101 Ways to Personalize Your Wedding

What makes a wedding special? It's all in the details, and we've got some exciting ideas to make your celebration memorable.

By: 
Rachel Griffiths

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Ceremony seating can tie in with your wedding theme, so consider hay bales for a country wedding or satinccushions for the floor of that urban loft, says Sasha Souza of San Francisco's Sasha Souza Events.

    Photo Credit: The Reason Photography on Southern Weddings via Lover.ly

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Dress doors and entrances with flower garlands and fabric swags. Souza once used a pair of 200-year-old doors as a backdrop for a beach wedding.

    Photo Credit: Andrea Polito Photography

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Your aisle runner is an opportunity to amaze. Show off your love story! Or dress it up in a way that reflects your venue; for a beach wedding, George sprinkled smooth-edged sea glass along the sand so that the whole aisle twinkled.

    Photo Credit: The Other Sister Photography

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    For romantic atmosphere, project slow-moving images — think flowing water or clouds — onto a sleek fabric chuppah, wedding arch, or aisle runner, suggests George.

    Photo Credit: Rhee Bevere

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Use a length of linen fabric in one of your wedding colors for an aisle runner. (Hint: It's easy on the budget!).

    Photo Credit: Colin Miller

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Reserve ceremony seating for your most important guests by placing name cards on their chairs. If you want to give these guests extra-special treatment, write a personal note on each card.

    Photo Credit: Aaron Delesie

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  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Hot summer ceremony? Have your wedding programs printed on paper fans.

    Photo Credit: Sherman Chu

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Beach brides: Bury vases in the sand so it looks as if your flowers are growing there, says Michael George of Michael George Flowers in New York City.

    Photo Credit: Life's Highlights

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Worried that the littlest flower girl won't make it down the aisle on her own? Have a junior bridesmaid pull her in a classic red wagon.

    Photo Credit: Honey Heart Photography

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Use a silver tray carpeted with moss for the ring-bearer's pillow. Or, reflect one of your favorite hobbies, like this baseball-inspired pillow.

    Photo Credit: Nashville Wedding Photographer Derek Lee

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Have someone who is near and dear to you do a reading — perhaps a special love poem — or sing an aria from a favorite opera.

    Photo Credit: You Can't Be Serious on Polka Dot Bride via Lover.ly

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    If you don't like the idea of getting birdseed or rice in your hair, give guests beach balls, sparklers, pinwheels, or mini-flags for the big send-off.

    Photo Credit: Meg Baisden Photography

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  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Will guests be tossing petals post-ceremony? Hang cones or little galvanized metal buckets filled with these pretty items on the backs of ceremony chairs — they'll double as pew décor.

    Photo Credit: Focus Photography Inc. on Every Last Detail via Lover.ly

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    "Don't be afraid to be creative with your ceremony music," says Souza, who's arranged "I dos" to everything from a single flamenco guitarist to a full jazz band.

    Photo Credit: Leigh Miller Photography on Snippet & Ink via Lover.ly

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Pre-ceremony, don't offer food or booze; keep it low-key with glasses of ginger lemonade, says Peter Callahan of Callahan Catering, with locations in New York City and Philadelphia.

    Photo Credit: Justin & Mary

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    Lollipops in candy colors, clusters of berries, autumn leaves — get bold with your boutonnières.

    Photo Credit: Sugar & Soul Photography

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    A tip for ensuring that all eyes really are on you: Go for all-white flowers, such as delicate lily of the valley, in your bouquet. 

    Photo Credit: Solar Photographers

  • Creative "I Dos"

    Creative "I Dos"

    If you prefer fairy-tale flowers, ask your florist to arrange individual petals into the shape of a sumptuous rose of any diameter. 

    Photo Credit: In Bloom New York

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  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Make the bar spectacular, says Souza. How about having one carved from solid ice, with bright poppies frozen inside for a dash of vibrant color?

