There is nothing wrong with wanting to have a traditional white wedding, but sometimes it is nice to send your guests home with a little something extra that makes yours stick out in their minds for years to come. Today’s weddings are all about options that reflect your personalities and style.
Location If you opt to not host your ceremony in a house of worship or in the same location as your reception, choose to exchange vows at sunrise on the beach or at sunset from the rooftop of the tallest building in your metropolitan area.
Refreshments Use the season or your location as an opportunity to greet guests with a refreshing drink. Lemonade and sweet tea will quench your guests’ thirst while gathering in the blazing sun, or serve hot apple cider to warm your guests during chiller months.
Grand Entrance Make your entrance especially grand by being escorted by your pet dog or by arriving on a white horse.
Vows and Readings Not a new concept, but speaking from the heart by writing your own vows or incorporating personalized poems into your ceremony will surely grab the attention of your guests.
Location You shouldn’t feel bound by the need to have your celebration in your hometown or the town in which you currently reside. Don’t be afraid to consider something unexpected. Bring your event to your favorite vacation spot or another location that has special meaning to you and your hubby. Everyone can appreciate some time away.
Venue Type Think outside the banquet hall and bring your celebration to a naturally beautiful venue like a garden or museum. Your guests will enjoy strolling around picturesque grounds or appreciating timeless works of art.
Seating Arrangements Add some visual interest to your setting by interspersing different shaped tables throughout the room, or seating your guests at long tables for a family-style affair.
Bars who doesn’t like something with the word “bar” attached to it? Your guests will delight in all things bar, from a mashed potato bar or dessert bar to an espresso or martini bar.
Ethnic Cuisine If you have a strong heritage, have visited a favorite world destination together, or even just have an affinity for a particular variety of cuisine, revolve your menu around that ethnic specialty.
Family-style Offer delectable comfort foods with a twist, served up family-style – a great icebreaker for your guests.
Seasonal Take inspiration from the season and serve a menu that offers a theme of seasonal favorites. Lemon grilled salmon or maple-glazed chicken are always hits.
Courses Break out of the conventional chicken-or-fish mold and base your entire meal around cocktails and appetizers or coffee and desserts.
Fondues Fondues are making a comeback, and whether you prefer sweet chocolates or savory cheeses, your guests will relish in the rich offering.
Flowers & Decor Ideas
Color Scheme Try pairing a few uncommon colors together or featuring varying shades of the same color throughout your space.
The Food Pyramid Fill cylindrical glass vases with fruits and vegetables reflecting your colors. Oranges, lemons, and limes have been done so try a unique, more contemporary look with mangos or coconuts or tie it to the season with texture-rich earthy vegetables like husked corn, acorn squash, or artichokes.
Au Natural Consult Mother Nature for inspiration, and bring the outdoors in. Natural objects like stones, leaves, pinecones, even twigs can add an organic aesthetic to your reception décor. Place in rustic containers or scatter amongst pillar candles for added ambiance.
Lighten Up Floating candles in a shallow bowl add lighting and elegance to your tabletops. Or arrange multi-level candles on a mosaic of mirrors or tiles and surround them with seashells or flower petals. Placing coffee beans or red hot candies at the bottom of a vase or bowl to hold the candles steady also adds an aromatic effect.
Consult your Inner Child For the kid at heart, fill decorative bowls with your favorite candies – such as jellybeans and M&M’s in your wedding colors. These centerpieces are sure to be a hit with your guests!
Ceremony Music If “Here Comes the Bride” doesn’t suit your style or personality, choose a song that does. There is no written rule that states you can’t make your grand entrance to a rendition of your favorite Beastie Boys’ song.
Non-traditional Instruments If you desire live music over a DJ, consider tying your musician selection to the theme or location of your event. A beachside bash naturally lends itself to the sound of steel drums, while a trumpet quartet will sound impressive in an elaborate cathedral.
Themed Music Take it one step further and zone in on the music that is indigenous to your wedding location. Guests attending a Mardi Gras-themed event in New Orleans will bask in a cocktail hour of Dixieland jazz.
