wedding planning elopement photography
Reception Decoration,  Wedding Planning Advice

How to Plan a Wedding with Intention and Personality

Bring authenticity to your vows, and create a celebration that feels uniquely yours.

Modern weddings no longer need to be the formal, ritualistic and long-drawn-out affairs our parents and the generations before them went through. No, these days you have agency. You have the freedom to create a day, a weekend, a two-week wedding vacation that feels distinctly yours. A celebration of your unique love and personalities, rather than a paint by numbers, cookie cutter wedding day experience. But how do you plan a wedding with intention and personality? How do you make this point in your love story feel as special as the journey that lead to it?

wedding plan couple dancing with intention in front of car

Wedding & Elopement Photography by Stay Golden Collective

Tips for Bringing Intention and Personality to Your Wedding Plan

Whether you’re planning an elopement for you and five of your closest friends, or you’re throwing an extravaganza for 500 – authenticity should always be at the forefront of your decision-making. It’s all too easy to say yes to pre-made, well-worn decor and scenarios just because it saves putting more thought into the process. But the more and more you accept the easiest path, the less and less your day will feel like yours.

I’ll be honest, it’s easier not to plan a wedding with intention and personality. To give in to the pressures of family, friends, who expect traditions to be upheld. To just take the path of least resistance. But ultimately, I promise, you will look back and regret not having the courage in your convictions.

Because a wedding day that feels curated by the couple, given their special touch and situated within surroundings that just feel right – will make the stress of expectation and thoughtful creation all thoroughly worthwhile. Trust me.

Talk to Each Other & Align Your Intentions

Any couple planning a wedding needs to share how they feel their day should be, before anything gets decided or booked. The days of weddings being planned by one individual are not gone, but they should be. As any celebration created by the couple, as a team, will always feel more memorable.

When talking about the day, things will come up that you disagree about, and that’s ok! What’s important is to not ignore, or forget about any differences in opinion, or even beliefs. And instead work out how to incorporate them. This is not the time to be a wallflower. Be true to what you believe in and what you want this wedding to feel like.

wedding moodboard nude and beige theme natural wood

Writing everything down on a large sheet of paper is a great way to ensure nothing gets forgotten, and every thought is valid. A huge mood board of wants, desires, and ambitions for your day is probably the best way to do this. As you’ll quickly find, after flooding the page with honesty, that patterns will start to emerge and soon a clear path will illuminate itself to you both.

When & Where Shall We Tie the Knot?

When and where are the two biggest decisions you’ll need to make during the wedding planning process. And they both come right at the very start, when you’re oh-so new to all of this! Which is not fair! But it’s gotta be done, and if you want to plan a wedding with intention and personality, these two factors are actually pivotal.

The date you marry on, typically, is more about logistics than anything else. You want a wedding outside, so you choose a date in the summer. You’re trying to save money, so you decide to marry midweek, etc. But there are ways to make the date feel even more special than it already is, by honoring someone exceptional in your lives.

For those planning an elopement, who don’t need to worry about the travel/work plans of others – it’s much easier to pick a date that means something, a sentimental point on the calendar. Maybe the date a family member married on? Or the same day someone important to you was born? How about the day you guys met? Had a first date?

elopement wedding plan intention by the sea with photography by Stay Golden photography

Wedding & Elopement Photography by Stay Golden Collective

Then there’s the wedding venue, and the location you select will affect every other subsequent decision you’ll make about the day. Therefore, it’s not a decision to be rushed. If you’d rather not get married in a traditional wedding venue, but still want to invite a decent amount of loved ones. Consider booking a place you already love, and potentially have fond memories of. Like a movie theater you had one of your first dates in? A bar that you’ve spent some good nights in? Or maybe a gallery that you’ve always dreamed of having all to yourselves? How magical would that be! Just make sure that the venue, whatever it may be, can safely hold the number of people you want to invite. And is capable of hosting such an event.

By bringing meaning to the place you tie the knot, or celebrate in, you’ll be bringing effortless intention to your wedding plan.

