Feather & Flint

Planning a Wedding That’s True to Who You Are

· Featured on The Girl in Real Life: http://bit.ly/2colBNB ·

September 15, 2016 50 Comments 7 Photos

Staying authentic in the course of planning a wedding is surprisingly challenging. You’ll inevitably be overwhelmed at many points by the reality of balancing loved ones’ opinions with centuries-old wedding traditions and the latest Pinterest trends. So how did I stay true to our story, while creating a heartfelt, inclusive experience for our friends and family? Here’s my biggest advice when it comes to planning a wedding that’s true to who you are.

Planning a Wedding That's True to Who You Are | Feather & Flint

Planning a Wedding That’s True to Who You Are: Tip #1

Question any tradition that doesn’t feel authentic to you. This is your wedding—there are no rules.

During our ceremony, our officiant recounted the story of how Alex & I met and fell in love within a matter of weeks, enduring a number of twists and turns along the way as our relationship matured and strengthened. Our vows were derived from psychological research on the characteristics that distinguish lasting relationships, inspired by the time that I spent studying the science of love across the lifespan in graduate school. Rather than making promises to each other on the basis of spiritual principles that held little significance for us, we handcrafted heartfelt, poignant vows that were much more meaningful. You’re not required to have a ceremony that revolves around religion if it’s not an important part of your life, and you’re definitely not held to the standard, somber, impersonal wedding vows.


Planning a Wedding That's True to Who You Are | Feather & Flint

I had both of my parents walk me down the aisle. My relationships with my mother and father are of equal significance to me, and so including both of them in this incredibly special part of the day was the only option that felt natural to me.

Planning a Wedding That's True to Who You Are | Feather & Flint

Planning a Wedding That’s True to Who You Are: Tip #2

Go off-schedule.

Alex and I chose to have a “first look” before the ceremony, allowing us to see each other all dressed up in a more intimate setting before walking down the aisle. Photographers love this growing trend because some of the most romantic, poignant shots of the couple occur during this short time period, which we absolutely found to be true.

Planning a Wedding That's True to Who You Are | Feather & Flint

With the assistance of our wedding coordinator, officiant, and friends, I orchestrated a surprise for the middle of the ceremony. Right before we said our vows, I told Alex that I’d be right back, grabbed my guitar from its hiding place, and performed “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” By the end of the song, everyone was in tears—I got choked up on the line, “Take my hand, take my whole life, too,” and it was the perfect introduction to the vows.

Planning a Wedding That's True to Who You Are | Feather & Flint

Planning a Wedding That’s True to Who You Are: Tip #3

Involve your guests in the sweeping emotions of the event. Make each person feel as though they’re a part of your love story as your happy ending unfolds in front of them.

We chose to let the ceremony revolve around our real, unidealized love story—the way that we met and how quickly we connected; the ups and downs that we endured along the way; and our ultimate decision to get married, and the determination that we shared to forge a love strong enough to last a lifetime. I chose to let every guest in on the vulnerability of our emotions as we experienced them; and in doing so, it felt as though we created a community of loved ones personally invested in our relationship. The tears flowed freely all day, and I made no effort to hide how touched I was at so many different points. The overwhelming love that we felt from all sides is what truly made the day unforgettable.

Planning a Wedding That's True to Who You Are | Feather & Flint

Planning a Wedding That’s True to Who You Are: Tip #4

Be unapologetic about your choices.

Collect advice from professionals and loved ones early on, but set the expectation with everyone that you’ll be making the ultimate decisions. This is your day, and as opinionated as relatives and friends can be in the months leading up to the wedding, trust me—they’ll all be forgotten when the day actually arrives and everyone is completely caught up in the emotion of the event. Allow as much time as you want for the parts of the day that are the most important to you. By the same token, skip anything that you feel uncomfortable with or that would take time away from the things that matter most to you.

Planning a Wedding That's True to Who You Are | Feather & Flint

We asked guests to keep their cell phones and cameras tucked away during the ceremony. I did this for two reasons: First, I wanted to be able to look out at the faces of our friends and family and actually see their faces—not their iPhones. I was horrified by the thought of looking back at the photos of the ceremony and seeing everyone’s smartphones held up in the air, competing for the perfect shot of our first kiss as husband and wife. But more importantly, I wanted everyone to be fully invested in the event as it happened in real time. Taking pictures can have the effect of pulling us out of the present moment as it unfolds; and for just half an hour, I wanted to experience life as it happened, with all of my loved ones right there with me.

Planning a Wedding That's True to Who You Are | Feather & Flint

Liked this post? Read the next post in my series on planning a wedding: My Most Stressful & Most Cherished Wedding Moments.

