1. Switch up your music. Who says you can’t use non traditional recessional music? Maybe incorporate a live music performance during the program. Select songs that mean something to you — music that you play when you are dancing in your kitchen making a romantic dinner together, a song from the concert you went to on your first date, a song you wrote for him, a mash-up of all the songs that you two can’t resist singing loudly together in your car. Don’t question if your music is wedding appropriate, if it gets you excited, makes you smile, or causes emotions to well up inside of you it is.
2. Use an unconventional seating layout. Situate your guests in a circle with you two in the middle (like my dear friends Brad and Becks did below!) Think round, arc shaped, unique chairs, benches, hay bales… anything that suits your style. And don’t be afraid to mix all your friends and family together (I love those cute little signs you see now “Pick a seat, not a side,” or “We are all family now, sit wherever you would like.”
3. Rethink the bouquet. Have each bridesmaid have a bouquet of their favorite flower or just different flowers and yours could be a combination of all of them. Gather flowers from your own garden and make your own bouquet… or use wildflowers! Have your bridesmaids carry balloons. The options are really endless. I love this idea from a bride of mine a couple of summers ago Lauran :
“Instead of a bouquet, I really wanted to carry a prayer book that was given to my dad during his christening (in 1966!,) so we created a special arrangement to sit on top of the prayer book to match the bridesmaid’s bouquets and I carried that down the aisle. I also realized that I really wanted something that I wouldn’t have to put down (or keep track of!) during the reception so we also had the flowers on the book designed to convert into a corsage for the reception.”
4. Mix it up with the ring bearer. One of my favorite ideas that I have seen was someone in one of the couple’s families had an antique bell collection and each of their ring bearers (I think there were like 5 or 6!) carried an antique hand bell and rang it as they walked down the aisle (you can see one of the cuties below :-) I also photographed a wedding where the bride and groom were really into fishing and made their ring bearer a handmade fishing pole to carry with a plastic fish hanging from it and attached the rings to the fish in a small bag (Disclaimer : this couple did actually attach the rings to the fish and at some point before the ceremony while the little boy was playing with the rod the rings fell off which made for a little added pre-ceremony excitement as we all scoured the ground searching for the little bag of rings! We did find them before too long, but you might want to consider having the best man just hold onto the actual rings!) A lot of brides are also incorporating fun signs for their “ring bearers” to carry now with a personal message to the groom or simply saying some form of “Here comes the bride!” You could also have your dog or cat or pig or goat walk down the aisle with the rings :-)
5. Pick the date or start time of your ceremony to correspond with something significant in your relationship — the anniversary of your first date together, the exact time of day he (or she!) proposed, the same month/day your grandparents tied the knot.
6. Serve a signature drink or a special treat as your guests arrive — who doesn’t get excited about yummy home-made baked goods or a refreshing cold beverage on a hot summer day??? Maybe even enlist a young family member to create an actual little lemonade stand complete with handmade signs :-) You can also make your “favors” be a gift that will keep your guests comfortable (a parasol or hand-fan if it is hot and sunny, a wrap or hand warmers if it is fall or winter.)
7. Personalize your programs. Include a lyric or special quote that you two love. Brainstorm a unique way to include information about your wedding party and your connection/relationship to each of them and display it in a fun drawing or graphical representation. Share with people why the place you chose to get married is so important to you both. Include your new contact info on the back if the two of you are moving in together or relocating to a new home. One of my favorite program ideas that I have seen was when my bride Jaimie had XOWYO print her ceremony details on kraft paper bags that held dried lavender petals for the guests to throw when she and Miles walked back down the aisle after the ceremony. (You can see Jaimie and Miles’ cool invitations and programs on their Oh So Beautiful Paper feature and other photos from their stunning wedding–like walking back down the aisle getting pelted by the lavender flowers–on their Artfully Wed Feature.) Other brilliant ideas I have heard of couples doing is including a crossword puzzle on the back of the program to keep their guests entertained with fun nuggets of info about the two of them while they were awaiting the main event (the couple took it a step further and provided the answer key to all the questions about the couple at the guests’ place settings too!) I have even seen a couple’s program that was designed in the shape of those origami paper fortune teller games that we used to make in junior high school!!! People are so creative I am just constantly astounded by what they come up with!!!
8. Create a focal point to get married in front of. Build and/or decorate an arch, pillars, gazebo, canopy or chuppah for the two of you to stand in front of. If you are inside maybe it is just a window or even a blank wall that you can transform however you want. Outside it could simply be a big beautiful tree that you hang streamers or lanterns or mini-terrariums from or two tall free-standing ladders with a third ladder laid across the top in the middle of field. The options really are endless here. After doing a quick little search I found everything from an arch constructed completely out of books to a couple that made huge letters spelling “Best Day Ever” that they hung from the ceiling above where they exchanged their vows.
9. Write a note or leave a small gift on special guests’ chairs at the ceremony for them to find once they take their seat (or a photo or flower or handkerchief or…) This could be for your parents, grandparents, the person who introduced you two, anyone who you want to give a little extra love.
10. Have a fun recessional. Give you guests explosive confetti poppers, colorful mini pom-poms (those super soft ones you always see at the craft stores,) or paper airplanes (that they can write well wishes on!) to throw as the two of you walk back down the aisle as husband and wife. Or if you need environmentally friendly ideas (ie aren’t someplace where you can easily delegate someone to clean the mess up after) you could use rose petals, wildflower seeds, or dried leaves (which would be sweet for a gorgeous fall wedding.) Bubbles, bird seed, and kazoos are also great ideas. Other creative ideas I have heard of are mini beach balls for an ocean side wedding, theatre popcorn if you are movie lovers, or cheer poms for guests to wave if you are die-hard sports enthusiasts. If you choose something that is easy to pick back up after, you could also make it a contest for all the children at the wedding to clean it up as fast as they can and have a prize for whoever picks up the most (anything can be made into a game with a little ingenuity right?)
Did that get the creative juices flowing? I hope so. Can’t wait to see what you come up with :-)
P.S. Be sure to check out parts one and two of my blog series on crafting a meaningful ceremony — Part One : Arguments against a Five Minute Ceremony and Part Two : Unbeatable Ways to Personalize your Wedding Ceremony.