Karly Anderson

Honeymoon planning checklist and timeline for couples
by Karly Anderson

The time has arrived – you’re finally newlyweds, and now it’s time to jet set off to your dream location to experience the honeymoon that you’ve always dreamed of!

However, much like planning your wedding, planning a honeymoon takes a lot of time and effort in figuring out the budget, travel plans, and other logistics. Similar to wedding planning (again), you also can’t start too early in figuring out where you want to go and how much money and time you have to do so.

I’m here to help you out with a brief overview that includes a honeymoon planning checklist and timelines of when you should be getting things booked and ready for your romantic getaway. Keep in mind that depending on how long or short your engagement is, the timeline easily can be adjusted to fit your timeframe but still keep you on track with what needs to get accomplished.

SIX OR MORE MONTHS IN ADVANCE

Now is the time that you can start to dream of all the places that you’d like to honeymoon at, but more importantly, you and your spouse need to discuss a budget and how much time you’ll both be able to take for the trip. Once those two aspects are narrowed down and finalized, you can choose your destination and start the early stages of planning!

CHECKLIST:

  • Set a budget.
  • Start discussing your dream honeymoon location – where would you like to go, somewhere exotic? Europe? What activities do you want to do while you’re away? Friends and family can be a useful resource for destinations that you’ve never visited but they have, and also be sure to troll around the Internet and consult a travel agent, if necessary.
  • If you’d like to work with a travel agent in planning your trip, find one now who specializes in your destination.
  • If the cost of your desired location is over planned budget, brainstorm ways to save money, such as frequent flyer miles, and consult with your travel agent about current promotions and deals.
  • Book your airline tickets now! The sooner that you book and confirm your seat assignments the better. Also check your luggage and carry-on allowances so there are no surprises later.
  • Research hotels and room availability, and book your room. TripAdvisor is one of the best resources for researching hotel information and recommendations from travelers like you.
  • Reserve a rental car, if needed.
  • Visit the CDC Travelers’ Health Site to find out if you need any specific vaccinations before you travel to your location.

THREE MONTHS IN ADVANCE

With wedding planning for the big day inevitably consuming your life at this point, don’t let little details for your honeymoon fall to the wayside. Make sure you obtain all appropriate and necessary personal identification documentation, as well as travel insurance to stay protected in the event of an emergency.

CHECKLIST:

  • Obtain passports and visas, if needed.
  • Research and purchase travel insurance.

TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE

This is when more of the fun stuff of honeymoon planning comes into play – shopping! Purchase a set of new luggage that meets your flight allowance, or you even can register for a set for your bridal shower. This also is a good timeframe to begin researching popular attractions and activities at your location and to make any advance reservations, if necessary.

CHECKLIST:

  • Purchase a new set of luggage per the flight allowances.
  • Consider purchasing a new camera, or brush up on your skills if you currently own a camera. For a special trip such as your honeymoon, you’ll want better photographs than just on your camera phone!
  • Research and book popular attractions and activities, such as tours, restaurants, etc., that requires advance reservations.

ONE MONTH IN ADVANCE

List-making is your best friend at this point, not only for your wedding day but also for your honeymoon! Make a packing list to ensure that everything that you want with you makes it in your suitcase. You also can start to confirm reservations at this point.

CHECKLIST:

  • Create a packing and shopping list.
  • Begin to confirm/reconfirm all trip reservations.

TWO WEEKS IN ADVANCE

It’s time to start picking up all your important travel documents! If a different currency is used at your destination, be sure to exchange some U.S. money now to keep with you.

CHECKLIST:

  • If you’ve been working with a travel agent, pick up your airline tickets and any vouchers now. Read through the information thoroughly to ensure that it’s correct; if there are any mistakes, have your travel agent correct it immediately.
  • If necessary, purchase travelers’ checks and keep the numbers someplace safe in case they are lost or stolen.
  • If currency is different from U.S. money where you’re traveling, exchange some money now to help you get used to the exchange rate upon arrival.

ONE WEEK IN ADVANCE

You’re almost there! Start packing now to help avoid any last-minute rushing, and get any house or apartment issues handled now so everything is taken care of while you’re traveling.

