75 Ways To Make Your Wedding Unique
1. Choose barware that fits your theme: Serving hard lemonade in Mason jars at an outdoor country wedding adds charm to the cocktail hour. Jars, Candle Soylutions; candlesoylutions.com. Straws, Party City; partycity.com. Coastres, Wallies;wallies.com
2. Collect photos of family and friends (easier with small weddings), and place them in frames with each guest’s table assignment.
3. Give a custom flourish to all your printed material with your own logo—an image that’s meaningful to you and your spouse, like a hobby or place. See loveletterslogos.com for ideas.
4. Surprise guests with a handwritten note in each place card (“Tom, thanks for flying in from Colorado!”). Got a giant guest list? Try a lipstick-smooch mark and a “Glad you’re here today!”
5. Depending on your style, tie the napkins with satin ribbons, metallic cording, braided leather laces, even pieces of twine.
6. At informal receptions, top cocktail tables with white butcher paper; supply markers and glitter pens. Tell guests to have a go at it!
7. Give each reception table a name (for example, “Richmond Avenue”) that relates to your courtship. Have a tent card on the table with a short explanation: “We had our first apartment here—a 6th-floor, 300-square-foot walk-up!”
8. Got a travel theme? Go the extra mile and use leather luggage tags (baekgaardltd.com) to hold the escort or place cards.
9. Traditional guest books often end up stashed in a closet; instead, choose a coffee-table book (rizzoliusa.com) covering a subject you love and that you’ll want to display at home; guests can write on the photos or in the margins.
10. Another guest-book idea: Leave a glass bowl with cards and pens beside it, with a note asking guests to contribute a favorite memory of you or your husband.
11. A wedding program is a cinch to customize—all you need is a rubber stamp of your monogram (here, PSA Essentials; expressionery.com) to embellish a note card (Paper Presentation; paperpresentation.com). Tuck a separate sheet with program details inside and tie on embroidery thread (Michaels; michaels.com) to jazz it up.
12. Walk down the aisle to a song (with a slow tempo) that was meaningful when you were dating.
13. Make sure the dance floor is packed by asking invitees to jot down three favorite songs on the RSVP card; give your DJ the playlist.
14. Share the spotlight with your parents—and his—and take a spin around the floor to their “first-dance” numbers. (Set it up with everyone ahead of time.)
15. Invite your musically gifted friends to bring their instruments to the reception and hit the stage when your band takes five.
16. And if there’s a talented singer in your crowd, ask him or her to perform a song at the reception. (Limit your request to one song; it’s a wedding, not a concert!)
17. Into Coldplay
more than Vivaldi? At your ceremony, have musicians play contemporary songs as instrumentals. “It’s a refreshing change from the expected classical pieces,” says Niki Delacueva, of R. Jack Balthazar Events (rjackbalthazar.com), in Pasadena, California.
18. Got a cultural dance that’s a favorite at family weddings? From the tarantella (Italian) to the money dance (Cuba), ethnic jigs give a party a distinctive flavor.
19. As the flower girl and ring bearer walk up the aisle, play a special song such as “The Lonely Goatherd” from The Sound of Music.
20. Attach a ribbon embellished with your birthstone to your bouquet (buy faux gems at anybeads.com).
21. Display your family’s heritage graphically—an Indian print, a clan tartan, an African kente cloth—on vases, ring pillows, stationery, even cummerbunds. Bucket, the Macbeth Collection;themacbethcollection.com.
22. Have the most meaningful phrase from your wedding vows embroidered or needlepointed on the ring pillow. Display in your home—it’s the ultimate keepsake.
23. Have your florist design your bouquet in the same style as your mother’s (show him photos).
24. Tie his boutonniere into your theme—a seashell brings nautical decor full circle, while a crisp maple leaf celebrates autumn.
25. Minimalist bouquets can project a bride’s modern style. Todd Fiscus, owner of Todd Events (toddevents.com) in Dallas, suggests a single white peony stem tied with a black ribbon, or a slim birch branch wired with a fragrant gardenia.
26. Personalize the bridesmaids’ bouquets by selecting flowers that pair with each girl’s birth month (seebirth-flower.com). Stick to a single color—pink peonies, pink tulips, pink roses—to unify the look.
27. Create one large floral centerpiece out of 10 mini vases. Invite guests to take one on their way out.
28. If you don’t want to put single gals on the spot, skip the bouquet toss; instead, early in the evening, give your flowers to the couple married the longest. Ask them to share a few words of wisdom with the crowd.
29. Toast the woman who has had the greatest impact on your life, then hand her your bouquet as a tribute.
30. If you two have a favorite libation—you’re scotch lovers or tequila aficionados—set up a tasting bar with different varieties.
31. A cake topper can make a personal statement: a yellow taxi (here, from Daron; amazon.com) proclaiming your New York address; a Jack Russell terrier confirms there’s a special pooch in your life. Cake, Mark Joseph Cakes; markjosephcakes.com. Gift tag, foryourparty.com. Floral stem wire, Save-On-Crafts,save-on-crafts.com. Calligraphy, Nan DeLuca.
32. Order custom labels for wine and
water. Check out myownlabels.com and personalwine.com.
33. Whether you’re crazy about old-fashioned egg creams, Cherry Garcia ice cream, or Philly cheese steak, ask your caterer about incorporating your faves into the menu, suggests New York wedding planner Marcy Blum (marcyblum.com).
34. If your wedding will take place far from where you grew up, offer tasting stations with cuisine from that locale—New Englanders might offer clam chowder and lobster rolls; Texas must-haves are chili and tacos.
