Summer camp weddings have become the next biggest wedding trend for 2020 and beyond. Couples have realized just how many benefits there are when booking a camp versus a traditional venue. Michigan summer camp weddings especially have become more popular and after reading this you’ll see exactly why!
Many Michigan summer camp weddings are cheaper than traditional venues. Often times these weddings take place before or after summer camp programming and camps are looking for extra revenue and have lower fees for rentals. Camps usually will rent for the whole weekend giving couples the chance to have a longer rental without the higher cost. Because of the gorgeous natural settings it also cuts down on decor costs. You’re surrounded by the natural beauty without needing to add much extra. Michigan summer camp weddings also allow you to offer a place for guests to stay included in your rental cost. All those little things can add up with traditional venues and cause lots of hidden costs you don’t account for.
Couples can usually book the whole camp for the weekend giving guests a convenient place to crash after the party. Who doesn’t love a good nostalgic cabin getaway? No drinking and driving, no worry about hotel blocks, no need for a limo or bus to transport everyone. It literally is all included in the camp rental! Lots of Michigan summer camp weddings have multiple locations for the events all on the property. Perhaps a lakeside ceremony, then cocktails by the main house, and reception in the pavilion. No matter what your style it’s easy to have a variety of spaces for your guests to move to throughout the wedding.
The whole idea of a Michigan summer camp wedding evokes lots of ideas for activities, food, games, and vibe. Couples can run with the nostalgic theme and create really unique things. One of my couples who got married at a camp DIYed a giant jenga game, cornhole board, and other camp themed activities. Guests loved being transported back to the days of hanging by the lake and making those memories. That same couple also make camp packets full of info, maps, timeline, and other important stuff for all the guests. The bride designed it as if it were a camp handbook and it was one of the few times guests actually kept wedding info since it looked so good! Even if you don’t go full on camp theme, the outdoor setting can inspire you to create a unique wedding!
Because summer camp weddings are a newer thing many times the venues will allow you to bring in your own vendors. This can play into the cost aspect as well, but you aren’t limited to one caterer or bar etc. By choosing your own vendors you can craft the wedding into exactly what you’re envisioning. Tacos, BBQ, Pizza, literally anything is possible, and Michigan summer camp weddings can take advantage of the kitchen facilities on site. If you’d prefer to DIY the whole catering aspect you can have folks cooking in the kitchen the day before to prep and get ready. That full weekend rental thing can really come in handy!
Since Michigan summer camp weddings are still gaining popularity most times these venues have a pretty open calendar. If you need a last minute venue, or just want to know you have lots of options, camps can be the solution. Some of my favorites are Camp Blodgett, Camp Merrie Woode, Circle Pines Center, Sherman Lake, Camp Linden. One of the advantages to having the whole camp is not needing to cut your guest count due to space. These outdoor facilities can accommodate larger groups than most traditional venues. If you have a ton of extra cousins, aunts, step siblings, etc. this can be a great venue to consider!
As you can see there are tons of benefits to having a Michigan summer camp wedding, if you want to see more for inspiration check out Morgan and Abe // Camp Merrie Woode // Michigan Wedding Photographers , Nikki and Carolyn | Delton, MI | Queer Wedding Photographer and Ashlee and Allison | West Olive, MI | LGBT Wedding Photographer. All of these couples used their camp spaces in different ways and made it unique to their love story. I’m definitely excited to see these camp weddings making their way into the wedding industry. It’s a great cost effective alternative than just a banquet hall or church! I’m also kind of a self appointed expert in photographing Michigan summer camp weddings so if you need someone to document I’m your girl!