CHECKLIST:

  • Consider having your mail held at the post office during your trip, and stop newspaper delivery.
  • If wedding gifts are still consistently being delivered, check with the stores where you’ve registered to see if they will hold orders at the store. Otherwise, ask a relative or friend to collect boxes so avoid a pile-up on your doorstep.
  • Make two to three sets of copies of important documents, such as your driver’s license, passport, credit cards, insurance, traveler check numbers and wills in the event something happens to you and your spouse. I know it’s difficult to think of such a thing when you’re leaving for your honeymoon, but we live in the real world and need to be prepared! Provide a copies to each set of parents and/or a close relative or friend, pack one set in your luggage, and keep another in a safe deposit box.
  • Set out clothes to pack, and purchase any remaining items that you need.
  • Make sure you have extras of anything that you cannot live without – prescription medications, glasses or contacts, etc. Keep all medications in their original packaging to avoid questions at customs, and consider keeping these items in your carry-on bag in the event your luggage gets lost.

THREE DAYS IN ADVANCE

At this point, the anticipation is probably killing you! Soon you’ll be a newlywed and jetting off to your honeymoon destination for some R&R time. Reconfirm any flights or reservations to put your mind at ease, and book any last-minute travel arrangements, such as getting to and from the airport, if necessary.

CHECKLIST:

  • Reconfirm flights, if necessary.
  • Buy entertainment for the flight – books, magazines, etc.
  • Make arrangements for travel to and from the airport.
  • Leave a copy of your travel itinerary and an extra house key with a friend or close relative in the event of an emergency.
  • Set up your vacation messages for email and voicemail at work.
  • Prepare your house or apartment for your absence – eat or clean out your fridge, water plants and flowers, set light timers, etc.
  • Check the weather forecast at your destination to make sure you’ve packed appropriately.

ONE DAY IN ADVANCE

You’ve made it! Everything should be set and good-to-go, so get on that plane tomorrow and enjoy your honeymoon!

CHECKLIST:

  • Reconfirm flights, if necessary.
  • Make sure that both your checked and carry-on luggage is labeled properly with your name, hotel address and phone number.

For more tips and resources for planning your honeymoon, check out Style Me Pretty’s top 10 tips for planning your honeymoon. Real Simple also offers a free, printable checklist that covers all your packing needs.

Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on InstagramFacebook and TwitterFind Karly's creative musings here.

Bridal beauty: bold wedding makeup ideas for daring brides
by Karly Anderson

While traditionally brides tend to opt for classic and neutral looks, bold wedding makeup ideas that consists of bright colors and/or deeper hues have made their way onto the scene and are becoming timeless in their own right.

When envisioning and putting together your wedding day look, it’s important to consider your makeup and how it will fit with your dress and overall wedding theme. If you’re wearing a tulle ball gown and having a Cinderella theme, a smoked-out eye with bright red lips isn’t going to go with your look very well. On the other hand, a bride that is wearing a slinky dress and wanting to bring some sex appeal to her look probably isn’t going to gravitate toward traditional contoured eyes and a pinky-nude lip.

If a bold look or something with a pop of color is what you’re after for your wedding day, try one of these three looks.

BOLD, DRAMATIC EYES

Even if you’re a traditional bride opting for traditional makeup, a bold, dramatic eye will help bring definition in photos and add a touch of sultriness to your overall look – think a smokey eye or dramatic winged-out eyeliner paired with dramatic fake lashes and neutral lips. Jaclyn Hill, a popular YouTube beauty vlogger, created a video that offers lots of great tips for achieving this type of look on your own or by a professional.  Below are some examples and inspiration for dramatic eye makeup.

Classic Smokey Eyes

Photo by  Ellie Makeup

Photo by Ellie Makeup

Tamara Makeup + Hair Artistry // http://www.Tamaramakeup.com

Defined, Contoured Eyes & Full Lashes

Cat Eye Winged Eyeliner

Bold wedding makeup ideas
Bold wedding makeup ideas

Jenny Berger Hair & Makeup

Love this look? Karly recommends...

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STAND-OUT LIPS

If you’d rather keep your eye look on the simple side, then opt for a bold lip color! Depending on the season of your wedding, you can go for a bright pop of color, such as pink or coral for spring and summer, or a deeper-toned shade, such as a classic red or cranberry color, for fall and winter. One thing to keep in mind is that a stand-out lip color can make the rest of your face appear washed out – be sure to do some subtle contouring and add bronzer to your complexion. This video tutorial is a great example of how to get this look on your own.

Bright pinks and corals

Jewel tones and deep hues

Want to rock a bold lip? Try it with:

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GO FOR THE COMBO – BOLD EYES AND LIPS!

If you’re a bride that isn’t afraid of makeup and ready to make a statement, go for it and rock both the dramatic eye and bold lip! I recommend consulting with a professional makeup artist, whether you’re having your wedding makeup done professionally or are doing it yourself, if this is the type of look that you’re after. A professional will help guide you in the direction of what eye shadows and colors will pair well with the lip color that you choose. If you’re going the DIY route, check out another video from Jaclyn Hill, as well as this doll-eyed-inspired video tutorial for inspiration.

