Anyone that hangs around me for any length of time will come to find out that I am a die-hard Taylor Swift fan. I’ve been a fan since her Fearless album (I was a little too young to fully appreciate her debut album, though I do vaguely remember jamming to “Our Song” with my older sister).
Taylor is known for her diary-like songwriting, focusing on topics like the flutters of a new crush, personal rivalries, tough breakups, or ex-boyfriend revenge songs. But with a little creativity (and a dash of T-Swizzle loyalty) I have come up with 13 tips (that’s right, her lucky number) to learn from her for your wedding planning!
- Fight the urge to be a people pleaser.
Look What You Made Me Do
“I don’t like your kingdom keys
They once belonged to me
You ask me for a place to sleep
Locked me out and threw a feast“
Have you ever watched “Say Yes to the Dress” on TLC? I used to watch that show all the time with my mom growing up, and I can’t tell you how many times Mom and I were yelling at the mother of the bride on the tv or the opinionated best friend who talked the bride out of what was obviously her favorite dress.
At the end of the day, when your wedding is in your rear view mirror, the last thing you want is to regret big decisions because you erred on the side of pleasing others over your own vision for how the day should go. Don’t give yourself an opportunity to say, “Look What You Made Me Do,” to any of your wedding guests. Remember, you’re the bride. Don’t let “people pleasing” lock you out of your own party or take away your ability to make your own decisions. And as Taylor later teaches us, “I’ve learned a lesson that stressin’ and obsessin’ ’bout somebody else is no fun (You Need to Calm Down, 2019).”
- Choose your bridal party WISELY.
This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things
“So why’d you have to rain on my parade?
I’m shaking my head, I’m locking the gates
This is why we can’t have nice things, darling”
Bridal parties can really make or break the wedding day (and wedding planning) experience. Choose friends/family that not only have your best interest at heart but those who are more about championing you and your future husband’s relationship above championing their “time in the limelight.” I’ve seen and experienced so many bridesmaids (and even groomsmen) who make it more about having their 27 Dresses story than celebrating your marriage. You know those movies with the jealous Maid of Honor or the controlling bridesmaid?
Friends like that are best kept at arms length to begin with; so don’t ask them to join your bridal party if you know deep down they won’t make it about your marriage. Take a little from tip number 1 and don’t choose your bridal party just because you have been friends since you were in diapers! That’s a people pleasing mentality. Choose them because you honestly want them by your side on the most important day of your life. As you go through the wedding planning process, start taking note of how your potential bridesmaids/groomsmen react to the news of your engagement… note how they treat you, the other bridesmaids / groomsmen, and your family.
- Keep the invite list short, sweet, and to the point.
I Forgot That You Existed
“I forgot that you existed
It isn’t love, it isn’t hate
It’s just indifference“
One of the most hefty costs of your wedding day is your head count!! Some venues/catering charge upwards of $85 a head. If you have a list of 100+ people, that adds up FAST. Do you really want or need each one of those people at your wedding? Ask yourself a few key questions before sending those invites:
– Are they immediate family?
– Are they close friends?
– When’s the last time you saw them?
– When’s the last time you spoke to them (beyond quick Instagram DMs in response to their stories)?
– Would they travel over an hour if they had to for your wedding?
Weddings are intimate events. For some, that means you legitimately have 150-200 guests that you really care to have present. But for others, you have an unnecessarily large list of third cousins or college friends you haven’t kept up with in a long time. Time to cut those names from the list. And take one from Taylor… it’s not personal!
- Practice compromising and saying that you’re sorry.
“I blew things out of proportion, now you’re blue
Put you in jail for something you didn’t do
I pinned your hands behind your back, oh
Thought I had reason to attack, but no”
Your fiancé and you are two different people. You’re likely to have different opinions about some of the wedding details. The engagement period is a great way to try out some of those conflict resolution tactics and compromising practice you’re going over in pre-marital counseling. As silly as it sounds, fights actually can break out over napkin colors or cake flavors. Remember that details are just that — and compromise with one another. The stress of wedding planning can heighten emotions and cause heated arguments, but keep centered on why you’re even getting married in the first place! Stick to that foundation.
- Don’t ignore those gut feelings.
I Knew You Were Trouble
“‘Cause I knew you were trouble when you walked in
So shame on me now”
This more so applies to choosing your vendors wisely. You are probably meeting with tons of different vendors, some in person, some over the phone or e-mail. If you have this gut feeling that they just don’t click with you or aren’t able to deliver what you’re asking for, cut that cord quick! I can’t tell you, even as a vendor myself, how many leads I actually turned down myself because something felt off and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make that client happy. Clients should be happy with what their vendor’s provide, so if you feel off, ask questions and don’t be afraid to go with another option that feels more comfortable.
- Plan more for your marriage than for your wedding day!
“We could leave the Christmas lights up ’til January
This is our place, we make the rules”
I could go really deep here, but honestly Taylor’s example gives us a wide spectrum of things to get excited about in marriage. Prepare for it all! Anticipate making memories together in marriage. Dream up new family traditions. Learn how to fight fair. Learn how to love and honor one another.
- Getaway cars are severely overrated.
