General,The Planner

Planning a Wedding That Feels Like You

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The most common request we get from brides is to help them plan a “non-cookie-cutter wedding.” Often couples have awesome ideas ranging from unique venues and interesting destinations to fireworks and even helicopter or elephant grand entrances. Josie and I then run off to do our homework brimming with excitement about the prospect of such adventure and return to our expectant couples bearing big numbers, permit requests, and long lists of rental requirements. The truth of the matter is that most couples end up at a catering hall that specializes in weddings for a reason: they are experienced, practical and affordable. And yes… cookie-cutter.


Do not despair! Making your wedding memorable and different from everyone else’s wedding is as simple as being yourself. Really. You won’t find the perfectly-you idea in a magazine, on TV, or even in this article (but please keep reading). You will find it in your own personal history book.

Think back to when you were little and summon the songs, candy, or family recipe that made you happy. Think back to the beginning of your relationship and remember what the two of you talked about all night, or your favorite hole-in- the wall restaurant. Ask yourself why your friends enjoy hanging out at your place—to have your chocolate shakes, play a game of taboo, or because you all end up singing at the top of your lungs? Whatever these quirky-cool details may be, here are a few suggestions to get you thinking:

Give favors that mean something. If you are foodies, consider sharing your favorite family recipes on beautiful cards, in book form or even a flash drive—whatever suits your style. If you love to play games, give guests small, portable versions of your preferred ones with an invitation to bring it over for a game night with the new Mr. & Mrs. Basically, give guests something that makes them feel connected to you.

Plan a menu that you would love on any night. Imagine how happy your guests would be if a gourmet pernil, or chivo con moro was in their near future (be still my heart!). Many venues are starting to offer creative stations or the option to tailor a menu, so be sure to let the chef know your special requests. However, there are other things you can do if this is not an option. If your dad has a killer hot sauce recipe, ask the venue if you can bring it in and serve at each table for guests to season their food. Plan an hora loca with your must-have comfort foods: arepas, tacos, mac n’ cheese or even habichuela con dulce shots! Or my personal favorite, hand out a send-away snack as guests leave the reception. Any party that ends with a Dominican chimichurri truck will be remembered forever. Just saying.

Use your words and engage your guests. What really makes a wedding is feeling connected to the hosts or guests of honor. This is true for any event from a birthday or professional conference to the Latin Grammy’s. Someone needs to communicate the purpose of the gathering and set the right mood (which is also why a great MC is essential). You can accomplish this in many different ways whether you are the social butterfly, debate team queen or undercover poet. It can be as simple as popping in at the cocktail hour and dancing all night long. It can be as subtle as having fun facts about you and your love on the guest tables, or humorous introductions of the entire bridal party in the wedding programs. If you’re not afraid of the microphone, say a few words about why you’re head over heels in love and happy that everyone is there to witness it (but if you feel compelled to tell your whole life story and pull out weird props, please return the mic to the MC and get back on the dance floor). You get the idea.

These are only a few areas in which to infuse your personal flavor—the possibilities are endless! Now sit down with your other half and start thinking.

Michelle Peralta is the co-owner of Josie Michelle Events, an event planning and design company servicing New York and New Jersey founded in 2011. She has 15 years of experience planning corporate events for New York City law firms, and 6 years experience planning and designing social events. Michelle holds a BA in English Literature from St. Johns University, and is a member of the Association of Bridal Consultants. She’s been featured on Urban Latino Radio, Opcion New York, the Long Island Business News, and various event blogs.

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