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Dear Wedding Vendors,
I would say it’s not you it’s us, but in reality, there were some things you could have done differently while we were searching for vendors. Being part of a couple that looks heterosexual but is actually queer has presented its share of interesting experiences while we were searching for the perfect team to help make our wedding possible. So let’s break it down shall we? You deserve to know why we and maybe other queer clients didn’t reach out, or why we declined your services…
You might not have even received an inquiry from us because of the lack of representation on your website and social media. How are we to trust you with our big day if we don’t know if you’ve even ever worked with LGBTQ+ clients? We get it, everyone starts somewhere, but for us, we passed on any vendors that weren’t showing diversity, not just with sexuality but race, religion, and size too. The wedding industry has plenty of thin white heterosexual couples, but finding someone who looks like us was really important, especially for photography. As much as we love hearing how much you love to travel, or how many cups of coffee you drink, your social media presence can be used to attract queer couples instead. The vendors we hired with strong instagram’s had a variety of images in their feed that showed lots of people from all backgrounds. It’s simple, but will bring you clients like us who are looking for more representation. Just by adding diversity to your portfolio you can reach out to clients you didn’t even realize you were missing out on.
I can’t tell you how many websites I exited out of when I saw only the words “bride and groom” when referring to a wedding couple. Don’t assume that everyone who’s looking for wedding services is part of a male and female couple. The wedding world is saturated with heteronormative traditions and for us queer couples, breaking that tradition is important. Even when posting advertisements in wedding facebook groups saying “hey brides!” cuts out half of the population. This goes for the vendors who responded to my emails saying “future husband” without knowing my partner and assuming I’m marrying a man. There are few things that will get a queer couple more fired up than having their partner’s gender assumed. Simple changes like saying lovebirds, partners, beloved, awesome person, etc. will attract couples who don’t just fit into the stereotypical idea of who gets married. That inclusive language should carry over into contracts, invoices, emails, and the day of. Being mindful of your language can make the difference between an affirming experience and one that leaves a queer couple feeling unsafe.
Story time! I had headshots and branding photos taken a few years ago. During the session the photographer told me she was interested in working with more LGBTQ+ folks. A week after getting the photos I saw that her work was being published by a blatantly homophobic wedding publication, Wedding Pioneer. They have said in plain language that they will not showcase same sex couples in their publication and social media. I reached out to her letting her know their policies and how that would reflect badly on her business when it comes to future LGBT+ clients. Instead of taking that information and retracting her partnership with them, she said she didn’t care because they were getting her images in front of thousands of people that would make her money. The people and companies you support reflect back on you and your business. After some appalling statements and back and forth I told her to remove my images from her website and social media and that I would not be working with her or referring her in the future. It is one thing to be unaware of bad policies but when a queer person tells you that what you are doing is harmful to the community it isn’t up to you to decide it’s not. Queer couples can see through the smoke and mirrors and can tell when you’re being inclusive for money or if you’re truly being an ally.
This should go without saying but make sure you are spelling names correctly and replying in a prompt manner. We straight up didn’t hear back from SO many vendors, like do y’all not want our money?? Couples will not chase you down, you need to follow up and be prompt with your emails. Of course life happens, but it’s one of the easiest ways to keep clients interested and ready to shell over the big bucks. Same goes for spelling, my name is Liv, not Liz. It may be autocorrect but checking your spelling specifically on names is a good practice for everyone. It just goes to show that you are a real person and not just sending an auto response which feels impersonal and left us searching for someone else.
All of these things are simple steps to becoming more inclusive. It doesn’t take a ton of time but will make a huge difference especially to LGBTQ+ couple and folks looking for vendors. We passed on probably 25-30 vendors simply because they didn’t stand out as being queer friendly. If we felt this way then I KNOW more couples have had the same experiences. It’s opened my eyes to ways that I can be a better business owner myself. Just because I’m queer myself doesn’t mean that I know every single thing there is to know and I’m always growing. One of the things I decided to do after having so many negative vendor experiences was to create my workshop all about teaching photographers how to better serve LGBTQ clients. I go into detail about how to navigate pronouns, gender neutral language, translating that to social media and websites, and tons more. I’ve put in hours and hours of time into laying out a step by step road map to success in this area. You are literally missing out on thousands of dollars by not educating yourself on how to be a better photographer and vendor to queer clients. It’s been such an eye opening experience while planning the wedding to see the gaps where people are lacking. Even vendors who claim to be queer friendly have things they can improve on! If you’re a photographer and want to grow in that area I highly recommend checking out the course here!