    Photo Credit: Revelry Event Designers

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Want to decorate with ice but are working on a budget? Have your caterer embellish your drinks with ice cubes that have edible flower petals frozen inside.

    Photo courtesy of DGC

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Let the season guide your choice of drinks: Callahan suggests spiked pink lemonade for spring, mint or lime punch for summer, caramel-apple fizzes for fall, and martinis — extra olives, please — in the winter.

    Photo courtesy of Disaronno

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Matchstick-size slivers of sugarcane make delicious skewers for grilled scallops or fruit kabobs.

    Photo courtesy of Stix on Grace Bay at Grace Bay Club in Turks & Caicos

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Want to be really over-the-top? Conjure up some 1940s glamour with a fountain that gushes champagne, says Callahan.

    Photo Credit: Amore Wedding Photography on Style Unveiled via Lover.ly

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    For pretty swizzle sticks, consider edible flowers on long stems.

    Photo courtesy of DGC

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  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Signature drinks are sexier if they're shaken and stirred right on the spot. Have your bartender whisk up Sgroppinos (sorbet, champagne and limoncello) in elegant copper bowls set into blocks of ice.

    Photo courtesy of Peter Callahan

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Your signature drinks stand out when bartenders rim guests' glasses with salt or sugar in your wedding colors.

    Photo Credit: Snippet & Ink via Lover.ly

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    You can create your signature drink based on color. If you're having a wedding with a peachy palette, try bellinis; if you've gone for something blue, offer a cocktail spiked with curaçao.

    Photo courtesy of Contemporary Catering

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Serve small sips of colorful exotic drinks — think tropical fruit made into a slurry with a splash of liquor — in votive candle holders, Souza suggests.

    Photo courtesy of DGC

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Pinot noir, chardonnay or sangiovese, anyone? Host a cocktail-hour wine-tasting, conducted by the bartender.

    Photo Credit: Suzy Clement Photographs via Lover.ly

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Want to spread the good luck? Fortune cookies or spicy wontons with fortunes tucked inside the crispy wrappers should do the trick. 

    Photo Credit: Libertadleal/Etsy

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  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Serve hors d'oeuvres with a healthy helping of style. Try a pretty bamboo basket piled high with dumplings or shrimp skewers poking up from wheatgrass flats, Souza suggests, or seafood served on a bar carved from ice.

    Photo Credit: Sherman Chu / Wedding Planner: Sasha Souza Events

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    For an update on the classic raw bar, have the wait staff shuck oysters as guests watch. Callahan likes to display seafood in antique wooden crates or small rowboats.

    Photo Credit: Kellie Kano on Inspired By This via Lover.ly

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Don't send your hors d'oeuvres out naked! Try pretty garnishes of flowering herbs such as basil, mint and thyme.

    Photo Credit: SDK Photo

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    "Each cocktail station should have a unique size and shape," advises Souza, who, these days, favors interesting serpentine and triangular tables.

    Photo Credit: David Pascolla Photography on Wedding Chicks via Lover.ly

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Give guests a quick taste of family history — serve bite-sized versions of favorite recipes, Souza suggests.

    Photo Credit: SDK Photo

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A super popular, tiny treat guaranteed to tempt guests? Mini-hamburgers, complete with bite-size buns and tomato jam, a tasty condiment made with tomatoes, sugar and lemons.

    Photo Credit: Craig Paulson Photography via Lover.ly

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  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    For a whimsical look, line your buffet tables with wheatgrass and then put up mini white picket fencing.

    Photo Credit: Blade Floral and Event Designs via Lover.ly

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Caviar and crackers arranged on large flat trays, crab cakes piled on cake stands — give buffets visual interest by varying presentation height.

    Photo Credit: Milou + Olin Photography

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Glamorous versions of comfort-food classics — lobster corndogs or truffled popcorn — are hits, says Souza.

    Photo courtesy of Just Poppin'

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Chilled, flavorful summer soups look and taste refreshing when served from giant bowls carved out of ice. Another idea: Serve soup in shot glasses.

