Some wedding elements and traditions will never go out of fashion, like the cake cutting and the champagne toast. But if you're like most brides and grooms today, you probably want to go beyond those standard details and put a more personal stamp on your big day. For instance, you may decide to ride to the reception in a sexy red convertible or serve a "signature" drink—perhaps the one the two of you sipped the night you became engaged—during your cocktail hour. What will you do to make your party stand out from all those cookie-cutter events you've been to? Read on for ideas.
1. Invitations set the tone of a wedding, so this is your first opportunity to show guests they're in for a stylish affair. Send unique wedding invitations that are personally meaningful to you (use paper in your favorite color, for example) or tied into the theme of your event (like a shell design if you're having a beach party). You may opt for ribbon-tied scroll wedding invites or monogrammed cards, or even have your invitations folded in an intricate style that mimics origami. Consult with your stationer—the possibilities are endless.
2. Recapture that "butterflies" feeling you had on your first date by throwing your rehearsal dinner at the very same restaurant. Ask guests to share funny or sweet stories about the two of you.
3. Plan your rehearsal dinner around an activity you love as a couple. Enjoy boating? Consider having a catered dinner on a yacht, suggests Alison Hotchkiss of Alison Hotchkiss Events, in San Francisco . If you're sports-loving types, try an afternoon touch-football or soccer game, followed by a moonlight picnic.
4. At your rehearsal dinner, serve a favorite family dish, like Mom's chicken pot pie, Grandma's cheesy cornbread or Aunt Suzy's vanilla-caramel cheesecake. Give your caterer the recipe, and make sure you explain the dish's significance on the menu or in a speech.
5. Hosting a lot of folks from out of town? Print up a list of your favorite spots for breakfast, dinner, drinks and so on, suggests event planner Susan Allen of Elizabeth K. Allen Inc., in Boston . "It makes things so much easier for guests, and it's nice for them to visit places the bride and groom like," she says.