Inside Weddings - - Features - BETH BERN­STEIN FOR SQN EVENTS

Cus­tom­ize your up­com­ing cer­e­mony and re­cep­tion with these help­ful hints.

Wed­ding plan­ner Beth Bern­stein shares her tips on how to cus­tom­ize your big day.

Icel­e­brated my 18th wed­ding an­niver­sary this spring. As an event plan­ner, peo­ple of­ten ask me what I would change about my own nup­tials if I could go back in time. Our wed­ding was held at a tra­di­tional, pri­vate club with high ceil­ings, gor­geous crys­tal chan­de­liers, and dark hard­wood floors. I kept ev­ery­thing clas­sic – a pal­ette of white, ivory, and cham­pagne; tall cen­ter­pieces set atop large sil­ver can­de­labra; Chi­avari chairs; en­graved in­vi­ta­tions; and a menu fea­tur­ing a choice of filet mignon or sea bass.

Would I change any­thing? Not re­ally. (Well, maybe I wouldn’t use lilies in my ar­range­ments – while they were gor­geous, their fra­grance is a bit over­pow­er­ing.) I look back at my wed­ding pho­tos and think the style holds up pretty well in com­par­i­son to the events of today – even af­ter al­most two decades.

What I would do is add a per­son­al­ized touch. While my wed­ding was beau­ti­ful and clas­sic in ev­ery way, it re­ally could have been any­one’s cel­e­bra­tion. There was noth­ing about it that il­lus­trated, “This is Beth & Dan’s wed­ding.”

Cou­ples have a mul­ti­tude of ways to per­son­al­ize their big day and avoid the curse of the “cookie-cut­ter” wed­ding. Here are a few ideas to con­sider when plan­ning your nup­tials in order to let your guests know who you are as a cou­ple.


Cre­ate a cus­tom mono­gram or “logo” to be fea­tured on ev­ery pa­per el­e­ment of your wed­ding. From the save-the­date cards to the menus to the cock­tail nap­kins, brand­ing your wed­ding is the best place to start putting your stamp (quite lit­er­ally) on ev­ery item your guests will touch.

Cer­e­mony Mu­sic

Who says brides have to walk down the aisle to “Canon in D”? While the song is ab­so­lutely beau­ti­ful, I have heard it at 90% of the wed­dings that I have both at­tended and planned. Mu­sic is the per­fect way to per­son­al­ize your cer­e­mony to your taste. Are you and your part­ner su­per fans of The Bea­tles? “Here, There, and Ev­ery­where” is one of my fa­vorites and is sure to bring a tear to your guests’ eyes (and yours) as you walk down the aisle. For a more con­tem­po­rary tune, “Marry Me” by Train or “A Thou­sand Years” by Christina Perri are both lovely op­tions. Up­beat songs such as “You Make My Dreams Come True” by Hall & Oates and “Best Day of My Life” by Amer­i­can Au­thors for the re­ces­sional let your guests know that they are in for a fun evening!


Here’s where you can re­ally get cre­ative, and in my opin­ion, I think cock­tail hour and dessert are the best places to in­fuse your per­sonal taste. For passed hors d’oeu­vres, add a pen­nant with your fa­vorite base­ball team’s logo to mini hot dogs or in­clude lob­ster rolls if you’re from New Eng­land for a unique bit of flair. Don’t love cake? Serve a va­ri­ety of your fa­vorite pies for dessert! Donut diehards? Bring in these sweet treats from a lo­cal bak­ery and serve them with cof­fee – in a per­son­al­ized cup, of course.

Photo Booth Fun

Photo booths are hot right now and they aren’t likely to go away any time soon. In­stead of the tra­di­tional booth like you see in bars or at ev­ery other wed­ding, do an “open” booth with a cus­tom back­drop. I know a bride who sur­prised her Bri­tish groom by bring­ing a bit of Lon­don to Chicago with a back­drop fea­tur­ing Bri­tain’s iconic red phone booths.

So what­ever your taste may be, let it be yours. Al­low the big day to rep­re­sent the two of you: where you’ve been or even where you hope to go. By in­clud­ing de­tails that go far be­yond the typ­i­cal ex­pec­ta­tions, you’ll cre­ate what may turn out to be some of your fa­vorite mem­o­ries of the day.

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