md wedding planner

5 Wedding Traditions Worth Breaking

As you already know, I’m not a fan of the “have to”’s and “should”’s that often surround weddings. Yes, sometimes certain traditions or ways of doing things are there for a reason - cause they make the most sense or are the easiest way to do something! That being said, there are a couple of wedding traditions I’m all about breaking - so here are my top 5 that I think are heading the way of the dinosaurs:

Who walks down the aisle?

Photo by Susan Hornyak

Photo by Susan Hornyak

I hold this one near and dear to my heart because I made a fairly non-traditional choice when it came to my own wedding processional. More and more I’m seeing lots of couples kick the tradition of the bride’s father walking her down the aisle to the curb - and I’m loving it. Jewish weddings already get it right (and have for years) by having both parents escort both parts of the couple down the aisle. I’ve seen the bride and groom walk down together. I’ve seen brides process in on their own (cue Destiny Child’s “Independent Women” now please). Recently, two grooms had us create TWO aisles and they both processed in together with the ring bearers/flower girls, to meet in the center (love love love that). I personally chose to have my Mom walk me in because I was close to both my Dad and Step-father and didn’t feel right choosing between the two. Either way, it’s a personal choice and every couple deserves to feel they can be creative if they need to be! Do what’s best for you and your family - both past and future!

RSVP Cards

Photo by Love Life Images

Photo by Love Life Images

Embrace technology! Throw those physical RSVP cards of yore directly into the trash. As I mentioned on a previous post, wedding websites now allow you to collect RSVPs online. Do it. It saves you money, time and you won’t find yourself scratching tiny numbers in pencil on the back of your RSVP cards wondering why you ever decided to plan a wedding in the first place. Yes, some older folks get confused by the internets, but it’s still worth going this route and just picking up the phone for those few who can’t handle the online option.

The White Dress

Photo by Leo Druker

Photo by Leo Druker

A lot of brides still love the white dress, and I get it. I wore one. But this tradition is changing and I’m LOVING it. Weddings are a celebration - why not wear color? Or best of all, why not wear pants? A jumpsuit? Have outfit and costume changes? The possibilities nowadays are endless and so many more options are available to both brides and grooms. Go for it and don something new for your special day - you’ll still feel special, I promise.

The Champagne Toast

Photo by Darling Photographers

Photo by Darling Photographers

Very few couples have traditional champagne toasts anymore. Once again, save the money (yay!) and just have folks toast with the drinks that are in their hands. I can’t tell you how much champagne I see dumped out of untouched glasses at the end of the night. Not having special flutes and a “special” champagne toast won’t make those moments or the words spoken any less meaningful. So ditch this tradition and focus on the words rather than the (sparkling) wine.

The special dances

Photo by Ayesha Ahmad

Photo by Ayesha Ahmad

Listen, I love me a first dance. And I also love me some parents dances. But don’t be afraid to either ditch them or approach them with some fun and creativity. Super shy? Don’t have a first dance. Don’t feel like taking the dances so seriously? Mix it up and play with it - one of my favorites was a couple of mine from last year who not only did a first dance to Adam Sandler’s Grow Old With You, but then went into a first dance mash-up including Indian and western line dancing. It was hilarious, them, and perfect.

Easy ways to personalize your wedding

Nowadays lots of my clients express a desire to personalize their wedding. In fact, I’d even go so far to say that they feel the pressure to personalize every single detail. I don’t find that necessary. I think the personalization of weddings has gotten a bit out of hand (much like the fun DIY weddings of days past). So I wanted to outline my top 5 favorite and EASY ways to personalize your wedding:

Your Wedding Ceremony

Photo by Chris Ferenzi

Photo by Chris Ferenzi

Lest ye forget, the ceremony is the whole reason you’re having a wedding in the first place. It marks the official moment you and your partner actually get married. I find that the best way to personalize your wedding is to make the ceremony truly reflect you as a couple. How? That could simply mean making sure your pastor or rabbi really knows you both individually and as a couple. It could mean you both taking the time to write the ceremony yourselves. It could mean incorporating some favorite readings that reflect your own partnership and future together. There are tons of ways to make your ceremony personal - I always urge clients to put the most thought into this part of the day, that so often gets overlooked, because it really is the emotional center of the entire event.