Regardless of the makeup look that you go with, whether it is neutral or bold, make sure that you look like YOU. You don’t want to meet your spouse at the altar and have them not recognize you – if your makeup look reflects your personality, then you can’t go wrong with any look that you choose.

So, what kind of makeup will you be wearing on your wedding day? Will you stick to timeless, traditional makeup, or will you go for bold and make a statement?

Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on InstagramFacebook and TwitterFind Karly's creative musings here.

How to plan a fun wedding weekend your guests will never forget!
by Karly Anderson

For some couples, the wedding day simply isn’t “enough.” Instead, they opt to make a whole fun wedding weekend out of it! From hosting meals to different activities, it’s an opportunity for the bridal party and guests to interact with each other all weekend long, all the while celebrating the couple and their pending nuptials.

Wedding weekends typically begin Friday morning and/or afternoon as guests arrive, with the wedding held Saturday, and activities wrapping up early Sunday. In a nutshell, think of it as planning a short, weekend getaway for a large group of friends – think of things that your guests would like to do or see, what they’d like readily available (food, drinks), and so on.

If you’re planning to go the wedding weekend route, keep in mind that there is a lot more that goes into planning this weekend-long event than if you were just planning the wedding day. I’ve outlined some things to consider as you start to plan the weekend that will help to ensure that your guests are comfortable and entertained for the duration of their stay.

PICK ONE LOCATION

A wedding weekend will go much smoother if everybody is staying in the same location and a majority of the activities are also held at the same place – a hotel or resort will most likely work best for this scenario. Be sure to call around to local places in your area to see if you can get a discounted rate for rooms for your guests – most hotels are willing to accommodate large groups of people for multiple days for a lower price-per-night room charge.

HIRE A WEDDING PLANNER OR ASK SOMEONE FOR HELP

Since there will be quite a few more logistics to plan throughout a whole wedding weekend, a wedding planner or coordinator might be your saving grace in keeping the itinerary running smoothly and on-time. If that isn’t in the budget, consider appointing close friends and family in charge of certain tasks and activities – if your cousin is an early bird, ask her to manage breakfast/brunch details, such as picking up the food (if necessary) set up, etc. This will allow you and your significant other to still enjoy the weekend without worrying if everything is going accordingly. DO NOT ask either set of parents or bridal party members to take charge of anything the day of the wedding – they will need to be with you to get ready!

CREATE A WEDDING WEBSITE

Although wedding websites are a pretty standard detail these days for weddings, it is especially crucial for wedding weekends. A website will allow you to share the weekend itinerary and planned activities with guests, as well as suggestions as to what to pack per the dress code for each event. Your guests will appreciate knowing ahead of time what to expect from the weekend and what they do and do not want to participate in. This real-life couple’s wedding website is a great example of what a wedding weekend website should include.

PROVIDE WELCOME BASKETS

Nothing makes guests feel more at home and welcome than be greeted at the hotel with a personalized basket or favor bag put together by the couple. Be sure to include a few refreshments, such as mini bottles of water, snacks and a few pieces of candy, as well as a printed copy of the weekend itinerary, and any brochures from local attractions and restaurants.

ORGANIZE GROUP ACTIVITIES AND SUGGEST THINGS TO DO

The primary event(s) of a wedding weekend is hosting organized activities for your guests so nobody is left bored or unsure of what to do in a place that they aren’t familiar with. The sky is the limit here – host a luau-themed welcome party Friday night so guests can break out their tropical-inspired wardrobe, or take a field trip to a local museum the following afternoon before the wedding events begin. Don’t forget about food! There should be organized meals planned for each day of the weekend – you may opt to have light hors d'oeuvres Friday afternoon as guests are still arriving, followed by a large dinner that evening and breakfast and/or brunch Saturday and Sunday morning (dinner will be served at the wedding reception Saturday night).

Keep in mind – your guests are entitled to downtime, so you don’t have to plan for every second of every day. Plus, if someone doesn’t want to participate in one of the organized events, they aren’t obligated to! That’s why you provided local attraction information and food suggestions in their welcome basket. Also, you and your spouse are not expected to attend any events the day of the wedding – your guests will understand that you’re busy preparing for the big (and main!) event of the weekend.

BE GENEROUS, BUT DON’T BLOW YOUR BUDGET

You’ve invited all these people to celebrate you and your spouse for an entire weekend, so obviously you have the mentality that you should (and need to!) take care of every last thing, regardless of the expense. Reality check: don’t blow your budget! Staying smart with certain activities or details will help you in the long run – maybe you only offer a full, open bar at the actual wedding, but only offer beer and wine and a cash bar at all other weekend events. Decide what’s important to you to splurge on ahead of time so you know where you can cut back elsewhere.

