I’m starting a new post series- Wedding Wednesdays- on my process of planning my own wedding. I am not a planner, nor is there any particular “right” way to plan, but being in the industry, I figure I have a unique perspective and want to share my journey with you.

I got engaged to my fiance, Richard, March 12, 2014 in our kitchen. It was certainly not what I had in mind for a proposal, but somehow, it was exactly what I needed. Not every proposal is like the movies, and I’m a bit of a cynic. As much as I secretly like the super cheesy, romantic proposals where the guy gets on one knee and professes that he can’t live without her by his side for the rest of his life, those proposals also kind of make me gag. Proposals are no less meaningful and romantic if they don’t involve a bed strewn with rose petals and a horse drawn carriage made of glitter.

So, being in the wedding industry, naturally I had been thinking about my own wedding for about a year prior to actually getting engaged. I also had my ring picked out almost 2 years ago because I used to make jewelry and I’m picky about things like that. Best just to pick it out and leave out the guesswork on the guy’s part.

Where do you start when planning your wedding?

Where I started first was what are my priorities for this wedding.

For me, it was simple:

  • My number one priority was having my loved ones there with me to celebrate with us, and that the wedding be as much of a celebration of them than it was about us. Without them we wouldn’t have been where we are now, and both Richard & I are shy and hate being in the spotlight, so anything to help take some of that spotlight away from us was A-OK with us.
  • My number 2 priority was that it reflected us as a couple. Both of us, not just me. This also meant that if a tradition didn’t suit us, we weren’t doing it, simple as that.
  • My number 3 priority was that we didn’t spend money unnecessarily on things that weren’t important. Not to say that we are being cheap, but I wanted our wedding to be carefully thought out, and that we didn’t spend money on things that were just going to be thrown away because it was tradition to have them.

So, with that in mind, Richard & I both determined our wedding vendor priorities. This was somewhat difficult, because I know a lot of vendors and value all of their work and their professionalism. However, if we were going to keep our wedding budget on track, we had to DIY some of our things or allocate a minimal budget for it, understanding that a low budget meant a lower quality thing or service.

For me, these were our top vendor priorities, in order:

  • Photography: fairly obvious. Photography & memories and the marriage are the only things that are left after the event and as a photographer, I wanted top notch photos that I can pass onto my children and grandchildren. Not only that, it is likely going to be one of the very few times that all of my family and Richard’s will be together in one place and photographed. Not to be morbid, but life throws you curveballs and you never know when that will be the last photo of Grandma Nancy etc.
  • DJ: Richard does scratch DJing, so a good DJ was a top priority for him, not only because that is one of his hobbies but also because he is a big music buff and like me with a less than par photographer, would be tempted to take over if they weren’t doing a good job.
  • Venue: The venue was important to us in the sense that the location had to be right, but not in price. Our goal was to find the cheapest venue possible for our not-so-small guest list that fit our idea of what we wanted in our venue.

Of course at a wedding, every vendor is important. But for me and my sanity, I need a top 3 or so to really focus on, otherwise our budget was going to get out of control. Those top vendors reflected what we valued most and would best compliment our overall top priorities for the wedding as a whole.

Next, I’ll be blogging my experience with choosing a venue- how I determined what I wanted, what my criteria was, how I found them, and how I picked. Check back next week or like my page on Facebook to see when the post goes live!

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Alyssa Campbell Arizona wedding photographer

Welcome! I’m an Arizona-based wedding & portrait photographer specializing in natural and documentary photos. My blog is where you can see my latest work as well as check out tips & the latest news. Following me on social media is another way to check out my recent work!