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Hello! I've been shooting weddings for over 15 years, and was an event planner before that. When it was time to plan our own a few years back, I wanted it to be different. Unique. Personal.

Many of the ideas below are those we incorporated into our wedding. I have shared these with many of my couples and they, too, have included these personal touches to make their day as individualized as they are.  If you have any questions, I'm here to answer them.

Warmest, Amy

Happy Planning!


ENGAGEMENT SESSION

You'll have plenty of pictures from your wedding day, but what about something more fun and casual where you can relax a bit.  It also gives you a chance to get to know your photographer better and see how they work.  Your wedding day photos will be a breeze because it will feel familiar.

Plus, you can give your engagement photos to loved ones as a gift, or use them in your guest book (see more about that below).

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WEDDING BANDS - A BLESSING OR A WISH

This works best for smaller gatherings, or can be limited to your wedding party and front row of family.

Tie your wedding bands together with a ribbon or string.  Use a bow so that they can be easily untied later, but make sure it's tight enough that they don't get separated.

Have your officiant write it into your ceremony that the rings will be passed (to the wedding party and immediate family) to give a blessing or a wish as these people are most closely tied to the couple and their success.  One of my couples passed it to the bridesmaids, across the front row to the bride's family, then across the aisle to the groom's family, then back to the officiant through each of the groomsmen.  Our wedding only had 80 people so we passed it around to everyone.  By the time we got to the part in the ceremony when our officiant needed the rings, they had made their way around our entire group and were back in the front row waiting for him to collect.


SEATING CARDS

Do something unique and fun!  Yes, the folded card with someone's name and table number are easy.  This is what we did for our wedding since the theme was vintage travel.  

I found travel stickers and an old atlas and I cut out places that were specific to each family, couple or individual.  This was for my brother's family. They live in Australia and were traveling on to New York after our Chicago wedding.

We also tied them in rows to a line of twine so they could be easily found and also were part of the decor.  We had open seating for the reception, but our ceremony space was quite tight and needed a little more structure.  All the tags were labeled with RESERVED or OPEN SEATING.  Our ushers had a seating chart for the reserved people.

So many of our guests hung on to their personalized items and every time we visit their homes, we still see them on display.

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SIGNATURE COCKTAILS

Do you have a favorite fun cocktail? Why not offer it to your guests.  This is something the caterer/bartender can make up a batch in advance and have on hand to pour for each guest.  It helps the bar line move more quickly too.

We had a jug of sangria made up in a vintage container with a spout for easy pouring.

Be sure to create a fun framed sign that describes the options and ingredients, especially if you have more than one.

 


FLOWERS FOR OUR VIPs

We wanted to honor the special people in our families with a token of our love.  My niece and my husband's youngest daughter were our flower girls.  They each had a bundle of single stem flowers with a name tag identifying to whom it should go.  There were 6 on each side, given to an individual or the head of the respective family.  I arranged this in advance with our florist and brought the tags to him the day before.  We also had wrist corsages for the mothers and boutonnieres for our ushers and my father.  

You don't have to do flowers, perhaps just give a small trinket to each person/family just so they know they're being singled out as important to you as a couple.

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GUEST BOOK IDEAS

Personalize your guest book.  You no longer need to capture a list of names the way the traditional bridal shop guest books would have you do. Here are a few ideas:

ENGAGEMENT/PHOTO GUEST BOOK: Gather up pictures from your life together up to this point.  DIY it and make a photo book on websites like Shutterfly.com. Or, have your photographer order a book with your engagement photos.  Include plenty of white space on each page and your guests can sign it like a year book.

POSTCARDS: To continue with our theme of Vintage Travel, we had our guests sign the back of a postcard.  There is plenty of space for creativity here, and boy, did they take advantage of that.  We bought a few tins of postcards from the Cavallini Vintage line of products. We hung a couple rows of twine like a stacked clothes line and put out little clothes pins for people to hang their cards with.

ANNIVERSARY CARDS: This works best if you're having a seated dinner.  Buy enough anniversary cards for each table to have one.  Write on the outside of each envelope the anniversary you plan to open it. For example, Our 1st Anniversary, and include one per year for the first 5 years. Then, you can jump in 5 year increments, 10th, 15th, 20th and so on until you have one for each table. Include instructions to the guests at the table to write you a message in the card and that you plan to open it on the anniversary listed.  Keep them somewhere safe so you can open the appropriate card on each respective anniversary.


PHOTO RECEIVING LINE

Everyone at your wedding is important, and they all want to congratulate you.  This takes a bit of time, but it's a perfect thing to do during your cocktail hour.  You still get a beverage and a chance to visit with your guests and as a bonus, you'll have a picture with each group (individual/couple/family). We sent a copy of the appropriate picture in our thank you cards. 

Be sure to schedule in this time into your day, and make sure your photographer and venue know so they can plan time and a location accordingly. I also helps to have your officiant announce it before releasing the guests so no one wanders too far away and misses out.

This works best with a smaller guest count or if you're not doing assigned seating at the dinner.

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TABLE SHOTS

This option is great for a larger guest count, and when you have assigned seating where entire families are gathered together.

Coordinate a fun, fast, upbeat song in advance with your DJ and be sure they, along with your photographer know the details of how this works. This is best done right before the blessing an meal service.

Start with any table as an example, line everyone up on one side (do this before the DJ announces how it's done). The DJ then explains to your guests that each table needs to be in this position when you and the photographer get to their table.  The couple joins the first table for their group photo.  (Ask the photographer to take at least two shots at each table to make sure one turns out with everyone paying attention and eyes open.) Then RUN! to the next table, and the next and make your way around the room as quickly as you can, ensuring no tables get left out. This can easily be done in the course of a 3-4 minute song. 

The joy in the whole room is elevated because everyone is playing along in a group activity. When they sit down for the first course, your guests are smiling and laughing. And, you have a picture of all your guests.

Some recent songs that have been used are the theme to the Benny Hill Show and Freeze Frame from J.Geils.


READINGS

Have some fun with this.  We pulled choruses from popular love songs and had my brother read them like poetry in the William Shatner style of spoken word.  I could hear people chuckle as they realized what song was being read.

Come up with something fun. Write something of your own. Engage your guests with something worth listening to.

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WINE CEREMONY

In lieu of a Unity Candle or pouring different colors of sand into a vase, I invented a wine ceremony. I went to a winery in California several years ago and the vintner told a beautiful love story about how they make their blends - in the creation process, some mixtures are bitter and some are beautiful.  It got me thinking...

Ingredients: 3 small glasses of wine (white, blush, red), and a larger glass that was empty.

I wrote the story our officiant told about how each glass of wine represented our respective families (my parents are both remarried so I needed two varieties on my side, and my husband's brother represented his side since his mother passed away a few months before our wedding).  

The participants:

white wine, husband's brother
blush wine, my mother
red wine, my step-mother

(You could easily use two varieties and have the same effect.)

After each person took a sip of their glass, they poured it into the larger glass, blending the wines together into a new variety that represents this new family. Holding up the glass of wine, our officiant said, "Just as the contents of this glass can never be separated back into its original varieties, this represents these families, now blended forever."

He handed us the glass and we each took a sip.

​Photography by Amy Schereck Beyer and Jill Douglass