to throw out my disclaimer. Marriage is a beautiful thing and the most important thing is always the relationship and sacrament you are entering into. However, when it comes to the financial investments in planning a wedding, there are many things to consider. I’d also like to preface this by saying this is my humble opinion, based upon my life experiences. Ok, so now that you have been held in suspense…

Guess what? It’s not a wedding planner! I know, shocking! While I have many arguments in the affirmative for every couple to have a coordinator at a minimum, there is one thing I consider more important. I am a big believer in legacy and what will be the most tangible part of your legacy that begins on your wedding day? Your photos! Yep, I said it. Photography is the one wedding investment that you should not skimp on. 

When you think about how much the wedding industry and societal expectations for detailed and ornate weddings changes, one thing hasn’t changed. The fact that in 100 years or more, your wedding photos are going to be the only thing your family has to look back at when you are no longer there to tell them the story. Even before that, those images are a reminder to you of the joy you felt on your wedding day. They help give your spouse a window into the anticipatory moments you experienced before your first look that day. They capture the raw, true emotion and gravity of the commitment you made to each other.

It’s true, this is my opinion, but one I am passionate about. Y’all know that I like to be honest and real with you, even if it’s unpopular or unexpected. So, I’m going to give you some tough love, too. Taking this a bit further. When your photographer offers album services, take them up on it! That is an investment we forewent because we saw it as an area to save. Looking back, I wish we had left that up to our photographer. Why? So many reasons that boil down to this – they will give you the best heirloom quality options and you will have it before your first anniversary.

Part of that legacy I mentioned means having physical prints and/or albums of your photos. If you leave that task up to you, how likely are you to follow through? I’ll tell you, for most of us, not very. In our case, I have legitimately made three versions of our wedding album on three different sites. We will be married six years in a month… And we still haven’t ordered our wedding album. We have a few prints that I ordered for our first anniversary, but that is it. I cannot tell you how many times I think that it would have been so much smarter to order from our photographer.

If you are not fully in the boat with me at this point, let me ask you something. Do you have memories as a child of looking at your great-grandparent’s wedding tablecloth or their wedding photo(s)? When your MawMaw tells you about that beautiful summer afternoon when she and your PawPaw danced in the church basement at their reception and enjoyed her mama’s famous punch, are you wearing her wedding shoes? I’d wager that the answers to those questions are ‘no’. However, it is likely that the two of you are looking at an album of photos full of memories and you can envision the scene in your head. You are looking into the eyes of two young, very in love people who continued to work hard and build your family into what it is today.

All of this to say that I sincerely believe that, above all else, you should select your photographer carefully and invest in them. They will return that investment with interest. Photographers take such care in capturing the emotions, details, and events that unfold on your wedding day. When they put together your albums, they are reliving your day with you and take such pride in and pour love into that piece of your legacy. All of your vendors do that, so let them. Let them gift you with those moments and memories in a tangible form. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did, now and in fifty years (and so will your grandchildren).

Do you have a different recommendation to share? Let us know in the comments!

Xoxo, Jenn


Photo credits: Ellen Ashton, Leah Golter Photography, Kathryne Dunn Photography

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