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Recently, I was asked a FANTASTIC question by a really awesome couple: how do you live your values while planning a wedding?

A married couple laugh together while sitting on a brick wall at Tree Room Athens GA Raven ShutleyGet Crystal Clear on Your Values

In order to live, and plan your wedding, with your values in mind, you need to get crystal clear on what those values are. This is a conversation you should have with yourself, first and foremost, and your partner next. See what you’re each willing to flex on in the wedding planning and what you’re not.

So what’s important to you while planning your wedding? Is it all about supporting LGBTQ+ inclusive vendors {or vendors who are LGBTQ+ themselves}? Is buying locally an important aspect to you, or would you not mind bringing in out-of-state vendors from out of state? What about sustainability? This could look like cutting back on waste at your wedding. Or, making sure everyone is being paid a living wage, etc. Make sure you understand what you’re looking for!

Do Your Research

Now that you know what you’re looking for, the vendor research phase begins. And so much of wedding planning is research-based anyway that this bit isn’t much different from what you were already going to do. It just means you might have new criteria during your search.

Here are some places I recommend starting when it comes to planning resources. Not only do they have impeccable vendor directories… But, they are CHOCK FULL of planning resources:

Equally Wed

Equally Wed is an international online LGBTQ+ wedding magazine, book and education resource for LGBTQ+ couples and LGBTQ+ inclusive wedding professionals.”

LGBTQ marriers jumping on an outdoor trampoline in wedding attire in Georgia Raven Shutley StudiosLGBTQ newlyweds laughing together outside at golden hour in Georgia Raven Shutley StudiosI’ve worked with the founders, Kirsten & Maria, personally and they’re a treat and a half.

Spouse kisses their partner on the cheek by a royal purple wall Raven Shutley Studios ATL photographyOffbeat Bride

This is a “source for wedding ideas and inclusive wedding planning…for couples trying to build weddings full of intention and personality.”

Offbeat Bride is run by Ariel. I absolutely fan-girled over when I met her at the Lovesick Expo when it was in Atlanta years ago. She’s a rockstar of a human.

Groom embraces the bride as her dress floats in air by a mural in Athens, GA Raven Shutley StudiosGroom whispers in brides ear and makes her laugh by "Hey Baby" mural Athens GA Raven Shutley StudiosNewlyweds in wedding attire hold hands walking down a sidewalk in Athens GA Raven Shutley StudiosA Practical Wedding

“Bold and unapologetic, it’s made by, and for, smart feminist women.  Founded in 2008, APW has spent the last decade as a pioneer in the wedding space, constantly pushing for inclusive, authentic, accessible stories of love and relationships.”

I’ve been delighted to be a part of the A Practical Wedding community for almost as long as I’ve been a wedding photographer, and it continues to be utterly amazing. I mean look at this Inclusivity Pledge that all of their vendors in the directory must sign: “When you hire a vendor from the APW directory, you’re working with a business that is committed to inclusivity and diversity, pro-LGBTQ, anti-racist, and delighted to work with folks of all gender expressions, body sizes, religions, and abilities.”

Newlyweds in unique wedding attire sit together in Atlanta Georgia Raven Shutley Studios PhotographyBride and groom emotionally sit together on a park bench in Atlanta Raven Shutley Studios Newlyweds laugh at something on their a smartphone sitting at their home in GA Raven Shutley StudiosElope NC

“Our ElopeNC team and all partner vendors believe: in honesty, transparency and authenticity; love is love, and all love stories deserve celebration; the reason for your choices matters; all living things should be treated with respect; and marriage is life’s greatest adventure.”

This directory is newer, but growing so quickly and focusing on elopements specifically and their advice on how to build an intentional and meaningful day is priceless no matter what kind of wedding you’re planning!

Bride in a red dress leans in to kiss the groom in their backyard in Atlanta GA Raven Shutley StudiosNewlyweds lean against each other on front steps after at-home elopement in Georgia Raven ShutleyGreen Wedding Guild

GWG is “an organization that aims to educate vendors and couples about sustainable practices, encourage sustainability goals, and connect couples to vendors that can help them reach these goals. We believe that we can all do more to reduce the waste generated by weddings, and that sustainable choices are within reach of all vendors and couples. We strive to make these choices accessible to everyone through education and community partnership.”

Another newer organization, I’ve been in love with these folks and their mission since finding them. I’ve learned so much from them in both my personal and business life in moving towards a more sustainable model.

RSVP, Save The Date, and Wedding Invitation Stationery with orange + pink florals Raven Shutley StudiosLGBTQ newlyweds in unique colorful wedding attire touch noses in Atlanta GA Raven Shutley StudiosNewlyweds smile together with colorful bouquets before a big hearth in Georgia Raven Shutley Studios

Ask for Help

Y’all wedding planning is…a LOT. Allow me to remind you that you have permission to ask for help from folks, especially if they’re experts in the industry whose values align with yours! Ask your vendors for recommendations, ask why they give those specific recommendations. Tell them what you’re looking for and why. Ask for advice on sustainability or giving back through your wedding. We’ve seen a lot and we love helping! It’s why we’re here and why we were drawn to run service-based businesses.

I have a vendor recommendations page that I’m always more than happy to share with my couples. It’s full of people I’ve worked with personally or who I’ve admired for years, people who share my particular values and have stunning work, on top of everything else. It’s so much easier than you think to plan a wedding day within your values.

I love talking about this kind of stuff, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

Get In Touch to Plan Your Wedding Day

Raven is an Atlanta Wedding Photographer who captures real people on their totally unique and awesome wedding day, specializing in people who feel awkward in front of the camera. She travels throughout Georgia, including Athens, North Georgia, and beyond.

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