After photographing more than 50 weddings and having attended more than a few on the side, AG and I approached our wedding planning with a pretty clear view of what we did and didn’t want for our celebration. (One cool side benefit of the job is that you essentially get to audition tons of wedding vendors.) We’d never talked much about what our wedding would be like, but we’d talked so much about your weddings, that in some cases our plans just seemed to already exist.
Some of our decisions were pretty unique (starting the day with an 8km fun run even though we’re terrible runners; forgoing flowers in favour of my knitting and trimming some bushes from the yard; getting married in a venue that’s almost completely off the telecommunications grid, closed, and for sale; reversible, bilingual invitations; opening our ceremony with a prologue before we walked in; wedding food that included mac & cheese, beef stew, and garlic fingers; having a DIY open bar; forgetting to task someone to be MC and partially doing it ourselves/partially having a rotating cast of friends tackle it; moving the dancefloor halfway through the reception), and some of them were inspired by general trends we’ve observed (homemade activity books for the kids [again bilingual!]; cupcakes and a small cake instead of a large traditional cake; a photobooth), while still more were plans we’d had that never actually came to fruition (s’mores). Lastly, some of them were completely ripped off from you. Here are some of the best things we ripped off:
Getting Ready Together. Like: Emily & Brad, Amanda & Brendan, Jason & Angele. Here’s the thing I’ve never understood about the “traditional” wedding: you spend weeks, months, or years planning a celebration of your life together, only to spend half that day purposefully avoiding each other. WTF?! For us, getting ready together just made sense. From the spa day before our wedding (where AG learned about the wonder that is the Pedicure Chair) to drinking champagne for lunch, it was a great bonding experience. Plus, nobody but AG could have brought me down from the ledge when my computer blew up hours before our ceremony and took all of our wedding playlists with it. (PRO-TIP: BACK UP YOUR PLAYLISTS.) And even though I’d just seen him 2 minutes earlier, I still cried after I put on my wedding gown and we did a first look. I cried again as we walked down the aisle together. No amount of pre-ceremony hanging out can dull those feelings. Photo by Ryan MacDonald.
Skipping the Bridal Party. Like: Jill & Fen, Creighton & Nadine. We had a small wedding (45 people including children), so it goes without saying that everyone present was important to us (indeed, many people who weren’t there are important to us!). Our people were amazing and did so much to make our weekend special (from decor to readings to bartending and kitchen duties to dancing-through-the-pain to surprise teardown of everything the next morning), that it only seemed right to have them on equal footing. (You’re all our favourites!)
Live Painter. Like: Ashley & Hannah, Vicki & Robin. Sharon Epic is a fixture of the Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival, and I’m a huge fan of her work. In some year past I had thought how cool it would be if she painted a wedding. (Mine of course, albeit theoretically: it was totally on my secret wedding Pinterest board.) However, when we started actually planning our wedding, I dismissed it as a completely unlikely pipe dream… until I saw that Ashley & Hannah had a live painter. “Hmm, that’s actually a thing!” Knowing that Sharon was living in another province, I inquired with a few Maritime artists but the quotes were outside of our budget… then I saw Sharon herself painting Vicki & Robin’s wedding! One quick chat later and to my amazement, my dream had come true. It was a wedding gift to myself, and besides how cool it was to see the process happen (and how she interpreted the events of our wedding!), the final product brings me so much joy. We have this big beautiful piece of art hanging in our living room, and just like my memories of our wedding, it’s bright, happy, colourful, and just a little bit fuzzy around the edges. Photo by Ryan MacDonald.
Going Unplugged. Like: a bunch of you! Personally, there was one thing AG & I knew we didn’t want at our wedding, and that was to look out at our friends and family during our ceremony and see phones and tablets where faces should be. Professionally, we’d hired an amazing photographer from the other side of the country, trusted her vision completely, and wanted to give her the space and conditions to do her best work (without say, being elbowed out of the way as we have been at weddings in the past). We also wanted our guests to know that it was taken care of; that they could relax and enjoy the show. We asked everyone to refrain from taking pictures during the ceremony, and as a result we have a lot of wonderful reaction shots of our family and friends laughing, crying, and being present with us.
An Instax Guestbook. Like: Kady & Seth, Stephanie & Tyler. A guestbook was one of the last things we figured out. I was always stuck on the “are we going to want to look at this again?” point, and when we picked up on the Instax trend, we were sold. We ordered a great blank book from Etsy, tons of film, made some signs, and let it go. Almost everyone at our wedding took pictures of themselves and others (some people even took some home with them!), and the next day we got to pour over the photos and enjoy some instant nostalgia about our day. Our guestbook is a bit of a scrapbook as well, with bits and bobs of wedding business pasted in amongst the photos and well-wishes, and makes every read a happy stroll down memory lane.
Now that all is said and done, it’s funny to think of how different our wedding might have been if we did not have the experience of this job to draw upon, but I’m so glad we do… our wedding was absolutely one of the greatest days of my life, a joy-filled experience I’ll try to hang onto forever. So what are you going to rip off?