35. Tell your caterer what you consider a perfect food day (breakfast through dinner, plus snacks); let him combine your choices and your guy’s into the ideal wedding meal.
36. Give the backstory to any family recipes you’re serving. Keep the explanations short and significant, and include them on the printed menu. For example, “Aunt Martine’s French Onion Soup/This is Pete’s aunt’s Sunday special.”
37. Serve a wedding cake that celebrates your heritage, like papaya filling (the Philippines) or cannoli cream (Italy). No problem if the groom is from a different country—think multiple tiers!
38. Up the fun factor with a “guilty pleasures” food station—mac and cheese, fried chicken, potato skins.
39. Offer cookies baked from family recipes; provide recipe cards for guests to take home.
40. If you’re not a big fan of sweets, serve a majestic “cheesecake” built entirely out of wheels of your favorite after-dinner fromages: a goat cheese like Humboldt Fog, a blue such as Roquefort, and a sheep’s milk like manchego.
41. The weather forecast for your wedding day is blistering? Rent a Sno-Cone machine and chill out!
42. Instead of a groom’s cake, have an FIY (frost-it-yourself) cupcake bar, with unusual flavors—mango, gingerbread, coconut. Don’t forget the sprinkles!
43. Coordinate the sweets bar with your wedding colors—pink and green lollipops, taffy, M&M’s. Buy in bulk at candywarehouse.com, candyfavorites.com, or economycandy.com.
44. Top a reception entrance table with an object that reinforces the theme, like a giant clamshell at a beachy dinner (conchking.com) or a pretty birdcage for a garden party (smithandhawken.com).
45. Hang a series of framed photos of both of you as children at the reception. Guests can schmooze and peruse during the cocktail hour.
46. Tie your place cards to your theme, such as nautical flags for a beach wedding. Place cards, My Own Labels, myweddinglabels.com. Calligraphy, Nan DeLuca.
47. Create an interactive centerpiece, says New York artist Michael Beneville. Try one made entirely of snow globes (snowglobes.com).
48. Todd Fiscus suggests this novel seating arrangement: four eight-foot rectangular tables arranged into “plus” signs. A big potted tree in the “hole” in the center serves as the focal point. Each two-table grouping can seat up to 32 people.
49. Want to create an unusual color scheme? Take cues from the works of a color-happy artist such as Rothko or Van Gogh.
50. Your engagement can play a starring role in the decor: One bride included a blueberry branch in each centerpiece because her husband proposed to her on Blueberry Point. (A note card at each table explained this.)
51. Light the way with a custom gobo—a metal plate stamped with a decorative design, then attached to a spotlight that projects the image on a dance floor or wall. Check out customgobo.com or gobosource.com.
52. Put your best flea-market finds on display, like an antique pitcher filled with flowers for the escort-card table or china cows mixed in with centerpiece flowers.
53. For your vows, consider words he wrote in a Valentine card, or something from a love note you sent him (but nothing too personal).
54. A decorative brooch turns a simple bridal gown into a look that’s all yours. Clockwise from left, Crystal Starburst, Swarovski; swarovski.com. CZ deco and CZ and pearl pins, both, emitations.com.
55. Place a blank card and pen at each place setting, and ask guests to write a favorite memory of you and/or the groom. Later, bind the notes into a scrapbook.
56. Instead of attendants, have your parents and siblings (plus any spouses) stand with you on the altar.
57. Did you two graduate from the same college? Ask the school’s president to officiate at the ceremony.
58. Have your best man emcee a trivia quiz about the two of you—ask each table to work as a team to come up with the answers.
59. Marcy Blum suggests having your new initials and wedding date embroidered inside your dress (initial-impressions.net) and, unless he’s wearing a rental, in his jacket lining, too.
60. If white’s not your thing, opt for an evening gown in your favorite color. To stand out as the bride, wear a tiara.
61. Customize simple satin pumps with shoe jewelry such as rhinestone ribbons (custom-crystals.com oradvantagebridal.com).
62. Match the color of your jewelry to his tie and cuff links. Something blue?
63. Set up a mini photo studio at the reception (with a plain background) for guests to ham it up in front of the camera. Send photos with your thank-you cards.
64. Hire an extra photographer to snap photos of your guests as they arrive at the reception; have a compact printer onsite (usa.canon.com) to make copies.
65. Honor your families by placing their framed wedding-day photos on an entryway table.
66. Customize your toasts by asking your oldest friends (his, too) to say something about each of you.
67. Raise your glass to guests celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, or the recent birth of a child.
68. Rewrap miniature chocolate bars (candywarehouse.com) with origami paper (katespaperie.com) and rub-on initials (paperpresentation.com) of your monogram.
69. For a whimsical party favor, Marcy Blum creates a crossword puzzle with questions and answers that are all about the bride and groom. (For custom puzzles, try styleyourparty.com).
70. Is there a charity that’s dear to you? In lieu of favors, make a donation in your guests’ names; leave an explanatory card on each dinner table. (One to try: changingthepresent.org).
71. Stock welcome baskets with a quiz that leads out-of-town guests on a scavenger hunt to your favorite haunts (the best little bakery, a scenic park).
72. If yours is a destination wedding, fill welcome baskets with locally made crafts, food, and drinks.
73. Wrap favors in ribbon printed with your name and wedding date (midoriribbon.com or myjeanm.com).
74. Set up a “farm stand” of fresh fruit and small baskets that guests can fill on their way out the door.
75. Stack the dessert table with cookies frosted with your monogram or shaped like the numerals of your wedding date (“6,” “20,” “09”). Shortbread cookies, Casue; casuesweets.com. Plate, Crate and Barrel;crateandbarrel.com.