• Andrea O'Bert

15 WAYS TO MAKE YOUR WEDDING DAY FEEL MORE 'YOU' // TUCSON WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER

Today, we are going to be talking about making your wedding day personal! When it comes to weddings, there are so many traditions, standards, patterns and schedules that we feel are necessary parts of the day and it can make it feel like your wedding isn’t really yours and you are just going through the motions. But, one of the most important things to remember is that nothing about your wedding is set in stone and that absolutely any part of the wedding can be personalized to something that best fits you and your partner. There isn’t anything that you can’t do! So, I’m going to go over some of the easiest and most fun ways that you can personalize your wedding to make it the best and most memorable experience you can! Let’s get started!


1. A Meaningful Destination


Choosing to get married in a city or area that has a lot of meaning to you is a great way to make your wedding feel more personal! This could be the town where one of you grew up, where you met, where you went to college together, where your parents got married, where you took your first trip together, where you’ve always dreamed of going together, etc. There are so many options! While not everyone can or wants to plan a destination wedding at any capacity, this is a great option for couples that want to get married outside of the place they live, even if it’s just an hour or two away!



2. The Type of Venue


If you don’t want to get married outside of your city, the type of venue that you choose can also help to personalize your wedding experience. If you and your partner love hiking and the outdoors, choose a venue near one of your favorite trails or in a nearby state or national park. If you and your partner had your first date at a fancy restaurant downtown, consider getting married at the beautiful venue down the road. While looking at the logistics of a venue like the price, the layout, the inclusions, and the options is really important, I encourage you to also look at what the venue means to you and whether it makes sense as a part of your story.

3. A Backyard Wedding


A final option for using a location to personalize your wedding is to actually get married somewhere that is personal to you. This could be your grandparent’s backyard, your family vacation home, or somewhere that is important to your story. Backyard weddings tend to get a bad rap for being cheap or tacky, but honestly, some of the most beautiful weddings that I have ever photographed were in a family’s backyard. If you have an idea for somewhere you can get married but aren’t sure how to do it, I encourage you to hire and planner or a coordinator and show them the location. A wedding planner will be honest with you about the logistics of the space and they can help you to achieve your vision, even if you aren’t sure how to make it happen.



4. An Heirloom Dress


A lot of brides nowadays are choosing to use family dresses as part of their wedding dress on their big day and it is such a phenomenal way to make your wedding dress even more special. If your mom or grandma or anyone else has a wedding dress they’d be willing to let you use, you can choose to wear their dress, have it altered for you or use the fabrics from the dress to add to or embellish a modern dress. There are a number of ways to do this depending on how much of the original dress you want to use! Speaking to a tailor about your vision is the best way to make this happen!

5. Borrowed Jewelry & Accessories


If you don’t want to entirely wear a family dress, you can choose to accessorize with heirloom items instead. Some popular choices for this are necklaces, earrings, watches, ties, shoes, cuff links, veils, etc. Whether this is going to be a statement piece to show off or just a secret ornament for yourself, choosing small, precious pieces of your story to add to your wedding attire is a great way to make the experience more emotional & personal.


6. Personalized Pieces


In addition to using borrowed accessories, you can also simply get things customized. A lot of people create custom cufflinks with the wedding date or initials, embroidered handkerchiefs, meaningful fabrics sewn into the wedding dress, monogrammed shoes, jewelry with meaningful stones, etc. These are wonderful, meaningful additions to your wedding day look and they really add an emotional touch to the getting ready experience.



7. Gifts from your Partner


A lot of couples choose to gift each other something special on their wedding day that they can wear when they walk down the aisle. This provides the couple with the opportunity to give some special to their partner before they see them on the wedding day, oftentimes accompanied by a letter and it adds means to your attire as you walk down the aisle.


8. Personal Vows


One of the most common ways to make your wedding feel more personal during the ceremony is to do personal vows. Writing your own vows can be difficult & emotional but, it is truly such a beautiful way to express your feelings for each other during the wedding day. Personal vows create an amazing connection, not just between the couple, but for everyone that is there to witness them as well. And if you are a bit more private, and don’t want to share your vows during the ceremony, some couples opt for a private exchange of vows before the ceremony immediately following the first look, or after the ceremony during your portrait session. While I generally am there to photograph those moments as well, some coupled prefer to keep it as a truly private moment, shared just between the two of them, which is quite beautiful as well.

9. Have a Friend Officiate


Using a family member or friend as the officiant of your ceremony is an amazing way to make your ceremony more personalized to you and your relationship. Depending on the type of ceremony that you are having and if there are any religious elements, it is fairly easy for almost anyone to become ordained to marry a couple. So if you have any person if your life who you feel is integral to your relationship or who you feel would be such a perfect addition to your ceremony, don’t be afraid to ask them if they would be interested! This is a big honor and responsibility, so I recommend choosing someone who you love and trust, and will take the job seriously. If you are having a religious ceremony and can’t just have anyone perform it, some couples opt for a religious leader who has played a personal & important role in their life, which still makes the ceremony personal and special to you and your partner.

