50 Fun Ways to Personalize Your Wedding

Express yourself! Make a statement with these creative ideas and tips. 

By: 
Rachel Griffiths

  • Don

    Don't Be Afraid to Be Bold

    Los Angeles designer Wayne Gurnick had a bride wild for Alice in Wonderland. He threw her a Queen of Hearts-worthy bash, complete with flower lollipops lining the walkway, cocktails served with “drink me” tags, and a cutout of the white rabbit holding a clock that showed the ceremony time.

    Photo Credit: Evan Guston Photography

  • The Standard Ballroom Not Your Style?

    The Standard Ballroom Not Your Style?

    New York City-based Tammy Carmona, the tabletop and event designer behind the “Twilight” wedding, recommends finding a location that’s meaningful to you. “One of my brides wanted to get married in the same castle where her mother married. The place was no longer in use, but we got permission to do the wedding there. It brought back a lot of happy memories for her mom.”

     

    Photo Credit: Longs Photography

  • Show Your Personal Style

    Show Your Personal Style

    Forget the go-to tulle and gold chiavari chairs — put your personal style stamp on your wedding, says Jill La Fleur, a Los Angeles wedding planner. Jill threw a hacienda-style wedding for a Santa Barabara couple that loves Spanish mission style. The stemware was Mexican blue glass, Spanish tiles served as escort cards, the centerpieces were set in rustic tin containers, and on the dance floor? Maracas, of course.

    Photo Credit: Josevilla.com

  • Showcase Your Favorite Hobby

    Showcase Your Favorite Hobby

    Jill planned a nautical-themed wedding for a couple that loved to sail. “For the cocktail hours, we had roving ‘cigarette girls’ offering vintage candy, as though guests were on the first-class deck. We flew flags, as if from the mast of the boat. And there were lifesaver rings where the guests could pose for photos."

     

    Photo Credit: Josevilla.com

  • Find Inspiration in Unexpected Places

    Find Inspiration in Unexpected Places

    Look for inspiration in the . . . office? For a bride and groom who were teachers, Tammy placed shiny red apples in the centerpieces and mini number-two pencils on the escort card table. For a racecar-driving groom, Wayne created a purple-and-white checkered flag motif and used it as a border on the table numbers and escort cards.

     

    Photo Credit: Evan Guston Photography

  • Say It With Favors

    Say It With Favors

    Wayne had a couple from San Francisco and Los Angeles who gave guests a sweetly wrapped duo of their favorite San Francisco tea and L.A.-roasted coffee beans. 

     

    Photo Credit: Larsens Photography

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  • Spotlight Your Family Background

    Spotlight Your Family Background

    Shine the spotlight on your family background. For a Moroccan couple, Tammy placed each dinner table under its own gauzy tent and decorated with low tables and vibrant pillows.

     

    Photo Credit: Brawns Photography

  • Shout Out to Your College Years

    Shout Out to Your College Years

    After the ceremony, a USC groom Jill worked with surprised his bride by having the entire USC marching band escort the newlyweds and their guests to the cocktail hour.

     

    Photo Credit: Holli B. Photography

  • Have a Wacky Sense of Humor?

    Have a Wacky Sense of Humor?

    One of Tammy’s couples hired their parents’ favorite comedian to do a set during dinner. “He was cracking everyone up!” says Tammy.

     

    Photo Credit: Allyson Wiley Photography

  • Say It With Pictures

    Say It With Pictures

    Plan a slideshow with snaps of you and your groom, or think even bigger and create a slideshow that features a shot of everyone in your wedding party, or each of your guests.

     

    Photo Credit: Corlis Gray Photography

  • Can Food Reflect Your Personality?

    Can Food Reflect Your Personality?

    Yes, says Sabdy Pacheco at Miami’s A Joy Wallace Catering Production. She had a groom show his love of the ballpark by serving mini hot dogs and kettle corn at the cocktail hour.

     

    Photo Credit: Annie McElwan

  • Bite Into Your Heritage

    Bite Into Your Heritage

    Jill had an Italian couple who served a pasta course — one heaping bowl of pasta for each table.

     

    Photo Credit: Bowersock Photography

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  • Another Variation?

    Another Variation?

    At a wedding with a groom from Mexico, guests received end-of-the-night Mexican hot chocolate and bags of churros.

     

    Photo Credit: Solar Photographers

  • Bring Back Memories of Your First Date

    Bring Back Memories of Your First Date

    Many of Sabdy’s couples ask the chef at their favorite eatery to consult on their wedding menu.

     

    Photo Credit: Memoire Studio

  • Put Granny In The Kitchen

    Put Granny In The Kitchen

    A Joy Wallace Catering Production will not only recreate your family recipes — they’ll also invite your relatives into the catering kitchen to make sure everything tastes exactly the way the family likes it.

