Your wedding day is one of the most memorable days of your life, and you want it to reflect your unique personality and style. Whether you’re on a tight budget or simply looking for creative ways to personalize your celebration, there are plenty of easy, cheap, or even free ways to make your wedding yours. From DIY decor and handmade favors to personalized vows and unique entertainment, there are countless opportunities to add your own personal touch to your wedding day.
In this article, we’ve gathered 37 ideas to help you make your wedding truly one-of-a-kind. Whether you’re planning a rustic outdoor wedding or a chic city celebration, these ideas can suit any style or budget. So grab a cup of coffee, sit back, and get ready to be inspired!
Your Guide to Personalizing Your Wedding: Creating a Memorable and Meaningful Celebration
When I was planning my wedding, I didn’t need the most expensive dress or huge, elaborate floral centrepieces. I really just wanted a fun day surrounded by my closest family and friends in a beautiful location that was totally me and left my guests saying, “Wow! That was the best wedding EVER.”
At first, I didn’t think that was possible on my budget. I thought it took lots of money to create something unique and memorable. Fortunately for me…I was wrong. What you don’t know…and what the wedding industry doesn’t tell you…is that you can have a day filled with personal, unique touches that really say something about you. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
The secret is what I call the “Wow Effect.”
Have you ever walked into a beautiful, historic building.. or climbed to the top of a hill with a gorgeous view…or heard such powerful music that you just lost your words for a minute? It’s like you were so absolutely overwhelmed by what you saw, heard or felt that it blew you away. That’s the Wow Effect. “Wow” is that overwhelming moment of appreciation when you’re so moved that you can’t even express it.
When your guests experience the Wow Effect .at your wedding, they won’t just be impressed.. they’ll really “get” who you are and why you chose this wedding day, this location, and this man. The Wow Effect is like a magic trick that casts a spell over your guests, transporting them to another world…your world…and making them a part of it. Your guests are wowed when your wedding is a totally unique expression of you.
One of my brides explained it like this:
She and her fiancé poured tremendous energy into remodeling and decorating their new house. They spent hours painting and picking out just the right furniture, lights and accessories. It was a labor of love. When her parents finally came to visit, they took an extended tour of the house and said, “Wow! This house is just totally you.” After all the time, money and energy she’d spent planning the wedding of her dreams…that’s what she wanted her guests to say.
“This wedding is unique…totally you.” That’s the experience your guests get when you “wow” them. It’s vitally essential to wow your guests so that they experience your wedding as unique and unforgettable. The bonus is that when they “get” who you are, they become connected and involved…which means they have more FUN. If you don’t wow your guests, they won’t understand that your wedding is totally you.
Your wedding will be just like every other cookie-cutter wedding they’ve attended. But when you wow your guests, they’ll be impressed. You’ll see it on their faces, and they’ll say things like, “This is the best wedding I’ve ever been to!” On the other hand, if you don’t wow your guests, they might leave your reception early and tell people they had just an “okay” time.
Wowing your guests gives you the power to create a wedding that really represents who you are. You can literally influence your guests to have a good time. If you don’t wow your guests, not only does your wedding not represent you…you’re powerless to get your guests to have a good time. Engagement, The Wow Effect, happens in a group when you have people involved, connected and engaged in what’s going on. The key to the Wow Effect is something called engagement.
I’m not talking about the kind of engagement that happened to you when your guy got down on one knee, popped the question, and you said yes. Engage means “to occupy the attention of someone” or “to attract and please.” It’s what happens when you’re really into what you’re doing. This is the real secret of life – to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it to work, realize it is played. — Alan Watts
You’ve probably experienced this type of engagement…or the lack of it… many times. For example, can you remember when you were given a group assignment in school but weren’t into it? Your teacher probably assigned a topic and forced you to follow the rules.
Your group likely struggled through the work because you didn’t want to get a bad grade…but nobody enjoyed it. It sucked because you were NOT engaged. The group wasn’t involved or interested because the assignment had nothing to do with them.
Now if your teacher had engaged your group, it could have looked like this: You get assigned to the same group. You’re still not into it at first. But instead of telling you what to do, your teacher engages you by asking what you think. He asks you to come up with your own topic. Suddenly the whole group is interested and actively participating. And you even end up having fun.
So what happened? Engagement. The same thing will happen at your wedding. When your guests are engaged and involved in your wedding events, they get active and interested. They have FUN…and so do you. The more you apply your guests, the more it works, and the more unique and fun your wedding becomes.
