Like every bride, you want your wedding to be unique. Here, creative ideas from planners and couples to inspire you.
Dress chairs with monogrammed fabric chair covers; drape simple floral garlands over the backs of the bridal party’s chairs.
Upgrade plain linens by silk-screening the fabric with your wedding logo or motif; use these on your cocktail tables, says Walker.
Glam up the ladies’ room with pretty items from your home. Think antique silver trays to hold paper hand towels and crystal bowls to hold scented mini soaps.
If you plan on having a sweetheart table (seating just for the two of you), think how to make it special. For example, this is the perfect opportunity to showcase those unusual antique chairs or ornate candelabrum passed down from your great-grandparents, says Walker.
Go for that over-the-top ice bar and have your initials carved into it in a diamond shape, suggests Puebla. For extra punch, light the bar in your wedding colors or in a complementary hue.
Tip 32: Customizing your dance floor with a lush, romantic design sets the tone for the party.
Try Kingsdorf’s update on the sign-in book: Ask guests to write a note in a beautiful coffee-table book on a topic that reflects you and your groom. (Be sure the book has sizeable white margins.)
Have a hand-painted dance floor created to coordinate with your reception’s style and color scheme, suggests Walker. It’s sure to get guests in a party mood.
To branch out from ordinary floral centerpieces, Amanda Allen of Tallahassee, Florida, opted for a unique look: tall glass cylinders filled with long curly branches draped with unusual red amaranthus and crystals.
Another way Allen kept her celebration one-of-a-kind: She designed her own invitations at mygatsby.com.
To honor a grandmother whose name was Lily, recent bride Corinne Brennan of Irvine, California, used calla lilies in the bouquets and table arrangements.
Put your stamp on water, wine or beer bottles with personalized labels from myownlabels.com.
Customize your menu in a way that makes a naturally sophisticated statement. “Take advantage of what’s in season, such as pomegranate in November,” suggests Paul McCabe, executive chef at L’Auberge Del Mar, a popular wedding venue in Del Mar, California.
Incorporate your fave foods—even if they don’t seem wedding-worthy. For French-fry fanatics, Kingsdorf served the treat in paper cones printed with the couple’s names and wedding date. Guests spiced up their spuds with toppings like Old Bay Seasoning and parmesan cheese.
Shake up a salad station with this clever idea from chef McCabe. Have a uniformed chef, wearing an apron printed with your names and wedding date as well as the salad selections (for example, “Classic Caesar,” “Waldorf Salad”), toss the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and serve mini portions in martini glasses.
Tint your drinks with colored liquor or fruit juice to coordinate with your color scheme. For example, a rose champagne cocktail would go beautifully with a garden-party brunch reception.
Personalize your wine selections by choosing vintages that represent the year you were born or a region of the world that has significance for the two of you.
Take a cue from your dating life. “We served raspberry lemondrop martinis at our reception because that’s the drink I ordered on our first date,” says Brennan.
Give guests a blast from the past with retro-inspired stations serving up sliders (mini burgers) and mac and cheese.
Substitute square or rectangular plates for round ones. Or have the wait staff serve food under a cloche (a lid that’s lifted off at the table) for a dramatic presentation, says McCabe.
Dream up unique serving vessels. McCabe has been known to serve soup and even panna cotta in slender glass tubes!
Tip 47: Children will have a blast at the wedding when they have fun things to keep them busy.
Change the lighting to accompany each course of your meal, suggests Puebla. “You might bathe the room in red while serving a tomato bisque starter, change to green for the salad course and blue for a seafood entrée.”
Don’t forget your youngest guests. Create an activity book—print coloring pages on your computer, for example—and place at each child’s seat. Personalize the cover with the child’s name and your names (“Tim and Ashlee’s Wedding”) and wedding date, says Kingsdorf.
Having a beach wedding? Personalized beach towels are the perfect gift for guests. You could adorn them with your wedding logo or motif (say, a tropical flower or a shell) or have each towel embroidered with guests’ initials.
Add some “wow” entertainment. “I planned a wedding for a couple whose first date had been at Cirque du Soleil,” says Puebla. “We arranged for a few members of the company to do a short but stunning performance at the reception.”
For a Cuban groom, Puebla had a pro roll cigars at the reception. The stogies’ bands were monogrammed with the couple’s initials.