     

    Photo Credit: David Schwartz Photography

  • Pass On Cocktail Hour

    Pass On Cocktail Hour

    Is a sit-down dinner a wedding must? Sabdy says to plan the meal your way. A Cuban couple couldn’t wait to get the dancing started, so they skipped the cocktail hour altogether. Instead of passed hors d’oeuvres, guests were seated at the dinner table right away. There were nibbles on big lazy Susans for between dances, and when it was time for dinner, waiters cleared the lazy Susans and set the first course.

     

    Photo Credit: Larsens Photography

  • Invite Guests on a Late-Night Snack Run

    Invite Guests on a Late-Night Snack Run

    An L.A. bride of Wayne’s had an In-N-Out Burger truck roll up to her reception at 10 o’clock, so everyone could get a bite of her favorite guilty pleasure.

     

    Photo Credit: Erin Johnson Photography

  • Serve Up Your Personality

    Serve Up Your Personality

    It’s not just the food that shows who you are—it’s also how you serve it. Sabdy once set up “Missy’s Bake Shop,” a lavish dessert “doggie bag” station in honor of the couple’s dog.

     

    Photo Credit: Holli B. Photography

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  • Don

    Don't Limit Your Music Choices

    The cocktail music doesn’t have to be violins or jazz. For a bride who loved reggae, Tammy brought in an island-style band.

     

    Photo Credit: Leigh Skaggs Photography

  • Pick a First Dance Song That Moves You

    Pick a First Dance Song That Moves You

    Let Hollywood inspire you, suggests Frank Macioce of Windy City DJs in Phoenix, Arizona. The best romantic movies almost always have a gorgeous song you can dance to, such as “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” from “Twilight” or “There You’ll Be,” from “Pearl Harbor.”

     

    Photo Credit: Minerva Photography

  • Get the Right Dance Music

    Get the Right Dance Music

    There’s a secret to getting the right dance music for your friends and family. Just ask them. E-mail your crew for their top dance songs about six weeks before your wedding, then pass along the list to your DJ. That way everyone hears a favorite during the night, and you know your DJ is spinning the right tracks for your bffs.

     

    Photo Credit: Becky Brown Photography

  • Choose a Truly Personal First Dance Song

    Choose a Truly Personal First Dance Song

    Have one written for you! Jill plays matchmaker between her couples and local songwriters, and the result is custom first dance songs that tell your personal love story. 

     

    Photo Credit: Artistic Impressions

  • Choose Songs That Remind You of Loved Ones

    Choose Songs That Remind You of Loved Ones

    Does “Build Me Up Buttercup” make you think of that road trip with your sister? Give your special peeps a shout out by asking your band or DJ to dedicate a trademark track to them. 

     

    Photo Credit: Matt Andrews Photography

  • A Memorable Father Daughter Dance

    A Memorable Father Daughter Dance

    The best love songs are about heartbreak—which can make it difficult to find something to dance to with your dad. Frank suggests casting back to childhood. Ask your father what song reminds him of you as a kid, whether it’s a silly campfire tune or an instrumental version of a lullaby. When your dad twirls you with tears in his eyes, it will all be worth it.

     

    Photo Credit: Hailey Erickson

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  • Celebrate Your Hometown

    Celebrate Your Hometown

    Southwestern brides tap their toes to salsa or country, Frank says, and down south it’s all about Dixieland. Put you and your fiancé’s hometown stamp on your dance floor.

     

    Photo Credit: Joy Marie Photographers

  • Pick Flowers That Reflect Your Personality

    Pick Flowers That Reflect Your Personality

    There’s a flower for every personality says Kim Sutherland of Mountain High Flowers in Sedona, Arizona. For instance, she sees sunflowers as fun and playful — large flowers for a bride with a lot of personality. Girlie girls love the fluff of the peony, and free spirits swoon over wildflowers.

     

    Photo Credit: Antonia Christianson Events

  • Look For Flowers That Remind You of Home

    Look For Flowers That Remind You of Home

    Arizona brides have been getting excited about desert-dwelling succulents, says Kim.

     

    Photo Credit: Bowersock Photographers

  • Honor Your Loved Ones

    Honor Your Loved Ones

    Jill La Fleur tucked lilac into her own bouquet because it reminded her of the lilac that lined her grandmother’s drive.

     

    Photo Credit: Scott's Flowers

  • Remember the Ones You

    Remember the Ones You've Lost

    Kim's brides are big on momentos — recreating their mother's bridal bouquet or wrapping their bouquet in a sleeve of lace from their grandmother's wedding gown.

    Photo Credit: The Bird The Bear Photography

  • Tie In Family Jewelry

    Tie In Family Jewelry

    One bride tied her father’s wedding ring to the handle of her bouquet. “She said it made her feel as if he were there for the whole ceremony, holding her hand,” says Kim.

     

    Photo Credit: K & K Photography

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  • Carry a Non-Traditional Bouquet

    Carry a Non-Traditional Bouquet

    Are you not a flower girl? Wayne had a jewelry-loving bride who created a dazzling bouquet out of a clutch of multi-colored brooches.

