The wedding day is a blank canvas waiting for you to paint, so let’s do it with love. Once the big things – venue, vendors, theme – are taken care of, you are left with those intentional little details to fill in. We want to help you look at those details of the day, and enhance them so they can be meaningful and loving – not just another box to check.
Below we will take you through the planning process, to help you focus on those special moments you can create throughout the wedding day to keep “you” at the center of your day.
No. 1 | Set Your Why
You probably know that choosing an aesthetic and theme are one of the first steps in planning a wedding. But, did you know you should also set your why? Yes, you heard us right. We at AofE believe in the power of setting intentions right away for the day!
By setting your why for the day upfront, you and your partner are making the commitment to go beyond the logistics of the day to create moments you and your guests will remember for a lifetime.
Imagine hosting an event that your guests will thank you for years later as they too felt seen, heard and celebrated. Designing a day around your values helps to create a day rich in meaningful connection and love.
So, now that we have you thinking about intentional planning, you may be wondering how to set your why for the day. Don’t worry. As always, we’re here to help you every step of the way with a few helpful prompts.
What are your priorities in planning your wedding? How do you want to feel on
your wedding day? How do you want your guests to feel after your wedding?
No. 2 | Make Your Intention List
Anyone who’s planning a wedding knows it comes with lots of lists. You have your vendor list, your to-do list, a photography shot list, and probably a thousand more. But AofE thinks you should add another – your intention list. With your why in hand, list of all the ways you and your partner wish to add intention back into the wedding day. It’s like a bonus to your wedding timeline, so here’s our top suggestions:
- Consider doing a First Look with each of your family members to create the moment with them. Nothing is more adorable than seeing bridesmaids faces light up at the bride in her gown, or the special moment that passes between a father and daughter on her wedding day all dressed up.
- Take all your family photos after a first look and then spend your cocktail hour creating memories. While we know a first look isn’t for everyone (although we have a great article making the case for why you should), for those choosing to partake, it allows a great opportunity to take your family portraits and couple photographs beforehand, and enjoy the rest of the day with your guests.
- After the ceremony, take a moment with just your partner to feel all of the emotions of the day. Soak it all in celebration that you just got married!
- Consider asking loved ones to participate in special readings and toasts to connect and ground you throughout the day. This can be done during the ceremony to the reception, and can help loved ones feel more a part of your day.
No. 3 | Decorate with Meaning
Decorations are one of the easiest ways to personalize your big day, and your Pinterest board is sure to be flooded with ideas. For your consideration, we compiled some of our favorite suggestions to encourage you to incorporate items that have sentimental value and symbolize your relationships for you to consider.
- Honor late loved ones with a table of photographs of those who passed or save them a honorary seat at the ceremony to celebrate with you.
- Add a touch of you and yours by having items that represent who you are from photos displaying a memory walk for guests to walk through experiencing your relationship building to this point, to favorite items to decorate the stylized guest book table that mean something to your relationship.
- Add personalization to details that show off your love by featuring a custom monogram such as a large statement piece of signage to represent you and your partner, or down to the details with custom toppers for cocktails or inscriptions upon napkins. And our favorite place to add a monogram is to the lining of a wedding dress or on the inside of a suit / tuxedo jacket.
No. 4 | Build Magical Moments
Everyone can agree the wedding day moves quickly, so we want to help couples to build in magical moments throughout the wedding timeline to ensure nothing is missed and you have time to soak in the wonderful feelings of the day.
First, start the day off right by getting ready surrounded by loved ones. Play music, dance around, and of course, take lots of first looks with bridesmaids, your parents, and your spouse, if you so choose. Then, make sure you get the opportunity to cherish your guests by taking a picture with each table during the reception. Many couples choose to create an event out of it with the DJ playing a special song or having a time limit. Make the day last with a special after-wedding event. Have a final hurrah brunch with your wedding party, or a midnight bite, anything goes!
Other ways to build magical moments around the wedding day include creating a signature scent. Take time with your partner before the big day to select a special cologne or perfume for each other. Then, wear that scent for the wedding and anniversaries to come to relive the day!
