Smart Planning

My favorite tips
Words by Rebecca Mitchell + PHOTOGRAPHY BY Ashley Merritt

As soon as you say, “We’re getting married,” the wedding advice floods in from friends and strangers alike. While it can feel overwhelming at times—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 wedding ideas to inspire your planning. Use your creativity and imagination to come up with a wedding that embodies your personality, style, and relationship. Dream big, dig into the details, and have fun!

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.

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 resembling 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 and may only last 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 those activities increase dehydration and suppress the respiration rate. If symptoms are present, guests should not venture into higher elevations until symptoms go away. 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. Prepare some activity lists (three-, five-, and seven-day versions) for them to use as guidelines. Post them to your wedding website and include them with your invitations. Katelyn and Luke (“A Southern Celebration,” page 60) drafted sample itineraries featuring their favorite national park stops and made airport recommendations based on each route. It reduced the number of travel-related questions they fielded and helped their 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 sibling connections may be easy for guests to identify, but give them background on your friendships. It’s a great way to express your gratitude to your 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. Plus, have some tabletop activities, like coloring books and small puzzles, and some lawn activities, like bocce ball, ladder toss, or beanbag toss, for them. 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 elements. Weave it into your decor or “stamp it” on your paper goods. Chelsea and Chris (“Everything We Hoped For,” page 90) worked closely with their invitation company to customize their CCC monogram and incorporate it into their wedding details. The incredibly talented ladies of xowyo paper + press created a stunning wedding logo that was everywhere—from the invitations, to the wedding signs, to the drink Koozies. From wedding invitations and ceremony signage, to dinner place cards and custom thank-you notes, your options for uniqueness 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! (Kjera and Josh in “Lighthearted & Unforgettable” on page 68, offered their guests Star Wars and Harry Potter props!) 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 numerous “eyes,” it can distract your 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 Katy Gray
Photo by Katy Gray
Photo by Sarah Averill
Photo by Bradly J. Boner
Photo by Ashley Merritt
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