Tips On How To Personalize Your Wedding

By Robbi Ernst, III of
Founder & President
June Wedding, Inc.

Having been a wedding consultant for more than nineteen years, I have experienced the happiest of weddings. Those that I find most memorable are the ones where the bride and the groom and both sets of parents are involved in the planning. Every bride and groom ask me: “How can we make our wedding different? What can we do to make it memorable rather than just like everyone else’s wedding?” I always have the same answer for every bride and groom: “Personalize it! Don’t worry about trying to outdo someone else or trying to make it different!”

Here are some tips that I have experienced in planning more than nine
hundred weddings. Along with these ideas, I have included the names of some of the vendors that made them happen.

1. The Wedding Gown:

a). Many brides really do want to wear their mother’s gown. The reality is that not only are gowns sometimes not wearable, i.e. time and improper storage has caused the fabric to be damaged or discolored (Christine Morrissey: National Gown Cleaners (408) 241 3490), but the shape of women has changed from previous generations. In years past women were more involved with manual labor and chores. Because of that the shape of the body was different. That’s not to say that the modern woman has grown soft and flabby. Quite the opposite. Women of the current generation exercise more deliberately and tend to have better body tone and shape. So, the gown of a previous generation simply often does not fit the modern bride. That’s not to say that the mother’s gown cannot be put to good use. Don’t let it continue to sit in the box and deteriorate. As awful as it sounds: cut up that gown! Make a ring bearer pillow, a flower girl dress, use the fabric and lace in the bridal bouquet and boutonneire. If there is an abundance of fabric, create a beautiful overlay for the bridal table. Or use pieces woven in and around the floral arrangements, bows for the bride’s and groom’s chairs. The possibilities are endless.

b). One particularly wonderful idea I had for one of three daughters’ weddings that I did in Texas was that we had a seamstress create the flower girl’s dress in the same design as the expensive designer gown that the bride wore.

c). Be attentive to the ceremonial area. A bride of mine was to have her ceremony on a beautiful winding stairway in a gorgeous Atherton, California home. Above the stairwell was a skylight with wonderful stained glass of lavendor, pink and green irises. I suggested: “Why not design the attendants’ gowns and the bouquets and other decorations to reflect the colors in that skylight?” The bride loved the idea, and we did just that We kept it a secret and were curious if anyone would notice. Sure enough, when the bride and groom returned from the honeymoon, she called to tell me how lovely things were and that she was ecstatic to walk through the reception and overhear a guest comment to another: “Wasn’t it beautiful how the dresses and flowers matched the skylight? I wonder if they did that deliberately?” I can assure you, all my brides and I are deliberate, and very conspiratorial! The bride told me, “You know Robbi, little things mean a lot. I figured that you and I would be the only people that noticed that tiny detail!”

2. Flowers and Decoration:

a). The staff of June Wedding, Inc. (JWI) planned many weddings at The Hamlin Mansion in San Francisco. But one stands out in memory: The ceremony was to take place ina large round room, the very center of the mansion. Leading off from the central room were five rooms with doors that opened into them. In these rooms the guests would have a formal sitdown dinner after the ceremony and cocktail reception in the center room. At one of our meetings with the florist (Laura Little of Floramor Studios 415 864 0145) I listened carefully and took notes as the bride selected the colors and types of flowers to be used in the bouquets and centerpieces. Her flowers of choice were wonderful shades of purple, violet and lavender. Upon returning to the JWI Salon on Post Street in downtown San Francisco, I called the caterer (Laurence Whiting, owner of Now We’re Cooking! 415 255
6355) and suggested that instead of the serving staff bringing out the
salads and placing them on the table after the guests were seated, that instead we have the salads in place before the guests came into the room AND that the chef put radicchio in the salad (for those on a more restricted budget purple cabbage works just as well). The doors to the dining rooms were opened to drum rolls and trumpets playing Vivaldi’s Trumpet Fanfare. The sight was all but overwhelming and quite dramatic. The attention of the guests was drawn to the dining rooms. The tables looked like fabulous bouquets. Today all professional caterers use flowers that not only enhance the dining tables or serving trays but are also edible. And, it doesn’t add a penny to the cost! Now, mind you, be tasteful! Use the flowers to accentuate a dish, not to overwhelm it. After all, you don’t want your guests going away talking about how they ate your bridal bouquet.

b). Speaking of bouquets, have you considered saving this once (well,
maybe twice) in a life time floral arrangement that is so special to you on your wedding day? Do at least think about it. One of the nation’s experts in proper floral preservation is Sentimental Reasons (owners Sue Abbott and Casey O’Connor, Las Vegas, Nevada 800 896 5765). They have clients internationally. Your bouquet can be shipped overnight to them. The bouquet and boutonniere are taken apart, freeze dried and then reassembled as originally designed in a framed format or recreated into a beautiful centerpiece.

c). Personalizing your wedding means making certain that your loved ones (your parents and wedding party) are not forgotten. Remember, they’ve been your esprit de corps in your months of planning. Have floral arrangements in their hotel rooms or at their home the day before the wedding. For a special affect, have the florist use the same flowers that will be in the wedding bouquets and arrangements. Don’t forget to enclose a “love note”; remember, we are “personalizing” your wedding.

d). We are talking to the bride AND the groom! A romantic thing for the groom to do is have arrangements of flowers sent to the bride’s home, the parents’ homes AND, if you really want your bride to know you are a classey gentleman, have flowers in the honeymoon suite awaiting your arrival. Add a bottle of champagne, wine or non-alcoholic wine (the same brand as served at the wedding)and you’re promised a wonderful feeling. To keep that romance going, write down the names and colors of the flowers and file it. On your anniversaries, pull out that list and call your favorite florist. Too, the new bride or wife can order a fresh boutonniere to be present in your room on the honeymoon and all of your anniversaries to come. I once had a bride who had a passion for gardenias. Fortunately she was sensible and recognized that gardenias have a powerful fragrance. One should consider twice before using them in abundance as centerpieces for the dinner tables. Actually one should avoid any floral fragrance that is going to compete with the aromas and flavors of the food. The bride flew her wedding party into San Francisco and hosted them at the world famous Pan Pacific Hotel(Sue Robbins 415 771 8600). The bride and groom ordered gardenias floating in shallow water filled clear glass containers and sent to the rooms of the parents and the wedding party. Later, I called the florist and ordered similar gardenia arrangements to be placed on the couple’s nightstand of their honeymoon suite in Bora Bora.

e). Is your wedding or reception taking place in the town hall, the local Elks’ Lodge or Knights of Columbus Hall? Not to worry. Cover those pictured covered walls with hanging drapes of fabric from ceiling to floor. Use a color that compliments your wedding flowers and attendants’ dresses. Later the fabric can be sewn into table clothes and given as gifts. For an even more dramatic flare, uplight the walls….”wash” them in color.

To finish reading this article, please visit: Tips On How To Personalize Your Wedding

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