You've seen the many lists on the big wedding blogs of unrealistic or overdone ideas on how to make your wedding day personal. (Dear "The Knot" everyone writes their own vows now. Get with the times.) But what things can you realistically do to create a lovely, thoughtful, and unique wedding? Glad you asked!
Here are 14 places to start if you want a totally unique wedding!
There are lots of "traditional" ways to personalize your weddings- handwritten vows, readings you've selected, signs with special quotes or requests for the guests. But there are so many more ways to make your ceremony meaningful
1. Get your people involved
You can of course include your family and friends in the music, readings, and bridal party but why stop there?! Ring warming ceremonies, a time of silent prayer for the couple, presenting mothers with bouquets of flowers or small gifts, and grandmothers as flower girls are all unique ways to include the people you love.
This goes hand in hand with the point above and can go in lots of directions! Surprise your fiance with a special selection for the walks down the aisle (maybe one of you picks the processional and the other picks the recessional!) Include talented friends and family to play at your ceremony. Pick favorite songs to sing with your guests.
3. Unity symbols
Gone are the days of colored sand and candles. From Celtic hand fasting to putting together an anniversary or love letter box to taking communion together. The options are endless! While you don't have to have a unity symbol, there are so many amazing options to choose from that can beautifully represent your relationship.
Although it may be the most work, choosing a location that means a lot to the two of you is a hugely impactful way to personalize your wedding day. Of course you can always go the full destination wedding route if you guys got engaged on Santorini or Rocky Mountains but even if you want to stay near home you can add thoughtful locations. There are 3 points in the day that you can weave in a personal location.
Get sentimental with your ceremony location! This is the time to introduce close friends and family to the places you two love the most. Location where the couple got engaged are a fun one- on the beach in Kenosha, Wisconsin, under a gazebo by the edge of a river, and so many more. Choosing a place that holds a lot of meaning, even for a small ceremony before you party hard at the reception sets the day up for continuing those memories.
Same rules apply as above! Pick a place you love (but with a little more space). If you have the option of having the ceremony and reception in the same place, then by all means, stay put. But enjoy the opportunity to get creative and create a reception space that makes you happy in a place you both enjoy.
6. Photo location
Okay so real life can get in the way. Maybe your favorite places are too small or not available or a literal hike away. Whatever the case, I always recommend that couples pick a photo location that's meaningful to them in some way. These are the wall photos, the ones your kids will be looking at. Instill them with history and memories by choosing a location that rich in meaning to you. The grounds of your high school, the park you took long walks in, the coffee shop you fell in love at, your imagination is the limit.
A super fun way to personalize your wedding reception is picking food and drinks that you guys love! As a guest and vendor, I'm 100% there for couples that break outside the box with their menu. (Especially when it comes to creative desserts and coffee bars!)
8. Thank You notes and love stories
A couple times every year, I see a reception with thank you's to the guests and/or the couple's story printed out and placed at each table setting. This little addition doesn't take a lot of extra work but it makes a big statement!
9. Meaningful photos displayed
We've all seen this at receptions, but there are lots of subtle variations that I love:
-Using childhood photos on each table with the number matched to the age (e.g. table #6 with photos of the couple at age 6)
-Displaying parents' and grandparents' wedding photos at the reception
-Using a polaroid as a guest book and hanging the pictures taken on a display grid that gradually grows over the reception. There are so many fun ways to honor your family, guests, or just share fun photos with everyone!
10. Honoring those who've passed
There are lots of beautiful ways to pay homage to family and friends who can't attend. Reserved seating, tokens of their love tucked in pockets, their photos on your bouquet, using their cake servers, sharing a favorite dessert of theirs at the reception, and lighting lanterns or candles in their memory are thoughtful ways to include them in your wedding day.
Choose a theme that is unique to your relationship. If you got engaged while stargazing, a night themed wedding may be perfect for you. Did you fall in love over your shared enjoyment of vintage black and white movies? Queue up Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin for your dinner music and order a cascading teardrop bouquet. The possibilities are endless!
Finally, one of the easiest ways to personalize your wedding is weaving it in to your wearable details and accessories!
12. Heirloom pieces
There isn't a lot in the realm of wedding outfits that gets me as excited as when the couple chooses to include an heirloom. It's something about the bride or groom saying "sure it isn't the most trendy thing right now but I love this history anyway." I've seen grooms wear pocket watches, ties, and cufflinks passed down by family members and brides wearing full or partial dresses, veils, garters, and jewelry from the women in their lives.
Just as lovely are the couples who decide to create their own heirloom pieces. A bride last season bought a set of pearls that she's reserving for her anniversaries and the future weddings of her family. I'm in love with that kind of thoughtful planning.
13. Gifts from your fiancé
Watches, jewelry, ties, socks, fun shoes, perfumes, the list goes on. If your fiance gave it to you and it holds special meaning (and fits with your wedding outfit) then wear it! My favorite idea this season was a set of simple opal jewelry that the groom gave over the course of their relationship piece by piece to the bride. Beautiful, unique, and told the story of their relationship. I often see brides gift their grooms a watch the day of the wedding (maybe a hint to wear something that matches ;) and it's always a sweet surprise for him to open just before he walks down the aisle.
14. Just for you
There are so many different routes to take with this idea! The hidden ideas are often the ones we're most familiar with whether it's a pocket square embroidered with a special message from the bride, rings with engravings, or a piece of fabric (often blue) from a special person in your life sewn into the dress. But my favorites are the less obvious ones. For example my own mom chose to carry calla lilies as her bouquet since they're my dad's favorite. I've seen cufflinks of both the bride and groom's favorite fictional characters. Meaningful quotes to the couple inscribed on the front of their vow books. The list goes on.
At the end of the day, this special event is for you, your fiance, and the people you love. Why not celebrate it in the ways only you can?