I’m a wedding photographer with a secret.

I love weddings, I live for them. There is no better feeling than being a part of a wedding day. It wasn’t always this way. I discovered my love of weddings after doing some second shooting for an amazing local wedding photographer.

My secret:  Planning my own wedding years ago felt overwhelming. I did most of the planning because my spouse was (and is) such an easygoing person, he was fine with whatever I wanted to do. 

I’m extremely thankful for the wedding we had. It was a small gathering with our closest family and friends, less than 25 people.  It will always be one of the biggest milestones in our lives, and I’ll never forget how nervous and excited all at once I was as I took my husband’s hand and said my vows.

I do regret some of my wedding choices because I made them out of decision fatigue without a pause to think. So with that in mind, here’s some timeless wedding planning advice for a small wedding from me to you.

Pick A Wedding Officiant You LOVE.

This is the one choice I don’t regret! Our officiant was amazing.  

He was a retired judge who regularly performed weddings.  The clerk who helped us with our marriage license gave us his name.  We talked with him about what our ceremony meant to us.  He worded everything perfectly, we felt like it was “our” ceremony and our guests enjoyed it.  My parents weren’t thrilled about our ceremony with a judge instead of a pastor, but even they complimented him.

Outdoor Ceremony at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest with 3 wedding officiants!

Own your decisions so you have no wedding regrets.

So many people gave us wedding planning advice for our small wedding.  We held it at home because we didn’t want a huge event.  Everyone we knew had an opinion on everything and this is what lead to me being completely overwhelmed. 

I lost track of the fact that this was my and my husband’s wedding. I made a lot of choices based on opinions and people-pleasing. I was afraid no one would have fun at my wedding unless I took their advice.

People who truly care for you and support your marriage will have fun at your wedding no matter what, so make your own decisions.

Invitation DIY. Designed by a couple who met working at a tea shop and love crafting.

Don’t Let A Small Budget Deter You From Planning

This was another mistake I made that caused me to get lazy about planning things.  I took the concept of “small wedding” and “tiny budget” way too seriously.

I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t treat my family to a night of partying with an awesome DJ, or have the big guest list friends had when they got married.  I avoided looking at wedding ideas because I thought all of it was too expensive and unattainable.  If only I had taken those ideas and really thought about how to make them my own. If only I’d stopped comparing our wedding to everyone else’s.

Do what you can do for your wedding, forget the rest, and don’t compare your wedding to other people’s.

This intimate evening wedding ceremony in Belle Plaine, Mn was followed by a cozy family dinner.

If the memory of your wedding is extremely important to you, be open to investing in a professional photographer.

I didn’t hire a professional because at the time I wasn’t a photographer and didn’t understand the difference. We’d have pictures, and so we’d have memories, right? And wasn’t I saving a ton of money by having a friend shoot my wedding?

I trusted the person who photographed my wedding. She was a talented college student studying art. I own the decision I made and don’t blame her.

I didn’t realize all the things that can happen with wedding pictures. My pictures were on film and the negatives were damaged. I didn’t even consider this possibility, and I don’t think any college student would either. It was such a small, short wedding. It seemed like an easy thing for anyone with a good camera and artistic talent to photograph.

Whoever you hire for your wedding photography, make sure to ask them about backup plans and how they’ll keep your pictures safe between the wedding and delivering them to you. This is something that can separate professionals from talented hobby photographers or friends with cameras.

No one can unconditionally guarantee that data loss or damaged film negatives won’t happen, but professional photographers do lots of things to try and prevent it.

Wedding pictures might feel like “just pictures” until you don’t have them. Then they’re lost memories.

If you are planning a non-traditional wedding or elopement I’d love to hear more about it and see if I might be the photographer you need.  Wedding of all sizes are worth celebrating!

Connect with me via my contact page and let’s chat!