First comes a proposal, then comes what seems like a million questions: What’s your budget? Where do you want to get married? Who’s invited? The list goes on and on.
The best way to keep the decision-making process as stress-free as possible? “Determine your priorities and your power words, and keep coming back to them,” says wedding planner and designer Jove Meyer. “At the end of the day, you do you. Whatever feels right to you is always the decision you should make.” Still, the Brooklyn-based pro, who is working with The Knot’s 2017 Dream Wedding couple WNBA player Elena Delle Donne and fiancée Amanda Clifton to plan their celebration on November 3, understands that advice isn’t always easy to follow. Here, he shares how he breaks down the process into manageable pieces.
Decide On Your “Realistic Dream.”
No matter the couple, Meyer emphasizes that a wedding essentially boils down to four things: style, personality, guest count and, perhaps most importantly, budget. “You have to be honest with yourself,” he explains. “What are the resources we have, that our parents have? What can we spend? I know it’s really hard for couples to talk about money sometimes, especially if their parents are hosting, but they have to at least know the parameters. Otherwise, you’re chasing yourself in circles looking for something that maybe you can’t afford — or something that’s too small and you can’t cut the guest count. I always ask couples, what’s your realistic dream?”
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Set Your Mantra.
Once you know your financial boundaries, it’s time to focus on the overall vision for the wedding. “Tune your parents out, turn that noise off,” Meyer says. “Have a bottle of wine with your significant other and really talk about what you want.” As a guideline, Meyer has couples play a fill-in-the-blank game and, without discussion, write down the first three words that come to mind when they think about what they want their wedding to be. “Then I have them read them aloud, one after the other. For me, those are my power words. They’re the words I keep coming back to, to remind me of what they want their wedding to be. If it seems like we’re going in a direction influenced by someone else, I bring back those three words.” Bride-to-be Clifton settled on “party, foodie and unique.” For Delle Donne, they were “memorable, unique and multisensory.”
Prioritize Your Vendors.
Another exercise Meyer takes his clients through at the end of their first meeting is ranking the different types of vendors, including groom and bridal attire and makeup or grooming. “I ask couples to rate the importance of each one on a scale of one (low importance) to five (high importance),” he explains. After each person has his or her list solidified, Meyer counts to three for each vendor and asks the partners to give him their numbers at the same time. “It’s always fun to do because their responses are not always the same. Or they’ll look at each other and say, ‘You don’t care about flowers?!’ Or ‘You don’t care about music?'” From there, says Meyer, you can make adjustments to your budget and allot more money for the things that are most important to you.
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When in doubt, Meyer recommends thinking about what aspects of the wedding make you and your partner light up. The first time he met with Delle Donne and Clifton, the trio talked over pizza, salads and wine and cheese at one of the brides’ favorite restaurants. “I immediately knew food was really important to them,” he recalls. “I knew it was a big part of their journey, especially the proposal. And they lit up when they talked about the party they wanted to throw for their friends and family. But they didn’t really light up when they talked about flowers or stationery because that’s not who they are.”
Make No Assumptions.
“The biggest mistake I see couples make,” says Meyer, “is moving forward with something to make other people happy or to fulfill expectations — of society, of family, of friends, of what they think a wedding should be — when it isn’t true to who they are.” Prefer pies or donuts to cake? Go for it. Not into those giant flower chandeliers popping up all over Instagram? Decorate with bud vases and single stems. “Amanda and Elena aren’t having a first dance because they don’t want to,” Meyer points out. “The only thing I tell couples is ‘required’ is having food and drink for the guests. Everything else is flexible.”
To keep abreast of Elena and Amanda’s journey to their big day, follow @TheKnot #TheKnotDreamWedding. And you can donate to the Elena Delle Donne Foundation through their charity registry at TheKnot.com.
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