Chicks Getting Hitched: Let your wedding tell your love story

Over the weekend, I attended the wedding of a dear friend. Before she even made her entrance to walk down the aisle, I had tears in my eyes. My makeup was ruined by the time she and her new husband exchanged vows. My friend’s wedding was beautiful and tear-worthy, to be sure. But, I think the reason I found her nuptials so touching is because I know her very well and have spent time with her husband. I know how they met and how they got engaged. I know a bit about the path that brought them to the altar, and what being married means to them. Knowing (and loving) the couple is what made this wedding so special and memorable for me as a guest, which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about the topic of personalizing your wedding.

Not every third cousin or father’s coworker who may end up at your wedding is going to have intimate knowledge of your unique love story. Heck, you may even have “close” family members (an out-off-touch grandmother or a homophobic older brother, perhaps) who don’t know much about your relationship because they’ve consciously avoided the subject. Whether you’re bringing more distant relatives and friends up to speed or educating your nearest and dearest, I think you can personalize all kinds of elements of your big day so that your wedding tells your love story.

You don’t want to share every single inside joke or divulge the most private details of your relationship. But, with some well-placed and tasteful personalization, your guests will leave your wedding feeling like they know you better and like they have witnessed something truly special. Here are some great ways to customize your wedding so that it reflects your personalities and gives your guests some more information on the unique relationship they are there to celebrate.

Launch a wedding website

Wedding websites are a great place to provide practical information like directions to your reception or hotel information for out-of-towners. But, you can also use your website to share more personal details like the story of how you met or how she proposed. You can create photo galleries of vacations, holidays, birthdays and other special moments you and your fiancée have shared. You can even make a page to introduce your wedding party, with photos and blurbs about how you know each attendant. I am using for my wedding website. The service is free and it’s relatively easy to update your site, even for the not-super-tech-savvy, like me. With a wedding website, guests can get to know you and your fiancée a bit better before your big day.

Put some thought into your program

Are you walking down the aisle to a song by the band you and your wife-to-be saw at your first concert together? Did you put daffodils in your bouquet because that is the flower your lady brought you on your first date? Does your wedding date hold some special significance? Use your program to explain some of those sweet details, and your guests will remember your wedding fondly for many years to come.

Photo by Betsie Van der Meer/Getty Images

Write your own vows

Nothing will make your wedding stand out from the dozens of others your guests have attended more than personalized vows. (Ok, perhaps the fact that there is no groom at your wedding will also make it stand out, but personalized vows are a close second). This is your chance to tell your wife exactly how you feel about her and give everyone else at your wedding a sneak peak into your special love. I think the best vows combine a bit of humor, a sentimental story or two and a few lines about the unique ways you intend to honor your commitment to one another. Here are some helpful tips from on writing your own wedding vows.

Photo by Doug Barry/Getty Images

Get creative with table names and place settings

Just like programs, your tables (if you’re having a sit-down dinner) can provide an excellent opportunity for your guests to get to know more about you and your relationship. Start by giving tables creative names instead of simply numbering them. Draw inspiration from things you and your fiancée love to do together. If you’ve traveled a lot, name tables after cities you’ve visited. Or, if you’re movie buffs, choose a favorite film to mark each table. You can drive home the theme with even more personal touches. In the travel example, for instance, if you name a table “Paris,” put a photo of the two of you in front of the Eiffel Tower on the table and include a little note at each place setting about what made that trip so special. Creative table names and place settings will serve as conversation starters for your guests, and by the end of the meal, they’ll know a little bit more about what why you and your wife fell for each other.

Photo by Danielle Leavell/Getty Images

Share your values

I’m not a big fan of most wedding favors because typically those mints or magnets you spent so much time selecting end up in the junk drawer (or the trash can). Instead of throwing away money on a generic trinket your guests won’t use, make a charitable donation in their honor. Charitable donations are always an elegant favor, and they provide yet another opportunity for your guests to learn more about you. If you and your wife met on a volunteer trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, a donation to a non-profit working to rebuild the city would make perfect sense. Or, if you’re pet lovers, a donation to a local animal shelter might be right for you. Take it a step further by including a note at each guest’s place setting explaining why you chose that particular charity and what the cause means to you and your wife.

What do you think are the best ways to tell your love story at your wedding?