While this is just a brief overview of things to consider while planning a wedding weekend, hopefully it provides insight into all the additional details that need to be planned and accounted for. Above all, don’t lose sight that you’re trying to show your guests that you care about and appreciate their presence at the biggest moment of your life – if you try your best to keep them happy throughout the weekend, you’ve done your job!

If you’re looking for more information or tips on how to throw a wedding weekend, A Practical Wedding shares a great article that includes a mock itinerary for a wedding weekend that is sure to be helpful to anybody planning this type of event. You also can check out Brides.com for more details and tips on how to throw the perfect wedding weekend.

Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on InstagramFacebook and TwitterFind Karly's creative musings here.

Plan your wedding cocktail hour: fun, food & entertainment ideas for guests
by Karly Anderson

Photo by Elizabeth Messina via  LaurenConrad.com

Photo by Elizabeth Messina via LaurenConrad.com

While not a requirement, holding a cocktail hour prior to your wedding reception always is a good idea to give guests the chance to settle in and mingle, as well as grab a drink and a small bite to eat; however, that doesn’t mean that the cocktail hour as to be low-key

The cocktail hour can be an extension of your wedding theme, or it can be entirely different! Use it as an opportunity to throw a pre-party to the big party of the evening – offer fun drinks and appetizers, music, and entertainment to keep guests happy and having fun.

Consider some of these ideas to make your wedding cocktail hour the best that your guests have ever attended!

Fun Appetizers

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box for appetizers – do you love milk and chocolate chips cookies? How about corn on the cob? Incorporate favorite childhood or present-day snacks into your cocktail hour for a personal touch and to provide comfort food that nearly nobody can say no to!

 

Signature Cocktail

A specialty-made cocktail solely for your wedding day always is a treat among guests. It gives them the chance to try a drink outside of their comfort zone while also celebrating a fun detail that was created for the bride and groom. Lauren Conrad offers a few great tips for creating a drink that’s true to you and your spouse’s personalities.

 

Live Music

A live band or musician can set the tone for the entire day/evening and liven up the crowd. If you’re looking for something more traditional, consider a string quartet or an old-time crooner that can belt out Michael Buble tunes like he’s the real thing. If you want something a bit more up-tempo, a traditional mariachi band is sure to get the party started and guests swaying through the hour.

 

Photo Booth

Everybody loves a photo booth! If you don’t want this activity to be a distraction during the actual reception, only make it available during cocktail hour. Be sure to provide fun props for your guests to get silly with.

 

Lawn Games

Whether or not your cocktail hour is taking place outside, consider setting up easy-to-assemble lawn games for guests (and children!) to enjoy during the hour. Popular games include bags, horseshoes or bocce ball.

 

Caricature Artist(s)

A caricature artist would be a great addition to any cocktail hour – guests will be excited to receive a larger-than-life drawing, which also can double as take-home favors.

Photo by  Ben Sasso  via  Ruffled Blog

Photo by Ben Sasso via Ruffled Blog

 

Magician(s)

What better way to entertain guests than with some good ‘ol magic tricks?! Ask the magician to perform for a certain amount of time to all the guests, or consider hiring a few street magicians (think David Blaine) to mingle with guests and blow their minds in smaller groups.

 

Professional Ballroom Dancers

Remember the scene in Dirty Dancing when the professional dancers were hired to mingle and dance with guests? Well, that could happen at your very own cocktail party! Not only will this get your guests in the mood to dance all night long, they also will receive a brief dance lesson from a professional – nobody will be leaving baby in the corner after that!

Don’t forget that the cocktail hour should be a fun hour for guests to socialize and to get the reception’s festivities underway. Whether you use one of the above ideas or get creative with one of your own, your cocktail hour is sure to be a positive prelude to the rest of your wedding day.

Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on InstagramFacebook and TwitterFind Karly's creative musings here.

The best DIY photo booth backdrop ideas for your wedding reception
by Karly Anderson

It appears these days that no party or wedding reception is complete without a photo booth. They are a fun, entertaining activity for guests to partake in, and they create memorable, lasting memories, as well as great take-home favors for guests.

However, renting a professional photo booth does not come cheap. That’s why thanks to the numerous amounts of DIY tutorials available on the Web, more couples are choosing to create their own photo booth backdrop! It’s an opportunity to create a backdrop that goes with your wedding day theme and décor so it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Before you start creating your one-of-a-kind backdrop, there are a few other things to consider about setting up a DIY photo booth.

