When I first thought about writing this segment about planning my own wedding, I figured I would work on it after the wedding. And then, I got a brilliant idea. Let's figure it out together. 

As if working as my full time job as an RN, planning a wedding, planning a huge styled shoot, and getting back into competitive barrel racing after an eight-year hiatus wasn't enough on my plate, I figured a series on wedding planning for all of my bride-to-be's would be awesome.

For the next year, I'll be sharing tips, tricks, and wedding planning advice that you can only learn from going through the process yourself. I'll also be sharing which vendors I've chosen to work with, as I think choosing the right vendors is crucial to having an amazing, stress-free wedding!

I'm not going to lie - after all these years of photographing big, beautiful weddings, I always said that I wanted a small, non-traditional wedding. I had no desire to have a big venue with a DJ and the flowers and the food and the bridal party...until we got engaged. My plans totally changed, thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest. The problem with that is that wedding planning can quickly go from exciting to overwhelming. There was so much inspiration out there, I didn't know where to start. 

The first step for us (after just enjoying a few weeks of being engaged, telling our friends and family, and setting a date) was to figure out what kind of wedding we wanted to have. I knew right away that we wanted our wedding to be elegant and timeless, but not too fancy. We definitely wanted an outdoor ceremony location, and we wanted a venue that could host everything - the getting ready, ceremony, and reception. We didn't want any loud colors or crazy themes, but we definitely wanted to incorporate some aspects that told the story of us, and who we are as a couple. 

Our next step was setting a budget and figuring out which aspects and vendors were most important to us. Obviously, our wedding photographer was at the top of our budget, and I'll be making an entirely separate post about that soon, but it's up to you as a couple to figure out what is most important to you and go from there. These things add up quickly, so be prepared!

Choosing our bridal party was a pretty simple task, but it really made the planning process start to feel real! Asking my two best girlfriends to stand by my side on the happiest day of my life was one of the best memories I have from this year! The best part is that my maid of honor is also getting married soon, so we're getting to go through the planning process together, and I just think that's so fun!

The next two steps were the big ones - finding a wedding venue and hiring a wedding planner. I'm so excited about our wedding venue, and I'll be sharing more about the place we chose a little later, but I've got to tell you guys, hiring a wedding planner was the best thing we have done so far. 

We hired Kathleen Brate with Southern Romance Events to handle all of our wedding planning, and y'all, I can't say enough good things about her! She has handled everything for us so far, from inquiries to contracts, tastings with caterers, and she has even referred us to some really amazing vendors. She answers every question we have, and when we run into hiccups, she smooths things over and presents us with solutions. Over the last couple of months, we've booked most of our vendors, so we're just now getting into the little details, so I'll keep you guys updated on how all of that goes!

I never thought I would be so excited to plan a wedding, but y'all...I'm marrying the love of my life and I couldn't be more ecstatic. Our wedding is going to be a dream, and I'm excited to take you all along for the ride. I'd love to hear more about your wedding planning experience, any vendors you've booked or if you have any questions, tidbits of advice, or just words of encouragement! I'll be posting more about this journey throughout the year, so keep checking back!