November 11, 2015

How to plan a Pinterest-worthy wedding

how-to-plan-a-pinterest-worthy-wedding-virginia-rustic-wedding-photographyOne of my girlfriends got engaged and the first thing she said after the obligatory “OMG, we’re engaged!!!” selfie had been posted was, “I need to get on Pinterest and start planning the wedding!”  My friend is definitely not alone.

The pressure to Create a Pinterest-worthy wedding is real. Use these tips to help. Click To Tweet

Pinterest has been both a blessing and a curse for modern day brides. The site is full of gorgeous images and inspiring details, but if you are not careful it can also spark burnout, false expectations, and overwhelm like crazy. Use these tips to make your wedding photographs look as amazing as possible while keeping you budget and sanity in check.

Tip #1: Get Crystal Clear on Your Theme or Style

The first, and absolutly most essential, tip is to decide on your theme or style.

What is the difference between a wedding theme and a wedding style?

A wedding theme is usually based upon a shared interest that you have as a couple.  This couple be very specific like Star Wars or slightly more general like Cape Cod.


A wedding style is a genre – rustic, graphic, country elegance, etc.


The more clear and precise you can be about your theme or style, the easier it will be to zero in on what on Pinterest is relevant to you versus what is just pretty and shiny.

There is so much inspiration out there on the line that if you don’t begin planning with a focus you will inevitably spin your wheels and end up frustrated.  To help you decide on a theme or style I recomend coming up with a few that you like and making a board for each theme or style.  Spend a few weeks pinning to all of the boards and then evaluate each individually to see which board feels the most like you.  One should make your heart sing a little more than the others.

Once you choose your wedding theme, ruthlessly exclude everything else. Click To Tweet

For every decision ask yourself, “Does this add to my wedding theme or distract from my wedding theme?”  If it distracts, cut it loose.

Tip #2: Cite, Don’t Plagiarize

One of the major reasons that wedding vendors dislike Pinterest is that brides bring them a board and say, “I want this.  Not something like this – EXACTLY this.  Verbatim.”

Not only are you doing your vendors a disservice by asking them to copy someone else's work, you are really cheating yourself! Click To Tweet

You will never be able to recreate an image exactly.  Even if you are in the same location holding the same pose as the couple in the picture, you are a different couple!  They may be taller than you, it might be a different time of day, the photographer could use a different lens…there are so many variables that go into a wedding day that all you will accomplish by trying to copy is to drive yourself crazy!

Your wedding should be about YOU.  What you like, your unique personality as a couple, and the vision that you have for your wedding – not someone else’s.


Whenever you look at images that you have pinned, ask yourself what about the image is it that draws you?  Do you like the rustic location?  The lighting?  Do you love the way that the pose makes the couple look natural and relaxed?

If you can focus on what you like about the images and communicate THAT to your vendors you will get far better results that will be much more genuine and special to you.

Tip #3: Hire Wedding Vendors That You Trust, and Then Trust Them

This can be a really hard tip to embrace, but I have worked with enough vendors to know that if you do your research, find someone whose work really sings to you, communicate effectively, and then let them do what they do best the results will be amazing.


The first step here is to do your research, and in some cases perform a reality check.  Everyone has a budget, that’s just a reality.  Part of your research should be to sit down with your potential vendors and have an honest conversation about what you have to invest and what you can expect in that range.  Many of your vendors will be more than willing to work with you when it comes to making your vision fit your budget, you just have to have an honest conversation with them.  Maybe you can have 6 hours of coverage instead of 8 and still hire that photographer you love…maybe your florist can swap one type of flower for another to make those table length garlands you love fit the budget. Just ask and be open to some compromise.

One sure way to end up dissapointed is to not communicate with your wedding vendors. Click To Tweet

Once you have found a vendor that you love and you are both on the same page as far as expectations share your likes and dislikes that you came up with in Tip #2.  Once they know what you like or dislike and why, let them go to work and do what they do best!

Tip #4: Location, Location, Location

Choosing your wedding venue is one of the most important decisions that you will make when it comes to planning your wedding.  Your venue is the backdrop for the entire wedding day and sets the tone for the event.


Here’s the thing about venues, though.  If you choose a venue that is already very visually stunning and fits with your theme you will need to spend less on florals and decor to achieve a similar look and your photographer can spend more time creating gorgeous images instead of solving location challenges.

A team of talented wedding vendors can overcome many challenges when it comes to dealing with a location that lacks appealing backgrounds or has poor lighting, but no amount of talent can make that hotel ballroom look like an open air ceremony with a mountain vista.  If all of your inspiration photos show an outdoor ceremony and reception, you need to book a rustic outdoor venue or you will ultimitely be dissapointed with the end product.


If you have the budget for an amazing venue that’s great, but beautiful locations don’t need to be expensive.  Ask around to see if you have a family friend who would let you hold your wedding in their field.  Check the policies with national parks.  I had a bride recently who’s family built her a shelter for their wedding in their parent’s back yard!

