10 ideas to infuse your wedding day with meaning
Are you looking for ideas on how to plan a more meaningful wedding day, but don’t know where to start? This is the post for you.
My sister and her husband planned the first intimate wedding I ever attended. Since then, many couples have reached out to me to document their small days too. From my years of shooting intimate weddings, I’ve learned the most meaningful wedding days are the ones crafted with heart and intention.
Of course I know what makes a meaningful wedding day will be different for everyone. This list of suggestions is a culmination of my experience as a wedding photographer (and now a bride!) planning our own wedding.
Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you to incorporate more meaning into your own day and carry out a vision that’s true to you.
1. Limit your guest list
This is, by far, the most important decision to make about your wedding day. Your guest count impacts every other aspect of your day, in a big way. By paring down your guest list, you are intentionally choosing those people to stick by your side, through the good times and bad. A smaller wedding with your closest people creates a more intimate atmosphere by nature. If you need more reasons to consider a small wedding, check out this post. OR if you’re thinking an elopement is more your style, click here.
2. Choose a meaningful wedding location
A lot of couples I work with choose to exchange vows in a place that marked a milestone in their relationship. It’s the forest where they got engaged or the beach where they said “I love you” for the first time. Choosing a meaningful location for your ceremony or reception intimately bonds you to that place forever. Imagine returning to that special place to reminiscence or celebrate future anniversaries. More importantly, you get to experience and share that special place with all of your loved ones.
3. Write your own vows
Don’t forget what this day is all about: the two of you committing your lives to each other. Of all days, this is not the time to underestimate the power of your words. This is an opportunity to reflect on why you’re getting married and how you will continually communicate love to your partner. You don’t need to be a poet. You only need to speak your truth to the most important person in your life. Your relationship is one-of-a-kind…why wouldn’t you express your feelings with your own voice? That will always mean so much more than a generic script.
4. Have someone close to you officiate or help craft the ceremony script
Your officiant will play a significant role on your wedding day…and he or she will also be present in all of your ceremony photos. It’s important to make sure you share a connection with this person and that they share your vision. Asking someone close to you to officiate or collaborating on the script together will make your ceremony so much more personal. I can’t vouch for other states, but in California, your friend or family member can easily be ordained online. However, make sure to check the specific laws in the city, state, or country you’re considering.
5. Ask your loved ones to toast you
My personal favorite part of a wedding day is listening to toasts from close friends or family. When the group shares your personal stories, the love in the room becomes tangible. Your parents might learn something new about your relationship when your best friend recounts the story of how you met, or vice versa. These stories bring people closer together. Besides the ceremony, this is the time of day when emotions flow freely. There doesn’t have to be any pressure or “rules” behind these toasts. Sometimes we don’t get a lot of opportunities to tell people how important they are to us. Consider this an open invitation for your loved ones to do just that.
6. Delegate important roles to friends and family
I’m sure more than one of your guests have already asked what they can do to help. Even if you think you can do it all, give them something to do too! I promise that assigning friends or family even small roles will help make for a more meaningful wedding day. This is a beautiful way to intimately involve your community and make sure everyone feels included. If your friend owns a bakery, hire them to make your cake! If your mom is a skilled seamstress, maybe she will want to help you with your dress. Not only will delegating duties help personalize your day, these things will mean so much more to you too.
7. Exchange personal letters or gifts
This is another meaningful gesture that has always stood out to me when documenting wedding days. Sometimes during preparation or the first look, a couple will exchange love letters or thoughtful gifts. If words of affirmation is one of your partner’s love languages, a personal letter is something they will cherish. And a gift doesn’t have to be expensive to be well-received. For example, you can make a scrapbook of your relationship, purchase a mug from the coffeeshop you had your first date, or collect a vial of sand from your special place. These things will become mementos of love you can hold on to forever.
8. Spend the whole day together (or most of it!)
I know this one goes against tradition, but I’m all about making your wedding day your own. Instead of getting ready at separate locations or doing a first look, I’ve photographed couples who opted to get ready together. They spend the morning cuddling, sharing coffee, and helping their partner get dressed. They share every experience on their wedding day and I think that’s a super special way to start your marriage. And their wedding images, from start to finish, reflect those moments too.
9. Incorporate more of the things you love
The best wedding day details are the ones that mean something special to your relationship. These are the things that make your day uniquely you and the ones your guests are going to remember. For instance, it can be something as simple as carrying a family heirloom on your bouquet. If you love to collect vinyl together, maybe your guest book will be a custom album sleeve. You can dance to the song that played during your first kiss or order a cake topper that features your dog. In short, you don’t have to go broke on decor to leave an impression on your guests.
10. Repurpose your wedding decor for your home
It goes without saying, you will have lots of wedding pictures to hang around the house, but what’s going to happen to the rest of your decor? At a recent wedding I photographed, the couple used terracotta tiles as the chargers for their table settings. They’re planning to lay these tiles in the backyard of the home they just bought together. Every time they sit outside, they will be reminded of all the people who love them. Another couple I know hung a personalized map used as a guest book above their bed. If you can find ways to repurpose your wedding decor, these details will intrinsically carry sentimental value. And frankly, you will feel so much better about investing in items built to last that will become a conversation starter in your home. (Bridal Guide has some other great ideas here!)
There are so many small things you can do to have a more meaningful wedding day. The best part of all? Most of these ideas are free or will actually save you money. With these tips in mind, I hope you feel ready to infuse your day with all kinds of special details.
You’re allowed to turn your wedding day into whatever you want it to be, but I hope it’s a reflection of you.