You can engage your guests on three levels: PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, and EMOTIONALLY. And guess what? None of them are expensive.
- Engage them in ACTION. You can invite them to participate in a reading, performance, or group activity.
- Engage them in THOUGHT. Challenge their minds with a quiz or a game. Get them to remember and imagine.
- Engage them in EMOTION. Get your guests involved and invested in your wedding events by touching their feelings. When they really “get” the love between you and your fiancé, they are emotionally engaged when they laugh or cry.
These three levels for engaging your guests can be combined for the greatest Wow Effect. But by far, emotional engagement is the most powerful and best-suited technique for a romantic, unforgettable event like your wedding.
Who Are You?
The best way to wow your guests and engage them at your wedding is to give them the emotional experience of a marriage that is totally you. The secret to having a wedding that really feels like “you” is weaving your personality into your wedding day as much as possible. To create a dream wedding filled with fresh, unique ideas that represent you…you need to know who you are.
No, you won’t need to provide your ID for this one. You need to think about your personality, interests and hobbies of yourself and your fiancé to find the inspiration for dozens of ways to make your wedding unique. These are your “Wow Factors.” Once you’ve created your unique Wow Factors, it’s easy to work them into your wedding.
For example… If you and your fiancé share a love of travel, that might be your Wow Factor. So you might name your tables after the places you have visited together. You might create a scrapbook of your travels or have your DJ play songs from countries that are special to you.
One of our couples’ Wow Factor was their shared obsession with the New York Yankees. They named each table after a player, had the NY Yankees logo on their wedding cake and the bride’s garter, and were introduced
to “The Yankee Mambo.”
Maybe you don’t want to get that extreme, but I think you get my point. Sharing your Wow Factor with your guests gets them engaged. Once they are engaged, they start actively participating in your wedding…which translates to FUN, FUN, FUN!
Engaging your guests isn’t complicated or expensive but involves little time and thought. Do this exercise to discover the Wow Factor that will make your wedding totally you.
Dream Wedding Exercise
- Print out this worksheet. Fill in the checklist about your interests and hobbies.
- Pick out two interests, hobbies, or activities (paying extra attention to the ones you drew a star or circle around) as Wow Factors to work into your wedding day.
Keep them in mind as you explore the ideas in this chapter.
Telling Your Story
My all-time favorite way to engage wedding guests is to tell them your love story. People are suckers for a good story. When your guests hear your story, they will get emotionally engaged. They may laugh; tears might come to their eyes. It cues them into the meaning and uniqueness of your special day. How did you meet your fiancé? What was your first impression of him? Where was your first date? How did you get engaged?
Many of your wedding guests won’t know your story. They certainly don’t know all the juicy details. Working these unique details into your special day makes a lasting memory by involving them in your story. On the other hand, if you choose NOT to share your story, you risk having disconnected, disinterested wedding guests.
To tell your story, you don’t have to be a writer or a great speaker. Here are some easy ways to have someone else do it for you:
- Have your officiant create a ceremony just for you. This may include vows you have written yourselves or the details of how you met and what you mean to each other. If your officiant is open to the idea, she might share your love story with your guests as a part of the ceremony.
- Ask your Master of Ceremonies (either the band leader or DJ) to tell your story at your wedding reception. It can be something you have written for each other or something they write for you based on what you tell them.
My husband and I invite couples to write a short love letter to each other before the wedding…and NOT share it. Then on the wedding day, I read their letters just before their First Dance.
The response is always excellent. Your words can be romantic, funny, or quirky…whatever fits your personality. Your guests will be drawn in and engaged emotionally. They’ll feel connected and primed for an unforgettable, fun time.
More Ways to Tell Your Story
If you feel comfortable making a speech, take the microphone and share your story at reception. Ask a parent or a talkative member of your bridal party to do it for you. If you are shy or prefer a low-key way to tell your story, consider printing a brief love story in your ceremony program.
A photo slide show playing during cocktail or dinner hour can also subtly tell your story. The object is to touch your guests emotionally. And that doesn’t mean you have to be sappy and romantic…getting them laughing works really well, too. The more your guests feel, the more involved they will be in your wedding day and the more fun everyone will have.
Dream Wedding Exercise
- Print out this worksheet. Answer the questions about your story.
- Select your favorite story and make a plan with your fiancé to share it on your wedding day in a way that fits your personality. Involve Your Talented Guests
This idea engages your guests both emotionally and physically. Have your family and friends participate directly in your wedding day. This goes way beyond just inviting them to do a reading at your ceremony.
