Personalizing Your Wedding Ceremony

When it comes to the actual wedding ceremony, many couples use the exact same ceremony format - with the same vows and same readings, all in the same order. If tradition is your thing, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! There's a reason why the "traditional" ceremony things have become tradition - they are beautiful, timeless and meaningful. Many couples want their ceremony to be more unique and personalized, and we are totally all about that too! But it can be kind of tricky to know how to do just that, so here are a few suggestions! (Some of these are not new/unique, but I'm hoping this list will help out at least a few brides out there!)

Use special items in your ceremony decor. This could be photos of you and your new spouse lining the aisle or at your altar, a special altar built just for your big day (for example, Jessica + Daniel's altar was an arbor built by Jessica's dad, which they now have in their back yard at home), or decor items that tell your story

Write your own vows. This idea isn't exactly unique or new, but it's something that I think a lot of brides are afraid to do, either because they're not sure of what to say or because they feel like they have to use traditional wedding vows. There are about a billion alternatives to traditional vows online, or you can start from scratch and write your own. A little piece of advice: write whatever is on your heart. Even if you feel embarrassed to say those things in front of a crowd, your spouse will adore you for it. And your guests will probably cry their eyes out, too. ;) 

Ask your officiant to tell a story or two from your relationship. And that brings me to another point: choose someone important to both of you to officiate your ceremony. They'll make your ceremony even more special and meaningful. Ask them to tell a story from your relationship, like how you met, all about your first date, how you got engaged. Your guests may not know these stories already, and it'll be so special for you to hear them again on your big day! 

Walk down the aisle (or back down the aisle as husband and wife) to a meaningful song. Again, this isn't a new idea, but it can add so much personality to your wedding ceremony. Walking down the aisle to a song that is special to you and your new spouse will mean so much more to you than the same ol' wedding march everyone else walks down the aisle to.

Have a friend do a special reading or perform "your song." Do you and your fiance love a specific poem, Bible verse, book passage or song? Why not incorporate it into your ceremony? Ask a close friend or family member to read a poem, verse or passage, or if you're friends with someone who's musically inclined, ask them to perform a song you both love. 

Have your church's worship band/leader lead a few songs during your ceremony. Religion is very important to many of our couples, and we love it when they incorporate a time of worship into their ceremony. It's super special and says so much about a couple's beliefs and what's important to them. 

Do your own thing instead of a unity candle. I've talked about unity candle alternatives and how much I love them a few times on this blog! If a unity candle ceremony means nothing to you, choose something that does. A fun paint ceremony, a romantic time capsule to be opened on an anniversary, or a tree planting ceremony are all meaningful ideas!

Choose your bridal party carefully. Your bridal party plays a very important role during your ceremony; after all, they are the people standing beside you as you promise the rest of your life to the person you love. That's a big deal! You should include whoever you really want in your bridal party, and exclude anyone who doesn't belong (even if they used to be your best friend/they're your family member/you were in their wedding/whatever... don't include anyone because you think you have to). We wrote a post all about unique bridal parties

Honor your heritage by incorporating any special customs. At Kelsey + Gueorgui's wedding (their wedding was full of unique, personal details!), they asked some of their guests to take place in a ring warming ceremony, which is a Bulgarian wedding tradition. Several of their guests took Kelsey + Gueorgui's rings into their hands and said a quick prayer or blessing over them before the exchange of rings. Incredibly special! If you come from a unique background, definitely pick some traditional customs to use during your ceremony!

I hope this inspires you to make your wedding ceremony all about you! It's your big day... make the details of your ceremony as unique and personal as you'd like them to be!

Etiquette for Wedding Guests

Let's talk about something that's kind of boring, yet extremely important: etiquette! We get a lot of questions about invitation etiquette and bar etiquette, but there's another etiquette topic that needs to be addressed. If you're attending an upcoming wedding and you need to brush up on your wedding guest etiquette, this post is for you! I understand that wedding etiquette is kind of tricky, especially because every couple, venue and wedding is different. Whether the wedding you attend ends up being totally relaxed or really fancy, here are a few good rules of thumb to follow! 

Stephanie Parsley Photography , from  Amber + Matt 's wedding at  The Barn . Notice that there are no cameras or phones being held up in this photo... Thumbs up to that! 

