There Are No Rules

As a wedding planner, there are so many nuggets of information I pass on to my clients. Of all of them, I definitely have a favorite: There are no rules.

Some of the questions asked during the planning process have standard, solid answers. Questions such as "Should I have my makeup professionally done" and "Is a rain plan necessary" have very definitive answers in my book {both are a big resounding YES, by the way}. But not all questions I'm asked have standard answers like that. Here are a couple examples for you to understand what I mean.

Do I have to have a bouquet and garter toss?? If you don't feel comfortable doing a toss, skip it. If you think it could get awkward with your grandmother watching, don't do it. There are no rules that say you HAVE to do these things and, it turns out, a lot of your guests will thank you for skipping this one.

Do I have to have favors for my guests to take home? As someone who is responsible for collecting all the things left behind by guests at the end of the night, I can say, without a doubt, that guests do not find tremendous value in favors. So many of them are left behind on the tables after your guests have left the wedding. Favors are a really great way to try to incorporate something meaningful to the two of you, like your grandmother's jam or a donation to the local SPCA. But if you decide to forego the favors, I promise you a single guest will not notice.

In what order do we have to do our dances and speeches? If you want to go straight from cocktail hour into dancing, go for it! If you want to serve wedding cake before dinner, let them eat cake! Your guests are just excited to be there with you and as long as you feed them, they don't really care what order you do it in!

As their wedding planner, one of my primary jobs is to remind my couples to keep the wedding true to them. This exact wedding has never been done before. There is no rule saying that all weddings must have favors, or a late night snack, or formal speeches. And if those things don't fit into the couple's vision for their day, why force it on them?

Now don't be fooled into thinking I recommend my couples skip a whole bunch of aspects of their wedding day just because they don't want to do them. I've had so many couples ask if they are "allowed" to skip their first dance. I get it, I don't like to be the center of attention either. But when a couple asks me a question like this, I tell them that there are really no rules at all saying they have to have a first dance. And then I quickly follow that up with asking them to think ahead to a year, ten years, twenty years after the wedding....and figure out if they'll regret not having that first dance together {or best man speech, or a cake, or portraits after the ceremony}. If they think it's something that is going to be missed if they do without it, I find the best way to incorporate it while staying true to the couple. That balance is so important!

So when you're planning your wedding, please remember that there really are no rules at all. Don't feel limited by what you're "supposed" to do. Your wedding planner is there to help you make informed decisions and to keep you on track to having the wedding that best showcases your relationship.

3 Things...To Bring with You on Your Wedding Day

I'm so excited to kick off a new blog series today! "3 Things" will be a quick snippet of important info for brides to consider when planning their weddings, and beyond!

Our first post is all about 3 super important things to remember to bring with you on your wedding day. These are things that may seem so crazy obvious to you right now, but in the excitement of packing your bag and rushing out to start hair and just might leave without them!

Elizabeth Henson Photos
Your Rings
This happens so much more than you might think. Brides {and grooms} get through the whole morning of their wedding only to realize an hour or two from the ceremony that no one brought the wedding bands with them. It's a great idea to put one of your most trusted attendants in charge of these. The Maid of Honor or Best Man will likely be a little less frazzled the morning of your wedding and they'll make sure the rings get to the ceremony.

Your Vows
If you're writing your own vows, chances are you've put some serious time and effort into doing so. These aren't just a few sentences you've scribbled down on the fly...these words mean so much to you and your fiance. So once you have them written, put them with something you cannot leave without, like your dress!

Rebecca Keeling Studios
Details for the Photographer
You put some serious effort into planning this wedding, and you've likely invested quite a bit of money on a talented photographer to capture every single detail of the day. Make sure to set aside any special details you want the photographer to capture. Things like an invitation suite, any heirlooms you might plan to wear, and even your perfume are all things that you'll want photographs of later. Try having them all set aside neatly for your photographer to start capturing as soon as they arrive.

Do what you can to plan ahead and make sure these things make it out of the house with you the morning of your wedding. Pack them ahead of time and maybe put them with your dress...since we know you won't leave the house without that beauty!

If you have any suggestions for future "3 Things" posts, shoot me an email at I'd love to hear your ideas!

The Importance of a Wedding Day Timeline

A few months back, I wrote this as a guest on my friend Sterling's blog and I knew I needed to share it over here on mine as well. The wedding planning process is filled with so many important aspects and it's pretty easy for things to fall through the cracks if you're not careful. Whatever you do, do not let your wedding day timeline be one of those things that ends up forgotten or neglected!

