Getting Down to the Fun Stuff – Wedding Planning Part 3

We’ve addressed the major planning issues over the past few articles, so let’s take some time to look at details that are fun and really add character to the main event.

I have mentioned before that I didn’t have a ton of absolute “musts” for my wedding day. I didn’t care about what flowers we ended up with, didn’t have a set dress style in mind going in and definitely didn’t want to blow a ton of money on a wedding; I wanted to celebrate starting a marriage. That being said, I wanted a damn photobooth. Ever since I found the perfect black and white booth at the Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk in my teens – which I visited and took multiple strips in several times a year – I knew it was one of my non-negotiables. Unfortunately, once I priced them out, I realized they were about a third of my entire budget for 4 hours. Suddenly, it became negotiable again. Prepare yourselves for this to happen, perhaps multiple times during the planning process. However, instead of tumbling into a pit of despair over the potential ruination of your most perfect of days, figure out ways to get creative.

We didn’t end up with a photobooth, even though I bandied around the idea of taking on a second job to fund it. Instead, armed with a decent camera, a remote clicker, a small TV, tripod and connecting cable, we created our own.

Using a tablecloth and some handmade signs (plus poofs, of course) we threw this up in a corner of the backyard and ended up with some of the most hilarious pictures from the entire wedding. We also made fake mustaches and lips, plus had various ridiculous hats and props for people to use. Super fun, super cheap, super easy.

Decorations can be done very cheaply, but they can also add up so incredibly quickly if you aren’t careful. If certain decorations are important to you, realistically price out how much they are going to cost and see if it is feasible. Are you imagining floating candles and lotus blossoms in crystal bowls on each table? Hit the dollar store for glass bowls and switch out the lotus blossoms for something slightly less pricey. Trust me, 99% of the people won’t notice the subtle difference and the 1% who would will find something wrong with anything, so who cares what they think anyhow? They suck and smell bad.

Whatever your decorating ideas are, think of alternate ways to do them on the cheap. White string lights can be bought in bulk for pennies on the dollar after Christmas; I think we spent less than $75 on hundreds of feet of them. They can take on a whole new life with very little adjustment, too. Get small white paper bags, cut a hole in the bottom of one and attach it to the light to make awesome paper lanterns. Get a roll of crepe paper in your wedding color, tape a small bit around each light and voila! Instant matching lighting. And, since poofs are my deal (please refer to my second post if you have no idea what I am talking about), buy a pack of tissue paper and let the magic happen.

Now, for an additional sub-list to the major lists from previous planning posts – a picture list for your photographer. I had never heard of this before I started looking at the major wedding sites and even after I had, it sounded a bit ridiculous to me. Full disclaimer: there is little I love more than having my picture taken. I am the ultimate cheeseball; you can’t point a camera at me without me going into full-bore ham mode. However, I was not about to hand my awesome photographer a list with things like, “Jon and Kym staring at each other lovingly,” and “Jon reaching out for Kym’s hand from behind her.” COME ON. How many people’s favorite pictures are the super-posed Olan Mills-style family portraits? Favorite pictures are ones where the photographer catches you with a genuine smile, born out of real laughter or joy; photos that capture a moment of solace, or love, or pure happiness. You don’t get favorites by posing everyone perfectly for five minutes and then pushing a button. My very favorite photo from the wedding?

You can’t even see our faces, yet something about it makes my heart so happy.

And yet, there were a few items on my list for our rock star photog. I am proud to say he said it was like no other list he had ever gotten. It is as follows (please feel free to use any and all).

– Stupid posed pictures of family because Mom says we have to

– Photos of Kym and bridesmaids acting like jackasses

– One photo of Jon getting to flip off the camera

– Photo of Jon and Kym’s dad with gun

The results? Perfection.

This is just my immediate family. Goodness, there are a ton of us.


Full Jackassery

He ALWAYS flips off the camera and was on restriction for wedding photos. This was the one he was allowed.

