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PERSONALIZE YOUR WEDDING CEREMONY Pick an Alternative Bridesmaid Bouquet Skip the bouquets and have your beasties carry a chic clutch instead. (It doubles as a bridesmaids' gift!) Other creative options: silk fans, parasols in your colors, or candlelit lanterns (great for an evening ceremony). Provide Flower Favors Gift your guests with boutonnieres (for the men) and fresh-flower hair clips (for the women). Arrange them on trays near the beginning of the wedding aisle. Pick an Altar Backdrop Place something pretty behind the altar. A flower-filled bookcase, sparkly garlands, and a curtain of ribbons are photogenic options. Screen a Slide Show Dying to do a slide show? Play it before your ceremony rather than at the rehearsal dinner. It's a unique way to entertain guests until the vows. Have a Drink Start the celebration as soon as guests arrive by throwing a short (no more than an hour) procurement cocktail party. It will give everyone a chance to mingle and ensure that even your chronically late college roommate will get there in time for the main event. Keep it simple by serving a festive cocktail or two and a small treat like artisanal popcorn in paper cones. As for whether you choose to make a special guest appearance yourself—possibly in another cute white outfit—that's up to you. Toast to Your New Spouse! Or end the ceremony on a celebratory note: Have the ushers pass around your favorite drink (single-malt scotch, tequila shots and lime) and make your first toast as husband and wife. Thank Your Guests Make guests feel welcome from the moment they arrive by writing them personal notes and leaving them at the ceremony entrance, recommends Lauren Grislier of San Francisco's Downey Street Events. Another plus: By giving cards, you can skip the receiving line, giving you more time for photos and the reception. Lead the Way to the Reception If you're within walking distance, invite guests—and a rollicking band—to accompany you, parade style, from the ceremony to the reception.


Personalize your wedding ceremony