Stephanie Parsley Photography, from Amber + Matt's wedding at The Barn. Notice that there are no cameras or phones being held up in this photo... Thumbs up to that! 

Be respectful with your phone and/or camera. Unless the bride and groom are extremely laid-back, they probably don't want every single detail from their wedding posted on social media until their professional photographer posts them. Even if they don't specify that they're having an unplugged ceremony (which means that no cameras or phones are allowed during the ceremony or certain parts of the reception, like the first dance or cake cutting), you should stay out of the way if you're going to take photos. No one wants to see someone standing in the middle of the aisle taking photos during their reception, or a bunch of phones blocking the photographer's perfect shot during their first dance. Trust me. (Some couples create hashtags for their big day, which means that you're free to post photos on Facebook, Instagram or other social media and tag it with their hashtag. But it's always better to leave some things to the imagination! Don't post 500 photos from your friend or family member's big day... Leave that up to the photographer. ;)

Shingleur Photography , from  Cassie + Kyle 's wedding at The Barn. Kids having fun and behaving... this is what we like to see! ;)

Shingleur Photography, from Cassie + Kyle's wedding at The Barn. Kids having fun and behaving... this is what we like to see! ;)

Watch your kids! At The Barn, our team doesn't enforce this rule to be mean or uptight. I mean, have you seen this venue and our weddings?! The Barn and everything around it is beautiful, and every wedding and reception of ours is detailed and absolutely gorgeous. Please keep an eye on your kids... We want them to have a great time, too, but we also don't want a damper put on a couple's big day because something pretty got knocked over or destroyed! Sorry not sorry, y'all. 

Martin's Photography , from  Monica + Luis 's wedding at The Barn

Martin's Photography, from Monica + Luis's wedding at The Barn

Don't show up three hours early. This has seriously been a problem lately. Once again, we are not trying to be rude. But our team is still making every detail perfect three hours before a wedding begins, and the bride probably doesn't want you seeing her in her wedding dress before the ceremony! Our couples often schedule first looks for a couple of hours before the ceremony, and that's a very private time for them... Having an audience sort of ruins the moment! Not to mention, you're probably going to be bored, because our team is going to be too busy to make sure you're enjoying yourself! 

Melissa McCrotty Photography , from  Bayley + Lucas 's wedding at The Barn

Melissa McCrotty Photography, from Bayley + Lucas's wedding at The Barn

Please, please, please RSVP. Here's how most weddings work: you've got to get your final headcount to your venue and caterer at least a couple of weeks ahead of time to ensure that there are enough tables (complete with decor, of course), seating at the ceremony and reception, food and cocktails. Also, if you say you're coming, show up unless you absolutely can't! And if you say you're not coming, stick to that response unless you make sure the bride and groom are okay with it. Another thing: unless the bride and groom have specifically stated on your invitation that you can bring a plus one or your children, just don't! (If you're a bride or groom and you're not sure how to deal with guests who don't RSVP, don't worry, because I already wrote a post about that!) 

Danielle Davis Art/Photography , from  Emily + Blake 's wedding at The Barn

Danielle Davis Art/Photography, from Emily + Blake's wedding at The Barn

And just a few more common sense, self-explanatory rules that any good wedding guest should follow: Don't get obnoxiously drunk. Turn your phone on silent. Dress according to the invitationDon't talk to the bride and groom forever... they've got lots of other people to visit with! Never outshine the bride and groom. Stay out of the photographer's way... we know you want photos, but that's what the photographer is there for! Show up on time. Take your favor... the bride and groom have put time and effort into them. Don't wear white. Have a good time! 

Follow these rules, and you'll be the best wedding guest ever. :)

Post-Wedding Day Checklist

With tonssss of gorgeous weddings coming up over the next few months, we know that many of our brides and grooms will need a little bit of guidance on what exactly to do after their wedding day is over. It can be a bit overwhelming! You spend months and months planning and looking forward to the big day, and then you're still not done once it's over! That's where this checklist comes in. :) It fills you in on everything you need to accomplish after you get back from your honeymoon. Bookmark this one for later, Barn Brides! 

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When you're planning your wedding, it's kind of sad to think about what you need to do when your big day is over, but it's a pretty important subject! You may get the post-wedding blues (that's seriously a thing!), but by staying busy getting things done, you're sure to keep your mind off of the fact that you no longer get to spend everyday planning the best day of your life!