P.S. Are you following Feather & Flint on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Bloglovin’Twitter, Google+, and Spotify? Subscribe to each channel to make sure you don’t miss a single post, whether it’s on planning a wedding that’s true to who you are or hosting the perfect fall dinner party!

Planning a Wedding That's True to Who You Are | Feather & Flint


The full feature (with more pictures & tips!): The Girl in Real Life

Our Style Me Pretty feature

Photography: The More We See

Venue, flowers & food: Terrain at Styers in Glen Mills, PA

Officiant: Alisa Tongg

Coordinator: Lisa at Brava Weddings

Wedding dress: Luzerne by Reem Acra, purchased at Elizabeth Johns

Hair & makeup: Bella Angel






  1. Reply

    Your Father

    October 28, 2016

    Well, I’m at a loss to explain the zero comments, particularly from those who attended this special affair. Those with whom I later spoke had the most wonderful things to say about it: the ceremony itself and your lovely singing talent to make it “yours”, the choice of venue, the food, the dancing, everything. The day started ominously with rain and clouds but as if on cue cleared about an hour before the start. Timing is everything. Your family was (and is) very proud of you and of your ability to pull random things together into one momentous celebration.

    • Reply


      November 20, 2016

      Thank you so much, Dad, that means the world to me! Thank you for making it all possible – and for bringing the house down with your toast!

    • Reply


      March 24, 2017

      Congrats! What a beautiful wedding and great tips for brides to be! Thank you for sharing! In my own wedding I had my almost 3 year old daughter as my flower girl. Well she didn’t want to walk down to aisle by herself so I was walked down the aisle by my dad and daughter. Totally unplanned but I had no option but to roll with it and it is now one of my favorite memories <3

  2. Reply

    Ref J

    March 20, 2017

    Congrats on getting married! Sounds like you managed to have the wedding of your dreams. I loved that you were able to keep your guests involved in the ceremony and not have an audience full of iPhones.

  3. Reply


    March 20, 2017

    Just read an article that studies show the more a couple spends on their wedding we are talking over 20,000 the more likely they are to get divorced. Keep it simple and do what you want not what the parents want.

  4. Reply

    Sarah Jean althouse

    March 20, 2017

    What a beautiful wedding you had! and very you! I stayed authentic by having it be as “natural” as possible, and skipping things I didn’t like, such as pouring sand into a bottle together.

  5. Reply


    March 20, 2017

    I could have so used this post when I got married (over 12 years ago). My wedding was so stressful because I allowed to go against just about every tip you gave. I married a pastor and I gave in to what the church wanted (an elaborate affair). Although it was beautiful, it was so not me.

    Anyway, I love this post and you’ll help lots of women plan a great day – reflective of who they are.

  6. Reply


    March 20, 2017

    There is so much pressure on brides to make their weddings THE BEST DAY EVER. My wedding was simple and full of the people and places that mattered most to us. It was perfect to me.

  7. Reply

    Marette Flora

    March 20, 2017

    We had a non-traditional wedding as well. We got married on Maui with just a few friends and everything was fitting to our personalities and values. I love your wedding details, especially that you sang!

  8. Reply


    March 20, 2017

    Love what you did for your wedding! Such great ideas. I work with 2 wedding blogs and we are always trying to let people know that they can be different!

  9. Reply


    March 20, 2017

    I LOVE this. I think people are so worried about keeping up with tradition that they lose themselves in their own ceremony. My husband and I got married at what was supposed to be our engagement ceremony. Two nights before the event, we decided to just switch things up and get married instead. But THAT? That was true to us. We are not planners. We don’t care about the photographs, the planning, the catering, etc. What was important was that our family members were present and that we got married. Done and done.

  10. Reply

    Apryl @ heart, hope, and hustle

    March 20, 2017

    I absolutely loved this post. I was married 6 years ago and was young and didn’t think I had much of a say about anything that I truly wanted and it didn’t represent us at all. I wanted to also sing at the wedding to my mother, who was my main parent my whole life, and I didn’t because I thought it would be “frowned upon and untraditional”. Kudos to you for being YOU – I would go back and redo it all over and in my own way! What a post!

  11. Reply

    Jenna Urben

    March 20, 2017

    What a great post with great advice! You look beautiful, too!

  12. Reply

    Lindsey Manson

    March 20, 2017

    Great reminder! That’s the biggest hurdle I had to get over with my wedding is there is no “rules.” We did what WE wanted to do and tried to keep Christ center of it all.

