By Alexandra Dillard and Anne Morrissy | Photography by Kristina Lorraine Photography (left and right), Anna Urban Photography (middle)
Your wedding day is a complete reflection of you and your partner. You put everything you love into this day. From including your best friends as your wedding attendants to crafting a menu of favorite dishes to marrying your favorite person in the world, your wedding is all about what you love most. So why not tie in a few truly personalized things that tell your love story as well?
- Invitations, Stationery and Signage – From the moment the save-the-date card arrives, you are communicating your wedding’s distinct style to guests. Personalize your wedding stationery and signage further by incorporating hand-drawn illustrations of you and your partner, or maps with local recommendations and points of interest to your love story. Table signage provides an excellent opportunity to tell your personalized story as well, whether through photos, treasured mementos, specific shared memories or other meaningful decorations.
- Ceremony – The ceremony itself is the most integral part of a wedding. It sets the tone for your marriage and communicates the basis of your commitment to all involved. Sometimes in the whirlwind of planning, the ceremony can get overlooked. But it provides an excellent opportunity to personalize your wedding through the incorporation of elements that are meaningful to you and your partner. A sand ceremony, an organized wildlife release or the shared planting of a plant or tree all symbolize unity, and provide an opportunity to personalize the ceremony and make a meaningful statement together.
- Wedding Photos – Maybe you spent your first date on a golf course or met as coworkers at a zoo. Maybe you share a love of boating or are strong supporters of an animal shelter or literacy organization. Incorporating these interests into your wedding photos in some way will enshrine them, and ensure that your photos are uniquely your own.
- In Memoriam – Remembering those friends and family members who are no longer with us is an integral part of many couples’ wedding days. Incorporating their photos into a welcome table display or carrying a small charm or talisman that reminds you of the loved one (sometimes pinned to the bouquet) is a wonderful way to memorialize them and keep them close on your special day.
- Menu & Cake – One of the best ways to show love is to share food. Do you have a favorite food or type of cuisine? Is there a regional dish from a place that you have lived that is particularly meaningful to you? Incorporating these personalized foods into your menu will ensure a memorable night for your guests. Cake decoration and cake toppers can be a great opportunity to further personalize your wedding, or for a less formal wedding, try personalized, decorated cookies or cupcakes instead.
- Reception Entertainment – While music is a common element of many weddings, more and more couples are opting for personalized entertainment options in addition to a DJ or live band. One option is live wedding painting, where an artist creates a painting of the event in real time. There is also live poetry, where a professional poet creates personalized poems for guests. From opting for a magician to a living statue or a mariachi band, these personalized wedding elements create unforgettable moments for guests.
Whether you and your partner already have children together, have children from previous relationships or come from blended families with much younger siblings, it’s important to include the kids most special to you on your wedding day. While the full roster of wedding events might not be thrilling to a little one, there are many ways to make sure all of your guests feel welcomed and ready to celebrate, no matter their age.
- Cake Tasting – This might be a kid’s favorite part of the whole wedding process! Inviting them to your cake tasting will let them know they are involved in the wedding and that their opinions are valued in this marriage.
- Decorators – Don’t be afraid to let the special kids in your life help with the decorating. This could mean giving them the task of sprinkling flower petals/ confetti throughout the venue, or allowing them to get creative in outfitting the photo booth. Kids are great at thinking outside of the box, so tap into that creativity!
- Ceremony Roles – Depending on the child’s personality and level of extroversion, inviting them to participate in the ceremony can be a fun touch. While younger children often serve as a flower girl or ring bearer, older children can help walk mom down the aisle or read a poem or passage from Scripture at the ceremony.
- “First Look” photos – If your own children will attend the wedding, try a fun variation on the classic “First Look” photo, where each spouse reveals their wedding day look to their children first. This can also be a sweet opportunity to present your child with a small gift to honor their presence at such a momentous event.
- Entertainment – Let’s be honest, weddings can be dull and arduous for kids. Give the day some youthful fun by offering an area for games and activities. This can include wedding-themed coloring pages and word searches, an I-Spy Bingo board, kid-friendly snack packs or backyard games like jumbo Jenga.
Is your pet just as important to you as your significant other? For many couples, incorporating furry friends into their wedding day is a must. While pets might not make the invite list, they certainly deserve to be represented in the festivities.
- Welcome Table and Bar – Whiskers might not be in attendance, but his/her presence will be known! Include a photo or illustration of your beloved pet on the welcome table, or opt for a sign on your bar with a photo of the family pet. (Bonus, put “Sponsored By:” above their image.) This will get a chuckle out of guests while honoring your beloved four-legged friends.
- Pet “First Look” Photo – Maybe having your pet in attendance for the whole wedding isn’t the right fit. But one option is to coordinate with your pet sitter to bring them to your wedding during your scheduled photo time. Then, for a sweet photo opportunity, ask your photographer to take a “First Look” photo with your pet. (Bonus points for dressing Fido in a vest that says, “I loved her first.”) Having your pet in some of your wedding photos will be a priceless keepsake!
- Custom Cookies – What is cuter than a portrait of your pet on a delicious cookie? Include these sweet treats in your guests’ welcome bags, at the dessert table at the reception, or as a parting gift.
- Stationery Illustrations – Make your stationery stand out with pet illustrations. This can add an artistic touch to your wedding invitations, save-the-dates and other paper goods.
- Cake – Cake decorators can incorporate man’s best friend in several ways, from hiding a sweet frosting version of your pup in the decoration, to adding a canine cake topper to complement the traditional bride-and-groom topper set.
- “Doggie Bag” – As guests leave the wedding, invite them to take a “doggie bag” of cat or dog treats with them — a gift from your pet to theirs.
- Ceremony Role – With the right accessories, well-trained pets can make excellent stand-ins as ring bearers, or can help escort the bride down the aisle.