The dress, photography, flowers, cake, decorations and table favours. If you've ever planned a wedding, are currently planning one or have a close friend who has, you'll know these words typically consume the lead up to the big day.
But does any of it really matter? No, is the answer one woman learned when just over a year after her dream wedding, her husband suffered a fatal cardiac arrest. At 32-years-old she became a widow and single mother to their one-year-old son whom she was pregnant with at the time of their nuptials.
Laura Caudery married Paul in December 2010 in Fetcham Park, a country house in Leatherhead, Surrey (a property which Laura was also trying to launch as a wedding venue business at the time). Like a lot of brides, she spent her evenings fretting over guest lists, parking arrangements, food choices and colour schemes in the lead up to the big day.
"I lost track of what the day was really all about," writes Laura on wedding blog Love My Dress. "Despite desperately wanting to marry Paul, I let myself get distracted by the brilliant marketing machine that is The Wedding Industry."
After Paul passed away, Laura found herself looking through her wedding album of 300 photographs and picking out around 20 pictures that truly captured the raw emotions and love from that day.
Now in an effort to remind couples what a wedding represents and to prevent them from getting caught up in the superficial aspects of planning, Laura has launched a social media campaign that asks couples to share their most honest and raw wedding snaps using the hashtag #ShareTheHonestLove.
"Learning the art of event planning under the pressure of organising ‘the best day of your life’ can easily take over," writes Laura. "The only time I stopped to really think about our church service was when we met with our vicar, and even then my mind was still focused on the practical arrangements, rather than the emotional significance of what we were actually planning.
"So you see, when I look at wedding photos, I’m not really looking at the pretty details; I’m looking for the love. I’m looking at the emotions that a wedding day elicits and the feelings that will survive long after the wedding day is over."
Laura has been overwhelmed with thousands of responses to her hashtag on Twitter and Instagram of brides and grooms smiling, laughing, crying and expressing all kinds of raw emotions on their special day.
"I’m moved by the photos people have shared, the stories they’ve told and I hope we can all play a part in reminding one another of everything a wedding day represents. Everyone understands that photography is an investment, I just think we need to remember which photos are the ones that really matter," says Laura.
Now as the manager of Fetcham Park, the wedding venue she got married in, Laura sees herself as a "gatekeeper for couples who get bombarded – by the media, suppliers, family and friends".
"I don’t want people selling to them, pressurising them into decisions and causing them stress; I want them to enjoy every moment of being engaged and the day itself. I want them to be completely in the moment, not worrying about whether the ribbon on the napkins matches the waiters’ ties (I was that girl!)."
Take a look at our selection of #ShareTheHonestLove images below. Share your own using the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.
Undoubtedly the best and most significant part of my wedding day was standing in front of the person who knows the good, the bad and the ugly about me and exchanging our vows to love and honour each other no matter what. Todays blogpost reminded me to be thankful for each day we get to outwork this commitment, for it is a gift #sharethehonestlove #tarahcoonanphotography
A photo posted by Hannah Clark (@hannahvclark) on
A photo posted by Carolanne Armstrong (@carolannemua) on