Next: Even more unique ideas!
Research family traditions. For one Irish/Scottish wedding, Kingsdorf says, the bride’s niece and a friend learned the moves for an Irish step dance. (And everyone joined in!)
For her wedding, Puebla created a unique look by combining elements from her African-American heritage and her husband’s Japanese background; her décor consisted of vibrant African-style fabrics and Japanese fans, and she served sushi and soul food for dinner.
Give a short speech before dinner in which you thank your parents as well as your guests. Mom and Dad will treasure these words forever.
Ask wait staff to coordinate their uniforms with your wedding colors. For example, to go with customary black pants and white shirts, they might wear ties in one or more of your wedding hues.
Instead of numbering your tables, name them. If France is a special place for the two of you, call one table “Paris,” another “Cannes,” another “Provence” and so on.
Custom wall adhesives, available at wonderfulgraffitiwedding.com, are made of thin, matte vinyl that looks “printed” when applied to smooth, clean surfaces. You can get virtually anything made—a romantic quote to enhance
the blank wall behind your cake table, for example.
These handy adhesives can also be used to put your personal stamp on the SUV or limo carrying your bridal party, suggests Kingsdorf.
Surprise your parents and your new in-laws by having the band play the first songs from their weddings, suggests Sharpe.
Ask your bandleader or DJ to play the hora, tarantella or another dance that reflects your family’s culture.
Corinne Brennan and her groom met while working in California, so a play list of California-themed tunes was a must for their reception, she says. “All of the songs were from a CD that Jon made for me when we first started dating.”
Tip 72: A rustic wedding calls for down-home fabric like burlap used here for guest favors.
Groom’s cakes are back in a big way. Select one that represents your guy’s hobby, favorite sports team or hometown. (How about a cowboy boot for your country boy?)
Does one of your relatives have a cookie recipe that’s known far and wide? Ask if she’d like to serve these at your reception. (She’ll probably be delighted!) Arrange the delectable sweets on a table with personalized containers that guests can fill, says Walker.
Dress up dessert plates with a pretty flourish of fruit puree or a symbol of your wedding, like a simple flower shape for an outdoor spring fete. (Your initials are okay, too, says Puebla, but not your whole names—that looks too birthday-ish!)
For a couple who used to meet for dates at an ice cream parlor, Walker had waitresses pass vanilla milk shakes in small old-fashioned glasses at dessert time.
Take the make-your-own-sundae concept a step further by having your chef whip up custom ice cream concoctions on the spot. At Chef McCabe’s dessert stations, guests can select ice cream flavors in liquid form, such as organic pistachio, hazelnut chocolate and passion fruit, and watch as he puts them into liquid nitrogen to make them freeze instantly. The result—a dessert that is crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.
Tired of hearing the same old songs? Pen your own lyrics or hire a professional songwriter to compose a special melody that incorporates details about you and your groom, suggests Walker.
Walker always makes up a number of pretty umbrellas in a couple’s wedding colors so that in case of rain, valet attendants are prepared to shelter guests as they arrive at the reception venue.
Another of Walker’s thoughtful touches: Purchase inexpensive wraps to give to chilly guests while they’re waiting for their cars at the end of the evening.
At a destination wedding, give every female guest a single flower, say, a vibrantly colored hibiscus, to wear in her hair.
Have labels printed with your names to customize your water bottles; place them on a table near the exit of your reception, so guests can help themselves as they’re leaving.
Place blank CDs in envelopes preaddressed to you on a table near the exit. Enclose a note with this request: “When you download your pictures, please burn us a copy—and send!” (“This is not a replacement for a professional photographer,” emphasizes Kingsdorf.)
Add flair to your favors. Have them reflect your wedding style. For her Italy-born groom, recent bride Di Meglio opted for Italian-style wedding favors that included crystal votives and Jordan almonds.
Give departing guests cookies decorated with your monogram or a special design, like a flower or a boat or a seashell, depending on your venue, says Puebla.
Arrange for an old-fashioned popcorn truck, ice cream truck or candy cart to park outside your reception at the end of the evening, so guests can munch while they wait for the valet to bring their car.
Tailor your getaway vehicle to your destination. Sharpe has had couples take off from waterfront receptions in a sea plane and a horse and carriage in the city.