What Wedding Details Are Worth Your Time (And Money)

And how to avoid the ones that are not

You know what’s making wedding planning so difficult these days? I mean, of course you do, because you’re planning a wedding right now. But in short, it’s Pinterest. It’s the portal to the never ending internet rabbit hole of all things wedding. Pinterest is just the beginning: from there you can easily fall down all kinds of black holes on Etsy, Facebook, Reddit, wedding blogs… and then you start Googling for wedding planning tips and ideas, and it’s rinse and repeat.

A lot of these photos and articles are about stuff. Specifically, all the stuff you can have at your wedding: things you can buy or make and maybe personalize that contribute to your guests’ overall experience. And when you’re deep down the wedding planning rabbit hole, all of this stuff can start to feel super important. It’s in all the photos! It looks so cute and meaningful! It’s clearly going to be key to how people experience your wedding. And let’s be real, it’s super easy to burn through a ton of your budget on details. All that cute stuff that looked so good on Pinterest.

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Fast-forward to your wedding, and suddenly you realize that all those things that look great in a photo may have nothing to do with how you (or anyone else) experiences the wedding. But beyond that, all of that stuff that you poured time and money and energy into might not even have a ton of visual impact. And there is nothing like crying over packs of wedding tissues after your wedding.

Here’s the deal: I’m a wedding planner. And not just any wedding planner. I work on some of those beautiful, fancy weddings, with the type of details you see all over Pinterest. And after tons of weddings, I’ve cracked the code on what wedding details are worth it and what details are really just not.

But first, let’s define our terms. What are the wedding details we’re talking about? For this wedding planning mental exercise, we’re talking about details in terms of small, tangible items that your guests will notice interacting with, as opposed to perfectly adjusted lighting or cushions on chairs. I’m also not looking to discourage anyone from investing in items that they really love and want to share with their guests. If you’re really into folding a thousand paper cranes, and it speaks to your soul? Live your truth. But when it comes to those “should-I-or-shouldn’t-I” details, I’m here to help. This is my advice, based on the reactions I’ve seen from guests, that will help if you’re looking to edit.

Close up of small single use Maker's Mark bottles with names attached as table assignments

The absolute best details…

  • Say something about you and your partner.
  • Are relatively simple.
  • Provide some type of use for you or your guests beyond your reception or wedding weekend. (Let’s hear it for not producing mountains of trash for landfills, just for that one cute photo.)

Top priority number one when considering any extras is making sure that you’re making some sort of statement about you and your partner.

Cardboard coaster with words dedicating things to parents

Make It About The Two Of You

Try printing facts about your relationship on cocktail napkins, like where you met or how you dressed as ketchup and mustard for Halloween one year. Get coasters with your dog’s face on them if you adopted him together. Statements about you and your partner, plus simplicity. You need cocktail napkins anyway, and your guests will still talk about them three Thanksgivings from now. Check and check.

K-I-S-S

Simplicity is major. Before you commit to a DIY, try making just one or a few of the item. Did it take you hours? Did you get mad? Abort that mission. Even if you know that every guest lives in the country and would definitely use it, you don’t really need to make a birdhouse for everyone. But you can still give them adorably packaged birdseed, because you and your partner love bird-watching together. It’s best to think of what you’re trying to convey, break it down into its most basic elements, then try and figure out how you can incorporate it simply. That’s guaranteed to spare you (and whoever you may recruit for help) a whole lot of frustration.

Bag of coffee that says "the perfect blend"

Use It Again

Beyond disposable items, consider what use you or your guests will get from details after your wedding. I love relationship timeline posters (which you can commission an artist to make if you don’t want to DIY!), and if they’re done well you can hang them in your home. If you’re going to add your initials or crest to clothing or accessories, consider how wearable they’ll be. Really can’t let go of shirts with your faces on them? Maybe give them to just your wedding party.

Edit, Edit, Edit

You know how the judges on Project Runway always are preaching the virtues of editing? Like, great ideas, but you should have gotten rid of five of them because it’s just one outfit? Or how Coco Chanel suggested removing one accessory before leaving the house? Same rule applies here. It’s just one wedding. And the “Pinterest just exploded all over this wedding” is not actually a great look, plus it’s expensive, exhausting, and often wasteful.

So edit. Even if you can swing it, personalized details at every turn can overwhelm your guests. A few personalized touches here and there, though, can make your wedding super special for your guests and make them feel included in your story.

What fun details are you planning for your wedding? What details are you wondering if you should cut (or not)? And if you’ve already gotten married, what was worth it, and what was really not?

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