     

    Photo Credit: Evan Guston Photography

  • Buy Him a Unique Boutonniere

    Buy Him a Unique Boutonniere

    Kim had a fun-loving groom whose boutonniere was a mini pinwheel.

     

    Photo Credit: K & K Photography

  • Let the Vases Show Your Style

    Let the Vases Show Your Style

    For a woodsy bride, Kim used vases covered in birch bark.

    Photo Credit: Fern Living

  • Choose Flowers Based on Your Venue

    Choose Flowers Based on Your Venue

    For a bride getting married at a heritage museum, she collected over 100 vintage bottles, each with a different clutch of flowers. 

     

    Photo Credit: Scarlett & Stephen

  • Give Bridesmaids Mismatched Bouquets

    Give Bridesmaids Mismatched Bouquets

    Who says every bridesmaid should have the same bouquet? Ask your florist to design customized blooms for each girl to highlight her unique style.

     

    Photo Credit: Amy and Stuart Photography

  • Let the Cake Be All About You

    Let the Cake Be All About You

    That's what Charleston’s Jim Smeal, who has baked for Southern trendsetters such as Reese Witherspoon, says. He’s made traditional white towers for his Carolina belles, but he’s also created unexpected confections — like the Japanese pagoda cake he baked up for a bride and groom who had a love of Asia.

     

    Photo Credit: Matt Andrews Photography

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  • Show Off Your Fashion Sense With a Cake

    Show Off Your Fashion Sense With a Cake

    It’s a common request for Jim to recreate the lace from a bride’s gown on her wedding cake, but lately his girls are taking it further. They’re asking for big buttercream flowers and ruffles to mimic the soft, romantic textures on the latest couture dresses.

     

    Photo Credit: Palermo Bakery

  • Get Wild With a Groom

    Get Wild With a Groom's Cake

    Jim’s made everything, from a lion clutching a football for a sports-loving groom, to a pickup truck with hound dogs for a groom that liked to hunt.

     

    Photo Credit: Frosted Art

  • Use a Family Recipe

    Use a Family Recipe

    Is your mom a baker? Ask your baker to recreate her signature dessert. Jim is still using a treasured, old Southern family recipe that a bride gave him for a lemon coconut cake.

     

    Photo Credit: Ian Grant Photography

  • Find Inspiration In Your Backyard

    Find Inspiration In Your Backyard

    “I worked with a local Charleston couple who live out on one of the rivers and held their wedding under an old oak tree. They wanted me to recreate their oak tree, complete with Spanish moss,” Jim says.

    Photo Credit: K & K Photography

  • Take a Stand

    Take a Stand

    From your motherin- law’s heirloom pedestal, to a round of birch, to a modern acrylic square, Jim reminds you that the cake stand is another chance to highlight your sense of style.

     

    Photo Credit: Becca Rillo Photography

  • Get Personal on Your Invitations

    Get Personal on Your Invitations

    Feature a custom monogram, crest, or even a logo made just for you. Ceci Johnson, the couture designer behind Ceci New York, loves to create logos for her couples based on what they love, their favorite city, or even their pets: “We can make a pattern from the logos, and then use it on the envelope liner.”

     

    Photo Credit: Ceci New York

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  • Reuse Your Invitation Design

    Reuse Your Invitation Design

    Make your wedding pattern into fabric for table runners or pillows at the wedding. Your monogram or wedding pattern can even be made into a lighting scrim and projected onto the wall.

     

    Photo Credit: Momental Designs

  • Have a Piece of Art Made Just for Your Wedding

    Have a Piece of Art Made Just for Your Wedding

    For a bride who lived on the California coast, Ceci painted a watercolor of her favorite bucolic view over the water and used it on the invitation liner. 

    Photo Credit: Ritz-Carlton

  • Think Outside the Traditional Black and Cream

    Think Outside the Traditional Black and Cream

    One couple sent their guests a comic book save-the-date that told the story of how they got engaged on the Coney Island ferris wheel.

     

    Photo Credit: Sphynge Photography

  • Say It With Symbols

    Say It With Symbols

    Ceci loves to include personal touches in her designs, like a love knot for a nautical groom, or even a mini cameo of the bride.

     

    Photo Credit: Parks Photography

  • His and Hers

    His and Hers

    Don’t just have one signature drink — have one for the bride and one for the groom. She gets her sweet drink, and he gets his bitter.

     

    Photo Credit: Erica Ferrone

  • Dress Your Drinks

    Dress Your Drinks

    A swirl straw in your wedding colors or a stirrer with a monogram puts your stamp on every glass.

    Photo Credit: Choco Studio

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  • Come Up With a Cute Name

    Come Up With a Cute Name

    For a couple that met on a commuter train, Jonathan designed a drink called The Midtown Direct.

     

    Photo Credit: Snappy Shots by Bev

  • BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle

    BYOB: Bring Your Own Bottle

    If you have a small batch or custom vodka, whiskey, or scotch you love, ask your caterer to feature it at the bar.

     

    Photo Credit: Allyson Wiley Photography