“Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today.”
If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you’re probably familiar with the traditional set up and flow. A lengthy ceremony with a speech about marriage bringing two people together, chicken or fish for dinner, and a gaggle of girls all in the same dress running around catering to whatever the bride may need. While that may be exactly right for some people, chances are, if you’re reading this post, you’re hoping for something a little different. As a wedding photographer, I’ve seen A LOT of weddings. And really, the only requirement for a wedding is to have two people wanting to be married, an officiant, and a witness. Everything else is optional! That being said, if you’re looking to make your wedding day a little more unique, take a look at some of my favorite tips below.
Weddings have a lot of traditions. The great part about them is that, with the exception of “I do”, everything else is totally unnecessary. If a bouquet toss or garter toss makes you cringe- don’t do it! If you don’t want to wear white, don’t worry about it. Maybe you have an aversion to cake- skip it! Any traditions that don’t feel right to you, don’t have them. You can totally go in and adjust traditions to make them feel more authentic to you and your future spouse, or just skip them altogether. You want your wedding day to be a reflection of your relationship, so anything that doesn’t fit that shouldn’t be forced into the day.
Whether you are having a religious ceremony or a non-denominational ceremony, you can (and should!) personalize your ceremony for your relationship. If you know the officiant well enough, have them tell a story about the two of you. Incorporate readings or songs that are special to you both. You can even bring in a unity ceremony into the mix for a more symbolic approach to marriage. Consider a tree plotting ceremony if you’re doing a backyard wedding. If you are wine lovers, pour two different wines together and drink the new “blend”. Take two candles and light a single, large candle with the two flames. Whatever feels right for you two and makes the ceremony more personal.
Another way to personalize your wedding day is to write your own vows! It can seem daunting to write your own, so feel free to get some inspiration from around the internet. Talk about why you love your person, how they make you feel. What do they do in your daily life to make you feel loved? How will you show love to your person? If you aren’t into pouring your heart out in front of all your friends and family, write these vows and share them before the ceremony during your first look with some private vows. I always recommend having your personal vows printed or hand written for keepsakes.
When it comes to your wedding photos, people typically think of the standard “prom” style photos that are stiff and posed. A fun way to make your wedding more unique is to hire a photographer that can shoot more candid moments! Have them focus on the hugs, the butt squeezes, the laughs. All the happy joyful moments throughout the day. Of course, you can get some posed photos for posterity, but having a photographer that naturally can focus more on the moments and less on the poses will make your wedding feel more authentic, and less like a magazine.
When you think of a wedding guest book, most people think of a hardcover book full of autographs that is kept in the “wedding storage” box in the attic. Have guests sign something that you can use or display in your home proudly! At our wedding, we used a vinyl record from one of our favorite musicians. Another option could be a coffee table book of your engagement photos. Some people even have guests sign a large canvas print and hang it in their home. Either way, having something for guests to sign that doesn’t just live in a box is a great way to make your wedding more unique.
Traditional wedding food is boring. There. I said it. But it doesn’t have to be!! What are you and your future spouse’s favorite foods? Say goodbye to dry chicken and overcooked fish. Who says you can’t have tacos on your wedding day? Maybe oven fired pizza? Some of the coolest weddings have had food trucks and ice cream! Wedding food can be anything you want. If you and your fiance have wildly different palettes- consider bringing in bite sized tapas style bites during cocktail hour so there’s a little bit of both. Win win!
Last but certainly not least, don’t feel confined to the gender norms of a traditional wedding party! Feel free to mix and match anyone on either side. The people standing next to you on your big day should be the people you care about most. Don’t feel like you have to keep a “boys” side and a “girls” side. Or don’t worry about having one at all if that doesn’t feel right! You can still have people you love be involved in getting ready or have the give toasts or readings instead of a traditional wedding party if you’d prefer.
A wedding day should be about the two people getting married, not outdated traditions or expectations. As long as the two of you get married, that’s all that matters.