Music

Photo by Shandi Wallace

Photo by Shandi Wallace

Whether you’re a musical person or not, music connects to most of us on a pretty emotional and personal level. So another very easy way to personalize your wedding is to be thoughtful about your music throughout the event. Process into your ceremony to a special song. If you’re doing parents dances, pick songs that mean something to you both. Have music that you love but that isn’t danceable or ceremony-worthy but still reflects you or your partner? Use it at the cocktail hour!

Wedding logo

Photo by Justin McCallum

Photo by Justin McCallum

I used to scoff a bit at wedding logos - I felt as though it really hit home that your wedding was something to “market” (belch). But - I will say that if you take the time to create one that feels meaningful to you and your partner, you then have ONE thing that you can use everywhere! It makes a lot of decisions way easier - what to put on the program, the cake, lighting, favors, invites, website, etc? Your logo. BAM. Decision done, now you can go off and do other fun things with your day, all while personalizing that wedding of yours :)

Look beyond the centerpieces

Photo by Hannah Hudson Photography

Photo by Hannah Hudson Photography

Another very easy way to personalize your wedding is to add small little touches to your dining tables - and I’m not talking about votives. I’ve had clients add different Funko Pops to each table cause they were both huge comic fans, clients who framed hilarious quotes from their first online dating conversations, and clients who incorporated all the national parks they’d visited into each dining table.

Cake Toppers

Photo by DuHon Photography

Photo by DuHon Photography

Again, we’re talking easy here. Since you may want to buy a cake topper anyway, why not make it personal? I’ve seen folks have mini figurines made of them (and their dog!) on etsy, one bride’s father hand-crafted their cake topper, and my favorite (I am a musical theatre nerd at heart, remember), a couple use Tangled characters on top of their cake (even Pascal made the cut!). I’ll also mention, my Mom and step-dad deserve a starting-the-trend award since they absolutely SHOCKED their parents back in 1988 by putting some small clown shoe figurines (my step-dad had studied clown/mime back in the day) next to small high heeled figurines in lieu of the traditional cake topper. So this one is close to my heart!






Why communication is key to a stress-free wedding

Besides hiring a planner or coordinator (heeeey), the #1 key to a stress-free wedding is communication. Why? Because when you communicate it tells people what to expect. And people are always more comfortable, and then more likely have fun and relax, when their expectations are clear and are met. So here are my top five ways to clearly communicate in order to eliminate wedding-related stress!

Communicate with Family and Wedding Party

Photo by Amanda Gilley

Photo by Amanda Gilley

From the early stages of your wedding, make sure you find out what your parents (and any other family members or close friends who will be involved) want and expect from your wedding. What are their priorities? What are your priorities? Do you have to do everything they want? No. But people always respond better when they feel heard. Plus, you may think you know what your family wants, and then make decisions based on assumptions - when in fact, their real priority is something completely different. As the day gets closer, also make sure to clearly communicate what you need and expect from them - who will be giving a toast (and how long should it be? Answer? 2-3 minutes!)? Where do they need to be for photos? What is the general timing of the day? Again, when people know what to expect, they can relax and (gasp!) have fun!!

Create a Wedding Website

Photo by Porter Watkins

Photo by Porter Watkins

Please oh please, if you don’t do anything else, make a wedding website. Embrace all the amazing options we have out there today and communicate details and information super easily to your guests via your wedding website. I always recommend putting your wedding website address on your Save The Date, if possible. Things to make sure to include? Logistics! Transportation, travel and hotel information, the timing of the day, gifts/registration information, and attire. Want grumpy guests? Don’t mention the ceremony is on grass and have women grumble about their stilettos getting stuck in the mud. The more guests know, the more they can prepare and be ready to enjoy their day.