Tip #5: Keep a Tight Focus

As you go through your planning it seems like there is a never ending list of details to be attended to.  Keeping a tight focus is essential to creating a Pinterest-worthy wedding.  Here are my three best tips to keep your focus laser sharp.

Hire a wedding planner and/or day of coordinator.

If you are a person who feels like they are not creative, has trouble making decisions, and still has clothes in your closet from 8th grade because you just can’t bear to let go, you should seriously consider hiring a wedding planner.

A good wedding planner can be the difference between a beautiful, cohesive, stress free wedding and a want-to-pull-your-hair-out disaster. Click To Tweet

If you have the planning under control I would still recommend hiring a day of coordinator.  Simply ask yourself if you would rather spend the morning of your wedding sipping mimosas and laughing with your girlfriends or running around stressing because the florist is late and someone lost the programs.  That one’s pretty much a no brainer.  Things will go wrong, let someone else take care of fixing them for this one day.

Stick to 2-4 Colors for your wedding


The most successful color schemes involve 2-3 main colors and an accent color.  When you are chooosing your color scheme take the colors of the venue into account (Does the ballroom have royal blue carpets? That blush and ivory color scheme isn’t going to look right.) and also consider the complexions of your bridal party.

Once you choose your primary color, select accent colors that are either in the same family – cool colors like blue and green – or on the opposite side of the color wheel for more pop.

The web is full of sites offering inspiration for color palettes.  One of my favs is The Perfect Palette.

Focus on 2-3 key details


Rather than spending a ton of your budget to create lots of little details, you will get a lot more bang for your buck if you choose 2-3 details to focus on and really nail them.

One of my brides, Jamie, did this very well.  She spent her time and resources to create a colorful DIY backdrop for the head table at the reception and then had a friend help build these amazing doors that were used for the ceremony and then moved to the reception.


Not sure which details to focus on?  Check out this post on the wedding details that make the biggest impact.

Tip #6: Consider Your Timeline

Pinterest runs on images of couples in lovely locations and detail photos. Click To Tweet

If your goal is to craft a Pinterest-worthy wedding you need to prioritize time for couples portraits during the best lighting time of the day and provide ample time for your photographer to photograph details.


I like to photograph all of the bridal details first thing when I arrive at a wedding and I recommend allowing 30-45 minutes to capture the images of the flowers, dress, shoes, etc.   The photographer will also need 15 minutes alone in the ceremony site before guests are allowed to enter and another 15-20 minutes later in the day before guests are allowed into the reception space.

We all know that the most flattering time for portraits is during the golden hour, but this can vary by location.  If your venue is in a wooded area it will get dark sooner than a winery situated on a hill overlooking the mountains.  Same goes for East facing venues versus west facing venues and winter wedding versus summer weddings.


Before you finalize your timeline be sure to look up the sunset times for the date you are planning to get married.  A sunset wedding is lovely, but if you are not planning to do a first look you will be doing your portraits in the dark…

If planning your wedding day timeline seems daunting I have a post HERE about how to plan the perfet wedding day timeline.

Tip #7: Prepare Prior to the Wedding

No one likes suprises on their wedding day (unless they are sweet suprises from your groom).

A little planning and advance preparation can help make your day go a lot more smoothly.

Do a hair and make-up trial.

plan-a-pinterest-worthy-wedding-do a makeup-trial

Knowing that you will look amazing before the day of the wedding will eliminate so much stress from the day.

I have had brides who did not do a hair and make-up trial who HATED the way that they looked and it ruined their whole experience.  They went into the wedding unhappy, were uncomfortable during their photos, and now when they look back at their wedding they feel sad rather than overjoyed.  What a tragedy that could have easily been avoided by doing a trial!

If you want to kill two birds with one stone set up your hair and make-up trial to coincide with your engagement session!

Book an engagement session.


An engagement session is the perfect opportunity for you to get comfortable with your fiance posing in front of the camera.  I get it, no one likes having their pictures taken,  I don’t either.  That is why it is important to practice so that by the time your wedding rolls around you have all of the jitters out of the way.

Having an engagement session also lets you get comfortable with your photographer and allows them to learn what poses you look best in.  Plus, you get a bunch of beautiful images of the two of you together!

Gather all of your details prior to the wedding.


Your photographer will want to photograph the following things.  If you gather them together in one place and put someone in charge of getting them to the wedding it is one less thing to think about the morning of the wedding.



Bouquet / boutinniere

Rings (engagement ring plus both wedding bands)

Jewelry (including cufflinks and watchess for men)

Wedding invitation suite (including envelopes)

Old / new / borrowed / blue

Family heirlooms or anything special or personalized for the wedding

Tip #8: Relax and Have Fun!


Enjoying yourself with your new spouse, friends, and family is what this is all about, right?

You have done all of the hard work so now is the time to enjoy what you have created and have a blast.  You earned it!

Are you planning a rustic wedding in Virginia?

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