  13. Reply

    Kristen Rodriguez

    March 20, 2017

    Your wedding was BEAUTIFUL! <3 I am getting married in a month and I am totally with you. I'm glad you stuck to what YOU wanted and not what others wanted. That is something that my fiance and I stood our ground on as well, and I am so glad that we did! xx, Kristen

  14. Reply


    March 20, 2017

    I completely agree! It is so easy to do something because ‘that’s how it’s always done.’ When my husband and I were planning our wedding we would often stop and ask if this was something we were doing because it’s what everyone does, or because we actually want to do it.

  15. Reply

    Brittany Comeaux

    March 20, 2017

    I love all of your tips! Especially being unapologetic… I wish I had been that way with my wedding! And I love that you sang and the vows… It seems like your wedding was magical and so genuinely about your love! Well done!

  16. Reply


    March 21, 2017

    Your wedding was beautiful! I love the psych research part, that was so unique! And also being unpologetic! Your wedding is your wedding, so it should be your way, not anyone else’s!

  17. Reply

    Ashley @ Far Beyond Love

    March 21, 2017

    YES!!!!!!! I remember when I went to buy my wedding dress the woman kept trying to sell me on a dress I didn’t love. She was like, “but it’s SO PERFECT for your shape and you look gorgeous in it!” but I was like…but…ummmm…I hate it so STFU. Also, our wedding was on the same day as the birthday of the 8-year old daughter of a guest so we had a mini-birthday celebration for her during our reception complete with balloons and a cake we had made especially for her. That made our wedding so much more special.

  18. Reply


    March 21, 2017

    I am totally with you that your wedding should reflect what is important to you. My husband and I had a Halloween themed weeding, my friend’s dad married us, and we wrote our own vows. It was a blast!!

  19. Reply


    March 21, 2017

    I 100% with all your points! I just got married on 2/19/17 and there was so much stress leading up to the wedding but it turned out to be the most love-filled and happy day of our lives so far.

    I fully believe that it turned out so great because we chose to do things that made sense for us.

    My friends and family were against us doing a first look but we did it anyway and I’m so glad we did because it was my favorite part of the whole day! No traditional vows, garter toss or saving the top of the cake either. Some traditions are just silly and outdated!

    I wore my mom’s veil and my dress was ivory & champagne, no classic white dress for this girl!

    I hope more couples do the same in the future…it’s your day and everything should be just how you want it with no pressure from anyone!

  20. Reply


    March 21, 2017

    You had a beautiful wedding! Congratulations! I know the feeling of allowing yourself to have your day be your day – my wedding was everything I envisioned and better. I hope this posts reaches many couples that are on their way to their big day!

  21. Reply

    Sincerely Miss J

    March 22, 2017

    Love this! Some people plan their wedding to please other people and don’t think of it as “their day”. You can tell when the wedding doesn’t reflect who they are. <3

    Sincerely Miss J

  22. Reply


    March 22, 2017

    This is such a great reminder! Beautiful post and photos!

  23. Reply

    taylor mobley

    March 22, 2017

    I loved planning my wedding. I had SO MUCH FUN!

  24. Reply

    Sarah Hughes

    March 22, 2017

    Such a lovely guide. We went off to Vegas to get married and had an amazing time. We didn’t feel the need to explain to people our decision, as it was the best decision for us. We’ve been married nearly 5 years now 😀

  25. Reply

    Jamilah Miller

    March 22, 2017

    Very nice, thoroughly enjoyed this. Loved the style of your wedding and how you made this day beautiful. Following 🙂

  26. Reply


    March 22, 2017

    Love this! You had a beautiful wedding (and were a gorgeous bride)! It always kills me to hear brides say they are going to do something at their ceremony “because it’s supposed to be that way”. It’s one day that you get to make all your own, so couples should take advantage of it!

  27. Reply


    March 22, 2017

    Yes! I loved our wedding because it was so ‘us’. We did keep a lot of things traditional, because that’s the way we wanted it, but we also added in some extra things, and excluded stuff that just didn’t make sense.
    Your day looked absolutely beautiful 🙂

  28. Reply


    March 22, 2017

    This rang deep with me. My husband and I did a few things that weren’t the norm…our parents walked both of us down the aisle, we had a destination wedding so we could enjoy the week with loved ones before and a day after the wedding, were married by a local female officiant and we wrote our own vows. Then we got hitched stateside at the courthouse…just the two of us, by an Italian immigrant (like my parents) officiant…that day was beautiful as well.