  • A photo booth is that for a reason because there’s nobody standing there taking the photos for you. Make sure that you have all the necessary equipment before you decide to take on this project – something that can take photos (point and shoot camera, iPad, iPhone, etc.), a tripod, and a remote shutter release button will typically be enough for a successful photo booth. Using Wedding Party app's mobile (and free!) photo booth feature is perfect for this...
  • Choose a location wherever your wedding is being held that is ideal for setting up the photo booth but is removed from heavy walking and mingling traffic. It should be visible to guests (otherwise, what’s the point?), but it also shouldn’t be the focal point of the reception. Hallways or narrow spaces are typically best for photo booths. If your wedding is outdoors, make sure there is somewhere to hang your backdrop.
  • Don’t forget about lighting! If you’re having an outdoor wedding, then you’ll receive the best since natural lighting is ideal for photos. If the photo booth is set up indoors, consider having a spotlight and photography umbrella for the best lighting conditions.
  • Lastly, props are always a fun touch that are sure to liven up your photos. You can get our free photo booth prop printables to DIY the props yourself!

For more details and tips on what you should have and consider for a DIY photo booth, HGTV and Curbly break it down step-by-step.

Depending on what type of backdrop you plan on making, that will dictate how soon you should start on it; however, since the two to three months leading up the wedding can be hectic and stressful, I would recommend getting started as soon as you narrow down what you want. It never hurts to be ahead of the game!

Minimalist Red Heart

For a simple photo backdrop that still makes an impact, try a bold red heart! Design Love Fest offers an easy-to-follow tutorial to achieve this minimalist backdrop on your own.

Balloons

Balloons are classic and can be used for several different types of décor. This chic take from Free People gives an extra-sparkly touch with gold balloons and white banners – and, it all can be done on a budget!

Paper Fan Pinwheels

Who knew that mini hand fans could become a beautiful, colorful photo backdrop? You Are My Fave outlines a tutorial on how to achieve this fun and playful backdrop.

Yarn Banner

Yarn comes in almost any color imaginable, and it’s easy to cut and manipulate. Sounds like the perfect material for a DIY photo booth backdrop! See how Creative Bug used yarn to create a colorful backdrop with different layers and levels.

Flowers and Foliage

Particularly for spring weddings, you never can go wrong with incorporating flowers and foliage into your décor. This rustic-inspired photo backdrop from Free People would be the perfect touch for a vintage- or garden party-themed wedding.

Vellum Paper Leaf Garland

If you still want to incorporate greenery into your décor but don’t want to spend money on the real stuff, create fake leaves instead! This vellum paper leaf garland from The Ruche Blog would make a stunning photo backdrop for any bride or wedding theme.

Marshmallows

Yes, you read that right – the popular treat that we put on top of hot chocolate is no longer just food! Green Wedding Shoes offers up some fabulous inspiration for a winter wedding, but I believe that the white marshmallow garland offers a neutral and striking background that could be used throughout any season.

Burlap and Book Pages

If vintage is what you’re looking for, it doesn’t get more old-world romantic than a backdrop made up of burlap and old book pages. Studio DIY gives a peak into this inspired backdrop, which is sure to get your guests inspired to write their own love story.

If you’re looking for even more DIY photo booth backdrop inspiration, check out this article from BuzzFeed – there are so many options out there that your creativity should have no limits for this project.

Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on InstagramFacebook and TwitterFind Karly's creative musings here.

8 unique wedding theme ideas from real weddings
by Karly Anderson

Themed weddings are growing in popularity and for good reason – it’s the ultimate opportunity for the bride and groom to showcase their personalities and love for something special to them, whether it be pop culture, travel, music and so on. Divulging in interests that are unique to the bride and groom and planning a wedding day around a specific theme typically leads to an unforgettable experience for both the couple and their guests. (Case in point: this adorable red tandem-bike themed wedding!)

If you want to have a specific and unique wedding theme for your big day, you’re probably wondering where to even begin – hosting a wedding is tricky enough before diving into revolving the décor, food and music around a specific vision! Ultimately, remember that a themed wedding still needs to include all the aspects of a traditional wedding. Here are a few tips to consider:

  • To choose your theme, think of something meaningful to you and your significant other – what are your hobbies? Are you more of a fun or serious couple? Do you prefer things to be more elegant or edgy? The sky is really the limit when choosing a theme.
  • Consider your theme when choosing a location for the wedding – think a large estate or mansion for a fairy tale theme, an outdoor stage for a music festival theme, etc.
  • Introduce the theme through your save the dates, invitations, décor and favors.
  • The food and music also should reflect your theme – perhaps there’s even an era-specific dance that you and your spouse want to perform or get the entire crowd involved with!