Kirstyn Marie Photography

I've met with so many couples who've told me in the beginning stages of planning that they won't be needing a day-of timeline. "We're really laid back", "We like to wing it", and "We don't want to feel rushed" are some of the reasons they've given me. As their wedding planner, it's my job to explain to them why those are all the perfect reasons they NEED to have a timeline for their big day.

Timelines allot the right amount of time for each aspect of your day, making sure that there's no rushing to fit everything in. Without a timeline, important things like the bouquet and garter toss can be forgotten. Then you're left to squish them in at the last minute, when some of your most important guests may have already headed home.

As much as you'll depend on your timeline to keep your day on track, your vendors will depend on it even more so. A wedding is full of so many moving parts....sometimes dozens of vendors are working together to bring your vision to life. It's so important that they each know what the order of events will be for the day so that they know when they have to be ready. Your caterer will want to make sure that your dinner is served on time. Your photographer will want to be ready by the cake table when it's time for toasts and cake cutting. And your driver for the night will want to have your vintage care ready in time for your grand exit.

Elizabeth Henson Photos

Now that you know why the timeline is important and necessary for your wedding day, how do you build one? It can seem like a really overwhelming thing to tackle. Your wedding planner will be a huge help when you're putting it together, but here are a few tips for constructing the perfect timeline for your day:

- Build it around the non-negotiables. If sunset portraits are of the utmost importance to you, build the timeline around when you and your new husband will be outside catching that perfect light with your photographer. If it is imperative that your great-grandmother be present for the cutting of the cake and you know she won't stay past 8pm, take that into consideration when mapping out the order of events.

- Include your vendors in the building of the timeline. You hired each of them because of their ability to perform their craft so well. Let them educate you on what they do and how much time they need to do it.

Daniel Pullen Photography

- Set aside a little quiet time for you and your new husband! Whether it's immediately following the ceremony or during sunset, set aside just 5-10 minutes for the two of you to catch your breathe, sip some champagne, and give each other all the goofy grins because YOU'RE MARRIED!!

Sentimental Details

Sometimes a wedding can feel very scripted.  The guests enter and take their seats.  The bride walks down the aisle to meet her groom.  The couple exchanges vows and rings, they kiss, and then the party begins.  Everything, from the dress to the details, can make you have a bit of déjà vu, like you've seen all this before.  So how can couples keep their wedding from seeming like "another typical wedding"?

A great way to keep that from happening is to incorporate some really meaningful and sentimental details throughout the day.  I'm not talking about a 20 minute photo montage of the two of you from birth to engagement.  But the little, personal details are a great way to make sure that your personalities are reflected, both individually and as a couple.  They'll ensure your guests leave with a better sense of who the two of you are, even if they've known you forever.

Incorporate Family
Mementos that the bride or groom can carry down the aisle with them offer a reminder of beloved family members.  These can be tied to the bride's bouquet or onto the groom's boutonniere.

Angie McPherson Photography
Another way to incorporate family is to wear your mother's or grandmother's gown.  You could also sew a piece of your dad's or grandfather's shirt inside your gown, or don a piece of heirloom jewelry from the family as your "something borrowed".

I've even seen a bride's father tie a piece of her baby blanket around the stem of her bouquet.  Adorable!

Incorporate Special Music
Is there a song that means a lot to the two of you as a couple, but just isn't meant to be a first dance?  Play that during your recessional!  Maybe "Benny & the Jets" or "Wouldn't It Be Nice"??  These would make such a fun exit from your ceremony and such a special touch if they mean something to the two of you. 

Personalize the Ceremony 
Have you and your fiance known each other for many years?  Incorporate a funny story of your early years together into the ceremony!  I once had a couple that had known each other since elementary school.  During their ceremony, they displayed a picture from their year book, showing where the bride had written "hottie" under the groom's picture.  THE BEST!

Sami Proctor Photography and Design
   Has your pastor known the two of you for many years?  Suggest they tell a story during the ceremony that some may not know!

Handwritten Sentiments
Small treasures, like a handwritten letter, aren't just for your soon-to-be spouse.  Make the day special for your bridesmaids, your parents, or your soon-to-be in-laws with handwritten notes on the wedding day.

