What Now for the Not-so-Alternative, Alternative Couple?

design, weddings

The other day I received word from one of my favorite wedding inspiration blogs that I probably shouldn’t advertise with them because my style of wedding design isn’t quite “aligned” with what their readership is looking for. I love this broad generalization, because I patronized their website when I was getting married! Regardless, it was a nice way of saying “thanks, but no thanks.” While I appreciate their candor and also the fact that they aren’t taking money from me while secretly knowing it would result in zero return on my investment, the correspondence has me thinking:

Where do the non-traditional couples, who aren’t quite “alternative” fit on the wedding spectrum?

I like to think I can create something for any type of bride or groom. I have had clients in most of the 50 states and a few areas of Europe. My pieces range from “southern” and sophisticated to totally loud, mish-mashes of themes. What I love most about my happy couples is that every single one of them comes away with a completely unique product! Weddings are about expressing how the couple feels about one another and creating an inviting space for the guests. A lot of the blogs out there today make couples feel like they have to fit into a mold in order to have the picture-perfect wedding that could be featured in a magazine. This is not true! There is a lot to be gleaned from the traditional, on-trend wedding blogs out there, but it’s easy to let them sway you into thinking you must pay a million dollars for your wedding to look like what is popular now.

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For the rest of you, paying for your weddings largely yourselves, wanting a unique experience for your friends and family, hoping to be able to have money leftover for the rest of life and working full time jobs that leave little time for DIY days, my hope is that you find something on the Fried Green Blog and in my design that fits your budget and gives you peace of mind in your wedding planning.

I’m speaking to you:

1. You don’t want to go into debt over your wedding, but love high quality details.

2. You want a unique experience that people remember for years to come.

3. You love personalization, but aren’t necessarily design-y or crafty on your own.

4. You aren’t in this for the cookie-cutter aspect of having a wedding.

It’s important to remember that your wedding stationery (among everything else!) reflects you and your future spouse, not trends, blogs or what’s popular on Pinterest. There’s a large, beautiful area between the wedding extremes (the space between comic book themes and misty-lacy-vintage) and I feel like that’s the area where most of us fit. It’s an area that is affordable, expressive, fun and approachable with fewer couple-disputes over what the big day looks like and costs. It’s a place for the non-alternative, alternative couples. Maybe you call it “non-traditional” or “modern.” You know who you are.

The internet can be an overwhelming place where you begin to feel obligated to conform to the trends, but I can attest that some of the happiest brides and grooms I have worked with have been the ones that bucked the trends and created an experience that was all their own. Forget what you’ve been told and head down the aisle in your own special way! You’ll thank me, your future spouse will thank me and you’ll have people talking about how special and memorable your wedding was for years to come.

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Tips for the Modern Wedding

design, invitations, weddings

I’m really getting into the wedding spirit over here! I shipped out my latest creations to an amazing couple in South Dakota this morning. I’ll post photos after I know they’ve had a chance to mail them out – I don’t like to be a spoiler! The invitations incorporate the wedding colors and the couple’s love of outdoors. I’m also finishing up a poster for a “thumbprint guestbook” for the same wedding. It’s going to be beautiful!

I thought I’d take this opportunity to give some tips for the modern couple. There are a lot of amazing trends out there right now, and I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites for y’all! These are great ways to support local and small businesses, keep up with modern trends and also make wedding planning easy for you (and future couples!).

Get connected! For couples who are connected and have very connected friends and family, I recommend adding a suggested hashtag (like #MonroeWedding 0r #ScottEmilyBigDay) to your wedding website or program. If you have friends and family far and wide, the folks who can’t make it to your ceremony can keep up with your smartphone-equipped guests all day on Vine, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Make the most of local vendors. When my husband and I were planning our wedding, we knew we were going to be moving to New Orleans at some point, so we wanted to incorporate elements of the city into our down home Virginia farm wedding. We have a friend here in New Orleans who makes handmade soaps out of natural ingredients and we felt like her craft fit with our natural, recycled, vintage feel and would make the perfect guest favor. Think about your surroundings and geographic region. What are the local treats, specialties and artisans in the area? How about a crab boil kit with Old Bay seasoning and a custom wooden mallet for weddings in the Baltimore area? Or beeswax candles for an Ohio wedding? I’m a big fan of useful favors – something that won’t just sit on a shelf.

(Images from Laser Beam Creations and Honeyrun Farm)

Indulge in the vintage trends. My favorite thing we did for our wedding was skip the tableware rentals. Years ago, I was a cater-waitress and bartender and saw just how much rentals can cost. I decided that I was happy to pay for table cloth rentals – those can add up if you purchase on your own and rental tables are huge. We found bamboo picnic plates (again, we got married in outside and had the reception in barn!) in two sizes and purchased silverware in mismatched sets at thrift stores. If bamboo isn’t your thing, think about purchasing mismatched china at thrift stores as well. If you are patient, you can even find Fiesta Ware second-hand in various colors (cheaper than online!) that will look like a matched set! What do you do with the vintage goods after the wedding? Donate it back to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. For a fraction of the cost of renting, you’ve basically made a charitable donation with your wedding money and had a unique set of dishes for your big day.

Be kind to the environment. In addition to recycling stations at weddings, I’m seeing a lot of “living centerpieces” which I love! For our wedding, we chose to support a local “pick your own” flower farm in my hometown just outside the DC area, where we felt the environmental impact was low, it was good for the bees, good for the local economy and the flowers were not being shipped in from Central and South America, like many popular tropicals. Consider cut flowers from your region when selecting arrangements. But the green alternative is to have a living arrangement – like potted miniature roses, cyclamen or hydrangeas. These come in a variety of colors and can be grown in green houses so you can find them blooming year round. If you’re on a tight budget, stick with greens – ivy, succulents, ferns, clover, shamrock plants  – or things that you could grow at home from seeds or bulbs like paperwhites, herbs, ornamental kale, chard and lettuce, or do a long trough of wildflowers from seed. Just be sure to read the package and make sure the germination time works with your schedule. You could always solicit help from a local nursery or florist. Living arrangements also make great guest favors!

Last but not least, help future couples out! And help your beloved vendors out too! Review anything and everything you use (venues, florists, suppliers, stationers, etc.) and always credit your photographer/designer/dressmaker/other artisan when you post pictures on social sites. It’s a nice thing to do and it helps future couples pick out great vendors too! You can find review spots on individual websites/blogs, Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook, Google, Bing and lots of other wedding-specific blogs and magazine websites. Spread the love!