Future brides, bookmark this post for later! After your honeymoon is over, here's what you need to do ASAP. 

Mail thank you cards! I know they're time consuming, but it's something you've just gotta do. And do it as soon as you get home from your honeymoon. It's just the polite thing to do, y'all! If you're stuck on what to write, Google "thank you card etiquette." You're welcome. 

J. Millwood Photography , from  Kaleena + Spencer 's wedding at The Barn

J. Millwood Photography, from Kaleena + Spencer's wedding at The Barn

Return your marriage license. They have to be returned within a specific time frame, so get 'em in quick. It's not 100% official until you do this! 

Change your last name! This actually isn't as fun as it sounds. If you're taking your new husband's last name, you've got to go to the social security office, get a new license, and change your name with your bank, utility accounts, and pretty much every single account you have. But look at your fancy new last name! Totally worth it.

KMWarford Photography , from  Bethany + Jamie 's wedding at The Barn

KMWarford Photography, from Bethany + Jamie's wedding at The Barn

Have your dress cleaned and preserved. Don't be like me and wait a year to get those dirt stains out of the bottom of your dress! Spoiler alert: they're probably not gonna come out. Even if you don't end up with dirt or mud on your dress, you're probably gonna end up with baked beans on it. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything... ;) Take care of those stains and have a professional preserve your dress so it doesn't turn yellow years down the road. It's expensive, but it's worth it.  

Stephanie Parsley Photography , from  Jessica + Daniel 's wedding at The Barn

Preserve your flowers. Whether you have your entire bouquet preserved, press a few flowers in your bible, or put petals in a clear Christmas ornament, do it pronto, before your flowers get nasty! This is best to do before your honeymoon if you have time. 

Put away all the keepsakes from your wedding day. This includes your veil, jewelry, garter, guestbook and any other special details from your day that you want to hold onto. Put them all in a plastic storage tote so they're all together, or put a few on display in a shadow box. I've put some details from our wedding around our home, and seeing them everyday makes me happy! If you purchased things that you didn't use or don't care to keep, list them on Craigslist or Ebay. 

Danielle Davis Art/Photography , from  Ani + Nathan 's wedding at The Barn

Danielle Davis Art/Photography, from Ani + Nathan's wedding at The Barn

When you get your photos back, print them. Don't be like me and wait forever to print and frame your beautiful photos! Post them on Facebook, and then get busy printing, framing and making photo books or albums. I like the books on Shutterfly and Artifacts Uprising. They're fun and easy to make! 

Return any gifts that you don't want or need. If you got two of the same item, return one and get something from your registry that wasn't purchased. If you got a million towels but not enough cookware, feel free to trade some for something you need! 

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I hope this makes the days after your wedding and honeymoon a little more stress-free! It can be kind of an overwhelming time, but I know you'll rock it!

Tipping Your Vendors

Brides, here's a quick reminder about a super important topic: tipping your vendors! 

Something we get asked by many of our Barn Brides: should I tip my vendors? And if so, how much? In short, this is what we tell them: if you're happy with the services provided, by all means, tip! Here's a quick summary of who you should tip, how much and when (as well as a few photos from past weddings at The Barn that have nothing to do with tipping!). 

BnBauman Photography , from  Alyssa + Matt 's wedding at The Barn

BnBauman Photography, from Alyssa + Matt's wedding at The Barn

For your caterer, you should tip between 17 and 20 percent of your catering allowance. (If you're spending $1,000 on your catering, tip somewhere between $170 and $200.) Tip your servers and bartenders, as well. Wedding experts recommend tipping $20 to $25 per server or bartender.  Tipping your DJ or musician is also a good idea. Experts recommend tipping $20 to $25 per musician, or $50 to $100 for a DJ. At The Barn, we're happy to take care of these things for you, so you don't have to worry about it on your big day. You can give cash or a check to your planner on the day of your wedding, and they will pass it along. Or we can include your tip amounts on your final bill, so you won't have to think about it after that. Our job is to make your wedding day easy and completely stress-free!

Tryston Hines Photography , from  Breanna + Bryan 's wedding at The Barn

Tryston Hines Photography, from Breanna + Bryan's wedding at The Barn

Just as you would in a salon, tip your hair stylist and makeup artist 15 to 20 percent, depending on how satisfied you were with their service. The best time to tip: after they finish your hair or makeup! 

