20 Free (Or Cheap) Ways to Make Your Wedding More Fun and Personal

1 May
carnival_01On a mission to have the best wedding ever, but also on a budget? Look no further! Not all of us have an aunt who can perform a solo of “The Rose” during the ceremony or a common hobby that would make a funky wedding theme, so here is some inspiration for those of us counting our pennies while counting on an awesome night! (Looking for more general tips on how you can save money on your big day? Check out this post.)

1. Welcome!: Add a welcome event a day or two before your wedding, such as dinner, drinks or even a casual drinks. This lets your guests meet each other before the big day, for old friends to catch up, and also gives you and your spouse-to-be an extra opportunity to see your loved ones outside of the hectic wedding day. (If each guest pays their own way, which may be easier anyway if you host your event at a bar where each guest pays as they go, this won’t cost the happy couple a thing.)
2. DIY: Nothing avoids a cookie-cutter wedding like doing things yourself! Gather your friends and family to help you prepare decorations, favors, food, flowers and more! Of course, it’s probably wise not to DIY everything (the Reflective Groom DIYed all our stationery but nothing else), to avoid taking on too much work and adding to your pre-wedding stress. Our tip? Pick the projects that are most important and interesting for you, and which allow you to best put a real stamp on your wedding.
3. Add photos: Photographs are a great way to tell your story and make the wedding more personal. You can include framed photos of your parents’ wedding days on a welcome table (just borrow the framed pictures from their home to avoid the cost of re-prints), or make a PowerPoint slideshow to music – starting with baby photos of each of you, then growing up and meeting each other for pictures of you two together.
4. Follow tradition: Ask your parents or grandparents to tell you about their wedding days, and if some aspects are up your alley incorporate them into your own wedding! For example, use the same types of flowers in your bouquet that your mother had (since you’re ordering flowers anyway!), or share the same first dance song. If you and your fiance are from different cultures, add different traditions from your country or religion to make the day personal to you both. (My groom and I are from different countries: we included some music from his country and a reading in his language in our ceremony.)
mad libs25. Have fun and games: Liven up your ceremony or reception with a game or two! Add to your ceremony program a crossword or wonderword puzzle with trivia about the bride and groom, or even some mad libs for some fun while your guests wait for the ceremony to begin. At the reception, get the lucky guy and girl who catch the bouquet and garter to share their own first dance. Or turn the bride and groom back-to-back in the middle of the dancefloor, and ask them a series of questions where they can’t see each other’s responses: which of you is the better driver, the better cook, the one who nags the most.
6. Make an entrance: Whether walking down the aisle or making a grand entrance to your reception, think about how you’ll to do it and what music you’ll to do it. Ask the officiant or MC to explain briefly to the guests why you chose that tune if it’s not immediately obvious. It could be your song as a couple, something that you feel describes you well as a couple for the personal touch (“Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul), a song to create atmosphere (like “I’ve Got A Feeling” by the Blackeyed Peas) or simply a fun song (“Ice Ice Baby”). The bridal party could have a different song from the married couple, or each member of the bridal party takes a ditty of their own. You could simply walk in to the music as your entrance, or kick it up a notch by dancing your way in to the festivities!
7. Line up: A receiving line is a great way to make sure you speak to each and every one of your guests on your big day. Whether at your ceremony or recep- tion, stand beside your groom (and perhaps both your parents) as your guests file past on their way out. Alternatively, gather guests in a circle on the dance- floor during the reception for the greetings, so people don’t feel as rushed. I was skeptical to a receiving line at first, but was glad my husband won that argument – without it we wouldn’t have gotten around to see all our guests on the day!

