Let's Get Personal

Your wedding is probably the largest (and most expensive) event you will ever plan. So why not shun cookie-cutter ceremonies and receptions in favor of something more original? Below are eight ways to create a memorable, one-of-a-kind celebration

Choose a Theme

Judy Lewis, of HudsonValleyWeddings.com, an on-line wedding guide, recalls the nuptials of one Valley couple: both historical reenactors, they chose an antebellum theme, complete with a bridal party “decked out in Civil War regalia.” Other popular themes have featured Star Wars memorabilia and traditional Scottish bagpipers.

Pick the Place

Where you hold your ceremony and reception sets the stage for the entire event. Lewis recounts dozens of stories of nontraditional locations, from an underground cave decorated with candles, to a raft in a pond surrounded by synchronized swimmers. Your venue can also reflect a particular theme. The New York Renaissance Faire in Sterling Forest hosts two to six weddings per month during the summer, according to manager Doug DeTroy. “Our prices are very competitive,” he claims, although “jugglers, singers, harpists, and fire-eaters cost extra.”

Lights Fantastic

Lighting can make or break the mood at any event. John Carver, of BearFly Designs in Earlton, customizes lighting effects as simple as a monogram on the dance floor or as elaborate as a birch forest projected on a wall. “Each couple brings its own personality,” he explains.

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The Rev. Sara Henderson, a local interfaith minister, offers some tips for personalizing your vows. First, start early — “at least a couple of months prior to the wedding date” — and keep a diary of “words and feelings that resonate with your hearts.” Then, go on a romantic date and discuss the important moments in your relationship; take notes about your thoughts. Finally, research vows others have written, and select pieces that you like.


Wedding entertainment need not be limited to a DJ or band. Stephen Burchard, of Entertainment with Style in Westchester, provides unusual amusement as the Wedding Magician. He livens up the cocktail hour by performing illusions (such as making rabbits appear in your guests’ hands). During his after-dinner magic show, he can make the bride appear out of nowhere, or amuse the new groom by sawing his father-in-law in half.


Sure, Mendelssohn’s march is nice. But for a truly original ceremony, commission composer David Gusakov, of Bristol, Vermont, to write a unique processional or recessional; he provides a finished product on a CD, as well as sheet music for the wedding-day musicians.


Plenty of local businesses offer unusual decorations. Edible Arrangements, for example, can cut and shape various fruits to look like flowers for your centerpieces. I Dove You, in Wingdale, will unleash a flock of white doves, and Rainbow’s End Farms, in Pawling, will mass-release monarch butterflies at the moment you and your betrothed are joined in holy matrimony.


In these tough economic times, “people are spending their money on things that other people can use, instead of knickknacks,” explains Dawn Gesualdo of Forever Favors. The shop carries personalized coasters, vases, even espresso sets. Looking for something that really lasts? Couples can purchase heart-shaped seed paper, decorated with their initials, which can then be planted in a vase or the ground, producing flowers that might outlast even the longest marriages.

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