Big Picture Wedding Planning

What is the secret to enjoying your wedding day? Is it getting every detail to be perfect? Is it to make the day match the script of your fairytale wedding right down to the last grain of rice thrown?

I’ve got news for you: you can never manage all those details. Even if you have the best plan, the most organized team, and have spent more money than you planned, you still can’t guarantee that you have a perfect wedding – because there are always variables. Someone could get sick, you may spill on your dress, it could rain, or a groomsman might get in a fender bender on the way to the ceremony and spend the time between the wedding and reception at the ER getting checked out for a concussion (true story!). But this doesn’t mean your day is a failure!

The good news is, the secret to truly enjoying your wedding day is not in micromanaging or spending more or having everything perfect. The secret to less-stressful planning and a truly enjoyable wedding day is to zooming out to get The Big Picture.

Ready? Let’s take a few steps backward—c’mon, just a bit further. When you think you’ve gone far enough, take one step more.

Okay! Now, what do you see? All the little details and decisions—like cake flavors and hairstyles—have shrunk down to tiny pixels. Even the things you thought were really important—guest seating or music selections—have become blurs at this distance. The only thing we can see clearly at this distance is the main goal of your wedding: To get married! Suddenly all the little details, though still there, fade into the big picture and lose so much of their stress-inducing significance.

Details are what make your wedding day uniquely you. It’s okay to focus on the details during the planning to craft a day that celebrates your love in a personal way. But the closer you get to your big day, the more often you should step back and remind yourself of the bigger goals of your wedding, and how the smaller details are simply supports to your main goals. Making a practice of ‘zooming out’ will free you to embrace whatever happens on your wedding day, knowing that at the end of the day you will be married.

big picture wedding planning by @TrinaHoldn @YLCF (photo by @natashametzler)

So what are these bigger goals you should focus on? Let me clue you in: they have less to do with aesthetics and atmosphere, and more to do with people and connections. Here are some suggestions for Big Picture Goals, with practical examples from real-life weddings I’ve coordinated…

1. Think of your man

Your wedding and memories will be that much sweeter if you see it as a chance to honor some of his preference. Involve him in the planning, and focus on details that will bless him. Make unity a goal from the start.

Real-Life Wedding #1: During the planning of her wedding, my friend creatively blended her ideas for decorations (orchids and candles) with her fiance’s desire to incorporate their shared love for skiing. Though I wasn’t sure how she was going to pull it off, in the end the blend of antique skis and floating candles created an atmosphere reminiscent of a ski lodge, with her colors of white and turquoise perfectly accenting the alpine feel.

2. Think of your families

Your wedding marks the beginning of a new season in your relationship with your siblings, parents, and in-laws. Use this day as an opportunity to further build into these important relationships. Let thoughtfulness set the tone for future holidays and interactions.

Real-Life Wedding #2: While planning most of her wedding long distance from the mission field, my sister-in-law had to leave a lot of details up to her family. We chose the invitations, decorations, and even bridesmaid dresses without her. Thanks to her focus on what really mattered on her wedding day, the whole family was able to enjoy the unique experience and the wedding was beautiful.

3. Think of your guests

This day is not all about you.  You’ve invited all these folks to celebrate with you: don’t neglect them or treat them like spectators. They are your guests! Let hospitality be a key focus, especially in your plans for the reception.

Real-Life Wedding #3: When planning my wedding with a short engagement, the only building that was available that would fit our guests and have room for some historic group dances was…a gym. With orange walls. Because my goal was to have a great time with all our friends, I chose the gym with plenty of room over cutting the guest list. The color of the walls has faded in my memory, but we still hear from friends telling us how much they enjoyed our fun wedding.

A wedding really can be enjoyable for everyone involved if you let your planning focus on the bigger goals of the day.

Share a ‘big picture’ goal you’ve cherished for your someday-wedding, or tell us about a small mishap that you didn’t let ruin your wedding day!



  1. We had a freak blizzard the day/night before our wedding. We woke up to almost 2′ of snow, but it was beautifully sunny and a winter wonderland. I wasn’t keen on getting married in yucky-brown November, but it ended up being a perfect winter wedding, since our reception was at a ski lodge lol (Remember Hunter Mountain?) Fortunately the way the weather hit, no one (except me – I almost missed the rehearsal and dinner driving back from the reception site because of the storm) was affected by the snow storm.

    It could’ve been a disaster, but ended up making our wedding incredibly memorable and beautiful for everyone.

    1. Hunter! Your reception was at Hunter! How cool is that. I’m so glad you got the snow. I had another friend married that weekend, come to think of it, and remember appreciating the November snow to make everything so pretty.

    2. I had a November wedding as well. I was so disappointed because my original plan was December 1st and I had a pretty snowy picture… and there was mud and bare trees. It was one of those “well, I know it doesn’t *really* matter but…” things. And my bridesmaids woke me up at two in the morning the night before to drag me outside and dance in the snow. Everything was covered that morning and I had the sparkly wedding I hoped for!

  2. At my someday-wedding I want the vows to be at the heart of the celebration and, although I’d love some nice flowers and a nice dress, I most of all want the day to be focused on God and genuinely relaxed and happy. My guests are the other big thing in my big picture – I want the people who are closest to me to be at my someday-wedding and anything else is a nice “extra”!

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