How to Clarify Your Wedding Vision

How to make it a fun process…


As an upscale wedding designer, in nearly 20 years of designing and producing weddings I’ve seen them all: big, small, and everything in-between. I’ve designed weddings in town and country and exotic destinations, with budgets that ranged from extravagant to relatively modest. For all their differences, though, all these celebrations started from the same point: the desire to make the wedding a true reflection of the couple’s personality.

To do that, I get to know each couple and, often, help them get to know themselves better. Whether you’re handling the planning for your own wedding or enlisting the services of a wedding planner, a few simple steps can help you clarify a vision that’s in line with your own unique personality, and make it a reality.

How to Clarify Your Wedding Vision

Identify the date and venue

It’s so important to not only make sure your favorite location is available to you on the day of your dreams – but also to confirm that your close friends and family are also available.  Once you have these in place, the rest will begin to flow…

How to Clarify Your Wedding Vision

Create the mood from the beginning

A Save the Date may be the first glimpse your guests have of what’s to come. You can use this to paint a picture of the kind of celebration that will come. Next, start to look at invitations as well. Eventually, these may coordinate with other printed collateral such as guest cards, menus, thank-you notes and stationery.

Consider an “imperfect” wedding

Creating the perfect wedding is, well, perfection.  In my opinion, that perfection can also be cold.  So plan a little imperfection into your wedding.  Done in just the right way, imperfection can warm it up!  Think about what you or your friends or family members may be good at, and include personalization:

  • How to Clarify Your Wedding VisionYou could ask the children in your family to make a cool sign to put out on the street.  Use a gorgeous frame to balance out the handmade quality of the kid’s art.
  • Maybe a friend makes the best homemade red velvet cupcakes you’ve ever had.  Imagine, once your professional cake is cut, that a trio of dessert bites comes out of the kitchen plated for each guest.  They will just love having a plate including a small slice of cake, maybe a chocolate cup with berries AND a mini homemade red velvet cupcake!
  • Does a family member have gorgeous handwriting?  Provide them with beautiful place cards and ask them to write out each name.

How to Clarify Your Wedding Vision

Notice a pattern?  Each handmade element that is imperfect can be paired with a gorgeous element that shows guests that you meant it to be that way.  That elevated handmade touch will go far in the end – towards making your guests feel comfortable.

Imagine the day

How do you want to celebrate and share this occasion with your family and friends? Smile, breathe deeply and enjoy some time thinking. Now would be a great time to start saving those pictures you see (Pinterest,, magazines etc.) that feel right to you.

To start, keep it simple and start with the three big picture elements: Food, Entertainment and Décor — for both the wedding and the reception. Oh! And of course — your gown.  The goal is to find the way you can personalize the day.  Start by teasing out your favorite things and make a list: color, music, food, atmosphere, and memories all count.  I often ask clients to tell me their favorite hotel.  It gives me quick insight into their style.

Try to think of as many things that you both like as possible.  Combine those favorite things in all different ways at the wedding and your guests will either recognize you (close friends) or get to know you better (your partner’s family).

How to Clarify Your Wedding Vision

Determine your budget

The goal is to reach your dream. Identifying your budget will help you determine how to get there. At every step of the way, knowing your budget will allow you to find your path without additional anxiety.  There are very few rules when it comes to wedding planning, but one that I urge couples to stick to is this: if you don’t have the budget to do something important to you, then find another way to do it. Luckily, with creativity, there’s almost always another way — especially if you have a firm grasp on the personal style you’re trying to project.

Assemble your dream team

No matter how simple (or luxurious) you want your wedding to be, think of it as a production. Someone needs to oversee; do you see yourself in that role? Is that unrealistic with your work life and schedule? Great if you can recognize this early on, because you can delegate much of the Project Manager role to someone else. Additionally, as you identify all of the other team members (caterer, venue manager, florist, designer, band, photographer etc.), the person who will oversee all can coordinate, answer questions, schedule and handle the details.

How to Clarify Your Wedding Vision

Imagine your day as if you weren’t there

Yup, work with your wedding planner to run through the day – as if you weren’t there.  This will add a lot of comfort to you as you realize that you will get to enjoy your day because most of the decisions have already been made – before you even get there.

Taste and sample

Make sure you schedule a tasting with your caterer and a floral sample with your florist or designer.  Taste the cake you will be serving, review the playlist for the band and go to hear them if possible.  Make it known across the board that your goal is to have no surprises on your wedding day.  Know inside that there will be some – and resolve inside to be ok with that.  Your whole team will be working toward none – because you’ve talked about it.  Try out as many elements as possible during the planning process.  Your planner will manage them on your day.

Be kind and firm

How to Clarify Your Wedding VisionIt’s your day and any good vendor will be there for you to make it great. I know from experience that Bridezillas set themselves and their vendors up for drama.  Why would anyone want drama on their wedding day?  We’ll do a great job for every client.  We’ll go above and beyond for a client with heart behind them.

Let go!  

Your responsibility on your own wedding day is to enjoy yourself and be present in the moment.  Go slow while being on time.  Your time to be in control has passed – you don’t even want to be in control.  Drink lots of water and remember to be elegant about alcohol.  Pause and take three deep breaths before you enter the room for each major event.  Enjoy the mistakes as much as the perfection – they add character.  Kiss a lot.  Actually taste the food.  Visit with your friends and family.

Set yourself up for success on your wedding day by planning to let go.  Plan to be generous of spirit at the celebrations – you will have a much better time and have better memories if you are prepared and can then let go.  All of the planning pays out in the end (so does the investment) when you can “almost” be a guest at your own wedding.  Just remember that you are also the star of the show.


Avatar of Matthew David Hopkins

Matthew is founder and Creative Director of Matthew David Celebrations and 360 Design Events. His work has been featured in People Magazine, The Knot, Elle Décor, House and Garden, InStyle, New York Magazine, O at Home, Traditional Home, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, WB, MTV, FIT, NYU, etc.

Reader Discussion: 3 Comments

  1. Avatar of Esther Earl Harris

    Esther Earl Harris

    I have to agree that the first priority is to set a date and venue that is not just accessible for the bride and groom but is also accessible for their friends and loved ones.

  2. Avatar of Jenny Garett

    Jenny Garett

    Planners are more experienced, event planning is their game and this is where they are good at. They have great knowledge of planning and managing an event. Some are innovative, creative and always following the trend. They have huge network of suppliers that they can contact and rely on. Whether it is a prop rental, venues, food and etc. they also know what will work, the setting of things to avoid and prevent you from making huge mistakes.

  3. Avatar of Kimberly Vigil

    Kimberly Vigil

    Great tips! I think if you will hire an event planner you can have a better and enjoyable party without shouldering the responsibility in planning the event. there are things to consider if you will be having an event and you doubt if you are going to hire an event planner to organize it. Planning for an event especially the big one’s is crucial and if you will do it by yourself or even with the help of some of your friends it will definitely give you headaches and it will stress you out. But if you will hire a professional event planner they are the ones who will handle the problems and stress because they are responsible in organizing the event. Let them do their job and all you need to do is to enjoy and not to worry.

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