The most noticeable trend is the desire to personalize the wedding. Traditions are positive, IF they reflect the bride and groom. Tradition, for the sake of tradition, is not encouraged, as today’s weddings are much more individualized, to create a powerful, meaningful memory.
• Many brides are choosing hand-tied bouquets for their attendants. They are less expensive than traditional holder bouquets and are especially beautiful for spring or summer ceremonies. Having a small wedding budget, you might opt for hand-tied bouquets. Then, you can purchase crystal vases to decorate the reception area, and the attendants can place their spring bouquets in them during the reception. After the reception, they will take the vases home with them. This practice will prove to be quite economical, as the attendants' bouquets with the vases can also be their gifts.
• Instead of flowers, attendants can wear beautiful holiday pins.
• Instead of carrying a bouquet, have each guest hand the bride a flower as she walks down the aisle.
• Instead of the usual cake toppers, choose something that represents the two of you – team mascots, a music box, etc.
• Fresh flowers are gorgeous on a cake, instead of a cake topper.
• Place pictures of parents and/or grandparents cutting their cakes on the cake table.
• Choose unique cakes, or cakes that are the shapes of significant items in the couple’s lives. Creative Cake Designs in Kent did a great job with our cake.
• If the bride is not wearing white, and you are using a couple cake-topper, paint the colors of the clothes to match bride’s dress. (Also can be done with hair color.)
• Utilize Weddings Addressed to create invitation envelopes that express your own personal style. (Remember, once you’ve entered all your names and addresses ONE TIME, you can reuse the information for showers, party invitations, Christmas cards, graduation announcements, etc.)
• Make unique invitations using cartoons or items that represent the two of you.
• Food stations – have food at different locations in the room to spread out the flow, as well as to satisfy many different tastes.
• Hire an espresso cart for the reception, as an alternative to drinking for some guests.
• Have a family member offer a toast including deceased family members.
• Before the reception, tie one or two balloons at each table with a message inside. When someone wants the couple to kiss, they have to break a balloon and do whatever the enclosed message says. An example might be "tell a funny story about the bride or groom..."
• Instead of giving guests sugared almonds or potpourri bundles, give them a seedling of an evergreen tree that they can plant to remember your wedding.
• Use significant items to decorate the tables – if the groom is a coach, name the tables after teams; if the couple likes to travel, each table can be decorated to represent a country they have, or plan to, visit; if the couple gardens, decorate with birdhouses and flowers, etc.
• One lovely trend is for the videographer to set up a seating location in the foyer. Here, each guest is allocated a few minutes on the video to relate an anecdote about the bride and/or groom and personally wish them well in their new life together.
• Instead of having the wedding party introduced at the beginning of the reception to the strains of "elevator music," give all members, including the two of you, some "funky" sunglasses to wear and had some funky music playing. Each couple came out with their own "routine," bouncing, dancing, jammin', and laughing. The photos are priceless!
• Make a poster board, putting things on it like where you were born, where you graduated, what you are doing now, etc. You also might want to include how you met, your first date, how he proposed, among other things. This will be displayed at the reception.
• Instead of the garter/bouquet toss (or in addition), have the MC ask all married couples to come to the dance floor. They can begin dancing to Kenny Rogers’ “Through the Years”. Then, the MC should ask everyone who had been married for five years or less to leave the floor, then ten years or less, etc. Continue until there are only two couples left. Then the MC can ask their names, who they are related to, and how long they have been married. Whichever couple was married the longest gets the bridal bouquet (or a substitute), and the MC can ask them to lead all the guests in dancing to "Unforgettable" by Nat King Cole. Everyone loves this special, personal touch.
• As an alternative to the disposable camera idea, make a list of friends and relatives who enjoy taking pictures, and asked them to bring cameras. Then give each of them a roll of film with an hour of the day printed on it. Each person is responsible for documenting his/her assigned hour of the festivities. This idea avoids the problem of having a bunch of pictures of the same thing.
• At many weddings, the guests get "bored" during the picture-taking time, if you do them after the ceremony. To keep the guests occupied, put together a presentation of stories about you and your new husband with a slide show, and have somebody present it to the guests while you are having your pictures taken.
• Instead of having an ordinary guest book, that you hardly will look at again, create a photo guest book. The guest book attendants can take Polaroids of each guest... either individually or in a group, however they come, and put it on the pages of the guest book/scrapbook. The guests will then sign on the bottom of their picture.
• No rice - BALLOONS! Guests are given the balloons outside after the ceremony. As the newlyweds exit the church - much to their surprise & delight, balloons can be released. It can be quite a beautiful and emotional sight! (It does require a permit from the airport due to air traffic, however!)
