Not sure if you should have a DJ or a band? Hair up or down? These vetted gurus give their (honest) pros and cons.
Photography: Sara Richardson Photography1 of 14
Wedding planning is all about making decisions. Choosing one detail over another, though, isn't always black and white—especially when you know that the choice could impact your entire wedding aesthetic. As with any life decision, there are many factors to consider before locking in your final answer. When you find yourself struggling, consider this rule of thumb: Supplement your favorite ideas with a healthy dose of practicality.
That's where the following wedding experts—from planners and event designers to florists and stylists—come in. We've broken down the most common wedding-related choices and asked these gurus for their expert opinions. While some side one way or another, most of these pundits offer up ways to arrive at the best decision that works for you, your budget, and your overall wedding style. After all, what's the right choice for one bride isn't always the best option for another.
We presented these problems to them in a "this vs. that" format and asked them to explain why one bride might choose one over the other—and provide a solution that mediates both categories. They'll help you decide between an updo or loose waves, round tables or family-style seating, and indoor or outdoor parties. You'll discover that if you're struggling between two options (like calligraphy or letter-pressed invitations, for example!), there's usually a way to make both choices work in tandem.
Don't just take our word for it, though. Here, expert advice that will help you find compromises—not make sacrifices.
Photography: Jose Villa2 of 14
Music can make or break a wedding, so choosing the form of entertainment that's right for your specific event is paramount. Erica Trombetti, the designer behind Infinite Events, believes that the choice comes down to who you want to hear singing your favorite songs—the real deal or a cover band. For couples who can't agree on one or the other, Trombetti says to opt for both: "There are more bands offering this service and it's a really cool element to have at an event!"
Photography: Something Borrowed Blooms3 of 14
Your wedding flowers comprise a large chunk of your budget, which is why many modern couples are turning towards a faux alternative. Lauren Bercier and Laken Swan, co-founders of Something Borrowed Blooms, are catering to these duos by offering up high-quality, on-trend silk florals (like peonies!) that fall within your budget. Another advantage? "Saving on the flower budget allows brides to reallocate funds to more tangible or memorable experiences—like the honeymoon!" say Bercier and Swan. If you're intrigued by the idea of lifelike, low-cost florals, but can't give up the idea of fresh blooms, consider working silk buds into arrangements you and your guests won't directly engage with, like centerpieces, aisle displays, or hanging installations.
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Deciding to have an indoor or outdoor fête is almost as personal as choosing a wedding dress. But while many couples dream of open-air events, others can't stomach the worry associated with unpredictable weather patterns. Instead of choosing one over the other, Taryn Stark Wyant, exclusive Wedding Planning Partner for Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, recommends choosing a venue that offers both. "We believe that the best of both worlds (vision and practicality) is achieved at a beautiful outdoor location that provides an indoor backup location for couples, just in case of inclement weather," she advises.
Photography: Clay Austin Photography
According to Emily Kotarski, owner of Emily Kotarski Bridal, there simply isn't a right answer to this common fashion dilemma. It's all about personal taste. But these fabrics don't have to be mutually exclusive. In fact, they often work in tandem. "You can find a beautifully embellished bodice with just the right amount of lace detail and have that lace disappear down a solid silk skirt," she says.
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Photography: Jenny Quicksall Photography6 of 14
Film Photography vs. Digital Photography
Though there are advantages to both photography types, Jenny Quicksall of Jenny Quicksall Photography sides with film. The reason? "I believe that film images capture emotion and movement more authentically. Some may disagree, but the colors of film are truer to life, adding to its authenticity," she explains. At the end of the day, though, poignant wedding photos come down to the relationship between the couple and photographer, says Quicksall—not the camerawork. "One of the most important things is how you connect with the artist. Whether they shoot with film or digital cameras, their images should speak to your style and personality."
Photography: Sara Weir Photography7 of 14
Before your hairstylist asks you to choose between an updo or loose waves, consider your celebration's time of year, wedding dress neckline, and comfort level, says Ashely Stone, the founder of Beauty Entourage. Getting hitched in the dead of summer or donning a gown with a high neckline? Definitely pile your locks up. If you typically wear your hair down, though, you might want to keep it that way, especially if you're dedicated to looking (and feeling!) like you on the big day.
Photography: Rensche Mari8 of 14
White Wedding Dress vs. Colorful Wedding Dress
While many brides want to wear white to their wedding, women that don't shouldn't feel the need to conform, believes Ramona Southard, the co-owner of Love and Lace Bridal Salon. Opting for color doesn't have to mean wearing the rainbow—or excluding white, entirely—though. "Brides nowadays are choosing a wedding gown that has a bit of color, whether it's a blush colored-lining or a dress that has colorful floral embroidery," she says.
Photography: Events by Elle, Inc.
Elle Becerra, owner and coordinator at Events by Elle, Inc., has an argument for both. On the one hand, throwing a tech-free wedding allows guests to live in the moment and helps your photographer immensely, since he or she won't have to work around attendees trying to post an Instagram Story of your first dance. On the other, wedding hashtags (which obviously require technology) are personal and fun and ultimately allow you to see your big day through your guests' eyes. "In addition, the couple can continue using their hashtag after the wedding is over for all of their husband and wife adventures!" she adds.
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Since so many couples struggle with this decision, Kara Brewer, owner of Barn of Chapel Hill at Wild Flora Farm, makes it her mission to provide couples with a foolproof solution: "I encourage our couples to use seating charts, but I always recommend just assigning tables, not individual seats. It's the perfect solution. Guests aren't awkwardly standing around looking for an open table, but they still have the flexibility to choose who they sit beside!"
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While both have limitations and advantages, Sarah Kuhlberg, Creative Director at Colette's Catering, recommends a plated dinner for foodie couples serving up an elevated menu, since they're better for a "more chef-driven dining experience," she says. Duos searching for variety or a more progressive dining style, however, should opt for the buffet. Kuhlberg suggests working with your venue to reduce keep wait times and line short, which could lead to a negative guest experience.
Photography: Bloominous12 of 14
Neutral Flowers vs. Colorful Flowers
There's something timeless about neutral hues, says Euri Wong, the lead designer at Bloominous. "There's also more variety of neutral colored blooms year-round, so your options are better," she explains. The only downside? Light-colored buds bruise easily, which means they need to be handled with care. For sturdier options that also add pops of color and personality to your space, colorful florals are your best bet. "There are so many shades of colors though, so if you're super specific about one, make sure to have a swatch with you as a reference for your vendors," cautions Wong.
Photography: Landon Jacob Photography13 of 14
Bethany Boles Hewitt, the event designer and CEO of Southern Graces, believes that the table shape decision comes down to what works over personal preference. In short: Your tables have to fit your venue. If two different options work equally well, consider the type of experience you want your guests to have. Do you want them to be able to converse with guests across the table (round) or simply those next to them (long). For couples who simply can't choose, Hewitt recommends using both. "We often mix the two and have found it to be an incredible way to add depth to the space."
Photography: Shindig Bespoke14 of 14
Calligraphed Invitations vs. Letterpressed Invitations
Look to your wedding budget before choosing between these two invitations types says Jill Ryder, the Creative Director at the stationery company Shindig Bespoke. Calligraphy, perfect for those who want romantic customization, isn't the most affordable option by any means, but letterpressed suites, which are made by pressing a metal dye into paper, are the ultimate luxury. To mediate the price tag, Ryder recommends a hybrid. "With most calligraphers writing one invitation proof then printing the rest these days anyway, you can hire someone to pen your design then have a printer letterpress it!"