Our advice to the newly-engaged

Hey, hi, hello there-

If you are reading this you are probably in some stage of your engagement. So- congratulations! You are entering into such an exciting part in your lives that should be FUN. You are also entering into a stage of life that can be insanely stressful mostly due to other people's opinions, insane costs, and too many traditions that make the whole planning process confusing for most people. 

We've been wanting to shed light on some myths surrounding the industry, and hopefully help you plan a wedding that feels like 'you' and won't cause you to go into debt. 

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First off, this process should be FUN. It may sound stupid or futile or whatever, but this is an EXCITING thing and you deserve to plan a wedding that feels like you and your future spouse.

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So, advice #1 is:

Take some TIME.

Don't get engaged and then jump into signing contracts and trying on $4,000 dresses and getting fitted for new suits. Take a beat, snuggle up, drink a bottle of wine together and discuss bare bones what is important to you. Some answers to this might be:

- "I really want a huge party where we can hang out with all of our friends and have an awesome time"

- "I just want to be focused on you, me, our vows, and starting our life together"

- "I want this to be a celebration of our unity under God"

- "I just want the simplest celebration possible - no stress"

- "I want a huge wedding but I don't want to have to plan a whole lot of it - no stress"

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Whatever your response is, WRITE IT DOWN. Put it on the fridge, come back to it throughout the planning process. If things start to get crazy and the budget is getting out of control, it is a great reminder to have handy. You don't need ALL the things, but the things you invest in should represent the core of who you are and what you want this celebration to be. For example, if your priority is having a bomb party with your friends, invest in a DJ and alcohol but maybe put less of a priority on your dress and the most fancy catering. OR, if your priority is each other and your vows, maybe you can scale the wedding back in numbers. The less people = less money. 

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Advice #2:

Don't be afraid to have the awkward conversation with your parents about money. 

Hey, we are in 2018, the rules about who pays for the wedding are out the door! You can't assume anything, and I can't tell you how many weddings we've worked where there were miscommunications about money. I (Rachel) was so nervous about asking for money for our wedding that Dec and I planned the wedding with what we had in savings. 4 months before our wedding (after 16 months of being engaged) my dad told me that he always planned on contributing but since I never asked he never knew how to bring it up. You never freaking know people!! It's a weird conversation but its important to have early on, but AFTER you've already completed Advice #1 ;) If you truly are on your own, know that you are not alone in that, and there are so many ways to cut costs these days it is unreal. It just takes a little getting creative :) 

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Advice #3:

Choose your bridal party wisely. 

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Whether you go big or small, your bridal party should be a group of people who you trust, who are supportive, who are excited for you, and who encourage you to stay focused on Advice #1. It is ridiculous how many weddings we have been a part of where the bridal party is seemingly only there for the free alcohol and because they "have to". Please let them know it is more than that. I was just at a wedding where the bride spent an hour during her reception throwing up because nobody was keeping her accountable to take care of herself by encouraging her to drink water before the ceremony. These people should know how to calm you down, comfort you, and love you unconditionally. They should not complain about the process or make you feel like a nuisance. This is your day, make sure your bridal party members are on your team, not their own. Also, make sure they can handle their booze, particularly before the ceremony and bridal party pictures. We can't edit drunk eyes out of your images... lol. 

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Advice #4:

Invest in your photographer. 

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Now, this may seem a little obvious coming from a photographer, but hear me out. I am not saying to invest in us specifically. But it BREAKS MY HEART when I hear horror stories of couples who decide to go with a family friend who not only doesn't know what they are doing, but doesn't know how to properly back up their photos and everything gets lost. Or maybe they just don't show up (IT HAS HAPPEND). Photography is more than pressing a button, I promise. And if your uncle takes really good photos of animals, that does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that he will be able to document your wedding day. Weddings are a specific skill set. Making humans feel comfortable in front of a camera is a specific skill set. It takes a passionate person to do your day justice. If you are spending $15,000 on your wedding and you invest $800 in a wedding photographer, it is more than likely that your wedding will look like an $800 wedding. It may seem like photography is an easy think to skimp on, but it is something you will most likely regret when you get your photos back. The food gets eaten, the dress gets put away for 50 years, the suits get returned, the flowers die, but your photos stay with you. They will stay with your children and your grandchildren, they will be heirlooms, so hire someone who will do your day justice. 

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Part B of Advice #4:

Choose the photographer you vibe with the best. 

Don't just choose someone because you kind of know them or because your friend hired them (or because they gave you the cheapest quote). Hire the person whose style and personality you love the most. You are with your photographer all day. They are likely trying to keep everything on schedule and they spend alone time with you and your beau while you are making out in front of their camera. This is an intimate thing, and the last thing you want is to look at your photos and not love them as much because you didn't care for the person that took them. MEET YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER BEFORE YOU BOOK THEM. It's important. 

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Advice #5:

Spring for the wedding film. 

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Now, this advice is honestly just from personal experience. We were on the fence about a wedding video like a lot of couples. Then, a month before our wedding we kind of panicked and tried to look around but we couldn't find a style that we really liked. So we just didn't have one. And honestly, we would pay so much money if we could change that. Our siblings gave beautiful speeches that we would kill to have on video. My dance with my Dad was a priceless memory that I know would be so meaningful to have. There is something different about videography. It captures the whole essence of the day in a way photography can't. It captures real reactions and unfiltered moments and emotions. Wedding films are so special and they are well worth the investment. It is truly a regret we will always have, which is why we added video as a part of our business. We want to be able to give people the memories that we didn't give ourselves. 

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Advice #6:

Choose the wedding dress that you feel the most comfortable and beautiful in. 

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It is heartbreaking to me when the some of the only feedback I get from a wedding is negativity surrounding the way a bride looked in her dress. Now, please let it be on the record that every bride looks stunning in their wedding dress. I am a very body-positive person and I spent the majority of my youth fighting with negative eating habits and disorders. But, if you are insecure about your arms - don't wear a sleeveless dress. If you have an insecurity around your stomach - get something with an empire waist. I HATE dealing with insecurities because they are 10/10 always in your head and is never something I notice as an 'imperfection'. But, I have learned so much from this industry and I think the safest bet is to invest in a dress that doesn't make you feel self-conscious. There are so many amazing styles of gowns, so do yourself a favor and try on as many as you can so you know what looks the best on your body, and what you are most comfortable in. And don't be swayed on other people's feedback... you are the one that wears the damn thing and has the photos on your walls forever. You want to feel like the sexiest woman alive (because you are). 

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Advice #7:

Don't be afraid to ask for help. 

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It is way more than likely that your friends and family members want to help you with your special day. Being able to lean on your people not only relieves stress, but it creates an awesome supportive atmosphere during the day. For us, we asked one of our friends to DJ for us, we asked other friends to perform music during the ceremony. Declan's aunt Sharon made these wonderful cones with dried flower petals in them for guests to throw at us as we walked down the aisle. My sister did so much beautiful calligraphy for our centerpieces and decorations. It made our wedding much more special to have people who loved us shower us with their love and support through their actions. Don't be afraid to ask for help, it can help save money too! 

 photo by Jeri Stein

photo by Jeri Stein

Alright Folks-

Thats all for us right now. We are hoping and praying that this process goes smoothly for you. There is something about weddings that makes peoples' crazy come out but if you keep your eyes on your vision and your love for one another it will make things easier. We pinky swear. And, if you are looking for a team to document your day, buy you alcohol, and tell you everything is going to be okay every step of the way... send us a message. We'd love to meet ya! 

xoxo,

Dec+Rach