Planning a wedding can be a daunting task and it’s easy to become overwhelmed as your wedding day approaches. I got engaged in November 2015 and had just 9 months to plan the wedding of my dreams. The beginning of the planning process I was full steam ahead making planners, filling my Pinterest boards with ideas, and setting up vendor meetings. The adrenaline and excitement kept me going for the first few months, but as the big day approached, and all the main events had been scheduled I felt my motivation dragging.
At this point my wedding was like a brand new model home. It was gorgeous, had all the necessities, and was even styled in the colors, fabrics, and furniture that matched my style, but it was missing life. It was missing the personal touches that make a home, or in my case wedding, Alisha’s wedding – not just anyone’s.
Did I need to really add more? The answer is YES! With the help of many ice coffees I got back to work adding details that helped make my wedding more personal, and I’m so happy I did. We had numerous wedding guests tell us our wedding was “magical” and “the best wedding they had ever been to”! I believe it was the personal touches that really helped the day feel intimate and extra special. Want to know how to make your wedding the best day ever? Let me share.
Tip 1 – Create a wedding website
Along with your Save the Dates and Invites, a wedding website is the first thing your guests will see that sets the tone for your wedding. For our wedding, my husband (who is super techy) built our wedding website from scratch as his way of contributing to the wedding planning. We tied in graphics from our invites, as well as the colors, to give our guests a sneak peek of the style of our wedding!
Not a coder? Don’t worry! Nowadays, sites like theknot.com and weddingwire.com offer free website templates that make it easy for anyone to create a site. Personalize your site by adding photos, sharing your engagement story, and introducing your wedding party! Don’t forget to share the website URL on your invites!
Tip 2 – Ask for song requests in advance
When my guests RSVP’d on our website, we included an option to add a song requests. This was a fun suggestion my DJ made, and a great way for guests to feel a part of the wedding. It was so fun to hear their song requests get played, and my guests really enjoyed it!
Tip 3 – Find your signature design
Choose a design and stick to it. Our save the dates, invites, thank you cards, envelopes, place cards, and table numbers were all from the same design theme. Even our wedding website incorporated parts of the design! By repeating this one design, I created a recognizable image that my guests associated with my wedding.
Tip 4 – Prepare hotel welcome bags & cards
It’s expensive to throw a wedding, but it can also be expensive to attend a wedding. If your guests are staying in your hotel room block, they most likely traveled a great distance. Our wedding was held just outside of Seattle, but since I grew up in Connecticut, a large portion of our guests were from out of state. With the cost of flights, hotels, rental cars, and gifts it really was amazing that my friends and family were willing to spend that much to come celebrate at our wedding. To show our gratitude we prepared hotel room gifts and handwritten cards as a way to immediately say thank you!
In our bags we included champagne, my favorite candy (M&M’s and gummy bears), makeup wipes, Tylenol, Advil, water bottles, handwritten cards, and champagne flutes. To add a personal touch, I decorated the champagne bottles with labels saying “Eat, Drink, and be Married”!
Tip 5 – Create a wedding hashtag
Shortly after getting engaged, I came up with a hashtag my friends and I could use to document all the wedding related activities leading up to the big day, as well as the event! When deciding on a hashtag, the first thing I did was brainstorm a few ideas and then checked to see if they were already in use. The key is to create a new, unique hashtag that is specific to your event so you will be able to find the photos later on. An easy way to do this is to include a date or location as part of the hashtag. Once determined, use signs to share the hashtag with your wedding guests!
Tip 6 – Design a snapchat filter
Surprise your snapchatting guests by creating your own custom snapchat filter for your wedding day. For a fee, snapchat will let you design a filter that will appear during the time and location you specify. And don’t worry if you’re not a graphic designer – Snapchat offers a variety of customizable templates that makes creating a filter simple for everyone!
Tip 7 – Get ready in matching robes
Surprise your bridal party with cute matching robes or button up shirts to wear while getting ready. For my wedding, I wore a light pink robe and gifted my girls matching robes in hot pink. These were great for hair and makeup because we could easily change into our dresses without worrying about ruining our newly done “dos”! Also, who doesn’t love a great getting ready in robes pic?
Tip 8 – Decorate hangers for your bridal party
Hangers are a cheap and easy gift to make for your bridal party! They are a great addition to the obligatory “hanging dresses” picture, and are a fun way to present getting ready robes to your girls. I’m a sucker for any arts and crafts project, so I made my own, but you can also find lots of great options to purchase on Etsy.