Looking to get theme inspired? The creativity of the following couples from these real weddings are bound to get you in the mood to either host your own or attend a themed party.

Downton Abbey

The ever-popular British drama has captured all our hearts with its story lines, fashion and English-way of living. For a wedding, think countryside with lace dresses, wild flower bouquets, and rustic décor.

Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings

Music Festival

Photo by  Images by Nica

Every year, we all anxiously await to see photos and divulge in the hippie fashion trends during summertime music festivals. So, why not make your wedding theme the same? Flower crowns, maxi dresses and “VIP passes” for guests are sure to make a lasting impression.

Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings

Glamping

If you love the outdoors, your wedding can be turned up a notch by a glamping theme instead of camping. Include subtle touches of the outdoors in your décor, such as greenery and oil lamps and lanterns, and cozy tents or picnic areas with blankets and appetizers will get everybody in the forest spirit.

Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Photo by  Wedfest Tents

Photo by Wedfest Tents

Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings

The Wizard of Oz

For the whimsical couple, there truly is no place like home with a Wizard of Oz theme. Take your guests on an adventure down the yellow brick road to Oz. And, don’t forget your ruby slippers!

Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings

Travel

Whether you’re a couple that loves to travel or have hopes to do so after getting married, incorporating places that you’ve visited or plan to visit into your wedding is a unique and personal touch. Marriage is an adventure in itself, after all!

Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings

The Beatles

Any couple that feels the need to incorporate The Beatles into their wedding has my vote! From classic song titles, such as “Love Me Do,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “All You Need is Love,” this is a theme that basically screams wedding. Bold colors and nods to the Fab Five in the décor, such as old album covers, will help make guests feel like they are transported to a different era.

Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings

Old-School Circus

Nothing says fun more than an old-school circus – cotton candy, games and photo booths will make for an enjoyable time for you and your spouse and all your guests. Classic bright colors – think blue, red and yellow – incorporated into the décor will pull everything together, as well as little nods to the circus, such as animal figurines.

Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings

Library Books

If you’re a fan of literature and books hold a special place in your heart, use that as a starting point for a vintage, romantic wedding theme. Library cards can serve as escort cards, while old book pages can cover candle votives for a soft ambiance. Perhaps you even want to write your own love story – turn your wedding program into a short novel about yours and your spouse’s relationship for all your guests to share and revel in.

Unique themed weddings
Unique themed weddings

Two Birds Photography

The creativity and originality of all these themes demonstrates that nothing is off limits when it comes to choosing a theme for your wedding day. As long as you pick something that is meaningful and important to you and your spouse and you fully commit to the theme, you and your guests are guaranteed to be a part of something special.

Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on InstagramFacebook and Twitter

Take your wedding programs to the next level with these fun ideas
by Karly Anderson

Photo by Peaches & Mint via  Style Me Pretty

Photo by Peaches & Mint via Style Me Pretty

Wedding programs are no longer a simple piece of paper that outlines the names of the bridal party and order of the ceremony events. Instead, programs have become yet another opportunity for the bride and groom to showcase their creativity and personalities, allowing guests to feel welcomed and get a feel for how things are going to go throughout the big day.

Although not all couples choose to have programs on their wedding day due to budget or time constraints, they do make not only a useful resource for guests but also a cherished memento that both you and attendees can keep for years to come. Deciding what information to include and leave out in the wedding program is half the battle before choosing a design, so you need to consider the overall feeling and theme of your wedding day, as well as what's most important to you and your spouse to convey to guests when they receive the program. Here's a general outline of what you may want to include in the wedding program:

  • Date, time and location of the ceremony
  • Names of the bridal party - maid/matron of honor, best man, bridesmaid(s), groomsmen, usher(s), flower girl and ring bearer
  • Names of important family members - parents of the bride and groom, grandparents
  • Names of significant figures at the ceremony - officiant, readers, musicians
  • General outline of the ceremony - depending on how formal it is or if you're having a religious ceremony, you may want to include specific titles of readings or scriptures and songs
  • Short thank you letter from the bride and groom
  • In loving memory tribute to deceased family members or close loved ones

If you're having a religious ceremony and/or holding the nuptials in a church, you may have to submit a draft to a staff member at the church for approval prior to getting the programs printed and assembled. This is to ensure that the integrity and solemnity of the religious proceedings are upheld throughout the ceremony. Be sure to check with your officiant or the office at your church for any requirements.