10. Symbolic Unity Ceremonies


During your wedding ceremony, you can also add symbolic unity ritual to add a personal touch to your experience! There are so many types of ceremonies that you can add to your wedding day, so I’m just going to name a few popular ones. There is the unity candle, during which the parent’s of the couple each light their own candles that represent their families and then the couple using those candles to light their own family candle together. The tree planting ceremony where the bride and groom plant & water a young tree together and can later have the tree grow at their home. The sand ceremony, which is especially popular for blended families, is where the couple (and their kids) each pour different colored sands in layers into a jar or vase. And finally, my favorite, which is the wine box ceremony, during which the couple places love letters and a bottle of wine into a wooden box and seal it, to be opened at an anniversary down the road. These options, as well as others, are a great way to add meaning to your ceremony & give yourself a memento as well to take home afterwards.

11. Cultural Ceremonies


In addition to symbolic unity ceremonies, there are also hundreds of beautiful cultural ceremonies from all over the world that you can add into your wedding nuptials. If you are a part of a culture or religion that has a specific wedding tradition, and you would like to represent your heritage at your ceremony, incorporating one of these rituals into your wedding is a great way to add a personal element to your day. A few examples of these are the celtic hand fasting ceremony, where the couple ties their hands together, which is one of the origins of the phrase “tying the knot”, the African-American tradition of jumping the broom, where the couple exits the ceremony by jumping over a broomstick, the Chinese wedding tea ceremony, the Hindu Mehndi ceremony where henna is applied to the bride’s skin (traditionally before the wedding), the Christian feet-washing ceremony and the list goes on and on!



12. Decorate with Photos


When it comes to decor at your ceremony or reception space, using photographs is a cost-effective way to add a personal touch to your wedding day. Using your engagement photos or other photos from throughout your relationship gives your guests a taste of your lives together and everyone will love to see your smiling faces all over the room! Some people just have their photos in their guest book, while others have them hanging around the space, on each of the tables, or on a a slideshow somewhere. There are lots of options to utilize your photos at your wedding, so how you do so is totally up to you!

13 Heirloom & Handmade Items


Another way to add personality to your space is by using heirloom or handmade items. I’ve seen a lot of couples who use handmade benches to sit at during their reception or a handmade arbor or other personally made items by the couple or their families as important pieces of the decor during the wedding day. This will not only create a more meaningful experience for you in the space, but it will mean that each and every detail photo of your wedding day will have significant meaning as well! For heirloom items, you can use champagne flutes from your parents or grandparents, special centerpieces or other items that are important to you and your family, but can serve you on the wedding day as well

14. Signature Cocktails


A fun and easy way to add a little personal touch to your cocktail hour and reception is with signature cocktails! A signature cocktail is a special mixed drink, chosen by the couple, that represents their tastes and relationship! Most couples have each partner choose a special drink for themselves so their are two signature options. However, I also had a couple who have 4 signature drinks, one for each place that was significant in their relationship: where they met, their first trip together, where they got engaged and where their wedding was!

15. Personal Dances


Last but not least, adding personal dances is a great way to customize your reception to make it feel more ‘you’! While most people do father/daughter and mother/son dances, there are so many ways you can change these or add to them to suit yourself! I have seen people add in grandparent dances, or dances with other important people in their lives so that they can share a moment together on the dance floor! You can also add things like an anniversary dance, a money dance, a hora, or my favorite, a private last dance that the couple share while the guests are outside preparing for the grand exit.

Alright, there we have it! Fifteen ways to customize your wedding day so it feels more personal to your and your partner! This is by no means a comprehensive list because there are SO many things you can do to design the wedding day around your desires as a couple! As I said before, the most important thing to remember is that there are NO rules when it comes to your wedding and it is so important to do what you can to make the day as special and unique to you as possible. So, I encourage you, if you have any idea for your wedding, no matter how crazy and out there it may seem, talk to your vendors about it! We love when people break the mold and try something new and we are more that willing to do what we can to make your vision come true!

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@andreaobertphoto

Arizona & Destination Wedding Photographer

Andrea O'Bert is a traveling & destination wedding photographer and Arizona wedding photographer, specializing in shooting weddings, elopements & couples locally in Tucson, Arizona, across the United States and internationally. Specializing in capturing love stories, authentic moments & creating heirloom images that will live on for generations. Documenting your love with warm, candid imagery that is one-of-a-kind. Travel & adventures are welcomed and encouraged!

(520) 981-8084 ||  andreaeobert@gmail.com || Tucson, Arizona