76 Fabulous Ways to Make Your Wedding Unforgettable
The Wow Effect
When I was planning my wedding, I didn't need the most expensive dress or huge, elaborate floral centerpieces. I really just wanted a fun day surrounded by my closest family and friends in a beautiful location that was totally me and left my guests saying, "Wow! That was the best wedding EVER." At first I didn't think that was possible on my budget. I thought it took lots of money to come up with something unique and memorable. Fortunately for me…I was wrong.
What you don't know…and what the wedding industry doesn't tell you…is that you can have a day filled with personal, unique touches that really say something about you. And it doesn't have to cost a lot of money. The secret is what I call the "Wow Effect."
When your guests experience the Wow Effect at your wedding they won't just be impressed…they'll really "get" who you are and why you choose this wedding day, this location, this man. The Wow Effect is like a magic trick that casts a spell over your guests, transporting them to another world…your world…and makes them a part of it. Your guests are wowed when your wedding is a totally unique expression of you. The bonus is that when they "get" who you are, they become connected and involved…which means they have more FUN.
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The Wow Effect happens in a group when you have people involved, connected and engaged in what's going on. The key to the Wow Effect is something called engagement. I'm not talking about the kind of engagement that happened to you when your guy got down on one knee, popped the question, and you said yes. The word 'engage' means "to occupy the attention of someone" or "to attract and please." It's what happens when you're really into what you're doing.
There are three levels on which you can engage your guests: PHYSICALLY, MENTALLY, and EMOTIONALLY. And guess what? None of them are expensive.
1) Engage them in ACTION. You can do this by inviting them to participate in a reading, performance, or a group activity.
2) Engage them in THOUGHT. Challenge their minds with a quiz or a game. Get them remembering and imagining.
3) Engage them in EMOTION. Get your guests involved and invested in the events of your wedding by touching their feelings. When they really "get" the love between you and your fiancé, when they laugh or cry, they are emotionally engaged.
These three levels for engaging your guests can be combined for the greatest Wow Effect. But by far the most powerful and best suited technique for a romantic, unforgettable event like your wedding is emotional engagement.
Who Are You?
The best way to wow your guests and get them engaged at your wedding is to give them the emotional experience of a wedding that is totally you. The secret to having a wedding that really feels like "you" is weaving your personality into your wedding day as much as possible.
In order to create a dream wedding filled with fresh, unique ideas that really represent you…you need to know who you are. You need to think about your personality, the interests and hobbies of both yourself and your fiancé in order to find the inspiration for dozens of ways to make your wedding totally unique. These are your "Wow Factors." Once you've come up your unique Wow Factors, it's easy to work them into your wedding.
Telling Your Story
My all time favorite way to get wedding guests engaged is to tell them your love story. People are suckers for a good story. When your guests hear your story they will get emotionally engaged. They may laugh; tears might come to their eyes. It cues them in to the meaning and uniqueness of your special day.
How did you meet your fiancé? What was your first impression of him? Where was your first date? How did you get engaged?
Many of your wedding guests won't know your story. If you work these unique details into your special day, it makes a lasting memory by involving them in your story.
You don't have to be a writer or a great speaker to tell your story. Here are some easy ways to have someone else do it for you:
• Have your officiant create a ceremony just for you. This may include vows you have written yourselves, or the details of how you met and what you mean to each other. If your officiant is open to the idea, she might share your love story with your guests as a part of the ceremony.
• Ask your Master of Ceremonies (either the band leader or DJ) to tell your story at your wedding reception. Consider writing a short love letter to each other before the wedding…and DO NOT share it with each other. Then on the wedding day, have your DJ or bandleader read the letters just before your First Dance. The response to this is always amazing. Your words can be romantic, funny, or quirky…whatever fits your personalities. Your guests will be drawn in and engaged emotionally. They'll feel connected and primed for an unforgettable, fun time.
Here are some more ways to tell your story:
• If you feel comfortable making a speech, take the microphone and share your story yourself at the reception.
• If you are shy or prefer a low key way to tell your story, consider printing a brief love story in your ceremony program.
• A photo slide show playing during the cocktail or dinner hour can also tell your story in a more subtle ways. The object is to touch your guests emotionally. And that doesn't mean you have to be sappy and romantic…getting them laughing works really well, too. The more your guests feel, the more involved they will be in your wedding day and the more fun everyone will have.
Involve Your Talented Guests
This idea engages your guests both emotionally and physically. Have your family and friends participate directly in your wedding day. This goes way beyond just inviting them to do a reading at your ceremony. For example, if you have a professional singer or musician attending, ask them to perform for your ceremony or during the reception.
