Make sure you're all on the same page.
multi colored bags wedding favors on gold and white display tables and shelving
Credit: Brandon Kidd

Putting the seemingly endless details of a wedding, from save-the-dates to sparkler send-offs, into one cohesive event overwhelms even the most decisive, research-obsessed brides and grooms: Do you prefer matte or shiny gold flatware? How do you want your napkins folded? Should the florist use spray roses or garden roses? "There is so much information out there for brides and grooms to sift through these days, it's a double-edged sword," says wedding planner Allison Jackson of Pineapple Productions. "It's very important to filter that data and to view it all through a different lens—one that pertains to your own unique story and style." Clarifying your own personal vision—and describing it to your vendors—is essential to creating your dream day; here's how to do it.

Get inspired.

Keeping a file of wedding ideas you love—whether they're from magazines, Pinterest, or celebrations you've attended—is a good place to start. "Take note of things you have liked about weddings—and, even more importantly, things you haven't liked," says Jackson. But look beyond wedding dresses, bouquets, and large-scale venues; style and inspiration can come from a variety of sources, including your semester abroad, your favorite childhood foods, your grandmother's prizewinning roses, and your fiancé's heirloom watch. "Collect inspiration images, but do not limit your collection to photos of other people's weddings," Jackson says. "Many couples lose themselves by looking at photos of other weddings. Share references to interior design, fashion, art, history, and travel to communicate your vision, your aesthetic, and your personality."

Identify your own preferences.

Working with an unbiased third-party—like a professional wedding planner—can help you fine-tune your vision, giving you a clearer idea of what exactly you want to express to your vendors and helping you identify custom elements that can make a big impact (like using your grandmother's collection of Depression glass for centerpieces, or turning your favorite song into an entire wedding theme). Jackson and her team ask about a couple's wedding priorities, their family's wishes, and their backgrounds. "We love hearing our client's stories—how they met, how they became engaged, and how they spend their time together," she says. Having a non-family member on board can also help you keep track of which elements you and your partner love and which are your parents' preferences: If your vision includes all-white flowers and rose gold accents while your mother is pushing for bright pink bouquets and lacey linens, a neutral opinion can provide a diplomatic way to direct a florist toward the look you and your fiancé prefer.

Enlist a professional.

Communicating your vision to technical vendors—like a lighting specialist—can offer the biggest challenge, says Jackson, since the contracts and proposals often use industry language that can be tricky for a non-professional to wade through. "Lighting is so vital to the outcome of everything that has been planned: If you cannot see properly in the wedding moment or even afterward in photos, you lose out on the value of your investment in flowers and décor." But because of the dense technical wording of a proposal like that, a first-timer may have trouble envisioning the final result while taking into account photography, décor, and other elements. A planner can step in to help clients navigate these types of agreements, but if you're planning solo, ask for images and detailed descriptions to make sure that the vendor's vision matches yours.


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