If you’re looking to think outside the box of a simple folded sheet of card stock, take a look at some of these unique wedding program ideas to get you inspired.

Keep Guests Cool with a Personal Program Fan

Photo by  Vine Wedding  via Etsy

Photo by Vine Wedding via Etsy

Especially if you’re getting married during the warmer months or are holding your ceremony in a location that doesn’t have any air conditioning (yes, that does happen – I was the maid of honor at a wedding like that!), consider doubling-up duty with your wedding programs and making them personal hand fans for your guests. Not only will they receive all the important and fun information about your big day, they also will be able to keep themselves cool throughout the day. Sweet Violet Bride offers a comprehensive DIY tutorial on how to make your own wedding program fan, and The Knot provides a few different free templates depending on the style and theme of your wedding.

Go Rustic with a Chalkboard Sign

Photo by Salty Peanut Photography via  The Wedding Chicks

Photo by Salty Peanut Photography via The Wedding Chicks

Thanks to the resurgence of rustic and vintage-everything these days, chalkboard signs are at the top of the popularity list right now regardless of the event. If you’re looking to save money, opt to go with a giant chalkboard sign at the entrance of your ceremony space that outlines the important details, such as names of the wedding party, officiant and a brief order of ceremony events. Magnet Street offers a great tutorial and tips on how to achieve a picture perfect chalkboard sign.

Escort Card and Send-off Favor – All in One!

Again, it’s great when you can have your wedding programs serve multiple purposes as both a budget and time saver. Have your programs serve as that and an escort card – include your guest’s name and table number on one side, and the program on the other. You also could attach it to a ribbon wand to serve as a send-off favor when you’re walking down the aisle with your new spouse or leaving the reception at the end of the night.

Hand Out Program Favor Bags

Photo by  RISEbridal

Photo by RISEbridal

Whether you choose to stuff bags with confetti or rose petals for the big send-off or offer a candy bar with bags for guests to stuff themselves, a favor bag printed with your ceremony program is both fun and functional. RISEbridal offers gorgeous screen printing designs for all your wedding day needs.

Extra! Extra! Create a Newspaper Program

Photo by  Ko Two Designs  via Etsy

Photo by Ko Two Designs via Etsy

Because we live in the digital age, newspapers are slowly taking a backseat to delivering us our news and current events. For a touch of nostalgia, create a wedding program newspaper that offers stories about the bride and groom (how you met, the proposal, etc.), as well as include wedding-themed games, such as crossword puzzles, to keep guests entertained as they wait for the activities to commence. Ko Two Designs on Etsy makes designing this interactive program a breeze.

Design a Glossy Magazine All About Your Wedding

Photo by  Twentypages

Photo by Twentypages

How fun would it be to have an entire magazine dedicated to you and your spouse and your wedding day? Well, Twentypages makes that possible! You can design and fully customize a high-quality glossy magazine for you and your guests to enjoy throughout the big day and in years to come.

Get Graphic with Infographics

Photo by  Yellow Brick Graphics  via Etsy

Photo by Yellow Brick Graphics via Etsy

If you’re into graphic design or art, a bold, fun infographic for your wedding day program may be the way to go. You can include vibrant colors, various fonts and even cartoon drawings of you, your spouse and wedding party. The options are limitless! Yellow Brick Graphics offers several options – or, if you’re good with graphic design, give it a go yourself!

Get Creative with Cootie Catchers

Photo by  Alchemy Hour Designs  via Etsy

Photo by Alchemy Hour Designs via Etsy

A fun and unique game for both children and adults alike, a vintage-inspired cootie catcher will keep all your guests entertained and reminiscing about the days when they used to create their own versions of the popular paper game. Alchemy Hour Designs makes it easy for you to customize your cootie catchers and include all the desired information.

Don’t let your wedding programs be an afterthought or overlooked detail of your wedding day – with a bit of inspiration and creativity, you can create (or purchase!) a program that will be unique and memorable to both you and your guests.

Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on InstagramFacebook and Twitter

Fun summer wedding ideas to keep guests happy
by Karly Anderson

Photo by Sarah Morris Photography via  Wedding Ideas Mag

Photo by Sarah Morris Photography via Wedding Ideas Mag

Everybody loves attending a summer wedding; however, guests may feel the need to bring with them more than usual to keep themselves happy and relaxed throughout the day – think a bottle of water, sunscreen, bug repellent and so on.

So, why not put your guests at the forefront of your wedding day and provide them all the summer supplies that they may need?! Not only will these fun summer wedding ideas make for happy guests, it also will make for a happy bride and groom since everybody in attendance will be taken care of and ready to help celebrate the day!