    Photo courtesy of lifegoesstrong.com

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Tantalize guests with tiny shots of tasty, chilled soup in edible "bowls" such as baked-potato skins or even small, hollowed-out tomatoes.

    Photo Credit: Steve Steinhardt on Inspired By This via Lover.ly

  • A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    A Spirited Cocktail Hour

    Your trays should be as appetizing as the treats they offer, Callahan says. Try clear acrylic trays with insets of decorative, large-grained sea salt or halved figs.

    Photo Credit: SDK Photo

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  • Fab Food

    Fab Food

    If you want to be sure that guests will be ready to get up and dance, serve no more than two courses at the table — and keep the food light and full of flavor, says Callahan.

    Photo Credit: Lovebird Photography on Bridal Musings via Lover.ly

  • Fab Food

    Fab Food

    Whet guests' appetites with little square dishes of Tuscan nibbles — caramelized shallots, roasted peppers, bread sticks, Italian cheese — placed on each table, advises Callahan.

    Photo Credit: Lacie Hansen on Grey Likes Weddings via Lover.ly

  • Fab Food

    Fab Food

    The fastest way to get your tables talking? Ask your caterer for a first course that guests can share, such as cheese fondue. 

    Photo Credit: Cameron Ingalls on Canvas and Canopy via Lover.ly

  • Fab Food

    Fab Food

    Have a first course that teases the palate with a number of distinct flavors. Callahan's personal favorite? Lobster with parmigiano-reggiano cheese, layered with potatoes and crisp leeks, all topped by brilliant-yellow bok choy flowers.

    Photo Credit: Fiory Photo on Snippet & Ink via Lover.ly

  • Fab Food

    Fab Food

    Skip the fuss of taking dinner orders by having waiters serve guests from huge platters holding a variety of main courses.

    Photo Credit: Dominique Bader on Snippet and Ink via Lover.ly

  • Fab Food

    Fab Food

    Go beyond regular or decaf coffees by offering delicious espresso drinks with splashes of sweet liqueurs.

    Photo Credit: Lars Wanberg

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  • Fab Food

    Fab Food

    Segue into your after-party by bringing out a new signature drink, like a Brazilian caipirinha made with mango juice.

    Photo courtesy of Tea Sommelier James Labe for Numi Organic Tea

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Tie escort cards to tree branches.

    Photo Credit: M. Bénédicte Verley / Created by: Tantawan Bloom

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    If you want a traditional escort-card table, update it by covering it with pebbles painted in your wedding colors, with a bed of moss, or with mini vases of flowers.

    Photo Credit: Tu Photography

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Write guests' names in gold or silver ink on bay leaves, then place each guest's leaf on his or her napkin.

    Photo Credit Carol Irvine

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    A truly personal touch for a small wedding? Write a compliment to each guest — "outrageously funny," "impeccable style" — on his or her place card.

    Photo Credit: Sugar & Soul Photography

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Planning a seaside reception? Consider creating a centerpiece of sea glass strewn with shells and starfish.

    Photo Credit: Seasons of Life Events via Lover.ly

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  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Use lighting to alter the feel of a space. Souza suggests having the colors and brightness change over the course of the night to set different moods.

    Photo Credit: David Schwartz Photography

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Always look for ways to be playful with your flowers; adorn statues with daisy-chain crowns or pretty garlands. 

    Photo Credit: Pickerill Creative

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Think lanterns for lighting: clusters of jelly jars nestled in trees; glowing globes massed over pools so the water twinkles with cheerful colors.

    Photo Credit: Santana Photography

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Vary your table arrangements, George says, by placing a single-vase centerpiece on some tables and then using the same flowers and colors in more elaborate, multivase arrangements on other tables.

    Photo Credit: Stevie Ramos Photography

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    A night under the stars? Keep guests comfortably cozy with ceramic chimineas (small outdoor firepots) or slow-burning fires in low, stone bowls.