So….did you realize you have some work to do? Focus on representing a diverse client base not just on your website but social media as well. Take the time to make your website and own personal language more gender neutral. It will show queer clients, especially non binary and trans clients, that you are a safe person to work with. Remember that the companies, websites, and people you support reflect back on you and your business so doing your due diligence to make sure they are inclusive is also important. Lastly, don’t forget the little details, spelling people’s names properly, responding promptly, and not assuming gender can make the difference between someone hiring you or not. If you want to take the easy route and have me teach you how to make these changes step by step you have to check out the online workshop. 10 easy to digest modules that will take you from not having any queer clients to not being able to keep up with all the inquiries! There is so much that the wedding industry can improve on and I’m happy we’ve been moving in the right direction. Now it’s up to everyone to do their part to continue this path to change!
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Hey y’all! I’ve had a lot of interest in what my fave beauty products have been! I’ve been diving into makeup and skincare a bit more as a way to focus on myself and feel good! These items are some of my tried and true favorites that I always go back to. Obviously I have different skin needs than some people, I tend to be a little on the dry side so moisture is a huge thing for me. These items will link to Amazon if you’re interested in trying them for yourself!
This Pacifica serum is AMAZING! It’s scent is subtle but it adds a touch of glow while making me feel super hydrated! The texture is more of a gel than a serum but a little goes a long way! I love this brand especially because everything they have is vegan and cruelty free which is an added bonus.
Simple brand is another go to for skincare that feels good. These wipes are more refreshing than makeup removing but I love throwing some in my bag especially on trips to feel clean and fresh. There’s a slight clean scent but I don’t think it would be enough to irritate sensitive skin.
These are my GO TO makeup removing wipes. A ton of people in the beauty community swear by them and I totally get why. They aren’t super expensive and I always have them on hand in my makeup station. These ones remove better than the simple ones listed above, both are great but serve different purposes.
Ecotools hands down has the best and sturdiest brushes I’ve used. They used to have a duo brush set that was for eyeshadows, this set has the same brushes just individually. I love that they are made of bamboo and the quality of the brush hairs themselves is super nice.
I’m a face mask lover! This value pack has tons of really neat formulas and is really inexpensive. I also usually send these to clients to spoil them before the wedding too! Everyone loves a good face mask and they make great quick gifts to have on hand too!
This is like the weirdest thing on the list but truly it works! I have SUPER thick hair, so thick that every single time I get my hair cut the stylist is shocked. I have thick hair but also a ton of it, so a sturdy detangling brush is necessary. This one for whatever reason works perfect and is easy to clean too.
Mirrors can be pricey but honestly it’s a game changer. I do my makeup and skincare routines at my office desk so this type of mirror is super needed. The light is helpful and having a way to get close up is great!
Like I said my skin is dry so when I went into a beauty store this spring they suggested this one. I love how well it soaks in and just feels like a drink for my face. It lasts a super long time too, I’m just now finishing up my first jar from April. If you are looking for one step skincare I can’t recommend this enough!
Keeping my stuff organized is key especially because I do all my beauty stuff in my office. This organizer stores all of my nail stuff which surprisingly is a lot of stuff! I like that it’s see through too so it’s easy to grab what I need quickly.
Speaking of organizing, a tiered cart has changed everything for me in terms of convenience. This isn’t the exact one I have but is really similar. I’m able to leave my makeup stuff all organized next to my desk and then pull it beside me when I’m actually getting ready. Similar to the nail organizer above it’s nice because I can see everything I need and grab it.
This isn’t a complete list but just some of my go to items I can’t live without. It’s taken a little experimenting to see what works for me but all of these things work together to make me feel put together and pampered for relatively cheap! I hope you’re able to find some new faves out of these things and would love to hear what works for you!
I did it! I failed. I went from 24 weddings in 2018 to 19 for this season. My goal was 20 and I failed. So what happened when I didn’t reach my goal? Not much. To be honest I kind of expected my career to fall apart and the world to crumble around me. But you know what? My career is still there and I’m doing ok.
I’m a goal setter. Each year in my off season I look at my books from the previous year and plan out how I want to do even better. My goal for 2019 was 20 weddings. A goal I thought would be hit by the end of January, but here we are half way through the season still at 19. I think part of why the number 20 was so stuck in my head is the fact that the number of weddings each year is a benchmark for my success. When people who don’t understand the full scope of wedding photography ask about my job the first question is “how many weddings do you have this year?” And I think no matter what that number is people would still be impressed. But, when it comes to the photography community, which can be pretty cutthroat, that number feels small.