For example, if you have a professional singer or musician attending, ask them to perform for your ceremony or during the reception.
Our couples have included performances by guests who were jazz singers, guitarists, actors, comedians…even Irish step dancers who did Lord of the Dance.
In every case, the guests ate it up. They were engaged, and it made a fun party inevitable. Of course, don’t guilt your guests into performing if they aren’t comfortable with it. You don’t want any drama queens.
But if your talented guests would like to share, it adds something special for you and your guests. Music Makes the Memories Have you ever heard a song and immediately started laughing as you relived a funny memory? Or a song that brings you back to when you fell in love? Music is a compelling way to engage your guests. It engages both emotionally and physically: your guests feel the music as they dance to it.
If you don’t take advantage of music’s powerful effect on engaging your guests, you miss out on an easy way to make your wedding totally you. But if you do use music to involve your guests, it will make your dream wedding unforgettable.
Great Places to include those special songs in your wedding day
- Your processional down the aisle. Unless you have a strict church ceremony, you aren’t limited to “The Wedding March” or the “Canon in D.” Any love song or instrumental can take your emotions to the next level.
- Your parent dances. If there is a song, your father always sang to you, use it for your parent dance. You don’t have to use a “traditional” Father-Daughter song. A personal choice makes it extra special for both you and your guests…especially if you have your master of ceremonies explain the meaning behind it.
- Your introduction music. Your introduction music can be anything from Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” to James Brown’s “I Feel Good.” Pick a song that makes a statement about your personality and makes you feel fantastic, setting the tone for your whole reception.
- If you have eclectic taste in music, ask your entertainer to help you find a place for your favorite songs on your wedding day.
Another way to engage your guests is to get them involved physically. Do you remember back in gym class when you had to play dodgeball? God, I hated that. I dreaded being picked (or not picked) for a team. I was not too fond of the idea of having to play. But then we started to MOVE. And something happened.
I got involved…engaged. Physical movement engages your guests and gets them actively having fun. Entertainers have known this secret for years, so many rely on the Electric Slide and the YMCA to start the party. Once your guests are up and moving, everything gets fun.
You don’t have to use these types of participation methods. There is a whole range of techniques, from highly interactive to subtle approaches. But if you don’t get your guests moving, they will sit like lumps all night and probably leave early.
Michael and Sharon were total foodies who served their guests a five-course meal with wine pairings at the Culinary Institute of America. They decided they wanted the food to be the focus, so they requested that no dance music be played until after dinner. Of course, their guests were thrilled with the meal. But after plates of food and glasses of wine…they were more than a little weighed down.
The guests were so tired and full after dinner that most of them left instead of dancing. Getting your guests up and moving as soon as possible is crucial so they will be engaged and actively having fun.
Best Ways to Physically Engage Your Guests
- Participation Dances — Electric Slide, YMCA, Cha Cha Slide, Conga Line, etc.
- Ice Breaker Games — A centerpiece giveaway, musical chairs, and the newlywed game.
- Inviting Guests To Dance — An easy way to subtly get things moving is to ask your guests to join you on the dance floor. They have to get up…because it is their wedding day…and the dancing continues from there.
Ask your entertainer for his or her favorite ideas to get your guests moving. They can cook up some great ways to physically engage your guests. Remember Your Guests Your wedding day should be special and unique. But a part of making it memorable for you is making it unique for your guests. To do that, you need to engage and include them.
If your guests don’t feel included in your wedding day, they won’t be engaged and won’t have fun. Your wedding day will be a big dud. On the other hand, if you include your guests, they will be actively involved and have a great time….and so will you.
Take a moment to think about the people coming to your wedding. What songs and artists might they want? What activities do they enjoy? If you want your guests to have the best time possible, it might be a good idea to include a few of their favorite songs.
One of our brides hated the YMCA. She just couldn’t stand it. But her Uncle Harry got so excited about doing the YMCA at every wedding that she asked us to play it, just for him. Her Uncle Harry jumped around, waving his arms as he (mis)spelled the words. The bride and her guests were hysterical. It ended up being one of the highlights of the party.
I’m not suggesting that you must play the Chicken Dance just because your guests want it. Just take a moment to consider what your guests like and throw them a bone now and then. Another way to remember your guests is to announce any upcoming birthdays or anniversaries. You might make a special dedication or take the opportunity to embarrass a friend by reminding them about the time you sang together in a karaoke bar.