Elizabeth Henson Photos
Personal Vows
This is a more obvious way to add personality and sentiment to your big day, but it's definitely a favorite of mine!  Writing your own vows or even modifying traditional vows to reflect what each other means to you is such a sweet and heartfelt touch to a wedding day.

What different ways did you bring sentimental elements into your wedding day?  I'd love to hear about it!

Building Your Wedding Brand - Ro & Co Designs

Hey ya'll! You've all heard plenty about Rosalie of Ro & Co Designs here on the blog before. She was a 2015 JDE bride, turned friend, turned my all-time favorite graphic designer. I must send her a request at least once a month of something new I need designed and she hits the nail on the head


Today she's here to teach us a bit about wedding branding!

Hey there!  I'm Rosalie with Ro & Co Designs and I am so excited to share with you what I consider to be the secret ingredient that will help you personalize and fuse together every detail of your wedding day .... Friends, I give you Wedding Branding!

Wedding Branding can be defined as the overall look and feel that you have chosen for your special day.  I like to think of it as the expression of you and your fiance's love through meaningful, cohesive design.  It helps to tell your story visually and emotionally so you are able to connect your story to every element of the big day!

You may or may not have met my frenemy, Pinterest.  I remember when I first got engaged, I immediately unlocked that "secret" wedding board I had been pinning to over the years {that's right - years.  Guys, my husband waited 7 years to propose....a girl had to dream out loud somewhere} and I felt so overwhelmed.  I'm talking major bridentity crisis.  I had pinned rustic barns, bohemian hair styles, ballgowns galore, mason jars, and nautical bottle opener favors...all in one board.  This is where wedding branding rides in on its big white horse to save the day.

Establishing your branding early on in the planning process helps you focus your vision and "see" it in action, allowing you to make more informed choices along the way.  Not to mention, it's extremely helpful for your vendors to see what you're envisioning in terms of specific colors, design elements, and the overall aesthetic you've dreamed of.  This results in a unified look that ties your whole day together and truly captures your essence as a couple.  Most importantly, a strong and consistent brand has the power to transform an already beautiful event into an unforgettable and meaningful experience that you and your guests will always remember.

Here's the fun part!  Here are some tips to help you and yours find your "brand".


I know this sounds daunting.  But start with a simple conversation between you and your fiance and create a list of things that represent you as a couple.  What do you like to do together?  Where are your favorite places to visit?  What kind of experience do you want to give your guests?  Are you rustic?  Nautical?  Preppy?  Whimsical?  By asking these types of questions, you should be able to pick 4-5 words that define who you are together.


Before you get too far into the planning process, you have to figure out when and where your nuptials will take place {if you haven't already}!  This will not only lay the foundation for all design choices, but it will determine vendor availability and really put the planning into overdrive.  WOO!


Now that you have an idea what you want to represent and when/where your wedding will take place, you can determine your colors, patterns/textures, fonts, and even a logo!  This is where I like to create an inspiration board for my couples to present their very own unique brand.

Your wedding inspiration board should include the following:

color palette

Start by picking one or two colors that you two adore, and build off of them with accents.  OK - so this is where Pinterested becomes a bestie again {DARN YOU} as it can be a wonderful tool to find colors that complement one another without overpowering.


As you peruse through wedding blogs and magazines, try to find images that reflect your overall style.  ANd keep in mind that textures and patterns can be a subtle way to create a strong image for your day.  Do you find yourself gravitating towards nautical stripes?  What about bold Lily patterns?  Or maybe you can't stop pinning rustic wood images.  Incorporating these textures into your wedding stationery can be a great way to really set the tone for your guests from the get go.

logo and fonts

A wedding logo?!  Yes, the exist and they are the strongest ingredient in successfully weaving your brand throughout every detail.  You can opt for a custom designed logo or monogram, as well as two complementary fonts to use on all of your paper goods!  From your save the dates and wedding invitations, to your wedding website, to your reception signage and favors, all the way to your thank you cards.  This is where your wedding brand comes to life and what will make your wedding day truly memorable!  By taking this time to brand each element, your guests will actually notice the continuity and appreciate the thought that went into every decision.

Branding a wedding is a fun way to make it memorable, but you do want to avoid going overboard.  Focus on keeping it personal and meaningful, and you'll achieve that perfect balance that comes with a beautiful branded wedding that reflects what's most important here - your life as a married couple!