So how did I come to be ok with my perceived disaster. I thought about the 19 couples who trusted me. Who chose me. Who are allowing me to be a huge part of shaping their legacy during an important time in their lives. Those 19 couples don’t give a shit how many weddings I have. In fact, having fewer weddings coupled with going full time allows me to invest my time and energy even more into helping them plan their days. I also thought about little Liv. How proud she would be of me, pushing through all the bullshit that made her question if she would even be around to have a career.
Our society is built on hustle. It’s long work weeks, no time off, letting ourselves go uncared for in the name of success. When did it become a bragging right to say you take no days off? I’ve built my career around the life I want to live. Because of my career I’m able to go on vacations with my partner, I’m able to be at home to care for our pets, I’m able to grab coffee with a friend and not miss out on my payday. I’ve been able to take the time to focus on my physical and mental health more. The things I’ve gained from this career, and specifically this year, are not measurable by numbers. It’s the things I’ve gained from my friendships and relationship that truly mark my success.
I know that this year and that goal won’t be the only one I perceive as failure. Life is all about seasons, and without this season of “failure” I wouldn’t be working so hard on making myself better. We can’t fault ourselves for doing the best we can with the resources we have. So take it from me, failures aren’t really failures, they are opportunities to learn and grow. I’m glad I failed.
For most of my life I’ve struggled with mental health. For most of my life I’ve envisioned what my engagement and wedding would be like. However those two things don’t always mesh together well as I’m finding out. I’ve been engaged for about 4 months now and have spent the last 2 of those months really working on bettering my mental health. After the initial excitement of wedding planning died down I found myself bogged down with the depths of seasonal depression, general depression, and anxiety. I know how powerful the words of others going through similar struggles have been so I hope that my transparency does the same for someone else.
I hate asking for help. Like really truly. It’s the reason why I went unmedicated for so long, wasn’t going to therapy, and just told myself this was my life now. That also plays into wedding planning. We didn’t ask for help in searching for venues, picking a date, food, and most other things. I found myself searching bridal shower venues and stressing out about that even though the shower won’t be for months, and as my therapist told me, I shouldn’t even be planning it. It took her telling me I needed to ask my bridesmaids for help for me to even realize that’s literally why they are there, to help. So whether you are stressing about your outfit, guest list, or what salad dressing will be served, you are allowed to, and should ask for help. The people you’ve selected to stand with you are meant to support you not only on the day, but through the process and during your marriage. Even if you don’t have a formal wedding party, family and other close friends LOVE weddings, and I promise will want to help. You just have to ask.
You are worthy of love, celebration, and commitment even when your mental illness tries to tell you otherwise. My depression tells me no one really cares that we are getting married. My anxiety tells me that I’ll have 29734 things to do the few weeks leading up to the day. Those two things are my illness lashing out with a warped reality. When I step back and think about it, none of that is true. I am worthy of being called a bride and feeling special. I am worthy of having the attention be on me. I am worthy of a celebration that costs some money. Myself, my partner, and the wedding are all worth investing in. I remember walking into my dress appointment feeling anxious and unsure. Being a plus size bride I have a lot of anxiety surrounding clothing shopping, especially with something this important. Luckily I brought two amazing people with me and we chose a bridal salon specifically carrying all plus size dresses. Being intentional about making accommodations for my anxiety without giving into it was so helpful. My matron of honor cried when I walked out of the dressing room, in a dress I didn’t even choose. The tears started flowing and I apologized for getting emotional. Why? Because we are conditioned both by society and our mental illnesses that we are being selfish for having attention on ourselves. But in that moment when the amazing stylist told me that tears were all a part of it, I realized that I’m worthy and deserving of feeling like a bride. No matter what size, no matter what type of wedding we are having, no matter what my anxiety tells me. We are all worthy of celebration.