“In a getaway car, oh-oh
No, they never get far, oh-oh-ahh
No, nothing good starts
In a getaway car”
Ok, I hope by now it’s obvious how loosely I’m translating these lyrics. If you’re on a strict budget, or you want to allocate more towards a certain aspect of your wedding day, think of silly little costs you can cut. Not all details are important to all brides. Just because your best friend had this gorgeous vintage car to take them from the venue does not mean you need to book Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage. “Getaway cars” (insert any detail you don’t really care that much about) are overrated and won’t give you the dream day you’re hoping for. You’d be surprised how dreamy simple weddings can be! Don’t get caught up in all the itty bitty details.
- You bring it in, you take it out.
New Years Day
“But I’ll be cleaning up bottles with you on New Year’s Day”
Parties are messy. Weddings are no different. Remember for every detail you bring in that does not come with your venue or is brought in by your caterer is your responsibility to also pack up and bring home (and then find a place for). Usually this responsibility falls on poor Mom or your Maid of Honor… or if you’re not leaving for your honeymoon right away, it will likely become your job (at least to delegate where things go after the big day). Tie this in with tip 7 and don’t let details become more of a burden than they’re worth.
- Don’t knock the classics, but add your own flair if you can.
“You got that James Dean daydream look in your eye
And I got that red lip, classic thing that you like
And when we go crashing down, we come back every time
‘Cause we never go out of style, we never go out of style”
Some wedding traditions are just too good not to try! Obviously, plan a wedding that you would enjoy. But traditions exist for a reason too! You’re only a bride once. Unity candles not your thing? Get creative! I’ve seen rope braiding, sand mixing, wine mixing, even one unity ceremony where the bride and groom watered a potted tree to plant in their backyard. Want a first look, but want to make it more meaningful? Have your dad’s first look first… then let him escort you to the first look with your to-be husband… just like walking you down the aisle!
We all know how good Taylor is at giving her own spin on classic looks (I’ve yet to master a red lip like she does).
- Give grace to the unexpected.
“I like shiny things, but I’d marry you with paper rings”
At EVERY wedding I’ve photographed, without fail the number one request I have gotten is this: DON’T LET THE GROOM / BEST MAN FORGET THE RINGS!! Cue the huge pressure…
Has this ever happened in wedding history? I’m sure it has, but how often does it truly happen? Why is this such a huge concern? Maybe I’m just super laid back, but if something unexpected like this happened, I think it would just be the cutest, most redemptive thing if the groom then just ripped a piece off of a guest’s wedding program or pulled a long piece of grass and tied it into a ring and moved on with the ceremony. You’ll get the rings later, but how sweet would it be to show how you two are able to go with the flow and marry one another even if everything is not absolutely perfect?
So if it rains, let it pour. If the flower girl is having a fit, laugh it off. Groom says “Rachel” instead of “Emily” in his vows … wait … no that would be bad … (If you don’t watch Friends then that just went over your head). All this to say — be as prepared as you can be in the wedding planning process; but remember nothing is truly in your control to begin with. Roll with the punches and don’t let anything steal your joy!
- Take a break!
The “T-Swift Radio Silence” of 2016
No song lyric for this one… I remember being absolutely DEVASTATED when Taylor did not keep to her pattern of releasing new music every 2 years in October/November. Her 1989 album released in 2014, and every album before that had a steady 2-year gap in between. So when fall hit in 2016, I was ready for new music. But she just about fell off the grid. The entire fandom was pretty confused.
Until her album release the following year. Like most of us, country/pop star Taylor Swift had the nerve of needing to take a break. And she came back stronger and better than ever (in my opinion).
If you’re planning a wedding, you might understand how many expectations are placed on you. Everyone you meet is asking if you set a date yet. Did you find your dress yet? What are your colors? Where are you getting married? It seems like people are in more of a rush than you are to have all of these details finalized, and it doesn’t even really matter to them.
Take a breather. Yes, some vendors need a set amount of advance notice. But that doesn’t mean you have to stress your entire engagement season over due dates and timelines! Take it slow, start early, plan steadily. Don’t let other voices dictate how soon you need to finalize every little aspect of your wedding day.
- Slow down and spend time with your family.
Never Grow Up
“Take pictures in your mind of your childhood room
Memorize what it sounded like when your dad gets home
Remember the footsteps, remember the words said
And all your little brother’s favorite songs
I just realized everything I have is someday gonna be gone”
Not to get overly emotional on you all, but at every wedding I have photographed, there are two parts that always get me all choked up… it’s the father of the bride’s first look at his daughter in her dress or their father-daughter dance. This is the moment it becomes very real to good ol’ dad… his daughter is growing up and will no longer be his to protect the way he has her entire life. He’s handing that responsibility off to her husband.
The season of your life before you get married is so sweet and special for many reasons, but my favorite part of my not-yet married life is that I am able to soak up every minute of still being dad’s little girl and mom’s best friend. Not that it all changes after you get married, much of it will always be the same… but right now your family is your ONLY family. You have precious time to make memories with them and only them, before branching off into a family of your own. While that will bring joy of its own, don’t neglect this time. It’s fleeting fast for you engaged ladies.
- Soak up every moment.
“I said remember this feeling
I passed the pictures around
Of all the years that we stood there on the sidelines
Wishing for right now”
They say your wedding day goes by so fast and feels like a blur. I’ve never been a bride so I can’t personally attest to this yet. But as a photographer, I want to be proactive about creating moments for my couples to soak up their wedding day and take inventory of every feeling, every memory being made, and everything they’re seeing and experiencing. Remember, it’s your wedding day. Take hold of this precious moment… you’re marrying your best friend!! Congratulations.