How can you craft a wedding celebration that is uniquely you?
First, let me say that it isn’t hard. The two of you, both individually and as a couple, are unique. The challenge is to draw on that uniqueness to create a personal wedding. All it takes is thought and time.
When I meet with my clients, we don’t start with Pinterest or wedding magazines or even a color palette. We start with them. Here are the five questions I ask them:
1. How did you meet? What drew you to each other?
At least half of my clients meet online or via social media. Sometimes they downplay it or act embarrassed. I disagree, the way you met does not lessen your story. There is always a story about why you both went back for another date.
The bride of one recent couple explained that she was willing to give him a chance when he ordered a craft beer on their first date. She found out they shared a common love of great food and craft beer.
Obviously, craft beer played a starring role in their Asheville destination wedding. (If you haven’t been there and you love great food and craft beer, You. Must. Go.)
Another couple met at a Fourth of July picnic at the beach. They wanted to recreate moments by having an outdoor wedding with picnic-food appetizers. Designer bratwurst, mac n cheese bites, and buffalo sliders all recreated, in fancified form, their first date. And as they departed, their guests tossed (threw) mini beach balls at them.
2. What are some of your favorite things to do as a couple?
The answers to this are so much fun. It has ranged from running marathons to hosting dinner parties. But if you go one step further, you find that after a marathon they celebrate with donuts or greasy diner food. For those toned donut lovers, we incorporate a late night snack of donuts and milkshakes, or fries in a paper cone. Again, this isn’t completely original but it means something. It’s not just doing something for the sake of doing it.
One of my recent favorites is a couple who always looks for 4-leaf clovers when they go for a walk. They even found some at our walkthrough which they gave to me. The groom enjoys woodworking as well. He built wood boxes for clover which they grew for part of their wedding centerpieces.
3. What are your three favorite things about the other person?
I work with couples who are both invested in the wedding planning. So it is important that both are celebrated at the wedding. I won’t share lists from other couples, but I will share my own. And yes, my husband contributed to this list. Here are ours:
My favorite things about my husband:
- His silliness and humor
- His intelligence and love of books
- He never lets what others think about him stop him from doing what he thinks is right
My husband’s favorite things about me:
- My ability to find joy in the midst of the mundane
- My love of travel and exploring other cultures
- My concern for the feelings of others
During our wedding, Parker and his family insisted that we do the Hokey-Pokey. And I mean the whole family. Aunts, cousins, and distant relatives approached me at different times saying, "Now you know, we do the hokey-pokey at all of our weddings. I can't wait to do it at yours!" I refused. “It’s tacky,” I said. And he won. And doing the hokey-pokey with my grandmother on my right and my father-in-law’s UVA frat brothers on my left is one of my favorite memories. Parker intentionally did not tell me about the other family tradition- the Hawaii 5-O canoe dance. It is pictured here:
This question often brings out conflicting desires- one is patriotic and wants red, white, and blue, the other’s favorite color is orange (a coral and navy color scheme was the solution). I love finding that middle ground.
It’s been said a million times, but marriage is about compromise. It is also about embracing each other’s differences and celebrating each other as individuals and the unique couple you are.
4. What is your most memorable meal together?
What made it special? The food, company, location or experience?
The answers to this give me an idea of what the reception should include.
Was it an intimate dinner for two at a fabulous restaurant?
If so, we consider a sweetheart table with smaller round tables where conversation can thrive. We opt for a plated meal so people don’t have to get up or be distracted by the food.
Was it sharing hot dogs and beer at a game?
While this could imply a buffet, I like the even more social and casual atmosphere of food stations around a large room with cocktail tables and some tables with seating.
An impromptu night with friends?
A Thanksgiving meal with all of your families together?
A holiday meal or dinner party with friends? We tend toward the farm style table set up with family-style food. People pass the food around, chatting and sit as they would at a dining table in the couple’s home.
5. After a fun-filled day with friends, what do you do together to relax?
A great celebration has an ebb and flow- there is space for laughter and silliness and space for expressing heartfelt emotion. What couples do to relax helps me know how to create that space for the quieter parts of the celebration. If they love coffee, then I make sure it is being served during their first dance. If they prefer port to champagne, that is the toasting beverage. If snuggling up by a fire is their preferred spot, we seek out a venue with a fireplace for those guests who want to sit and chat rather than dance.
Weddings, no matter what the size or style, are an intimate, personal occasion. Two people are committing themselves to the other in front of their favorite people in the world.
Ultimately, your wedding should reflect and celebrate your personalities and values- not the style of Martha Stewart, the Knot, or Style Me Pretty- even though they have fabulous styles and ideas. A wedding is about two people becoming one. Your day should reflect the beginning of your journey.