It might seem like an obvious thing but truly, one day is not worth sacrificing your mental health for. If medication, therapy, exercise, meditation, yoga, or more sleep will help you then don’t be afraid to do those things. I think a lot of people assume that weddings will be hard to plan and stressful. While I can agree that parts of it won’t be the most exciting, your wedding is all about you. If there is something that’s giving you anxiety, pass that task onto someone else, or cut it! If there’s a family member giving you problems, or a friend bugging you, you are allowed to do something about it. The best advice I can give is remembering that a strong marriage is far more important than a perfect day. That’s something I tell my wedding couples all the time, and even though it’s easy to say, practicing it takes….practice.
Who said wedding planning had to suck? I think we have this expectation that we aren’t allowed to enjoy the process as much as we should. I know going into it I was told by everyone that it would be hard and I’d hit walls and slumps and just want to elope. I mean the cost of a wedding makes me want to elope, but I’ll be honest, it’s been really fun. Now I know that planning things isn’t in everyone’s wheelhouse, and I have an advantage working in the industry. But often my mental illness lies and says that things shouldn’t be fun, and that sucks. I’ve seen friends planning weddings getting really caught up in details that quite frankly no one but them will care about. If you want to do a sunset ceremony then do it! If you want to have everyone bring a dish to pass then do it! If you want to only invite 3 people to the ceremony and 300 to the reception then do it! Marie Kondo the crap out of your wedding. For me rehearsal dinners don’t bring me joy, so we are probably ordering pizzas and going back to the airbnb the girls and I are staying in the night before. I’d much rather be chill and hang out with our people than go to a stuffy expensive restaurant. Whatever it is, you have permission to change or cut it if that brings you joy.
Weddings are tough. No one gives you a manual and planning one while dealing with mental illness can be even tougher. The main thing to remember is ask for help, allow yourself to do the things that help get your illness to a manageable point, and understand that you can enjoy it! There is no one size fits all for weddings which is really beautiful. Each couple is so unique and you can plan while not letting your illness overtake the joy of this time in your life. It’s not always easy, but remember that you have an amazing partner who sees the best in you and is choosing you. I hope that no matter what you are dealing with that you are able to find a little clarity and recenter yourself to get excited to continue planning this incredible celebration!
2018 has been such an incredible year. It’s been filled with over 60 sessions between portraits, engagements, boudoir, weddings, and elopements. I’ve traveled all over Michigan, to Detroit, Fennville, Eaton Rapids, Lansing, Muskegon, and of course tons in Grand rapids. The amount of growth I’ve seen in myself makes me so proud to share this post with you all. I will never stop learning or growing as a wedding photographers, so I can only imagine how incredible next year will be!
Some highlights personally have been buying a house, a new car, and getting engaged to my best friend! This year included a bit of travel too, including Illinois, Indiana, and my favorite, Colorado. All in all it’s been a pretty fulfilling time. So now that I’ve rambled, enjoy my favorite images from 2018!
Check out Liv Lyszyk Photography at her Website Here! To see more of her work head over to the blog posts linked below!
October 15th, 2018. I come home from a chiropractic appointment to have my partner ask me for a security envelope to mail something. We both had the day off and were going to be running errands. I head over to my office and notice the door is closed. Weird, but whatever, I brushed it off and opened the door. My heart skipped a beat and I read the mural on the wall that my partner had painted asking me to marry him. I didn’t cry, I was in total shock, he totally got me good, I said my easiest yes, and proceeded to say “what do we do now”?
Frantically call my mom, who didn’t pick up the phone (it’s ok she was working), proceeded to call my friend Zoey, who picked up on the second ring. I texted and messaged and called everyone I could think of that might care. It was really exciting to have such exciting news to share! We went to lunch to celebrate and I basked in the newly engaged glow. It’s totally a thing y’all. We made it Facebook and Instagram official and just enjoyed the excitement!
Yep, the day after we got engaged I happened to be seeing my friend who we had decided we wanted to be our photographer. We had talked about who we might want to photograph, I’m a wedding photographer, it comes up haha. We both loved her work and her husband also does video! It was a perfect fit and we signed the contract and paid the deposit that day. Is this the most conventional order of things? Nope! But for us, hiring them was on the top of our priority list even before a venue. Luckily we are friends and so we were able to talk all about our tentative plans and she was willing to put us on the books without anything being super official. Photography and videography is 1/3 of our budget, so getting that settled was huge! Even if you don’t do things in this order, photographers and videographers book quickly. As a photographer myself I’m almost halfway booked and it’s not even engagement season for 2019 couples. So if you think you know who you want to book, and even if you don’t, reach out sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment if they are booked.
