As soon as you announce your engagement, it might seem like everyone in your life has an opinion on exactly what your wedding should look like. While it can certainly be useful to bounce ideas off close friends and family, in the end your wedding day is an expression of you and your partner and the life that you’ve built together. Rather than trying to find the perfect wedding style that will please and impress every one of your guests, focus on what’s going to make you feel beautifulexhilarated, and full of joy. And remember – just because you dreamt of a tulip bouquet or a long train when you were seven, doesn’t mean you’re required to stick to it. Take a moment to explore and let your style grow piece by piece – you never know what gems you’ll stumble on in the process!

1. Create an Inspiration Board.

Inspiration boards are a great way to gather a lot of ideas and then evaluate how to combine your favorite elements of each. What if you’re set on purple orchids, but they don’t quite match with the tablecloths you absolutely love? An inspiration board might present you with a third color that bridges them into a complementary scheme. If you’re not keen on the ol’ glue and scissor, there are dozens of online platforms for building inspiration boards. Two of these are Sampleboard and Pinterest, but there are many that let you pull in and arrange hundreds of images.

2. Turn to art, cinema, and everyday life.

It can be easy to get so buried in wedding blogs and magazines that you start to feel your head spin. When everything starts looking the same and nothing is quite perfect, try taking a step back and look at other sources of inspiration. A trip to the museum might completely transform your color palette, the lighting in a restaurant might make you consider a new reception style, or maybe a dress you see in a film is just what you want for your bridesmaids. You never know when inspiration will strike.

3. Research trends – but don’t let them define you!

Wedding trends are exciting to keep up with and offer you a great starting point for design inspiration. Even if an idea is being recycled from years past, it’s amazing to watch how designers keep them fresh. But just because something is trending doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Following trends is great, but remember not to let trends put blinders on your search for a wedding style that works for you and your partner.

4. Let restriction inspire you.

Sometimes it’s easier to start with the non-negotiable “no”s. Maybe there’s a color that you simply cannot stand, or maybe your budget only allows you to spend a certain amount on the invitations. Writing down the things you don’t want or can’t have can be a great first step in developing a style you love. This is also a great way to make sure you and your partner are on the same page about what is definitely not happening.

5. Investigate venues and vendors.

Wedding planning can be a complicated and stressful project, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun! When it comes time to visit venues and meet with vendors, pay attention to how you feel when you meet the people representing these businesses. Your vendors should act as your collaborators, and listen to all of your ideas, visions, restrictions, and concerns. Also, remember that vendors know other vendors and can often give you a referral or recommendation. If you find someone you click with, take advantage of their knowledge and connections! Chances are your cake decorator knows a floral designer. Finding vendors you identify with can take a lot of the pressure of the planning process off your shoulders.

Oftentimes one thing – the cake, the dress, the invitations – can act as a center point for expanding your style. If something speaks to you, follow your instincts and let that inform your overall design. Imagine you’re filling an empty house and you’re having trouble figuring out how you want to decorate. Stumbling on the perfect side table or the perfect bookcase for the living room can influence how you fill the entire house! Weddings are the same way – searching for everything at once might leave you stumped, but finding the one thing you love can be the spark to ignite your wedding style dreams.

All images in this post are still images from Kenneth Cooper Films videos. All rights reserved.