My favorite tips

As soon as you say, “We’re getting married,” the wedding advice floods in from friends and strangers alike. While it can feel overwhelming weeding through the dos and don’ts, it’s worth your time, as you never know when you’ll find a valuable tidbit.

Here, I’ve gathered some creative and memorable ideas to inspire your planning. Use your imagination to come up with a wedding that captures your personality, style, and relationship. Dream big, dig into the details, and have fun!

Take time early in the planning process to decide what elements are most important to you as a couple and individually. Prioritize those elements and refer to them when you encounter planning challenges. Jessica and Aaron (“Happy Memories,” page 68) stayed grounded throughout their venue tours and vendor meetings by referring back to their “Top 3 Important Things” list they made at the start of their wedding planning.

Escape for a few minutes
Plan some alone time as a couple to appreciate the event’s magnitude and excitement. Hannah and Will (“Hooked on Mook,” page 50) escaped before and after their ceremony. Beforehand, they drove up a dirt road and found a stream for the backdrop for their bridal shoot. Spending time together, alone, in nature before the ceremony was invaluable for their nerves and gave them a few special moments to take in everything before being surrounded by loved ones. Also, they took a few minutes following the ceremony to relish the “newlywed glow” before joining their guests at the reception.

Break from tradition
Instead of a classic guest book, consider a unique way to remember who attended your wedding, like a thumbprint wedding tree canvas. Have guests place thumbprints and signatures on a blank tree outline. It will make a memorable wall hanging to enjoy for years to come. Check out “wedding thumbprint tree” on Pinterest for inspiration.

Create signature outings
One of Katie and Billy’s (“Bold as Love,” page 78) favorite parts of their wedding week was sharing their passion for public lands with their friends and family through their own “signature outings.” Billy led a mountain bike ride at Mike Harris Campground in Victor, while Katie went horseback riding from Moose Creek with close family and friends. It was a wonderful way to relax, connect, and soak up Teton Valley’s beautiful energy before the festivities began. Consider sharing some fun and personal experiences with family and friends before your big day.

Educate your guests
Guests traveling by plane from sea level to our high elevation may experience shortness of breath, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and other symptoms that can resemble the flu. This condition, called acute mountain sickness, is a common type of altitude sickness. It can occur at elevations as low as 5,000 feet, but usually lasts only a day or so.

Prepare your guests for high-altitude conditions with recommendations to drink extra water to stay hydrated, avoid strenuous activities upon arrival, and limit smoking and/or alcohol consumption as that can increase dehydration and suppress respiration rate. If symptoms are present, guests should not venture to higher elevations until they abate. If symptoms persist or worsen, seeing a doctor is recommended.

Give guests options
Your out-of-town guests will likely want to make a vacation out of their Teton travels. While on their scouting trip to Jackson, Jessica and Aaron (“Happy Memories,” page 68) kept track of their favorite places to eat, drink, and visit, and posted them on the “Things To Do” page of their wedding website.

Consider preparing some activity lists (three-, five-, and seven-day versions) for your guests to use as guidelines. Post them to your website or include them with your invitations. It will reduce the number of travel-related questions you will need to field and help your guests map out their Teton adventures.

Share your history
Consider dedicating a portion of your wedding website or rehearsal dinner program to explaining your relationships with your wedding party members. Your siblings may be easy for guests to identify but give them some background on your friends. It’s a great way to express your gratitude to friends and family. Plus, your guests will enjoy learning more about your special friendships.

Don’t forget the children
If you plan to have children attend your wedding reception, organize a children’s buffet complete with kid-friendly food, drink, and desserts. Have some tabletop activities like coloring books and small puzzles, and some lawn activities like bocce ball, ladder toss, or beanbag toss. Your young guests will love the special treatment, and parents will appreciate your efforts.

Personalize it
Look for inspiring ways to make your wedding reflect you as a couple. Consider creating a wedding brand—a meaningful image or monogram—that can tie together your wedding’s elements. Weave it into your decor or stamp it on your paper goods. From wedding invitations and ceremony signage to dinner place cards and custom thank-you notes, your options for personalization are endless.

Capture the spontaneity
Rent a photobooth for your reception and watch your guests flock to snap shots of funny expressions, endearing embraces, and silly disguises. Provide some creative props and let your guests have fun! Typical photobooth rentals include photostrips for guests and a CD of the night’s images for you.

Ask your guests to unplug
These days, nearly everyone who attends a wedding has a smartphone camera at the ready to capture memorable moments. While this can be a great way to see the event through many eyes, it can also distract guests’ attention and even backfire when a guest inadvertently jumps in front of the professional photographer to capture a candid moment. Consider asking your guests to refrain from using their phones—entirely or at certain times. You can include this request in your invitation or ask your officiant to make a heartfelt announcement at the beginning of the ceremony.

Thank them
Wedding favors are a small token of appreciation for your guests who traveled from near and far to celebrate with you. The most popular wedding favors are edible ones. Use your imagination and have fun.

Get sent off in style
Making a grand exit is more than just a great photo opportunity; it’s an age-old tradition that just keeps getting better with time. Get creative with your exit plans. Walk through a tunnel of ski poles or boat oars, or have your guests wave brilliant sparklers, shoot off cap guns, or throw lavender buds.

Photo by Cole Buckhart
Photo by Cody Downard
Photo by David Stubbs
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