Budget is one thing no one wants to talk about. It’s tough to think about how freaking expensive weddings are. Working in the industry I totally understand why they are so expensive, but being on the other side of it as a bride, it sucks. Either way we picked 3 things that we wanted to be perfect and the rest is just bonus. I always tell my couples that as long as you are married at the end of the day the rest is just details. For us the three things we are going all out on is photo/video, venue, and florals. Breaking down a budget given those things made it so much easier for us. We snagged a free online budget planning spreadsheet from Bridechilla (shoutout to my current favorite podcast and facebook group! Go check them out). Sitting down and working on it together ensures that we are on the same page which is so important. No matter who is taking on the bulk of planning budgeting is key for both of you to be involved!
Having an idea of time of year, month, or even the specific weekend you want is helpful when researching venues. For us we are planning for Spring 2020. My books are filling up for 2019 and I want to make sure I can devote enough time to my couples, and then have time to plan for ourselves. The date was super important for us logistically so figuring that out right away allowed us to narrow down options for venues especially (and give people an answer when they all inevitably ask when we are getting married).
Maxx and I have some pretty specific desires as far as venues go. We know what we like (it helps seeing venues almost every weekend for half of the year) and have a budget to follow narrows it down. We also had it in our plans to have a small wedding i.e. less than 100 people. Knowing the season, size of the wedding, and area we wanted to look in got us a few great options. We emailed almost 10 venues that we initially liked and were interested in, only 2 were in budget and included our requirements. It’s honestly better to only have 2-3 options to tour and seriously consider. Touring too many venues can get tricky when envisioning your wedding in so many places. I know a lot of people struggle with choosing and writing a list of things you can’t compromise on, i.e. parking, location, style, price, and then take those things into consideration. Pros and cons lists are our best friend lately!
Overall we are still in the very early stages of planning. There are so many things to think about that it can get overwhelming but communication is key. The first 5 things we did, announce, hire photo and video, do a budget, pick a few dates, and email and tour venues has set us up for success! We have a lot of the main things pretty much figured out and we can rest and enjoy the holidays and save up even more! I definitely do not regret planning for a longer engagement! I’d love to hear in the comments what some of those first things you did after getting engaged were!
One of the best things about having friends who are also photographers is getting to do fun little projects! This shoot was basically me just tagging along with Sydney Marie Photography while she worked with my other friend Chloee for a shoot. It was so refreshing not having to create images for anyone but myself and it’s something I definitely want to make time for more this year. I played around with some editing and focus that I don’t normally do and I’ll be honest I LOVE it! Y’all might see some more grainy black and whites this year. Anyway, here are some of my favorites!
This year has been so incredible. I’ve photographed 12 weddings, helped 3 other photographers for weddings, done over 30 portrait sessions, graduated college, traveled to my first conference, made incredible friends, gained confidence in myself and my work, and all around grown. The world was pretty murky going into 2017, I wasn’t sure how we’d do this year as a country, and while I’m baffled at the choices made by our leaders, my own community has risen above and provided great support and shown love to each other.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I could do this. I’m not sure what “this” is, but I’ve been so lucky to have such amazing people to work with and making my job easy. It doesn’t feel real. Getting to work with such a diverse group of people is more than I could have asked for. You all have showed up in the best ways and made 2017 one of the best years yet.
While choosing my favorite photos of 2017 is like asking me to pick a favorite child, I’ve compiled a few of the ones that have moved me the most this year. They might not all be technically perfect, but I always aim for emotion over perfection in my work anyway. I hope that you enjoy looking through these images as much as I do and help me in celebrating all of the victories in 2017 and get excited for what’s to come in 2018!