Music Makes the Memories
Have you ever heard a song and immediately started laughing as you relived a funny memory? Or a song that brings you back to the time when you feel in love? Music is an incredibly powerful way to engage your guests. It engages both emotionally and physically: your guests feel the music as they dance to it.
Here are some great places to include those special songs in your wedding day:
• Your processional down the aisle. Unless you have a strict church ceremony, you aren't limited to "The Wedding March" or the "Canon in D." Any love song or instrumental can take your emotions to the next level.
• Your parent dances. If there is a song your father always sang to you, use it for your parent dance. You don't have to use a "traditional" Father-Daughter song. A personal choice makes it extra special for both you and your guests…especially if you have your master of ceremonies explain the meaning behind it.
• Your introduction music. Your introduction music can be anything from Metallica's "Enter Sandman" to James Brown's "I Feel Good." Pick a song that makes a statement about your personality and makes you feel awesome, setting the tone for your whole reception.
Another way to engage your guests is to get them involved physically. Physical movement engages your guests and gets them actively having fun. Entertainers have known this secret for years; that's why so many of them rely on the Electric Slide and the YMCA to get the party started. Once your guests are up and moving, everything gets fun.
Here are some ways to physically engage your guests:
• Participation Dances — Electric Slide, YMCA, Cha Cha Slide, Conga Line, etc.
• Ice Breaker Games — A centerpiece give away, musical chairs, the newlywed game.
• Inviting Guests To Dance — An easy way to subtly get things moving is to simply ask your guests to join you on the dance floor. They have to get up…because it is your wedding day…and the dancing continues from there.
A sure fire way to include your guests in the celebration of your special day is to thank them. You can do this in a speech or with a dance, like a friendship circle. This is a great way to end the party. Have your Master of Ceremonies announce that the newlyweds would like to thank everyone for coming by sharing the last dance of the night, forming a circle around them. Playing a song like Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" or "That's What Friends Are For" while you dance with your guests creates an unforgettable finale for your dream wedding.
Use your creativity, imagination and Wow Factors to find even more ways that fit your personality. To use the 3 secrets to wow your guests remember these 3 letters: WOW.
W - Weave in your personality using your wow factors.
O – Others involvement. Get others involved.
W - Why. Explain your choices to your guests so that they understand the significance.
Here are some examples:
1. A list of trivia questions about you for each table to answer.
2. Favors that relate to your hobby or special interests.
3. Pictures of your pets.
4. Decorating your sweetheart table with mementoes or collectibles.
5. Put together a collage of your love letters from a long distance romance.
6. A groom's cake in honor of your fiancé’s hobby.
7. Choosing your favorite flower for the centerpieces.
8. Playing your favorite team's theme song.
9. Doing the silly line dance you and your friends learned in college.
10. Cardboard cutouts of the friend who introduced you but couldn't be at the wedding.
11. Performances by your musician, singer or dancer guests.
12. Sharing your love story during your ceremony or reception.
13. Giving your guests "table tasks" to do throughout the reception.
14. Playing the newlywed game.
15. A special thank you friendship dance with all your guests.
16. Play or dedicate a song to a friend as an inside joke.
17. Wear an item of clothing or jewelry from a beloved family member and share this with your guests.
18. Name your tables to represent one of your favorite Wow Factors.
19. Choose your favorite poems as non-traditional ceremony readings.
20. Leave a gag gift, like a clown nose or fake moustache, at each place setting and photograph all your guests wearing them.
21. A scavenger hunt using disposable cameras to "hunt" for images.
22. Announce birthdays, anniversaries or engagements.
23. Give a dance lesson at your reception.
24. Hold a "ring warming" during the ceremony where pass your rings to each guest before you exchange vows.
25. Write special vows that unite your family and friends.
26. Include special ethnic traditions and dances.
27. Play a song or speech together.
28. Make a donation to your favorite charity.
29. Treat your guests to your favorite wine or dessert and tell them about it.
30. Play your guests' wedding songs.
31. Include your signature animal, team, hobby or activity in your wedding theme.
32. Take Polaroid photos of your guests for your guest book.
33. Have your guests write thoughts and wishes for a "time capsule" you'll open on your 10th wedding anniversary.
35. Serve your special homemade brownies at the wedding and give your guests the recipe.
36. Surprise your guests by sharing your secret talent or skill.
Wowing your guests is about more than just discovering fresh, unique ideas and working them into your wedding…though that can certainly inspire you. It's about expressing yourself through the look and the feel, as well as the people you're surrounded by, on your wedding day. That's what makes your day unique…not just doing things no one else has seen but allowing you to really shine through in every element of your wedding.