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Wedding Wednesday: The 3 Main Rules of Planning

An ambitious statement, I know…as though I, little me, knows the 3 most important parts about planning?!  I totally DON’T! I just know what worked for me and what I have seen work for a lot of brides over the past few years, and wanted to share them here as a part of my new Wedding Wednesday Series!  Every other Wednesday, I will blog about an aspect of wedding plan with some advice for soon to be brides (or any girl with a dream!)!  I am very excited to share some of what I have learned from planning my own wedding, and then coordinating and photographing many over the last 5 years!  So on to the rules!

1). Make your own rules!  I know that doesn’t sound like a real rule, right!? Here is what I mean… While planning our wedding, one roadblock we came to was flowers. They were super expensive, I am not really a girl who just adores flowers (though as a photographer, I LOVE photographing them!), and I had no thoughts going in about what we wanted! So after deciding to go with a very casual wheat and lillies look for my bouquet and wheat boutonnieres for the guys, we decided to give the bridesmaids something I WAS passionate about…PURSES! And I adored it- they carried the custom made clutches from Etsy down the aisle just like flowers, and they were darling.  Besides, between the clutches and the pockets in their dresses, they had it made!

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Another “tradition” among many that we made our own was equal numbered bridal parties. I felt very strongly about having 6 dear friends of mine and simply could not cut it down any further. Michael knew he just wanted the brothers— his 3 and my 1.  4 and 6? SURE! And it worked just fine! 2 of my girls walked down the aisle together, and at the front everyone stood in a mixed group arched around us, representing that they were all for BOTH of us- it was perfect for us!

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See this bridal party size?! My sweet bride Elise wanted to be surrounded by those she loved the most- AND SHE WAS!  If she had kept that number smaller for any reason, she would have been missing one of her GIRLS being with her for that whole day, and that would have been so sad!

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2). Make it personal!

Michael and I adore food, trying new food, cooking new food (well, he does the cooking, not me!), and eating! 🙂 So, we knew we wanted our food to say something about us and where we lived! We served horseshoes, a Central Illinois Specialty (if you don’t know what those are…google it…you will thank me later!).  And one of my favorite touches: ice cream sundaes!  We like cake…but not as much as ice cream! So we had a sundae bar, and it was so US!

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Hannah and David LOVE to travel.  It is a huge part of their life, and a big hobby of theirs.  So they made sure to incorporate their wanderlust in MANY ways throughout their reception details- it was beautiful and SO them!

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Lisa and Michael (who’s engagement session I am sharing in a couple of days!!) both serve in the Armed Forces so their Military Dog Tags are a huge part of their identity.  They wanted them included in their engagement session and I am so glad we did- they add a perfect personal touch to who they are as a couple.

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3). Save money where you can so you can spend it where you want!

We were working on a tight budget, so right at the beginning Michael and I sat down together to discuss our piorities…where what was most important to us? We very quickly decided that for us, photography was first, wedding venue was second, and an amazing honeymoon was last.  Then, every decision we made went through that filter: if it wasn’t one of those 3 things, we tried to save in EVERY way we could!  Few flowers, no cake…those things helped a TON!  Another big choice was to not hire a DJ. I know for some couples, keeping the party rocking all night is a HUGE deal, so this TOTALLY wouldn’t work for everyone!  But for us…  5 years later, our photographs are what we have to REMEMBER the day… and a good friend of mine played a fabulous playlist chosen by us on a ipod hooked up to huge speakers, and it worked perfectly and kept the dance floor alive! Decide what you can cut on in order to spend on what is truly important to you both!

Sometimes you just fall in LOVE with a location, and you have to have it- so you sacrifice other things to make it work!  Matt and Liz got married at the stunning Buena Vista Farms…and served delicious and adorable (and thrifty!) CUPCAKES at their reception!  It worked perfectly for them (and followed the other 2 rules as well!) and saved them a TON of money!

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Friends, your wedding is all about you, your fiance, and the people you love who you choose to celebrate with you. It is one of the few times in your life when you will have (hopefully) everyone you really love in one location!  Make your own rules, make it personal, put your money where you most want it, and have the celebration of your dreams!

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Wedding Wednesday Planning Rules_0005 *Images from our wedding shot by the fabulous BethLaurren Photography!

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I'm Jill, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Chicago and Central Illinois, and available world wide! I'm also a photography educator, wife to my favorite person on the planet, mama to 3 amazing kids and an energetic Aussie, and obsessed with statement jewelry and all desserts (especially fruit pies!). 

As a past high school teacher, I have a major heart for education. After going full time in my business, I have built a business I love that gives me an almost 6 figure salary and allows me to be home part time with my kids.  I dream for you to run a business that enhances your life and lights you up, and I believe I can help you learn how to do it with a little hustle and a lot of heart!

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You're in the right place!  As a past high school teacher, educating others is my life's work and a HUGE part of my business!  I have been teaching moms and hobbyists how to use their camera from first purchasing it all the way to coaching them into businesses of their own, and I'd love to help you as well, wherever you are (and whatever camera you have!).

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