Congrats on your engagement! Chances are you are here for some advice on the daunting task of wedding planning and what your next steps should be. I’ve heard countless couples talking about how knowing where to start is the hardest part so I’ve compiled a list of the first 5 things you should do now that you’re engaged! This list might not give you all the answers but will help answer some questions, and even give you some vendor ideas for the Grand Rapids area!
1: Set a budget!
This sets the tone for the rest of your planning and gives you an idea of what vendors you can work with in your budget! Consider guest count as a factor into that budget as well, but more on that in the next step. Budgets of course can be flexible but knowing a ballpark can ensure you don’t go broke all in the name of love. When thinking of budget it helps to break it down by vendor as well. What is most important to you? Would you like photos but no video? Fake DIY flowers as opposed to real from a florist? These factors can factor into a budget that is comprehensive and an easy reference point when reaching out to possible vendors.
Not all beautiful weddings are high budget! So don’t let a small budget discourage you, tons of couples pay for everything on their own and remember, a strong marriage is far more important than a perfect day! If you’re looking for some helpful advice on budgets consider looking on A Practical Wedding that gives some sample budgets and other great resources.
2: Figure out the size of your special day!
Small elopement sound more like your cup of tea? Maybe 20 guests will be the way to go. Want a party with everyone who helped you get to where you are now? Maybe 300 guests is more your taste. No matter what the guest count it will still be amazing, just remember this is a key part of planning. Venues range from elopement size only to huge oversized spaces. Getting a ballpark for your guest count will make venue hunting so much easier in the long run! You won’t waste time on a small venue if you decide you want 200 people. The guest count also varies on budget, so these two steps go hand in hand!
3: Pick some dates or time of year!
Yes I say dates! Many venues book over a year out and so having a time of year or multiple dates makes it easier to coordinate. If you’re planning a wedding in 6 months or less it might be a bit trickier but don’t let that discourage you! There are tons of great times of year to get married and all have a different feel. Another thing to consider is weather, holidays, and if people will have to travel far. These things can all factor into the perfect wedding date for you!
4: Visit and pick a venue!
Pick 3-4 venues to go and look at. I wouldn’t only see one or two and more than 4 can be hard to pick between. Looking at 3-4 gives you a variety without being overwhelming. Things to consider when visiting are parking, accessibility, limitations on catering or decor, length of rental, and size. These things can all make or break a venue. Also ask if day of coordination is included, if it isn’t that might be another cost to factor in. Try and visit the venues during the season of your future wedding, snow or heat can make or break a location. The venue is one of the key factors in a wedding so this step should be taken very seriously. If you are in the Greater Grand Rapids area here is a small sample of my favorite venues!
5: Pick your photographer!
Ok ok ok, I’ll be honest, I’d loveee for you to pick me as your photographer, but all that aside I know I’m not right for everyone, so let me break it down. Photography is the only thing that lasts after your big day, you do not want to skimp on hiring a professional photographer. Finding a family member or old friend might not be the right choice if they aren’t a professional, do not leave this huge responsibility to someone without experience. Think about your preferred style, do you want posed classic images? Bright and airy? Darker and Moody? Candid and authentic? some combination of all of those? Search on Instagram for local wedding photography hashtags to get a glimpse at some of the talent and an idea for preferred style. If you have an idea of some photographers you love reach out to them to ask about pricing and options. Average cost for a professional in Grand Rapids area is about $2,500. Also think about your venue and maybe find some photographers who have worked there before. If you are going to have a darker reception venue or late night reception make sure to see their work with flash and other lighting. Most photographers will send full wedding galleries if you ask!
Don’t be intimidated or scared! We are really nice and often have a ton of suggestions for the little things you’ve been worried about. If you need help with a timeline or searching for vendors ask your photographer! They will have lots of suggestions to help you put together the perfect day!
All in all wedding planning doesn’t have to be intimidating, follow these simple steps to get on the right track in the beginning and the rest will fall into place for you! Do your research, look on social media, and ask previous couples for advice. Remember that this is a special time and not a time to stress out! Talk with your partner and work together as a team, now is the time to get an idea of what you both are looking for out of the wedding day! So Congratulations again and I hope that this special time goes smoothly for you both! If you need any suggestions or any help feel free to email me at email@example.com or leave a comment and I’ll gladly help any way I can!