    Photo Credit: Christian Oth Studio

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    To highlight your toasts, Souza suggests doing them as soon as you sit down. "You get more focused attention that way — and fewer intoxicated guests," she says.

    Photo Credit: Maria Angela Photography

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  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Use your wedding colors on everything, from the ink on your invites to the shades of your bridesmaid bouquets to colorful yarmulkes. Then surprise guests with unexpected color accents on the garnish for cocktails or even the hue of the first-course soup.

    Photo Credit: Lover.ly

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    If you're seating guests at gorgeous tile, wood, or copper-topped tables, skip the linens.

    Photo Credit: Elizabeth Messina

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Want guests to kick off their shoes at your beach wedding? George arranges stacks of fluffy towels and copper troughs filled with rose water for guests who want a quick rinse before slipping back into their Manolos and heading for cocktails.

    Photo Credit: Shoreshotz Photography

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Make your entrance grand — line the path to your ballroom with rows and rows of glowing candles.

    Photo Credit: Arte De Vie

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Place a card printed with the words to your first-dance song at every seat, so guests can enjoy serenading you while you make your way around the floor.

    Photo Credit: Muriel Silva Photography

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Having a garden wedding under the trees? Surprise your guests by hanging chandeliers lit by candles from sturdy branches.

    Photo Credit: Aaron Delesie

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  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    If your centerpieces contain calla lilies, reinforce the look by tucking mini callas into the folds of your guests' dinner napkins.

    Photo courtesy of Tantawan Bloom

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    For a picture-perfect memory, place your guest book on a table beside a rented photo booth. Guests can paste their snapshot in your book along with their good wishes for your future.

    Photo Credit: Soko Sandoval Photographer on Mishka Designs via Lover.ly

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Ask your videographer to set up a stationary camera and let guests record messages: It's a video guest book!

    Photo Credit: Fotowerks Custom Photography

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Must centerpieces always be flowers? Not necessarily, says Souza. She once designed a table with a six-inch fire pit in the middle, so that the center of the table was, literally, a blaze of glory! Get the look with candles in a glass bowl.

    Photo Credit: Inspired By This via Lover.ly

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Mix and match seating options, using couches, chairs and tables of different sizes. "The look is organized chaos," says Souza.

    Photo courtesy of Mindy Weiss

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Hire conga players for the cocktail hour, then kick up the energy with a full dance band later on. Just remember: For dinner music, turn down the decibels and try soft jazz, says Souza.

    Photo courtesy of Shannon Leahy Events

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  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    "The puppy has to have flowers!" laughs George. He designs fluffy floral collars for all canine attendees.

    Photo Credit: Joe Mikos Photographers

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    "People say you shouldn't mix tablecloth patterns. Not true!" says Souza, who likes at least three different looks, in complementary colors. 

    Photo Credit: Elizabeth Messina / Event Planner: Dolce Designs Studio

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Play princess for the day: Just for fun, fly jaunty flags in your wedding colors from the tops of tent poles.

    Photo Credit: Shannon Lee Images on Valley & Co. Weddings via Lover.ly

     

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Your vessels should be as original as the flower arrangements they hold, says George, who uses rectangular, square and cylindrical ones in all colors — including black. Souza agrees. "I like vases carved from ice," she says.

    Photo Credit: Karen Wise Photography / Created By: Tantawan Bloom

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Keep your high-rollers happy late into the night by setting up an after-hours lounge with billiards, blackjack and casino games.

    Photo courtesy of Glamorous Event Planners

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    Guest transportation can be unexpectedly fun. Think: an old yellow school bus or a London-style double-decker.

    Photo Credit: J. Wiley

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  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    George suggests decorating the "Just Married" sign on your car with flowers and using ribbons or strings spray-painted in your wedding colors to attach the soda cans.

    Photo Credit: Debra Gulbas Photography

  • A Ravishing Reception

    A Ravishing Reception

    If you're tying the knot by the water, consider a boat for your grand getaway.