Epic. The fact that they were both totally shit-faced by the time they got to taking this should have concerned everyone involved. And yes, that is what my father changed into the minute the ceremony was over. Love it.

That was the entire list. The rest of the pictures were amazing. Of course, there are more cheesy posed shots, but the candids are so fun I could look at them every day and not get sick of them.

There are so many things to be stressed out about when planning any big event, but weddings seem to bring out the worst of it, and can bring out the worst in people, unfortunately. At the end of the day, yes, it is an incredibly special day, but it is just a day. It’s the day that is the start to an incredible journey with the person you love, supported by the friends and family that have seen you through good times and bad. Don’t get so wrapped up in needing everything to be perfect that you neglect those relationships. Have fun with your planning, be silly with the details, rejoice when you can check one more thing off your long list of to-dos. At the top of that to-do list? “Remember to be happy.”

10 thoughts on “Getting Down to the Fun Stuff – Wedding Planning Part 3”

  1. CRAP! I’ve been so absent lately I missed this whole wedding planning series until now! I’m a professional wedding photographer (sorry to the LB expats who are probably sick of me saying that in work-related posts) so I love all things wedding planning.

    Yes the shot list is essential–but you don’t need to do an actual shot for shot list. What I do with my clients is ask them for a “VIP” list–that is a list of people they want in the group/family photos, as well as their role in the day and their relationship to you. So “Jon–best man-brother of the groom, Sam-groomsman–cousin of the groom” etc. From that I make my shot list and it’s always very comprehensive and covers just about every permutation of family groupings you could imagine.

    It’s also super helpful, if you have a large family and/or a large wedding party, to assign a rounder-upper to the photographer. Usually a brother or sister in law who isn’t going to be in a lot of the pictures but is still a close family member.

    Also very important–make sure everyone who is involved in the group pictures knows that they are expected for pictures and when and where. I generally get my family shots done in 20 minutes or less, and if someone’s missing, then they’re missing. I won’t hold up the day waiting for one lolly gagger.

  2. I love your “homemade” photo booth — so fun and so cheap!

    And the photog’s list is SO important – Mr. Sally J has photographed his share of weddings. If the photog isn’t a family friend, how on earth is he/she supposed to know who you really want pictures of and what poses are important to you?

  3. Love your posts. I’ve just had the first of my wedding DIY, and it seems likely there’s a lot more to come. We are probably going to spend more than we had anticipated on our catering (mandatory with our amazing venue) so I’m trying to cut out as much of the other stuff as possible. I’m kind of looking forward to endless hours sitting around hot gluing things.

  4. My brother and I have a tradition of a flip off the camera in front of the Christmas tree photo. So there’s one of us at the wedding, me all up in my fancy dress and him in a tux with a bow tie flipping off the camera. It is great. The Mister doesn’t understand it at all. :)

    Love this post.

  5. I LOVE that you pretty much made your own photobooth! That’s something I thought would be really cool for a reception because it’s fun and because it gives you even more changes for pictures but I figured they’d probably be absurdly pricey.

    As for cheap decorating ideas, I totally stole this from Offbeat Bride and we haven’t settled on this for sure, but I love the idea of having stacks of pretty books tied together with ribbon as the centerpieces at reception tables. If we do it, I really want to do themed tables, like, poetry books, architecture books, childhood classics, etc.

    1. Love LOVE the books tied together idea!!! You could totally incorporate that into a photobooth backdrop, too. Go to GoodWill or thrift store, by a bunch of old musty books and use the pages to make a backdrop!! I will post a tutorial soon for different paper flowers, which you could use to add some pops of color. OHHHH Fun!!

      1. Ooh, fun! I really love paper flowers; we were thinking of having my bouquet and his corsage be a mixture of paper flowers in our colors and from the pages of books to further incorporate the literature/nerd theme, haha. Putting them on the tables would be lovely too! I’m not very good at crafty things, but future Mr. is, and I’m always willing to try. :)

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