Your reception will naturally get a lot of your focus during wedding planning, but your ceremony deserves some love too. Even the smallest touches can take your ceremony space, programs and details from functional to unforgettably personal. From lighting to seating and everything in between, here’s how to make your ceremony as personal as possible.
1. Accessorize Your GuestsWendy Laurel
Outdoor vows are gorgeous, but they can come with some weather-related obstacles. No one wants to have to squint or worry about sweating, so if you’re in an especially sunny spot, have your ushers hand out parasols or sunglasses to your guests. Let your programs double as fans for a fun and functional way to keep things cool. On the other hand, if the forecast calls for crisp weather, offer shawls or blankets, or even hot drinks to avoid shivering during the vows. Little gestures like these go a long way for your loved ones.
2. Leave a Love NotePeacock Photography
For something truly memorable (that you don’t want to include in the programs), pen a letter of love and gratitude to those closest to you—whether it’s your parents, grandparents, godparents or other important people—and leave it on their chair for a touching surprise when they take their seats. Better enclose a few tissues too—the moment you walk down the aisle will be extra sentimental for them.
3. Spice Up Your BackdropJENNIFER MORGAN PHOTOGRAPHY
You don’t need to exchange vows on a traditional altar or beneath an arch. Choose a unique ceremony backdrop or frame that suits your style and venue. Instead of an arch, try a circle of lush roses and greenery, a minimalistic triangle of wood beams or find an arch-like construction made by Mother Nature herself. You can also shoot for something like a stunning floral installation, playfully draped tassels, a summery garden arbor, oversize umbrellas or a colorful ribbon wall.
4. Shake Up the Unity CeremonyLOVE ME DO PHOTOGRAPHY
Looking for a fresh take on the classic unity candle? It’s time to think outside the box for the perfect unity ceremony alternative: Finish a puzzle together, plant a tree, finger paint a canvas (be careful of your outfits!), blend your favorite booze, build an anniversary box or create something entirely new that speaks to you. Trust us, your guests won’t soon forget this sentimental moment.
5. Reinvent Seating RulesTHE NICHOLS
There are several ways to breathe new life into the ceremony seating. First, you’re welcome to nix assigned seating altogether. Display a sign or ask your ushers (if you’re having them) to inform guests they’re welcome to settle themselves wherever they’d like (as long as VIP guests—like the couple’s family—get their first choice at the front). Then, to add some serious personality to your ceremony seating, consider physically rejiggering the traditional setup. Create a ceremony in the round, opt for two (or more) aisles or offer raised seats (like an amphitheater) to name a few ideas.
6. Display Family PhotosMORNING WILD PHOTOGRAPHY
Set up a table dedicated to treasured family photos from weddings past. This is also an incredibly sweet way to honor loved ones who’ve passed or who weren’t able to make it.
7. Rethink the Ring PillowVIRGIL BUNAO
Think of alternative ideas to a ring pillow, like placing your rings in a faux bird’s nest for an added a touch of nature at a garden ceremony. If you love books, use a favorite vintage novel or, for a sentimental touch, try a piece of pottery with a quote from a love poem. These days, ring bearers are taking on a more symbolic role, and many couples choose to have children in their wedding party carry signs, wave ribbons or even just hold hands, while the best man hangs onto the rings for safe keeping.
8. Swap Out Floral DécorWILD WHIM PHOTOGRAPHY
Instead of incorporating florals at every turn (like aisle arrangements and flower petals for tossing), look to nonfloral details to brighten your space. Have the flower kids blow bubbles, tie colorful balloons along the aisle, DIY a funky ceremony backdrop or tie aromatic herbs to the ends of each row.
9. Choose Atmospheric LightingAVERYHOUSE
Even if your ceremony isn’t in the evening, you can still use candles and lighting to brighten your ceremony. Chandeliers, votives, lanterns or strung bistro lights can add a romantic touch to any space, no matter what time of day.
10. Bring Your Aisle to LifeChris Glenn | Photographer
Flower petals and a white runner are classics, but you don’t have to stop there. Try a pretty ombré gradient or put down a rug from your favorite design store for an at-home feel. We’ve seen couples use everything from place mats, paper airplanes, arrows or even their natural surroundings to create jaw-dropping designs.