Tip 9 – Write your own vows
If you choose to follow even just one of these tips, choose to write your own vows! I get it, it’s scary standing in front of 100+ of your closest friends and family (and in my case an additional 50+ unknown hotel guests), announcing your personal feelings over loud speakers, but it’s so worth it!
My husband Steven (an introvert) was hesitant at first by the idea and doubted his ability as a writer. We found it helpful to draft our vows far in advance, send them to our officiant for feedback, and slowly edit them to our liking as the day approached. Since we were keeping our vows a secret, we also had my maid of honor look over our final drafts to make sure they flowed and were similar in length.
To make it extra special, we chose to read our vows for the first time at our first look. I loved reading them in advance to each other because if I had waited until the ceremony, I wouldn’t have been able to process what he was saying, nor get through my own without crying every other word! When it all comes down to it, our wedding day was about my husband and I, and my vows were a way to express in my own words what marriage meant to me.
Tip 10 – Get to know your officiant
Our officiant Jeff, is a lifelong family friend who knew my parents very well, but only got a glimpse of me through our yearly Christmas cards (we lived on separate coasts). Shortly after our engagement, Steven and I met with Jeff for pre-marital counseling, which eventually led us to asking him to officiate our wedding.
While counseling helped us all get to know each other better, I also wrote out “Our Engagement Story” and “How we met” so Jeff had even more information that he could use for the ceremony. On our wedding day, it was so special to have someone we knew marrying us and sharing stories on a deeper level to our guests. He was able to express traits he saw in both Steven and I, creating a very personal ceremony.
Tip 11 – Set up a video booth
Similar to a photo booth, a video booth is essentially an area for guests to record video messages for the bride and groom. It’s a great way for guests to personally congratulate you both and makes for a hilarious addition to your wedding video. I had only one videographer at my wedding, so after all the important events were recorded and some dancing captured, he set up his camera outside the reception room and had the DJ announce to my guests to come record a video! If you have two videographers you can set the booth up all night if needed, but otherwise dancing is the perfect time for your videographer to step away (because unless you are a professional dancer, the dance floor video can get repetitive).
Tip 12 – Choreograph your first dance
When I told my husband I wanted to choreograph our first dance, he thought I was insane. Hear me out – first dances are often an overlooked opportunity to impress your guests and create a great memory with your spouse. In fact, my first dance was my favorite part of my wedding and I’m by no means a dancer!
When I say choreograph, I don’t mean go out a hire an instructor for dance classes. YouTube is a fantastic resource and filled with so many examples of first dances. I was able to find multiple choreographed dances to our song, Michael Buble’s “Everything,” and pick and chose parts that I liked. I even went so far as to create a step by step tutorial of our dance including pictures and moves directly alongside the lyrics of the song.
Steven is not one for attention and was dreading our first dance, but we both found having a planned dance made the whole thing a lot more enjoyable than awkwardly swaying back and fourth for 4 mins. Not only was it fun to add our own twist to the first dance, but it was even more exciting to see the reaction on our guests faces as we surprised them with our moves (and even a lift)!
Tip 13 – Take a group photo
A group photo is a fun way to document everyone who came out to celebrate your big day! For our wedding, we had our officiant inform our guests at the end of the ceremony that we wanted everyone to get together for a quick group photo in the lawn area behind them. This was the perfect time because our guests were all in one place and no alcohol had been served.
Along with the photo, have your guests sign a picture frame instead of a traditional guest book. Once you get your wedding photos back, hang the group photo inside the frame as your own personal wedding memorabilia!
Tip 14 – Be creative with your cake topper
Find a phrase or figurines that express something meaningful in your relationship. For my husband and I, it’s lobsters. In particular, the phrase “you’re my lobster,” from the Friends episode where Phoebe believes that lobsters mate for life. This saying has played a large role throughout our relationship (and even influenced this blog name) so we chose to have a cake topper expressing this!
Tip 15 – Create a custom wedding sign
I love the look of wooden signs! They are a great way to welcome your guests to your wedding and can be used multiple ways. We chose to include our names and date of the wedding on our sign, but you could also put your favorite quote, bible verse, or a simply “welcome” on the sign. After the wedding, you can reuse the sign as décor in your home! Learn how my husband and I made our wedding sign here.