The other reason to share all of these details? So you don’t get phone calls and emails with questions you have to answer!

It’s also a great place to share more information about you as a couple and the wedding party, so people can start to get to know one another. You can give guests ideas of things to do in the area. Nowadays you can also collect RSVPs online which is a HUGE time-saver. And most importantly, any other small, unique details about your day can be shared there - wedding hashtags (see below!), unique ceremonies, all of those can be described or communicated on the website.

Use those wedding welcome bags

Photo by Love Life Images

Photo by Love Life Images

Welcome bags aren’t just to make your guests feel welcome (and provide that oh-so-necessary water and Advil for the next morning). It’s a great place to communicate with your guests. Lots of couples include an info sheet (frankly, repeating the details on the wedding website!) to hit home the important information guests need to know. Use those welcome bags to your full advantage and slip some info in there to make sure guests know what’s up!

Programs

Photo by DeNeuva Photography

Photo by DeNeuva Photography

As I mentioned, above, nowadays I find lots of ceremonies that have unique elements to them. Whether you’re blending religions or cultures, want an “unplugged” wedding (aka no cell phone photos please), or simply want to share more information about what’s going to happen during the ceremony, programs are a great way to communicate with guests so that they feel comfortable and don’t have questions or feel uneasy about what’s going on. Learning about what the chuppah represents, or why a certain reading means so much to you allows them to relax and connect to the ceremony.

#Hashtags

Photo by Love Life Images

Photo by Love Life Images

Wedding hashtags can also be a really fun way to communicate with your guests during and AFTER the wedding. By encouraging guests to use a specific, unique-to-you wedding hashtag, you can find guests photos after-the-fact, comment, and enjoy the fun again, after the day is over. If you DO decide to go with a wedding hashtag, make sure to communicate the hashtag widely, both on your wedding website, programs, and even signage throughout the reception!

Monica and Jason's Woodend Sanctuary wedding

Photo by George Street Photo

Photo by George Street Photo

Monica and Jason were married on the perfect summer/fall cusp day at the ever beautiful Woodend Sanctuary.  I really loved that Monica rocked her long, luxurious locks in a completely down-do by Styled by Anna Fazio. All of her bridesmaids sported half-up/half-down dos to round things out and they all happened to be brunettes…talk about complimentary looks!  

Although I was not present in the room, I know that Monica and Jason had the most special and intimate ceremonial Ketubah signing before their wedding. The actual Ketubah was spectacular with a vibrant blue circular design. It was displayed at the wedding ceremony alongside the equally spectacular chuppah designed by Growing Wild Floral.

Before their Ketubah signing the couple shared another intimate moment with their first look.  I usually am busy and/or want to give couples privacy during this time, but I couldn’t resist sneaking a peak on this one. It was so moving to watch Monica in her stunning dress walk along a picturesque path and reach out to touch Jason. His reaction was so freaking priceless and captured perfectly by Kyle Bergner with George Street Photo.

I would be remiss not to mention the guest appearance by their fur baby, Hunter.  Monica and Jason gave lots of thought about how much they wanted Hunter at the wedding, but realized how it would be logistically difficult and settled on an epic cardboard cut-out of him instead! A happy and hilarious compromise that made for a fun addition to their DIY photo guestbook station.   

This wedding had all the best elements. Wonderful couple, simplicity, class, and joy. Congrats to Monica and Jason!

Monica and Jason's Vendors:

Coordination: Tarra Morgan, The Plannery

Venue: Woodend Sanctuary

Catering: Corcoran Catering

DJ: DJ Evan Reitmeyer

Photography and Videography: George Street Photo

Florist: Growing Wild Floral

Hair: Styled by Anna Fazio

Make-up: Real Doll Makeup