by Shelby Ferguson

There are advantages to being engaged for both a long and short amount of time.  More time means less hustle and more time to contemplate and explore all of your options.  Less time means more hustle but greater decision making ability, because there’s no time to second guess yourself.

So what if you’re in that first category, what if you have lots of time and are tempted to change your mind once or twice or a hundred time during the planning process.  How do you stick to your plan?

1.  Create a clear and concise vision
Start by figuring out how exactly you want your wedding day to feel. Do you want it to be relaxed?  Elegant? Fun? Surprising?  Pull together a few keywords to use as descriptors for the day.
Next, find images that represent those words and that feeling.  Create a mood board.  The board doesn’t need to be filled with exact replicas of items you want at your wedding but rather images that set the tone for the event.  If a couple of your keywords were colorful and fun, you might add an image of a balloon bouquet.  That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to carry a handful of balloons down the aisle, it’s just representative of those key words.
Once your board is created, make sure every decision you make correlates back to that vision.  Everything should somehow flow with the tone of your mood board.  It will give you an anchor point and hopefully planning won’t go too off course.

2. Choose ideas that represent you
It is really easy to open a magazine or log into Pinterest and instantly be overwhelmed with gorgeous wedding ideas.  From the venue search to dress shopping, the options are really limitless.  To help narrow down those ideas, consider who you are both individually and as a couple.  If you’re a city girl through and through, a barn wedding might not be the right route for you – even if there is a gorgeous barn in your area.  Likewise, if you see a pretty bridal makeup tutorial with crimson red lips and yet you’ve never worn lipstick a day in your life, that might not be the right look for you.  You need to feel natural and relaxed, stretching yourself too far out of the box might sound like a good idea at the time but planning a wedding is already unfamiliar territory, don’t add more stress to yourself.

3. Ask yourself the purpose of said item and/or task
Bear with me a little bit on this one.  If you have to ask why you’re doing something, then you most likely don’t need to do it.  This will help make up your mind on most decisions and eliminate unnecessary ones.  Case and point, if you don’t care that you have a book or sign with every guest’s signature on it – you’re not planning on displaying it on your coffee table, hanging it on your wall or putting it in a keepsake box, then you might not actually need a guest book.  That means you can stop Googling and reading articles on the 20 most popular guest book alternative for 2016.  Don’t stress over details that don’t fit with your overall visions (point 1) or that don’t represent you (point 2).  

4. Stop Shopping
This means Pinteresting too.  Once you find your dress, don’t step into another bridal store.  Once your floral designer is locked in place with a beautiful proposal, stop looking at bouquets.  When you’re a wedding guest at your cousin’s wedding, admire the beauty but don’t compare and start rethinking ideas.  Just because it was beautiful and well thought out, that doesn’t mean that its right for you so don’t ask her where she found her linens or charger plates (head back to point 2, again).

5. Don’t focus on wedding trends
This is pretty much me circling up to point 2, yet again.  Trends in the wedding industry change really quickly.  If you’re engaged 1 ½ years, that’s potentially 2 wedding seasons worth of ideas that you’ve seen.  So in order to save yourself from some of the madness, delete the trends from your brain.  Focus solely on yourself and your relationship.  Just because gold and rose gold are really hot right now, doesn’t mean you have to use them if you’ve always been a silver girl.  Focus on design aspects that you’ve always loved.  For me, robin’s egg blue has been my go to favorite color since I was 14 and I still love wearing clothing in shades of aqua, adding pops of duck egg into my home and of course a little Tiffany’s box will always make my heart pitter patter.   For me, that’s timeless and part of who I am.  Stick to those same principles and it less likely for you wedding to feel outdated before it actually takes place. 


Shelby is lead wedding planner, artistic director and floral heart behind The Day's Design. She delights in celebrating romantic, natural and fancy free occasions throughout Northern & West Michigan.  When she's away from her design work, you'll find her at home with her hubby and two beautiful baby girls, daydreaming along the shores of Lake Michigan, strolling through local antique stores, picking wildflowers or blogging more about wedding and life adventures at The Day's Dream blog.

Find about more about Shelby on her website, blog, Instagram, or Facebook!

Ask the Expert: Danielle Vogelheim

Photo by Weber Photography

In this week's Ask the Expert, we've turned to Danielle Vogelheim, previous owner of N|M Event Designs and a current account executive at Nüage Designs.  We asked Danielle about planning a destination wedding because she happens to also be a bride planning for her own wedding in the Bahamas!   With her years of experience planning destination weddings for couples coming to Northern Michigan, she's the perfect person to pass along advice to anyone planning their own.

What are the things you look at when picking a venue, especially when you don't know the area and it's new to you?

It's important to look for things that represent you and your 'soon to be'. Whether that be a beach, a country setting or a romantic vineyard, first find where your dream location exists then see what's around that area.   If you can picture yourself standing there in the photo that's a good start. However, it's also important to make sure it's logistically possible for you and your guests, from flights to accommodations.   If you are able, schedule a site visit and pick three solid contenders, many venue pictures look glamourous online but don't depict the full picture of the whereabouts.

How do you find vendors that you know are going to do a good job?

You really need to rely on those who have planned events there in the past. Local Wedding Planners or Event Coordinators for the hotel have seen first-hand the vendors in the area. They want the event to be just as grand as you do and their preferred list is compiled with people who have worked well for them in the past. They would not recommend someone that has a record of showing up late or not meeting their clients' expectations. Don't be afraid to ask your coordinator exactly what you are looking for and they will recommend the best fit.

How do you handle guest accommodations?  Do you assume they'll handle it on their own?  Do you plan to cover part of their expenses, and if so how do you select what you cover?  Do you make sure to include shuttles? Or choose a venue that has everything included?

If your budget allows for it then yes, by all means a paid vacation for all your family members and closest friends is a real treat! You don't need to pay everyone's way but you do need to provide them all the necessary information. Let them know where there are accommodations, suggestions on rental cars or transportation providers as well as things to do around the area. If you have a destination wedding and the ceremony and/or reception is held offsite from the hotel it's best to get a shuttle so they don't have to worry about finding their way around on their own in a foreign town. If you are asking your guests to travel hundreds of miles help them figure out how to get there with ease!

How do you take care of the guests?

Welcome them! After a long trip it's always great to see a friendly face greeting you! Make sure you arrive to the destination before most of your guests do so you can spend time with them as they arrive. If the budget allows it's always nice to have an informal "welcome reception" as a gesture of appreciation for them coming all the way to see you both;  serving refreshments and light appetizers allows people to mingle and come and go at their leisure. This also does a bit of double duty as it allows guests to get to know one another if they don't already. When the wedding night comes along everyone is really able to let loose and have a good time as they feel like they are all amongst friends.

Any additional advice for couples planning a destination wedding?

Find a spot that you both would love to return to. It will be your "special place" and a great excuse to make future vacation plans. Also, there is only so much you can do from so far away so rely on your planner or coordinator as they do this for a living. When you get there... relax and enjoy your vacation!

Thank you so much Danielle!