Piggy Bank8. Tell your story: With a mix of colleagues, relatives and friends on your guest list (not to mention everyone on your fiance’s side), not everyone at the wedding will know your background. For your ceremony, ask your officiant or priest to share your story: how you met, how long you’ve been together, the proposal, travels, children together, and more. As well as making the experience more personal and helping your guests to get to know you guys better as a couple, there is an also an opportunity to make it fun by weaving in the more hilarious of your anecdotes.
9. Vow to be personal: Write your own vows, and tell each other – and your guests – how you really feel about one another and what you love about them. Want to make it fun? Get a few laughs by vowing to care for them in sickness and in health, unless it’s self-inflicted and four o’clock in the morning (as I vowed to my husband) or promising to split the difference in the thermostat (as Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston famously swore to each other). If you take the humorous path, make sure to agree on this with your fiance in advance: you don’t want one of you making teary, heartfelt promises while the other does stand-up. I once saw a video where the couple’s vows were each of them saying what they wish the other would say: “Sometimes I get annoyed with you for nagging, but your nagging is not only insightful but also helps me to be a better person.” Ha!
10. Involve your family and friends: If you have a talented friend who can sing, bake a cake or even act as officiant, make use of them! Otherwise the more obvious things are to include your nephew as a ring bearer or your cousin to give a reading, but you could also make your grandmother a flower girl or get your beloved dog (dressed up in bow tie, of course) to bring down the rings.
11. Readings: Planning some readings? Make these personal as well. If you’re a Shakespeare fan, ask someone to read your favorite sonnet. If your faith is an important part of your relationship, include a passage from the bible. Want something cute and fun? Bring out Dr Seuss and “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”
12. Music: If you are including songs in your ceremony, either during it or before your grand entrance number, consider songs that are personal to you or are simply a favorite. For example, we chose for our string trio to play “You Raise Me Up” as a musical interlude in the middle of our ceremony, as we thought it described well how my groom and I support each other in all things.


13. Table numbers: No guest likes to be ranked by their importance to the bride and groom, and numbers are a little boring… so why not think a little creatively with your table names to say something about you and your spouse-to-be? Name your tables after your cities you two have traveled to together, favorite books or films, the names of streets or towns you’ve lived on, or whatever really sums up the two of you! Really prefer numbers? Choose any numbers that are meaningful for you (like how many years you’ve been together, 31 is your anniversary is the 31st, 121 if that’s your lucky number) and use them non-consecutively and in a random order, so that no one feels ranked.
14. Ask a friend to MC: We struggled with the decision of whether to use our DJ or a loved one to be the master of ceremonies at our reception, and in the end settled on asking a college friend to do the honors. That way his MCing could be much more personal, as he was already familiar to many of our guests and he could share stories about us during the night. The MC can also explain any of the personalized aspects you’ve incorporated into your day.
15. Get trivial: Want to share some fun facts about you and your beloved? Add some trivia fats to your table names (to explain their meanings), or add different trivia about yourselves as a couple on the back of your escort cards. (You could also add some wedding day trivia: if there’s a special reason you chose the wedding date, venue or food, or you just want to point out that the brooch on your bouquet stems in the one your great grandmother wore on her wedding day, share the info with your guests for a personal touch!)
Silly String16. Extend the speeches: Who says speeches are only for the parents, bridal party, bride and groom? Not all of us would be so brave as to welcome anyone up to the mic at our weddings (especially after everyone’s had a few drinks), but if there is someone particularly special to you that you would really like to give a speech – like a grandfather – ask them in advance if they could say a few words or simply give a toast. What an honor to receive a special request! Simply ask the MC to explain it in their introduction.
17. Take dancing to the next level: Whether for the first dance or a father-daughter dance, doing a fun dance is a great way to make an impression on your guests (or, as the say in the film “Bride Wars”, to introduce your couple style to the world!), and you don’t have to shell out for lessons to do it. Choreograph your own “evolution” dance to “Baby Got Back”, learn the zombie steps to “Thriller”, or teach yourself a sassy salsa number or grand waltz from YouTube (like we did!).
18. Dress up: Add a costume box to the dancefloor! From various theme parties most of us have accessories lying around (thinking giant sunglasses, cowboy hats and bunny ears), so why not bring them out while everyone’s in the party spirit and get ready for some great photos! (And wait for those awesome dance moves when a feather boa makes its way to the dancefloor!) Not been to many theme parties? Ask friends and family what they might have floating around.
19. Dance dance dance: It might be cheesy, but get everyone on their feet to the Macarena or Cotton Eye Joe (you’ll laugh when your parents do it!) or call everyone up to the dancefloor to gather around the bride and groom in a blessing circle and then bust out “Gangnam Style” (horse-riding moves and all!).
Singalong20. Singalong: Similar to the previous tip, make some of the final songs a big sing- along to get all your guests on their feet together. Try “Don’t Stop Believin'”, “Bohemian Rhapsody” (headbanging required) and even “Summer Nights” from the movie “Grease”. (Who doesn’t love belting out “Bu-hut, ohhhhh… those were su-hummer… NI-HIIIIIIIIGHTS!” A great way to end the night!What are the different ways that you’re making your wedding fun and personal? Are you doing them free or low cost?

(First image from Green Wedding Shoes, second image from You’re the Bride, third image from eHow, fourth image from Folksy, fifth image from Jihan Abdalla Photography, sixth image from Our DJ Rocks.)

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