• For table centerpieces at the reception, have glass bowls surrounded by light colored roses with roses floating in the bowl. And put goldfish in the water, under the roses. It's something unusual for our guests to see when they sit down. Or, put goldfish in a waterfall or pond at the reception. Keep zip lock bags available, and the kids at the reception can take the goldfish home.
• Place cards with 4 or 5 wedding traditions on each table. It will be interesting and entertaining for your quests to read and be reminded of the true symbolism of the evening’s events.
• Younger guests are often bored at wedding receptions, so have a special "children's table" set-up. There can be balloons tied to every chair and "busy packets" at every place setting. The busy packets contain coloring books and crayons, small puzzles, activity books and blank paper. The kids are together so they don't have to listen to boring grown-up conversation and they had things to keep them busy. Make a point of visiting the table several times during the reception. It will be a party for them and a great celebration for the bride and groom!
• Instead of tossing the bouquet, give a single flower to every single woman at the reception. The flower can be a duplicate of one of the flowers in the bride’s bouquet. The flower can have a poem pinned to it as well as wishes for love, success and health. There is no reason that only one girl should have all of the fun; this way every single women is given well wishes
• If you can find a videographer that is willing, have him/her add footage of the ceremony and guests coming in to the end of a video about the two of you growing up. If you can show it at the reception, people will be surprised, and excited to see themselves.
• Guests can burn sparklers during the first dance.
• While guests greet the bride and groom in the reception line, have someone there to take Poloroids as gifts for the guests. Or, simply take pictures of every guest/couple, and include them with your thank-you cards. Also, if the line will be long, have entertainment. Line photo collages along the path to look at, or hire a magician.
• Instead of tossing a bouquet, throw a bunch of single roses into the assembled group of single women. Each woman gets a rose, but the one with the pink rose is the lucky next bride.
• A simple decorating idea that is adorable is to put small flowers inside of folded paper bags, and tie with raffia. Very simple, but sweet.
• Use symbols of the life the two of you are creating (for example, one bride saved all the roses her fiancé gave her throughout their courtship. She used the dried petals, instead of rice, for the guests to throw at the reception.)
• Pictures representing deceased family members can be highlighted with candles during the ceremony. If the couple chooses to present flowers to the present family members, the same flowers can be placed at the photo of the deceased.
• Include both parents in walking the bride down the aisle.
• Choose unconventional music when walking down the aisle (The Forest Gump Suite is perfect) or have a song sang (like “You Are so Beautiful”).
• Include all the guests in the lighting of the Unity Candle, by giving each guest a small candle (put a small piece of paper around the candle to catch drippings), and having the bride and groom light family members’ candles, who then pass the candlelight on. It would be appropriate to talk about the importance of the entire community in the support and success of the marriage.
• Get married in a place you're sentimental about. Choose a park or private garden, an honored relative's parlor or patio, or a private enclave in a favorite hotel or resort. Forgo the processional and recessional if you can, asking guests to simply gather around the two of you and the officiator. Don't disappear to sign the register; plan to have the proper papers and pens arranged at a table with chairs close to where you'll make your vows.
• Try an elegant dinner dance.
Take over your favorite piano bar or supper club for a sophisticated evening, starting with cocktails and ending with a mirror ball spinning over the dance floor. Choose a dramatic gold-and-white or silver-and-white theme. Send out witty invitations flaunting a movie still of Fred and Ginger in action, stating "Black Tie Optional." If you really want a low-key ceremony, consider not spilling the beans about a wedding in the invitation. At the right moment in the evening, have the pianist or bandleader request that the dance floor be cleared for a special dance just for the two hosts, then surprise your guests by dancing up to the podium to meet your officiator.
• Have an afternoon tea in the garden.
This idea is remarkably versatile. A popular option for couples wanting a quiet, non-alcoholic celebration, the garden tea can also blossom into a full-blown extravaganza, inspired by the British tradition of the wedding breakfast (which, confusingly, is usually held at two p.m. and consists of a full, sit-down dinner with champagne flowing and tea making an appearance at some point in the late afternoon). Whichever tone you decide to take, the opportunities for romance are great and varied, from the theme (Victorian or the Gatsby era, perhaps), to the menu (everything from delicate finger sandwiches and petits fours to poached salmon and rare roast beef), to the decorations (chintz tablecloths and garlands of roses, or an all-white fantasy with lengths of tulle wrapped around a white lattice arch for the ceremony, and tree branches shimmering with fairy lights).
• Create a small but glorious affair.