  29. Reply

    Holly bunker

    March 22, 2017

    Wow! Way to have a totally “you” wedding! I felt like I was there throughout your post 🙂 your story and photos are beautiful. – hollybunker.com

  30. Reply


    March 23, 2017

    Thank you so much for this! I loved seeing your authenticity shine through your pictures. Beautiful 🙂

  31. Reply


    March 23, 2017

    Your photos are absolutely beautiful. I felt the love reading this.
    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. My late teens to early twenties I wanted all the fan fare of a big wedding and I guess pleasing everyone. I’ve watched my sisters go through it and it was always magical.
    I am now almost 30 and all I want is my partner and I, to feel out love, and be with our favourite people (introverted introverts here so favourite people includes like 4 people lol!)! I know now that I will do what I want, not what is traditional or what is expected! Maybe we’ll elope!
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! Beautiful!

  32. Reply


    March 23, 2017

    congrats! such a sweet post and looks like it was an amazing wedding!!

  33. Reply


    March 23, 2017

    This is fabulous. I especially love that you asked people to keep their phones away, I fully intend on doing the same. I will share the professional photos taken (of which, btw, yours are beautiful!)

    I’m about to launch into wedding planning and someone asked me recently what “my vision” was… and it’s funny because I don’t really have one. The fairy tale that I imagined as a kid has given way to something more real, and the truth is I just want to get married. I think that primes me for planning something that the Mister and I will actually want, rather than just following the pinterest trends

    Laura @ http://www.cookwineandthinker.com

  34. Reply

    Sheila Jo

    March 23, 2017

    Weddings that aren’t cookie cutter are much more fun! Love the personal touches you added to your ceremony!

  35. Reply


    March 24, 2017

    Your pictures are so beautiful, you look so happy!!! I think it’s sooo important to plan your wedding according to who YOU are and what YOU like! Nothing is more important than enjoying one of the best days of your life! Love this!

  36. Reply


    March 24, 2017

    What a beautiful wedding!! This surely looks like a perfect wedding!!

  37. Reply

    Adriana Renee

    March 24, 2017

    Love this! I’m still a single gal (lol) but I always think about my wedding and how much I’d rather do something I would enjoy than pleasing people!

  38. Reply


    March 24, 2017

    Beautiful wedding. Although I have no plans of getting married, I do believe that many have a ceremony to please their guests and not themselves. Having all of your guests leave their electronics was a brilliant way to make sure that everyone was intimately involved!

  39. Reply

    The Southern Thing

    March 24, 2017

    Great tips! It’s so important to stay true to yourself when planning a wedding!

  40. Reply


    March 24, 2017

    Beautiful story and photos! I LOVE the outdoor wedding. Thanks so much for sharing.

  41. Reply


    March 24, 2017

    First of all- CONGRATS!
    Second- I love that you wrote about staying true to yourself. We did our wedding our way and I heard so many sweet things about if— and a for negative ones, too. For example- we used 0 traditional wedding songs and one of the teachers I worked with still talks about how it “didn’t feel wedding-y” although a few others that said we should have made a soundtrack of our ceremony bc they loved the music.

    I also had my grandfather (preacher), brother (also a preacher), and our preacher from our church take part in the ceremony bc these are each people that are very important to me!

  42. Reply


    March 24, 2017

    1- congrats!
    2- I love that you wrote a post about doing it your way. So many
    Brides miss out on the fun bc they are so concerned with the opinions of others.

    We used 0 traditional music in our wedding and a lady I worked with STILL says it wasn’t wedding-y and she didn’t like it. 🙄🙄🙄 On the flip side I’ve had several people say we should have made a soundtrack of our wedding bc they loved the music.

  43. Reply

    Stephanie JEannot

    March 24, 2017

    I love that you played the guitar at your own wedding. Adds a nice effect to it. I could see myself singign with a full band at mine if I ever get married. Beautiful wedding. Congratulations.

  44. Reply

    Becky @ Disney in your Day

    March 25, 2017

    I love how you made your wedding your own – I would have been in tears at that guitar moment! And your venue looks gorgeous.

  45. Reply


    March 25, 2017

    This is absolutely beautiful! I’m in love with how your wedding turned out and how you and your husband stuck to what you loved as a couple. I will definitely hold on to this whenever it comes time for me to start wedding planning.

  46. Reply


    March 25, 2017

    You looked beautiful on your wedding day, you photograph so well. I love that you changed things up a bit so they fit who you are. Will definitely consider some of these for when I plan my wedding.

  47. Reply

    Stephanie Lee

    March 26, 2017

    Your wedding pictures are absolutely gorgeous! I love that both of your parents walked you down the aisle. That’s such a sweet memory!

  48. Reply


    March 26, 2017

    Aww I absolutely loved this post and it seems like you had an absolutely beautiful wedding! You look so happy in the photos! I’m currently planning my wedding and I only have 4 months to go – the stress is setting in!

    La Belle Sirene