After 23 years in the wedding business, I have seen every sort of wedding there is to see. From small simple weddings with close friends to huge extravaganzas with all the stops pulled out. I have learned that it’s not the location or the china or table cloths or the DJ that makes a great wedding — although those elements all matter. A great wedding happens when the bride and groom take ownership.

I don’t mean over planning every single detail of the event. It is all about finding a way to express authentically who they are as a couple and allowing their guests to see and feel and share in the joy of the day. We specialize in non traditional weddings and Cape Cod is a destination wedding location, so perhaps here at the Casual Gourmet we have the opportunity to see more than our share of personal and unique touches.

Let me share with you a few stories of how couples I have worked with have spiced up their weddings with games, with gifts and by adding to (or even throwing out) tradition.

The Ceremony at Heritage where the bride and groom played Rock, Paper, Scissors

The Ceremony at Heritage where the bride and groom played Rock, Paper, Scissors. Click to enlarge.

Earlier this summer, I had a lovely couple who had a simple, but beautiful, wedding at Heritage Museums and Gardens in Sandwich. They were sweet and very in love and planned every detail of the wedding together. Having each written beautiful and meaningful vows they could not decide who should speak first, so right in front of all their friends and family, they played a little game of Rock, Paper and Scissors!

This is a perfect example of the couple taking ownership of their wedding. It was unique, fun and only worked because their family and friends instantly recognized how it fit the couple’s style of communication.

The next story took place back in 2003 with both the ceremony and reception at the groom’s family’s home on Pleasant Bay in Orleans. Everything about this wedding, from the ceremony under a driftwood arch, to the bouquet of wild flowers gathered by family members, to the dancing, the bride and groom made it their own very personal celebration!

To begin the festivities at the reception, guests were told to flip over their seating card where they found a picture of another guest. They then had to go find the person and introduce themselves, as this person would become important to them later in the evening. Pleasant chaos ensued as the guests laughingly found the person in their picture

Then reception started with the bride and groom toasting all their friends instead of vice versa.

The card with a lottery ticket and quote that we put under each salad plate

The card with a lottery ticket and quote that we put under each salad plate. Click to Enlarge. (Photo by Bello Photography)

After the buffet dinner was served, it was time for the first dance. The bride, having been a dance teacher, had made up a dance for her guests. The bride and groom gave a quick lesson, then told the guests that their partner would be the person they met earlier in the evening. Everyone of the 175 guests found their partner and danced the bride’s special dance in unison with the bride and groom leading the way.

The last story I have for you took place two years ago at the bride’s family’s home in Osterville. The bride and groom were some of the sweetest people I have ever met and they did not just want to thank their guests for coming but they also wanted to wish them good luck.

Could a line on the invitation or ceremony program could have taken care of this? Sure. But that would not have been very memorable.

Instead, the couple had us put lottery scratch tickets under each salad plate with a great quote that said:

Where there is great love there are always miracles. -Will Cather

When we cleared the salad plates, you could hear the oooh and ahhs from the guests as they got a pleasant little surprise that said thank you and good luck!

These stories are just a few examples of the many couples who have taken the step from a great wedding to their perfect wedding. Make sure as you plan your wedding you make find a way to add your own personal touch to it — it’s that little extra that makes your day perfect!