If long-standing wedding traditions seem a little confining and out of date for your modern nuptial celebration, you're not alone.
Lifestyles are trending toward practical and tasteful simplification. An easy-going elegance and a balance of formality and fun is now the norm. So you might ask, "How can creative couples introduce more contemporary options to their celebrations yet still craft a memorable, classy wedding?"
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Instead of a traditional bachelor or bachelorette party, have a get-together that plugs into everyone's socially connected and active lives. Combine both parties and consider a hike, beach party, bike ride, cook-out and croquet or an evening of fun at a skating rink or bowling alley.
Book a local attraction such as an art museum, university facility, park or historical building to serve as a unique setting for the rehearsal dinner or the wedding reception itself.
Find a vintage dress or off-the-rack model and seek out a creative local designer or dressmaker to turn out a truly individual, inspired bridal dress.
Grooms can do the same with a vintage, never-out-of-style tuxedo, having a local tailor alter it for an impeccable red-carpet-worthy fit.
Stretch your dollar and earn style points by supplementing pricey florist's roses, lilies and stephanotis with native wildflowers, leaves, twigs, fruits and herbs from a local grower or farmers' market.
Provide the wedding party with a budget and suggestions for color, style and theme. Then trust them to put their own spin on their wedding attire. Don't worry, they'll likely invest in something that's stylish, fits and flatters their frames -- and can be worn more than once.
Prime rib, chicken breast and salmon are popular go-to options for the reception meal, but consider hiring a local chef, favorite eatery or culinary school program to put a unique spin on expected menu items. Think about marrying treasured family culinary traditions from both sides in the food you offer. If an elaborate sit down meal is hard on your finances, consider offering a reception of small plate foods, limited cocktail menu and cake. Your guests will enjoy it just as much.
Rather than a costly and extravagant open bar, consult a local mixologist to create a simple menu of two or three custom cocktails and soft drinks that reflect your personalities, wedding theme and season.
If a full band, disc jockey or orchestra are straining your budget but you still want to dance, plug your smartphone into a good sound system and use a service like Pandora to create a custom stream of music.
Take the time to craft truly personalized gifts for your honored friends in the wedding party or as table favors for your guests. Tom Havran, aromatherapy expert at Aura Cacia, suggests choosing a natural body care theme and filling a basket with homemade personal care items such as an aromatherapy spritzer to calm nerves, a foot soak to soothe tired and sore dancing feet, and a bath and body oil for takeaway skin care.