DJ and a Band Can’t decide which you would rather have? Have both to ensure that all types of music are represented throughout your day to please both your 85-year-old grandmother and your 21-year-old cousin.
Photojournalism More and more brides are leaning toward hiring a photographer who specialized in a photojournalistic style. These photographers shy away from posed shots and aim to capture all of the candid moments that you’ll always want to remember or may have never seen.
Creative Shots Hire your photographer to follow you throughout your entire day (leading up to the “Do Not Disturb” sign, of course). While it may make you feel anxious to have someone photograph you as you get ready, these shots will help you to remember the joy and anticipation of every part of your big day.
Minimal Adornments Some brides believe in the “less is more” adage. A simple cake minimally ornamented can make a bold statement.
Square Tiers Looking for a subtle way to break away from the ordinary? Square tiers make a modern presentation. Whoever said “it’s hip to be square” must have been in the cake business.
Cake-free If cake isn’t your favorite dessert, then don’t feel the need to serve it to your guests. Apple crisp, peach cobbler, or even cupcakes are always crowd-pleasers.
Sugar-free The end-of-meal offering doesn’t have to be made of flour and frosting. Think savory instead and visit your local cheese shop to have them construct wheels of cheese in tiers for your guests to cleanse their palates at the conclusion of the night.
Wardrobe Change Today’s brides are opting to wear not one dress, but two! Wear an elegant gown while you exchange vows and slip into something a little more comfortable to round out the evening.
Anything but White A white wedding dress symbolizes innocence and purity, but if that’s not your style, feel free to bring out your colorful personality by adding a splash of color to your attire. You can be as subtle as a colored sash or jewels or as bold as a fuchsia-colored dress.
Something Borrowed Anything retro screams chic these days. So why not consider donning your mother’s vintage gown as a tribute to a family legacy. A few alterations can make it your own.
Ethnicity If your heritage is important for you to represent on your big day, do some research and find a stationer who offers multi-cultural invitations and announcements.
Creative Touch For more intimate, casual gatherings, request the honor of your guests’ presence in an innovative and entertaining way. Here’s an idea - have your invite printed on a balloon so guests have to blow them up to receive the message.
Programs Do something a little different with your programs by including personal photos or by printing them on something that serves a dual purpose like a fan.
Storybook Get the most bang for your program buck by including stories of how the two of you met, who introduced you, and your relationship to everyone in the bridal party. Think of all the time you’ll save by not having to explain all of this to your husband’s childhood neighbor during the reception!
Grand Entrance If the size of your bridal party doesn’t warrant a stretch limousine, consider arriving on horseback, on the back of your husband’s motorcycle, or in the passenger’s seat of your dad’s antique car.
Double Duty Décor Elements Use photo frames as place cards or potted plants as centerpieces, and let your guests take them home at the end of the night.
Something Useful Give your guests something they can enjoy for years to come. A small bag of seeds to plant will remind them of your big day every time they smell the flowers.
Something Edible As if a five-course meal wasn’t enough, send your guests home at the end of the night with an extra treat of your favorite candies or special hometown delicacies.
Donations With a high emphasis on karma these days, give something back and make a donation to your favorite cause in lieu of knickknacks. Your guests will appreciate the altruistic gesture.
Attendants After seemingly endless Friday nights planning showers and licking envelopes, your bridesmaids are going to need a little pampering of their own. A spa gift certificate is the perfect way to thank them for their hard work.
Gift Baskets Make out-of-town guests feel welcome by greeting them with a basket of goodies in their hotel room. Include some essentials that will make their stay more comfortable and incorporate some items that are reflective of your wedding location. Nothing like some bottled water and Vermont maple syrup to get them through the weekend!
The Gift of Travel If time away is more important to you than a waffle iron, consider setting up a honeymoon registry. Many travel agents offer services to collect, record, and apply contributions from your guests toward your honeymoon expenditures. Some even allow guests to contribute to specific activities at your destination location, such as scuba diving lessons or boat rides.
The Gift of Life If your house is already stocked with all of the essentials, give something back instead. Many eco-friendly organizations such as the World Wildlife Federation offer donation registries.