Photo Courtesy of EgoMedia Photography
Tradition. It’s a word you hear a lot when planning a wedding. As someone who has planned weddings for more than a decade, take my advice: tradition is important, but don’t be afraid to add some personality to your wedding day.
Here are 10 ways you can make your special day stand out:
1. Choose a Unique Ceremony or Reception Location
There’s nothing wrong with embracing a venue that’s atypical, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience your guests or make the wedding day a logistical nightmare. There are lots of historic churches, museums, and old warehouse spaces that are unique, but still centrally located and temperature controlled.
So think outside the box when it comes to a venue. Just remember that when I say "unique" I’m not advising you to pick a location that’s a complete pain for your guests to get to and from. It’s great to be different, but don’t make people stand in the heat, or the cold, or trek through a muddy field just because you want to be married in the middle of the farm you once took a romantic stroll through.
2. Serve Something Different
Do you and your soon-to-be spouse have a favorite cuisine? If serving chicken or filet isn’t reflective of who you are as a couple, there’s nothing wrong with exploring other options for dinner. My caveat here is to once again make sure to keep your guests in mind when making this choice. Different doesn't mean not enough food, something too spicy or just too weird. Whatever you do, make sure you’re giving your guests an option.
3. Decorate In a Manner That’s Reflective of You
You don’t have the create the typical wedding look for your reception or ceremony! Think about creating a dance club, a jazz club, a speakeasy, or a ballroom dancing grand evening. If you want a classic look, there’s nothing wrong with that either, but don’t feel wedded to it. You don't need to just throw up drape and lights and go with a white color scheme unless that’s what you really want.
4. Do Something Unexpected
Embrace some outside-the-box thinking. Maybe it’s a funny first dance. Or how about a dance contest during dinner if you have kids at the reception? Have the budget and want to do something over the top? Hire a plane to fly a banner after the ceremony or as you arrive at your reception venue. Uncle Willie can even belt out your first dance song. My point is don’t be afraid to be fun.
Toasts are also a great chance to do something unique, but make sure you time it appropriately so that you’re not holding people up from dinner or the bar. Nothing is worse than toasts that go on forever during dinner!
5. End the Night With A Bang
I love fireworks, a glow stick sendoff to end the night, a NOLA second line to the afterparty! The best one I ever did was a Mardi Gras float that showed up at the end of the evening, loaded on the bride and groom who proceeded to shower their guests with beads. Amazing! I've also had two firefighters drive off into the night on a classic fire truck.
6. Be Authentic
Here’s something to keep in mind: Just doing something for the sake of being different doesn’t hold much meaning if it’s not authentic to you. A 10-layer wedding cake with tons of flowers doesn't fit the no-frills bride and groom. But having their homemade cornhole set in the cocktail area just might! Our 5-star diva doesn't work in a chic barn—she fits in an over-the-top ballroom with a custom monogram. Our Indian-American bride gave out gold leaf charms. That wouldn't mean much to anyone else, but it held significance for her and her family.
7. Be A Gracious Host
Sometimes I feel like this one is going out of style! It’s great to be cool, authentic, and fun, but make sure you also think of your guests. Many of them are spending lots of money to fly in, stay at a hotel, and of course, buy you a nice wedding gift. Avoid cramming them into a space that's too small (either don't book it or lower your guest count). Don’t make them wait an obscene amount of time between the ceremony and reception. Sometimes having a length of time between is unavoidable, but don’t make that worse by having guests drive an hour and a half from one site to the next.
8. Thank People
Brides and Grooms: thank your guests for coming. Acknowledge your new partner's family that flew in from afar. Make it a point to acknowledge everyone at your wedding whether it’s at a cocktail hour meet and greet or a formal toast by the Bride and Groom. While you are the center of the day, you should remain thankful to others that think enough of you to come and celebrate with you. My favorite couples have always been the most gracious and thankful to everyone (including all the wedding professionals) and still to this day they bring a smile to my face. Be that kind of person. It never goes out of style, and it will make your wedding stand out!
9. Remember: The Ceremony Is Important
Whether or not it’s a religious ceremony, never forget this is a union of two people forever! The definition of a ceremony is “the ritual observances and procedures performed at grand and formal occasions.” The definition in itself shows it’s a moment that deserves reverence. This is what you’re really celebrating. So make it special and meaningful with thoughtful words in programs, or vows, and the people who are participating in it with you. As a Catholic, I enjoy the traditions of presenting flowers to Mary, selecting readings from the Old and New Testament, and creating your own prayer of the faithful. All are opportunities to express your personalities, your faith, and your view of the world. Don’t miss out on those opportunities.
10. Be In Love
Seriously. The best weddings are the ones where the bride and groom are in love and you can see it in everything they do. You can see true happiness in the way a couple looks at one another, they way he holds her train with care to help her maneuver while taking photos, when she fixes his tie and offers a kind smile—that’s what will make your event a standout.
Raquel Shutt is the Owner of Wedding Savvy Inc and the Producer of the Wedding Savvy Summit, a educational conference for Brides, Grooms and their Families seeking to educate them on how to plan a great wedding day.