As a professional in the wedding market I see more weddings in just a few months than most people do over the course of a lifetime. Generally, I don't involve myself as much in the overall planning process - but I do experience the final product.
If you are planning your wedding without any help, your first ideas will come solely from what you have seen from weddings you have been to. If you are using a wedding planner, they will most likely choose what has worked best in the past. Why re-invent the wheel? But if you really want to make your wedding stand out - here are some areas that you can focus on changing and making personal so that your wedding day truly stands apart from what other couples have done.
In no particular order:
Many ceremonies are arranged to be held during the late afternoon. The benefit of this is that you will be able to take wedding pictures after your ceremony and before the reception during a sunset. This can make for beautiful pictures, but if the pictures are the only reason for having your late afternoon ceremony you may want to consider having your ceremony at a different time. An early morning ceremony can allow your guests to have their evening and night free. By having a morning ceremony you can also have an extended wedding day celebration by continuing through the afternoon and evening. On the other hand you could have your ceremony at night. It can be candle lit or have string lighting illuminating the aisle and overhead the guests. If planned during the year after the time changes it won't even have to be very late. You could feed your guests prior to the ceremony and then go straight into the party after.
2. Overall Location
Depending on your budget and who you plan on inviting you can have your wedding in a location that is unique to you. Are you more into mountains, the beach or the city? Having your special moments in a location that is special or adventurous to you will immediately change your day.
There are likely plenty of venues to choose from in your hometown but traveling somewhere exotic or even more humble than where you live can provide its own adventure. Beginning your lifelong journey while on one sounds fun, right? You could go to the Caribbean or to Italy (take me with you if you do) but it doesn't have to be a huge destination extravaganza. There are hidden treasures everywhere... and your guests will not expect it!
White and elegant is the usual go-to for weddings. Make your ceremony and/or reception have a little more pizzazz! Brighten up your celebration! Shabby-chic and old-fashioned weddings are popular here in the South. However, without too much creativity you could make your decorations really reflect your personal tastes or a theme that you have come up with. The possibilities are endless. It could be Broadway themed, steam-punk, extremely colorful, retro, contemporary, etc. A lot of ideas are commonly spread across Pinterest. To make it something a little more personal take a walk down memory lane or do a little research with your fiance and see if there is anything that has a fun or special meaning to you.
Speaking mostly from what I've observed here in the South, heavy hors d'oeuvres, where guests self-serve the majority of their meal, is very popular. Many venues have specific caterers or menu options that they provide. If you have the ability to choose your own food (and depending on how many people you are feeding) there are many options to explore when it comes to cuisine.
You could begin your approach by looking at what food items match the theme or location of your wedding. You can also educate your guests and have them broaden their palate. Just make sure to serve something that is filling and that your guests will enjoy.
Plated meals where guests are offered options prior to the day of can help reduce wasted food. Too many times after a reception I see caterers throwing away unused food or people trying to figure out how to pack up the pounds and pounds of leftovers. You can surely spare some expense by planning your meals properly. Also have a plan for the left-overs. OH! Be sure to plan to feed your entertainment/DJ/photographer and any other person that will be present in helping make your day amazing!
There's nothing wrong with a traditional wedding, but it doesn't take a wedding professional to be able to recite the order of events in their head. Ceremony, reception, cocktail hour, entrance, speeches, dance, dinner, dancing. But what if you threw in some activities that people don't expect? There are wedding venues that provide zip lining, rock climbing, swimming, paddle boating/boarding, and the like, as part of the reception. Not quite so adventurous? There are plenty of sweet touches that involve the guests and change up the reception a bit. Lighting paper lanterns and letting them go is just one example! If there's one activity that is a major part of you and your partner's life, you could also incorporate that into a smaller wedding. For example, if you and your partner are big into kayaking, your wedding ceremony could involve kayaking out to a small, secluded island. I bet none of your guests would have ever been to a wedding like that!
6. Party Gifts
Awesome! Something everyone can take home as a nifty keepsake! For me, I could open a store selling used wedding koozies. I actually enjoy getting new ones to add to my collection. This is by far the most popular party gift I have seen. Plus, there are all sorts of cute sayings you could use, for example: "Drink and be Married", They are even pretty cost effective if you order enough. But, we are talking about being unique. So, maybe not a koozie? Or something in addition? Shot glasses, candy, coasters and small wine glasses are also pretty popular. There is nothing wrong with giving these. Just make sure you give something they will want to take home. Otherwise, you are paying for extra mess to be cleaned later. Too many times I've see guests leave their favors scattered all over the reception. Give something that they will actually use and re-use for a better chance that they will take it home. Another idea is making your party gift be in conjunction with one of your vendors. You could give inexpensive picture frames that fit the photos from your photobooth. If you want this to be unique (considering it is the one thing they will take with them) then give go all-out an send the home with something that really knocks their socks off (maybe some homemade wine or beer). Or you could give them socks?
7. Lighting and Ambiance
Something that Events by Snow offers along event entertainment is up-lighting packages. Using lighting to create a color scheme for the room is a way to truly make your wedding stand out. In this picture you can see that there are gold (or amber) lights on the walls in the background. They have also added splashes of pink as a secondary color. The candles on the table work with the amber and this creates a glow throughout the entire room. Using lighting to create an atmosphere will quickly turn your wedding into a beatuiful and mesmerizing spectacle. Even if your reception is held somewhere that your guests are used to seeing (a church, popular event space or your own backyard) you can use lights to quickly dramatize the familiar and make it look outstanding. "
You had to know I would save the best for last! The flow and movement (as well as the majority of the fun) falls on the professional skill of your entertainment. This is not an area that you want to overlook or cut corners. Having an entertainer who knows how to work your entire crowd while keeping everyone happy simultaneously is very important. The right entertainer won't be a cookie-cutter duplicate of the last wedding at which they performed. Your entertainer should also understand the energy and feeling you want from your night. If you want to go with a DJ I would definitely take a look at Events by Snow. Right? But, there are other options - full bands, acoustic duo's, string trio/quartets, piano players (dueling pianos anybody?!). And if you are interested in any of those options I would call up Events by Snow - they know the right folks in the industry and will make your life much easier!
I hope this springs forward some new ideas for you. But you don't think I've given away all of our secrets do you? If you want to hear about any of these more in-depth, feel free to give us a call and we can talk about more ideas together!
Events by Snow Wedding DJ Columbia, SC