A final, surefire way to include your guests in the celebration of your special day is to thank them. You can do this in a speech or with a dance, like a friendship circle. This is a great way to end the party. Have your Master of Ceremonies announced that the newlyweds would like to thank everyone for coming by sharing the last dance of the night, forming a circle around them? Playing a song like Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” or “That’s What Friends Are For” while you dance with your guests creates an unforgettable finale for your dream wedding.
37 Ways To Wow Your Guests
I’m pulling out all the stops here in as many ways as possible to wow your guests and make your wedding totally you. These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg. Use your creativity, imagination, and Wow Factors to find more ways to fit your personality.
W – Weave in your personality using your wow factors.
O – Others’ involvement. Get others involved.
W – Why. Explain your choices to your guests so that they understand the significance.
37 Ways To Wow
1. A list of trivia questions about you for each table to answer.
2. Favors that relate to your hobby or special interest.
3. Childhood photographs of you and your fiancé displayed in an album or on a table.
4. Y our parents’ and grandparents’ wedding photos.
5. Pictures of your pets.
6. Decorating your sweetheart table with momentos or collectibles.
7. Put together a collage of your love letters from a long distance romance.
8. A groom’s cake in honor of your fiance’s hobby.
9. Choosing your favorite flower for the centerpieces.
10.Playing your favorite team’s theme song.
11.Doing the silly line dance you and your friends learned in college.
12.Cardboard cutouts of the friend who introduced you but couldn’t be at the wedding.
13.Performances by your musician, singer or dancer guests.
14.Sharing your love story during your ceremony or reception.
15.Giving your guests “table tasks” to do throughout the reception.
16.Playing the newlywed game.
17.A special thank you friendship dance with all your guests.
18.Play or dedicate a song to a friend as an inside joke.
19.Wear an item of clothing or jewelry from a beloved family member and share this with your guests.
20.Name your tables to represent one of your favorite Wow Factors.
21.Choose your favorite poems as non-traditional ceremony readings.
22.Leave a gag gift, like a clown nose or fake moustache, at each place setting and photograph all your guests wearing them.
23.A scavenger hunt using disposable cameras to “hunt” for images.
24.Announce birthdays, anniversaries or engagements.
25.Give a dance lesson at your reception.
26.Hold a “ring warming” during the ceremony where pass your rings to each guest before you exchange vows.
27.Write special vows that unite your family and friends.
28.Include special ethnic traditions and dances.
29.Play a song or speech together.
30.Make a donation to your favorite charity.
31.Treat your guests to your favorite wine or dessert and tell them about it.
32.Play your guests’ wedding songs.
33.Include your signature animal, team, hobby or activity in your wedding theme.
34.Take Polaroid photos of your guests for your guest book.
35.Have your guests write thoughts and wishes for a “time capsule” you’ll open on your 10th wedding anniversary.
36.Serve your special homemade brownies at the wedding and give your guests the recipe.
37.Surprise your guests by sharing your secret talent or skill.
Okay. Now I’m thoroughly exhausted. Wowing your guests is about more than just discovering fresh, unique ideas and working them into your wedding… that can certainly inspire you. It’s about expressing yourself through the look and the feel, as well as the people you’re surrounded by, on your wedding day.
That makes your day unique…not just doing things no one else has seen but allowing you to shine through in every element of your wedding. Do this exercise to put together all the pieces you need to make your wedding day truly unique.
Best Expertise Dream Wedding
1) Print out this worksheet. Answer the questions.
2) Pick out at least one of your Wow Factors, one story, one song and one way to include
your guests that fits your Dream Wedding.
3) Come up with a plan for using them at your wedding and schedule the first step on your calendar.
Best Ways to Make Your Wedding Memorable – Wrap up!
Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and you want it to be a memorable celebration of your love and commitment. By incorporating some of the ideas and tips we’ve discussed in this article, you can create a wedding that truly reflects your personality and love story.
Remember to think outside the box and make your wedding unique, whether by adding personal touches to your decor, creating a fun photo booth, or serving your favorite foods. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or delegate tasks to make planning easier.
Most importantly, cherish the memories you create on your wedding day, whether they’re big or small. Take a moment to soak it all in and savor the love and happiness surrounding you. Your wedding day will be over before you know it, but the memories will last a lifetime.
Thank you for reading this article, and we hope you found it helpful in planning your memorable wedding celebration. Congratulations and best wishes on your journey to “happily ever after”!