Create a Ceremony that’s Genuinely Unique

The whole day is about your ceremony, your vows, right? So why not make that moment exclusive. Whether you’re eloping to Yosemite Park, or marrying in an old music hall in front of hundreds – there are so many ways you can make the moment feel unique.

If you’re both from different religious backgrounds, work with an officiant who can artfully blend your beliefs together to form a ceremony that really speaks to you both. For those without a faith, the best way to bring personality to your vows is to write them yourselves. Easier said than done, I know! But working with an officiant will make the process a lot smoother. It’ll certainly help if you don’t feel comfortable in writing prose. There’s also a ton of advice online that should help.

Alongside the vows, you could also include music, be it live or reordered, that speaks to you both. Poetry too could also be performed by the person looking after your ceremony, or maybe by a loved one? Involving friends and family in the ceremony is a wonderful way to make the event feel more interactive for guests, and can stop the ceremony from feeling like a performance.

Rituals are another great way of bringing a sense of authenticity to proceedings. Ancient, or modern, the powerful symbology a good ceremonial ritual can hold is undeniable. Giving you, and guests, an even greater sense of the strong union between you. Think hand fasting, jumping the broomstick and sand and wine ceremonies.

Make Your Reception Fun

Everyone’s definition of fun is different. But if your idea of a good time is not sitting in suits and tight dresses politely making conversation at a formal dinner – then don’t present that situation at your wedding! You don’t need to do what the last person did, do what feels genuinely right for you.

When you plan a wedding reception with intention, you are picking and choosing the things that make you happy. Curating your best night, one that your loved ones will adore too!

If formal isn’t for you, forget the table. Book food trucks, fun canapés, buffet stations that encourage creativity. Like a fresh pasta bar where guests can choose their pasta, then what goes in it and what the sauce will be. Guests will love the interactivity! You could do the same with cocktails too!

But don’t stop the interaction there, celebrate the individual music tastes of your loved ones too! Whether you’re hiring a DJ, or a live wedding band, why not crowdsource their set by requesting everyone’s favorite songs before the big day. Add a form to your wedding website that asks for their Top 3 songs, and see how delighted they’ll be when they hear their tune being performed! Amazing moment after moment, guaranteed!

When looking at suppliers of entertainment, consider first what you like. Are you really into artistic expression? How about setting up an art station where guests can paint, or create a collage. Perhaps a portable selfie station that allows guests to shoot their own wedding photography for your album?

murder mystery wedding reception entertainment

Wedding & Elopement Photography by Stay Golden Collective

What about a murder mystery? I recently heard this idea from the super talented wedding & elopement photographers at Stay Golden Collective, after they’d experienced it at a wedding themselves (check out a shot of it above!) As a fan of crime thrillers, I love this for a wedding reception. It will certainly help to keep the vibe up, and conversation flowing all night.

Wear What You Want

Being able to dress ourselves is typically the easiest way for us all to showcase our personality. But traditional weddings often strip away that ability to show who we are. And replace it with a stiff uniform that needs to be adhered to. For some, this dress code is a relief, as it takes away the need for thought, and stops any outfit confusion. But thoughtfulness is precisely what we’re trying to promote!

There will be loved ones who panic a bit when they see something like ‘dress how you feel‘ on the wedding invitation. But by offering guests the freedom to choose their look, you’ll be ensuring everyone feels at their very best.

Want to create more of a cohesive overall look to match your theme? Request they wear a color, a pattern, or a fabric? Feeling adventurous? Make it a costume party! Maybe your partner has chosen a super chic two-piece suit for the occasion, and it’s got you in the mood for a rocking rollin’ 70s celebration! Invite your guests to explore their inner Jagger, and dress as if The Beatles were still together. How incredible will that look in your wedding photography!

Trying to be unique isn’t easy. So don’t try. Plan a wedding with the intention to simply showcase you both. Your loves, your personalities, and your union. Do that, and you cannot fail to throw a wedding with authenticity.


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