No. 5 | Enhance the Guest Experience
Your guests are your most precious family and friends– you couldn’t do the day without them! Take the time to enhance their experience at your wedding by planning with them specifically in mind. If done right you will hear for ages about the special ways they felt included in your big day.
Once guests reach the ceremony location couples often offer a special drink for them to enjoy before the ceremony. This adds a special touch of care right from the beginning! Also, we at AofE love the idea of giving your guests a moment while awaiting your big debut down the aisle to write their Words of Advice cards for you AofE Guest Book. Place the Words of Advice card on a pretty clipboard on their chairs and guests have a peaceful moment as they await your debut to reflect on you as a couple, and pen a few heartfelt words.
Moving into the rest of the wedding day, it’s all about the details that accumulate to a well-rounded and welcoming guest experience. But here are just a few ideas:
Create an inviting guest table or lounge for guests to celebrate your union with well wishes and thoughtful words of advice.
Design your favors to be something meaningful by centering them around a unique fact of the venue location, diving into gifts that mean something to you and your partner, or even an honorary favor such as donating money to a charity.
If having a destination wedding, consider giving a weekend itinerary for guests highlighting the locations that hold special meaning to you and your beloved
And our favorite, add to the experience with custom vendors like a photo booth, live painter, or tattoo artist
No. 6 | Tell Your Love Story
The day is dedicated to the love you share with your partner, so bring everyone into your happily ever after by incorporating personal details that show off the wonderful love story you share. Consider customizing your ceremony programs to incorporate your love story for guests to read. It’s a great way to start the wedding focused on the relationship and the love between you and your soon-to-be spouse.
You can also lean into established wedding day staples to further showcase your love. For example, take the classic signature of his and hers cocktails and incorporate a bit of your story into the title or type of drink. Maybe you met while drinking a gin and tonic, or they always call you their darling.
There are so many other ways to sprinkle in details for your guests to learn about you and your partner. Even taking the time to display photos, or show off a video detailing how your relationship came to be adds an extra depth to the day. Additionally, wedding games are increasing in popularity, so find ones that give insight on who you both are together and some fun memories. Lawn games are great to add comradery to an outdoor wedding, and we love the newlywed styled games during the reception. A great example is the wedding shoe game, this is where couples sit back to back and have to respond to questions asked by a family member or DJ by holding up the shoe of the partner it fits best. This can be a great way to show off your relationship, add some laughter into the reception, and be a great ice-breaker into the evening portion of the event.
No. 7 | Personalized Touches to Your Place Settings
Tablescapes offer another unexpected way to personalize your day and build a connection with your guests beyond color and texture. It may seem minor, but it’s that kind of attention to detail that can make your guests (and photographer!) swoon.
Start off the wedding events right by including a custom wedding map for larger venues to help guests navigate throughout with style. Not only is this informational and useful, but we love to see couples sprinkling in little details through the map. Perhaps you choose this venue because it was the location of your first date, or where your partner proposed, add in these tidbits to take the custom map to a more personal level.
Later in the wedding day, consider meaningful escort cards by incorporating personalized details for each guest. We’ve seen amazing polaroid walls, fun facts about the couple cards, or fun facts that show off just how well you really know your guests. Another unique touch, use the envelope napkin fold and tuck a personal note of gratitude and appreciation for each guest.
Continue these intimate touches to the dining room. Get personal by creating a unique layout and arrangement that leads best to an enjoyable night for your guests. Don’t be afraid to play matchmaker, switch families up, or think intentionally about the layout that will be most enjoyable. Finally, add something a little special by honoring the matchmaker that brought you and your love together with a special ornament on their chair or place setting.
Overall, the wedding day is yours to craft into the perfect, personalized day of your dreams. Consider these suggestions while planning, and choose what works best for you and yours. No matter what you include, and how you plan it, your wedding day will be one of the best days of your lives because it’s truly about “YOU”, the love you share, and the commitment you are making together.