The most memorable weddings are filled with personal touches that leave guests saying, "That party was so them." Here, industry pros share their tips for dreaming up and executing ideas that will make the day feel all your own.
Find your look.
First things first: What does it mean to "brand your day"? In a nutshell, it's about finding signature visual elements that reflect your personalities and suit your venue, which will be referenced throughout your celebration—from the design of the save-the-dates to the reception décor.
Inspiration for your look can come from anywhere. At Martha Stewart Weddings, we've seen couples design unique, memorable celebrations around a favorite blue-and-white china pattern, a love for bold strips, or a shared passion for sailing. When you're brainstorming your own brand, look to your shared interests for ideas. Stationer Cheree Berry asks her new clients to fill out a questionnaire reflecting on their travels, cultural heritage, and favorite music to get them thinking about common passions that could be translated into wedding ideas. "Once you've established some details of your life to highlight, you'll be able to sprinkle winks and nods throughout your wedding," she says.
Your wedding venue can also be a source of inspiration. "Look to your location and the season as guides, and incorporate local touches," says Martha Stewart Weddings style director Naomi deMañana. That might mean native flora and fauna or of-the-region architecture. "One recent wedding I like had local flowers at the heart of it all—the welcome bag had floral-scented soap, the escort cards were paper flowers, there were similar live blooms on the table, and there were even hors d'oeuvres designed to look like mini potted flowers."
This elegant reception of a theme is key to creating a branded wedding experience. Just be wary of veering into overly trendy territory. "Step back and think about what you'll look back at in 20 years and love in terms of style, and let that be your focus," says Naomi.
Build your brand.
Once you've settled on signature touches, the next step is to decide where to incorporate them. "The save-the-date is a great place to start; you can play around with a theme, even if your actual wedding is more classic," says Berry. Get creative with the format—like lift-ticket-inspired save-the-dates for a mountain wedding, or cards shaped like mini records for music lovers. Or introduce a visual that hints at what guests can expect to see at the wedding. "If you have a custom crest or other artwork, start by showing an element of it on the save-the-date, then add it on the invitation, then show it in its whole form in unexpected places on the day of," says Berry. For example: One couple, who had a custom watercolor of the farm where they planned to marry, included just the barn on the save-the-date, then revealed the full painting on the invitation. "This way, guests are seeing something new each time," says Berry.
The challenge of adding branded touches to the wedding day itself is doing so without getting too theme-y. To prevent that, Naomi suggests using the fun stuff at the fun times: The average couple wouldn't have a balloon backdrop for their ceremony, that could work well as the backdrop for a photo station. If you've built your day around a pattern, plan to have it pop up in lots of little places, like a tray liner, napkins, or table linens. Escort cards, guest books, and favors are other greats spots to add a bit of whimsy. "Think about small, clever moments and you won't have to go crazy with the theme to get the visual message across," says Berry. "For instance, if you both love books, escort cards with famous quotes from authors are a cute, memorable idea."
Pick a lane.
As with well-executed brands in the business world, the most successful branded weddings choose one strong overarching concept or narrative—and stick with it. "It can begin to feel like a children's birthday party when there are too many ideas going on," says calligrapher Stephanie Fishwick. Make design choices that feel organic to your style, venue, and vibe. If you're still tempted by an idea that doesn't naturally fit the concept of your day, you can always incorporate it into the welcome dinner or day-after brunch.