5 Things I Wish I Would Have Known When I Planned My Wedding

{Pictured Above: My wedding ring after 15 years}

I am a wedding photographer with a secret.

I love weddings, I live for them.  They make me feel like I’m walking on air.  It wasn’t always this way.

I caught the wedding bug after second shooting multiple weddings for an amazing wedding photographer.

My secret:  Planning my own wedding over 15 years ago felt like a chore.  Looking back, I am thankful for my wedding.  It will always be one of the biggest milestones in my life, and I will never forget how nervous and excited all at once I was as I took my husband’s hand and recited my vows.  We had a small wedding with our closest family and friends, less than 50 people.  This is the advice I wish someone would have given me, and I think it can apply to any size wedding.


Outdoor Ceremony at the Minneapolis Marriott Southwest with 3 wedding officiants!

Pick A Wedding Officiant You LOVE.

Our officiant was amazing.  He was a retired judge who regularly preformed weddings.  The clerk who helped us with our marriage license gave us his name.  We talked with him on the phone about who we were and what our ceremony meant to us.  He worded everything perfectly, we felt like it was “our” ceremony and our guests enjoyed it.



Invitation DIY. Designed by the couple for their wedding.

Follow Up On Referrals From Your Vendors

We had so many names in the hat for officiants, for clothing, for cakes.  It was a small at home wedding, so really those were the only things we wanted.  Everyone we knew had an opinion.  It was overwhelming.  WeddingWire and the Knot did not exist.  Pinterest was not yet invented.  Apps for wedding planning….nope! We had referrals, wedding magazines, and a phone book.  (Scary, I know! ) We called the officiant the clerk recommended first and loved him so much our search was over.  It was the easiest part of planning.



An intimate evening wedding ceremony at St. John Lutheran Church in Belle Plaine that was followed by a family dinner.

Don’t Let A Small Guest List or Budget Deter You From Planning

This was the mistake that made me not enjoy planning the wedding and get lazy about things.  I took the concept of “small wedding” and “budget” way too seriously.  I had an all or nothing attitude.   I was embarrassed that I couldn’t treat my family to a raging party or have the giant guest list some of my friends had.  I stayed away from bridal magazines thinking all of it was expensive and unattainable.  I could have used them to help me be creative about doing things myself.  The year was 2000.  I was a DIY bride loooong before Pinterest.


Cake by Muddy Paws Cheesecake.

Cheesecake with strawberries by Muddy Paws Cheesecake.

Have Yummy Cake

The cake was the saving grace of my wedding, and much easier to splurge on than the rest of the food.  Our wedding was a 4 hour affair.  What we wanted most was special time with people who were close to us followed by a weekend to enjoy each other’s company.  We had DIY buffet of fresh fruits, cheeses, and meats.  (thank you Cub Foods!)   It was better than average.  But the cake…. It was freaking amazing!   We ordered way too much of it.  It was so good we had cake for breakfast many times after the wedding.  People STILL talk about that cake.


Wedding photo shoot at the Como Conservatory for a small elopement at Hennepin County Court House in December.

{See the Rest of Erica and Fabian’s wedding pictures here}

Communicate With Your Photographer To Make a Plan For Capturing Your Day

Who ever you hire for your wedding photography, talk to them.  A lot.  About everything.  Make sure you trust them completely.  Make sure you are on the same page.  I was the bride who said “Whatever you do is fine, as long as it’s on black and white film, because I love black and white film.”  And that was my mistake.  That’s all my photographer had to go on.  Even though I trusted my photographer, and she was talented at taking pictures, I feel like I totally failed at communication.  I didn’t tell her enough to make her understand how I wanted to remember my wedding.  I didn’t let her in on what was important to me.  I just assumed she would get it, because she had been a bride herself, right?  Nope.  No two couples are a like.  No two weddings are a like.  As a wedding photographer I now ask my clients questions so we are on the same page come the wedding day.



If you are planning a non-traditional wedding or elopement I’d love to hear more about it and see if I might be the photographer you need.  Wedding of all sizes are worth celebrating!

Connect with me via my contact page and let’s chat!


{BONUS:  Click here to see my wedding cake from October of 2000.  Byerly’s Bakery STILL uses the design, and their cakes are amazing.}








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