SPF & Bug Repellent Station

Photo by Melissa Schollaert Photography via  Southern Weddings

Photo by Melissa Schollaert Photography via Southern Weddings

Even though summertime is the most popular time for weddings, it does bring two minor annoyances along with it – scorching sunshine and pesky bugs. Keep your guests happy by setting up an SPF and bug repellent station so they don’t have to haul their own lotions and sprays with them. If your ceremony and reception is in the same place, have the station set up all day long so guests can prep prior to the ceremony and reapply later in the day, as needed. Similarly, if your rehearsal dinner is an outdoor soiree, have the same supplies available.

Photo by Beata English via  Polka Dot Bride

Photo by Beata English via Polka Dot Bride

 

Parasols in a Basket

Photo by Kat Braman via  Southern Weddings

Photo by Kat Braman via Southern Weddings

A chic, yet effective, way to help guests shade themselves from the sun is to offer old-time parasols or umbrellas prior to the ceremony. Your guests will be thankful for the reprieve from the sun, and the shady prop will make for a unique touch in photos.

Photo by Images by Lori via  Green Wedding Shoes

Photo by Images by Lori via Green Wedding Shoes

 

Program Fans

Photo by  Maile Paperie  via Etsy

Photo by Maile Paperie via Etsy

Instead of offering guests a separate program and a handheld fan, why not combine the two?! Your guests will enjoy receiving all the wedding day information while also being able to use the program to keep cool. Program fans have grown in popularity over the years and can be purchased from a number of vendors, especially via Etsy.

 

Personalized Water Bottles

Photo by Valerie Busque via  Style Me Pretty

Photo by Valerie Busque via Style Me Pretty

With the warm summertime temperatures, it’s important for everybody to stay hydrated; however, water bottles aren’t the most attractive favor to put on display at a wedding. Dress them up a bit with a personalized label! These can get pricey depending on how many bottles of water that you want to personalize, so I found an easy-to-follow DIY tutorial for all of you – there’s also a free template, which takes out most of the hard work!

Photo by  Fitness Fatale

 

Cool-Down Table with Signature Cocktail

Photo by D’Arcy Benincosa via  Style Me Pretty

Photo by D’Arcy Benincosa via Style Me Pretty

Along with offering water, consider setting up a “cool-down” table that offers everything from lemonade and iced tea to vintage soda bottles and bottles of beer and hard cider on ice in galvanized metal buckets. You also could create a signature summer wedding cocktail – Bridal Guide offers a comprehensive list of potential cocktail ideas, but the options are endless. A few of my favorites from the list are Fire & Passion, Summer Passion and Blissful.

Photo by Sara Richardson Photography via  Style Me Pretty

Photo by Sara Richardson Photography via Style Me Pretty

 

Pass Out Popsicles

Photo by Jodi Miller via  Southern Weddings

Photo by Jodi Miller via Southern Weddings

Ditch the traditional cocktail hour appetizers, and pass out popsicles! These classic, low-calorie and cooling treats will be a hit among your guests. You even could coordinate the popsicle colors with your wedding colors.

Photo by Cappy Hotchkis via  Snippet & Ink

Photo by Cappy Hotchkis via Snippet & Ink

 

Sandals & Sunglasses as Favors

Photo by Bryce Covey Photography via  Style Me Pretty

Photo by Bryce Covey Photography via Style Me Pretty

Just like with creating program fans, do double-duty with your favors and hand out something that guests will both enjoy and find useful. Purchase rubber flip-flops in various sizes and that coordinate with your wedding colors so guests can kick off their formal shoes and dance comfortably (and, let their warm feet get some air!). Plastic sunglasses that are personalized with the bride and groom’s names and wedding date also make for fun photos.

 

Hire an Ice Cream Truck

Photo by Simply Bloom Photography via  Green Wedding Shoes

Photo by Simply Bloom Photography via Green Wedding Shoes

To end the summer evening in a special way, hire or rent an ice cream truck! Your older guests will get a thrill out of the summer dessert nostalgia that ice cream trucks can bring, and the truck will provide a cute photo opportunity for the bride and groom.

Photo by You Can’t Be Serious via  Polka Dot Bride

Photo by You Can’t Be Serious via Polka Dot Bride

By incorporating these ideas and others that you may have into your summer wedding, your guests will be happy and ready-to-go when it comes time to celebrate and party in the sunshine.

Karly Anderson is a born and raised Midwest girl currently residing outside Milwaukee, Wis. Her blog, Miss in the Midwest, chronicles her take on beauty, life and style in the Heartland. Catch up with Karly on InstagramFacebook and TwitterFind Karly's creative musings here.