    Photo Credit: K and K Photography

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    Feel free to indulge with an ice-cream bar stocked with your favorite flavors.

    Photo courtesy of Ecreamery

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    Passed frozen desserts are especially fun. Callahan's pick? Bite-size Chipwiches.

    Photo courtesy of Laura Hooper Calligraphy

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    Please your inner child — and guests — with whimsical mini-clouds of cotton candy. "They're the width of a lollipop!" says Callahan.

    Photo Credit: Heather Fitch Photography

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    A tiered cake with layers in different flavors will please your picky guests. Maher suggests having the least common flavor as the smallest layer.

    Photo courtesy of A White Cake

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  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    As the hour gets late and the dancing heats up, Callahan keeps guests cool with inch-long Popsicles spiked with liquor.

    Photo Credit: Mr. Haack

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    While the adults are having coffee and biscotti, treat the kids to delicious hot chocolate and doughnut holes.

    Photo courtesy of ForYourParty.com

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    Planning a wedding picnic? For one outdoorsy Chicago couple, Maher baked cakes-for-two that were placed in guests' lunch baskets. 

    Photo Credit: Craig Paulsen Photography via Lover.ly

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    Serve up decadent chocolate truffles alongside dessert drinks like chocolatinis.

    Photo courtesy of Fannie MAy

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    For a fun cake topper, Maher suggests a chocolate monogram or pulled sugar curlicues.

    Photo Credit: Cindy Patrick Photography

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    Small cakes or cupcakes placed on each table become striking centerpieces when frosted in your wedding colors or in other eye-catching hues.

    Photo Credit: John Arcara Photography

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  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    Having a small cake at each table is a popular idea, but always request a larger version for the ceremonial cutting.

    Photo Credit: Kimberly Chau Photography

  • Cakes & Desserts

    Cakes & Desserts

    Your favorite candy can be translated into a cake, says Brenda Maher of Chicago's Cakegirls. When asked for an Almond Joy cake, Maher delivered a confection of almond pastry filled with chocolate-coconut ganache — to everyone's delight.

    Photo Credit: AMS Photography

  • Favors

    Favors

    As a charming gift to guests, a simple, colorful candy favor presented in a heart-shaped box is just right.

    Photo courtesy of Edward Marc Chocolatier

  • Favors

    Favors

    Let them eat cupcakes: Send guests home with a sweet little treat placed in a clear Lucite box, says Souza. Or, give out layered cakes in mason jars.

    Photo courtessy of Cakes for Occasions

  • Favors

    Favors

    Favor guests with something special: homemade mini cookies tied up in clear bags, with a recipe card, printed on bright paper, tucked in, too.

    Photo courtesy of The Cravory

  • Favors

    Favors

    A perennial favor choice, the chocolate truffle, looks fabulous in individual boxes gift-wrapped in your wedding colors and finished off with a mini bow.

    Photo courtesy of B. Toffee

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  • Favors

    Favors

    Everyone loves a candy table. Go for old-fashioned lollipops, rock candy and licorice in bright colors.

    Photo Credit: Therosewedding.com

  • Stationery

    Stationery

    For a save-the-date card with a difference, send a playful photo-booth strip of yourself and your groom, holding up a hand-lettered, decorated cardboard sign that announces the big news.

    Photo Credit: Brittany Janelle Photography

  • Stationery

    Stationery

    To design a custom postage stamp with your photograph or wedding emblem, go to photo.stamps.com.

    Photo courtesy of USPS

  • Stationery

    Stationery

    Your wedding invitations will be sure to command everyone's attention if you send them in envelopes of shimmering paper or an eye-catching color.

    Photo Credit: Bliss & Bone

  • Stationery

    Stationery

    If he proposed beneath an oak tree, have your invitation embellished with an etching of an oak branch; if you became engaged in spring, have a daffodil design — if you use whatever has special meaning just for you, you can't go wrong.

    Photo Credit: Elli via Lover.ly