Seriously now: How many times can you get virtually all your loved ones in one place, all dressed up and looking their best?
This is why I encourage people to invest in a professional wedding photographer. You may be tempted to enlist a family member or friend to chronicle the occasion, but that would mean you’d have at least one guest who’s spending more time getting the right moments photographed than actually enjoying the wedding—or, worse, having so much fun that they forget to take pictures at all! And the $8 disposal cameras you place on each of your guest tables? They may break the ice between guests who don’t know each other, but they’ll rarely result in pictures you want to frame. This probably isn’t the camera’s fault, but the fidgety 5-year-old who’s found a neat new toy to play with. (Buy them a coloring book—it’s cheaper.)
With a pro on hand, everyone relaxes and has fun, and you can rest easy knowing you’ll be able to relive the moments again and again through the quality photographs that will grace your wedding album.
As I write this, my gaze keeps straying to a framed picture of my late husband holding our first granddaughter. It’s a powerful image, perfectly in focus with lighting that captures forever his expression of love and her youthful sparkle. You can’t put a price on that!
For more wedding photography insights, be sure to read questions to ask when meeting your wedding photographer.
A backyard celebration was a big part of our wedding. My husband’s aunt and uncle very generously helped us throw a second wedding party in their New Jersey backyard for our East Coast relatives and friends—we wound up with more guests there than at our San Francisco wedding. Dress and food were casual, kids ran around, many of us were barefoot—and everyone had a great time.
If your personality is more backyard than ballroom, you’re in good company this year. The New York Times says that casual food and a relaxed setting are the latest trend among couples who either don’t have the money for a fancier wedding—or just don’t want to look inappropriately lavish in this economy. Whatever the reason, an at-home, casual wedding is always appropriate, IMHO.
I’ve been inspired by some of the super-sweet backyard DIY weddings I’ve seen on blogs like Style Me Pretty and Design Sponge and by the real weddings I’ve been to. I remember one couple who used bowls of apples instead of flowers as their centerpieces—homey, simple and struck just the right note.
Most caterers can handle working out of your family’s kitchen or even using the garage as their makeshift kitchen. Most will take care of getting chairs and tables if you want to go that formal. Some even specialize in barbecues. Check out companies like Savory and Sweet or Thank Goodness It’s Sophia.
At your wedding reception, you and your newly minted husband are more than the stars: You’re the common denominator amongst your friends and family. They’re all there to celebrate with you, but you can’t be everywhere at once. So how can you make sure everyone’s mixing and mingling and having a good time when you’re off doing necessary things like getting your pictures taken during cocktail hour?
Here are a few suggestions to break the ice:
Interactive Guest “Books”: Ditch the same old Hallmark guest book and get your guests involved in creating a memory book, a wedding wish tree, a photo album guest book, or a video guest book. (Have your videographer meet all guests and ask them to extend their best wishes.)
Photo Booth: What could be more fun than 6 friends hamming it up for the camera? Include silly “accessories” (hats, jewelry, boas) and you’ll have one big old party in a box.
Mobile Entertainment: Rich Ferguson, master illusionist, is a great example. He strolls around while masterfully engaging people in conversation and then… voilà!, he’s blown everyone’s mind with an illusion that keeps everyone talking throughout the reception. A quality caricature artist—with emphasis on quality!—can add something to talk about as well.
Bridal Party Social Assignments: Assign tables to members of your wedding party and ask them to visit with anyone who looks left out or bored. Ask the men who dance to invite the single girls to the dance floor. And don’t forget to assign the biggest flirt in your wedding party to flirt with Grandpa. Grandpas love the attention! (My grandpa told me to write that!)
Group Dances: They may seem a little cheesy, but group dances are great for getting your single guests and people who have two left feet onto the dance floor. My son’s horah dance got all my non-dancing (and non-Jewish) relatives up and having loads of fun! Ask your DJ or emcee what dances and songs bring everyone to the dance floor.
Table-Hopping: Be sure that you and your groom try to get to each and every table to say “thank-you for coming,” and, if appropriate, ask your parents to do the same. You’ll be served your meal first and then you can get up and table-hop while everyone else finishes their meal. A simple acknowledgment to each and every guest can make them feel very special.
And your ideas? We’d love to hear them!