The watchword in weddings seems to be “simple but elegant”. Ask any bride what she invisions—that’s what you hear. I’ve never been quite sure what this actually means or how one achieves it. My suspicion is that “simple” translates to not expensive, and elegant is basically I want it to “look” expensive even though we are keeping it simple. Not sure. I would like to see a new thought for weddings. How about if, instead of simple but elegant, we start thinking in terms of “unique and personal”? We can do so much more with that!
One of the first posts I wrote, back a couple years ago, talked about making your wedding personal and reflecting your interests, values, and personalities both as individuals and as a couple. My most favorite weddings are always the ones where the bride and groom have taken time to really think about their celebration. They bring their families into it, their wedding day becomes not only a celebration of them as a couple, but of their families and extended families as well.
Last night’s wedding was lovely. Holly and Mark live in Virginia, so we didn’t really have much opportunity to talk with them about their plans. I have known Holly and her family though since before she was born, so it was great fun to see what a lovely young woman she has become and so heartwarming to see how happy they were together. But I digress!
So I get out to work yesterday and do my usual walk through the ballroom, looking for little papers on the floor, lightbulbs that might have burnt out, wrinkles in tablecloths, etc. and in the lobby, on the side tables are two photos. At first glance I think, oh, Holly has had a formal portrait done before the wedding in her gown. This is a very common tradition in the South. But no, I look a little closer, and it’s Holly’s MOTHER in the picture, in 1973! So, these are the only two photos in the lobby, anywhere. Hmmmmm I think. Well, that’s very sweet, maybe they are bringing more photos later of the groom’s parents, or their grandparents’ weddings or whatever, as folks often do.
So everyone arrives for the reception, and still, there are just the two photos of Arlene in the lobby. So the bride and groom arrive, and off we go with the introductions and all the usual reception things. Somewhere during the cake cutting, I notice that Holly’s veil has some absolutely amazing lace on it, 6 or 8 inch wide, gorgeous lace. And then, I notice that the appliqué work is very similar to her mother’s gown. Hmmmmm! Then it clicks! This IS her mother’s gown! But wait a minute, mom had the big 70’s sleeves and high neck, and this gown is sleeveless and open neck. Time to investigate further!
Here's a photo of Holly in her lovely, and very fashionable gown:
I go back and look at the photos again, and Holly’s family is all in the lobby taking some photos. I ask Arlene about the gown, and it IS her gown, remade by Holly’s Godmother for her to wear. Wow! Too cool! I couldn’t help but think, when Holly danced with her Dad, how much this must mean to him, dancing with his beautiful daughter, in this gown, that he had danced with nearly 40 years ago. SO sweet! If good luck and happy thoughts were ever bestowed on any bride and groom, there had to be tons of it in that gown.
Here’s a couple of other thoughts you might consider to personalize your wedding. But remember that the whole meaning of “personalize” is that it is personal to you.
1. Do mom and dad, or grandma and grandpa maybe, have their knife and server, or toasting flutes from THEIR wedding that you could use?
2. How about a cake topper? My good friend Chris was telling me that their family (and it’s a BIG family!) has a 50’s cake topper, the fluffy lace, plastic bride and groom kind, that has been on everyone’s cake that has gotten married in her family for the last 30 or 40 year! How cute is that! She says they paint the bride and groom’s hair to match the couple who is getting married and off they go.
3. Baby bonnet/handkerchiefs. Back when I worked in a gift shop in the late 60’s we sold a little baby bonnet that was made out of a handkerchief. It came with a little poem about giving it to the baby when they grew up to carry on their wedding day (or in the case of a boy, for him to give to his bride to carry) and directions on where to remove the stitches so that it became a hanky again, and also instructions on how to tack it back together to be a bonnet again for their child when it was christened. I know these bonnets are around, because I had to have sold 200 of them. I just loved the idea. Ask your mom, or your fiance’s mom. Maybe they have forgotten about it and it’s folded up in someones hope chest somewhere!
4. Your mother’s gown. There are people here in the area who are VERY talented and can redesign your mother’s gown into a beautiful gown for you. If your mom’s gown is beyond hope though, you might consider making a handkerchief from the fabric to carry on your wedding day, or possibly salvage some lace from it. I have seen christening gowns made from wedding gowns as well. If you don’t want to actually cut into the gown itself, there might be a crinoline or veil that would work. Be creative.
5. Music is another area where we see folks get very creative. We have had a couple of dads in the past that recorded themselves singing the song that they would dance to with their daughter. Of course, if your dad can’t carry a tune in a bucket, that might not be a very good idea!
6. Pictures are always a sweet and sentimental way to honor your grandparents and parents. In the lobby, you might want to gather wedding photos of the relatives and place them around the room. Just be sure to make a little placecard type label that tells who they are and their wedding date. Or I suppose you could have a contest to see who could identify them and their wedding year correctly, that might be fun!
7. Guest books have branched out into many different directions. Photo mattes that guests sign are a great idea. There are also guest books where a photo is taken of each guest or couple, and then the photo is put on a page in the book along with the their best wishes written to the bride and groom, on their own page. This has always seemed so much more meaningful to me than just their names in a book on a line.
8. How about having each guest write on a square of fabric with fabric pens, and then the squares could be assembled into a quilt after the wedding?
Weddings are steeped in traditions and sentiments. Make yours special with touches that reflect you and your families. Let’s change the watchword from “simple but elegant” to “unique and personal”!