THE BEAUTY'S IN THE DETAILS
After planning my own wedding and photographing many many others, my opinion hasn't changed : it's all in the details. It's not just about the dress or the flowers - there are so many other subtle touches that will help tell the story of you day and build the mood. A good photographer can make any wedding look thoughtful and beautiful, but including some of the small things in your planning process only makes it better.
GET THEM IN THE DOOR
Your invitations set the tone for your wedding - they''re the first impression before your guests even arrive, and should match your wedding - in color, tone, etc. Think about ways you can tie it all together - if you've got hand-written / script signs directing your guests around the wedding, maybe use the same handwriting to address the wedding invitations. If you've got rustic details, maybe your invitations are on craft paper or have torn edges. If you REALLY want to brand your big day, create a logo for your wedding - maybe it shows-up on the wedding invitation, any website you have for information, and again on small details at the wedding itself. Make your guests feel like they've seen it before and like it's all part of the same story.
Whatever you decide to do, mail one to your photographer. You've probably put at least a little bit of thought into this, and you're going to want to remember it. You MIGHT remember to bring one on your wedding day, but play it safe and mail one to them ahead of time.
When I attend a wedding, among other initial assumptions, I assume there are rings. Beyond that, I'm constantly on the hunt for things that have some meaning or value to the bride and groom - anything that looks handmade, thoughtful details or personalized keepsakes, and especially jewelry. Your wedding is the perfect time to bring an heirloom ring / bracelet / set of earrings out of storage and keep it close to you as you walk down the aisle. You might be looking for something borrowed / blue, and why not let that come from a favorite family member or best friend?
Again, keep in mind that you'll want to remember those details - tell your photographer about them!
Your wedding dress - even if it's a $30 dress from Goodwill (ps: I kind of hope it is) - is THE dress you'll get married in. If I've got anything to say about it, it's the dress you'll be wearing in some of your favorite photos, it probably, in some way, speaks to your personality or who you are, and it should be remembered. My mom told me that she bought herdress from a consignment store and spent more money on a white hat to wear to her wedding (it was the early 80s...). Man, do I hope she's got pictures of the hat. And the dress.
Don't be alarmed when your photographer grabs your dress and says "I'll be back in a while!" - let them get creative and take it somewhere with a lot of drama. If there are things you really love about the dress - pockets, the back buttons, a bow, or something personalized - tell your photographer. Don't run the risk of missing those photos because your photographer didn't realize they were special to you.
ACCESORIZING YOUR WEDDING
Your wedding will be beautiful, no matter what details you do or do not accomplish / remember / decide are important, however... there are things you can do that will take it up a level - elevate it in your memories and your guests' experiences. Think of your wedding day like a real-life mood board. People will build a mental summary of the whole thing from the moment they arrive to the minute they leave. It's all part of the brand- excuse me, wedding. Some things I put time into from my very own wedding :
We got married at an old gristmill (in my husband's family) and borrowed old barnwood for some hand-painted signs directing guests where to park and where to sit for the ceremony. What materials can you use that are borrowed from your venue or reminiscent of the location?
The colors we used were gray, navy, white, and gold. I tried to make sure everything fell in one of those families. We bought cheap metal buckets to put flowers in and spray-painted them gold. We used navy envelopes with white ink for our invitations, white cardstock with gold foil for our programs (which you can do at home - AMAZING), and gold candlestick holders with white taper candles on the tables. What are your colors / materials, and how can you do to make sure they're consistent?
I wore my grandmother's ring in her memory, and carried violets in my bouquet in memory of my niece. We made a donation in my niece's name, as well as a cousin's name, in honor of each guest and left a (white and gold) card at each place setting to acknowledge that. Who has a special place in your heart, and how can you incorporate them into your day?
Like I said, in the end, if you forget or decide against a detail, nobody will notice or care, but, it's the details that take a venue many people have used and make it your's. It's the photos of those details that will fill-in the blanks and tell your story years from now, and sometimes these things are kind of fun to plan - if you're into that kind of thing...