Another important person to tip: your officiant. Ministers make nothing (or practically nothing) when they officiate a wedding. You should be prepared to pay for their lodging or give them a nice tip. If your minister is from a specific church, consider making a donation to their church. For a nondenominational minister, a $50 to $100 tip is plenty. Many couples completely forget to tip their minister, but it's an absolute must!

Photos by Manda , from  Paige + Dorian 's wedding at The Barn

Photos by Manda, from Paige + Dorian's wedding at The Barn

Many of our brides choose to tip their wedding planner, or give them a nice gift. This isn't a necessity, but it sure is a nice gesture that lets our planners know how much you appreciated their hard work! When you've had time to chill out after your wedding and honeymoon, consider sending your wedding planner a tip or gift. These ladies work incredibly hard to make your day perfect, and if you ask me, they totally deserve to be shown some love!

Barn Brides, if you ever have questions about tipping, don't hesitate to ask our team! That's what we're here for. :)

What NOT To Do When Planning Your Wedding

We're kicking off the weekend with a sorta funny, but also super serious post from last year! Y'all may think these things are a joke, but we've actually seen these things happen! More than once. Eep. Don't do it!!! We're forever traumatized.

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I've written several posts on this blog about what to do to make your wedding even better, more memorable, and more fun for your guests. Today, let's talk about some ridiculous things that you should not do when planning your wedding. Y'all may think I am being funny with some of these... Nope. As insane as it is, this stuff actually happens! Don't make these mistakes while planning your big day. Just don't! 

(By the way, these photos have nothing to do with these don'ts... they're just pretty pictures from recent weddings at The Barn that I couldn't wait to share!) 

Pictures by Katie , from  Kelsey + Gueorgui 's wedding at The Barn

Pictures by Katie, from Kelsey + Gueorgui's wedding at The Barn

Don't invite strangers on Craigslist/Pope County Swap/whatever yard sale Facebook page people in your area use. We have actually seen a "Who wants to come to my wedding?" post on a Facebook yard sale page! Seriously, y'all, not only does this make you look desperate and sorta crazy, but it's also a quick way to get kidnapped/mugged/killed on your wedding day. 

Tryston Hines Photography , from  Katie + Alan 's wedding at The Barn

Tryston Hines Photography, from Katie + Alan's wedding at The Barn

Don't be that crazy bride on social media. Y'all know the one! She pins a ridiculous amount of wedding ideas on Pinterest each day (and has 10 boards devoted to wedding planning), she shares her wedding countdown on Instagram everyday, and she posts every. single. planning detail on Facebook. Sure, it's fine to post about the big things, like finding your venue or dress or sharing a milestone in your countdown. But don't be that girl who shares about ordering your cake, your catering menu, or every little detail that doesn't go as planned. 

Stephanie Parsley Photography , from  Mackenzie + Tyler 's wedding at The Barn

Don't spend so much time worrying about what you DON'T want to happen at your wedding that you forget to have fun and enjoy your big day. Don't be uptight. Not everything is going to go exactly as planned - during your planning process or on your wedding day - but you absolutely cannot let that ruin your happiest day ever. Don't flip out on people who don't return their RSVP cards, even though it's super annoying. Don't fight about trivial things like cake flavors. Concentrate on what's going right, like finding your perfect venue, scoring a great deal on a gorgeous wedding dress, and, helloooo! Marrying the love of your life. At the end of it all, if you're married and happy, everything is as it should be. 

Shingleur Photography , from  Sujey + Jeffrey 's wedding at The Barn

Shingleur Photography, from Sujey + Jeffrey's wedding at The Barn

Don't get on social media at your wedding or as soon as it's over. Be in the moment with your new husband! You can change your last name, check out all the photos tagged of you, or look at the photos under your hashtag on Instagram the day after your wedding... or even after your honeymoon. Give your spouse all your attention! Facebook can wait. And pleassseee don't be that couple who changes your Facebook status to "married" during your ceremony. Ugh.

I highly doubt any of our classy, wonderful couples at The Barn would make any of these mistakes, but hopefully someone who needed to hear this info will come across this post one day. ;)

xoxo,
Kelsi