Treat your closest friends and relatives to an exclusive party where the focus is on intimate surroundings (a private room in a hotel or restaurant, perhaps) and gourmet food. Pull out all the stops with vintage wines and a five-course meal (more affordable when you're hosting just a handful). If you choose ethnic cuisine, seek your inspiration in the culture and customs of that land.
• Check out a candle-making book from the public library and get all the craft supplies at a craft store. Making your own candle allows you to pick the color, the smell and any extra's (rose petals in the candle, words, etc...)
• Buy a three wick candle and have the parents of the groom light one wick while the parents of the bride are lighting another wick; then have the bride and groom light the remaining wick to unit the families represented .
• Reverse positions with the minister, so that the bride and groom face the crowd.
• If the flower girl or ring-bearer is especially young, have the older child pull the other up in a wagon. Or both kids can come up on tricycles.
• One bride and groom were avid golfers, so their wedding was on their favorite golf course. The groom teed-off with his groomsmen first, then the bride, maid of honor, and bridesmaids will tee-off. After nine holes they got married on the ninth hole, and then played nine more holes together as a married couple. After they finished the last nine holes, the reception was in the clubhouse. Guests were invited to play golf starting an hour before the couple teed-off. They had a photographer and a videographer riding in golf carts taking pictures of the whole event. Other guests also rode in carts.
• Have each bridesmaid and groomsman read a line from a special poem during the ceremony.
• Create unique wedding programs that represent the two of you. We had a program like from a play (since I teach drama), and each Act was a part of the ceremony/reception. We introduced the “cast” in the program, also.
• There are many alternatives to white. Any color is acceptable!
• Save some extra fabric from your veil: tulle, lace, or whatever you're using. One bride used hers for a Christmas tree angel and a petticoat in her son's christening robe. The lasting reminders of the wedding day have brightened other special occasions.
• Are you concerned about the different sizes of all the bridesmaids? Buy all the same material, and let them pick the style of dress they want. This way they all are similar having the same color and material, but they can wear a style of dress that looks the best on them. Added bonus: they are more likely to wear it after because they picked out their own personal style.
• Give the bridesmaids a color, and allow them to pick any dress that is the right color. You can always make stipulations about length, formality, etc.
Inclusion of Bride & Groom’s Children
• Possibly include children in the lighting of the Unity candle.
• Have new spouse offer a gift to each child during the ceremony.
• Have the child involved in the giving-away of the bride (a bride I know was escorted by her son and her father).
• In a second marriage where there are children that will be blended into a new family, decorate the tables at the reception with photo trees holding photos of the future husband and wife and your children doing things together. It shows that this marriage is not the union of just two people, but the formation of a new family.
• If the children are girls, include them in the ceremony by exchanging charm bracelets with each of them. The girls can walk down the aisle together, and stand up front with the rest of the wedding party. The bracelets will each have a charm of the wedding date, big sis/little sis, their birth dates, and birthstones. On each holiday, add to the bracelets, as well as on anniversaries. This way the girls will feel that they are accepted.
• Have the children’s names as the people who give away the bride and/or groom on the invitation.
• Choose wedding colors that are the same as the groom’s family crest.
• Choose colors that are in some way significant to the couple – a favorite sports team’s colors, for example.
To Remember the Event Later
• cocktail hour. Every time you sleep with it you will remember your beautiful wedding.
• Request that people bring along a small Christmas ornament (1 per family) from their personal collections. The purpose of this is to remember all of your friends who came to your wedding. Hang up all the little ornaments they gave you on your tree at Christmas.
• Have a special calendar made with 12 pictures taken during barbeques, parties with friends. During the cocktail hour they will have an opportunity to fill in their individual birthdays on the proper dates of the calendar.
• Make your guest book an engravable tray. Order an engraving tool, and guests can engrave their name on the tray. This way you will have a tray to display in your home, rather than a book that most people won't see again.
• For the guest book, purchase a blank artist's book ($10) at an art store and decorate the outside of it with a collage of color-copied pictures of the bride and groom and things you've done together. Write your names special on the cover. Set out markers and other kinds of fun pens so guests can not only write their name and address, but give advice, draw a picture and not be limited to one line.
• A trend that has endured for awhile now is to mat an enlarged copy of an engagement photo, and allow the guests to sign the mat instead of a guest book.
• Have guests include their addresses with their names in the guest book. Then, you can update your list for your thank-you cards and Christmas cards.
• As party favors, wrap three or four bulbs in tulle with a special note attached via ribbon.
• At a Christmas wedding, decorate Christmas ornaments to give your guests.
• Have guests send a recipe when they RSVP. Then make a cookbook as a favor to give out at the ceremony.
• How about mouse pads?