Wedding Planning 101: 5 Alternatives to Traditional Wedding Flowers

Flowers are one of the basic building blocks that come together to create a wedding day; as ubiquitous as the cake or the dress or the music. But we know that traditional bouquets might not be for everyone – and you know by now that we’re all about putting together the wedding that suits you best! Whether for financial, aesthetic, or eco-conscious reasons, you may find yourself considering some alternatives to hiring an expert florist. The crafty among you are likely ready to roll up your sleeves and put your own time, labor, and personality into your floral accents. There are also some spectacularly creative artists out there who can create works of art for you, if DIY isn’t really your thing (we love some of the freaking awesome stuff that can be found on Etsy, for example). However you decide to put together the blooms that will decorate your celebration, here are a few of our favorite substitutes for traditional flowers:

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1. Paper

While it may not be the first material to come to mind, paper flowers are actually stunning. There are a ton of options if this look suits you. We’ve seen flowers made from pages of books and/or sheet music, a gorgeous nod to couples especially fond of reading and music. Flowers made from plain colored paper and some paint can also be super pretty.

paper_boutonniere2. Fabric

Another great option for the offbeat couple is flowers made from various fabrics – from silk to burlap to felt to even crocheted. And bonus, you get to keep them forever!

fabric_bouquet3. Artificial

Not all artificial flowers look obviously fake, trust us. Craft stores carry some beautifully convincing options if this is more your style. One thing we love about using artificial flowers is that it can be a cost-saving and barely detectable alternative, should your favorite real blooms be out of season.

artificial_flower_centerpiece4. Market Flowers

Some couples choose to purchase their flowers the day before or even the day of their wedding from their local market, leaving to chance and creativity their ultimate floral look. We totally understand why this method may not be for every bride and groom, but for those couples with a laidback, bohemian style, some floral talents, and a little extra time, this can be an inexpensive and creative challenge.

market_flower_bouquet5. Non-florals

Okay, this category encompasses a whole range of things. A personal fave: bouquets with brooches/jewels/etc. Whether they make up the entire bouquet or serve as accents to other flowers, we seriously love the sparkle and elegance these bring. Another interesting, fun option is bouquets (or centerpieces, or boutonnieres) that are all greenery: succulents, herbs, etc. We’re pretty much talking about bouquets made of cool stuff: feathers, Christmas ornaments, seashells, or anything else you’re really into.

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Are you thinking about going nontraditional with your wedding flowers? Have you seen something cool that we didn’t mention here? Tell us in the comments!

Tradition Tuesday: Wedding Food

It’s that time again! We’re thrilled to bring you a brand new Tradition Tuesday, where we focus on one wedding day tradition and our ideas on how couples can make it their own. As huge proponents of the nontraditional wedding, we always strive to make sure that our brides and grooms’ celebrations reflect their personalities; part of this means putting their own spin on the wedding traditions of days past. This week we talk about the food you choose for your big day.

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If thinking of wedding food brings to mind a multi-course dinner complete with a limp salad and dry chicken, boy do we have news for you. There are so many awesome, exciting, and delicious alternatives to a (boring) plated dinner that we don’t even know where to start! Whether you’re looking for a slight update to the traditional seated meal or something totally cool and memorable, we know your guests will appreciate the extra thought you put into providing a kick-ass dining experience. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Buffets

Buffets have been around so long that they’re kind of their own tradition already. A more casual, personal option for your guests (and often less pricey for you), buffets encourage everyone to mingle and spend time out of their seats – already more fun than sitting still for hours! They can be easily customized with whatever food you wish to serve, whether that leans toward more traditional wedding fare or something a bit more unique (including the other options below).

2. Cocktails & Hors D’oeuvres

If you’re a “variety is the spice of life” kind of couple, a cocktail-style reception could be perfect for you. Why choose between sliders, empanadas, kebabs, or bruschetta when you can serve all of the above?! Selecting a number of heavy hors d’oeuvres to be passed throughout the night in lieu of a formal dinner keeps the focus on the party while your guests still get to experience plenty of exciting food options.

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3. Local eats

We love when couples pay homage to places they love during their wedding day. Whether it’s your hometown, the city you’ve chosen for your wedding, or another place that means a lot to you, tying your food into a special location for you and your new spouse is always a fun way to share your interests with your friends and family. New York pizza, New England seafood, Memphis barbecue, Philly cheesesteaks – all super fun ways to make sure your guests are fed. Of course, here in Chicago we’re big fans of the deep dish pizza or Chicago-style hot dogs!

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4. Ethnic Food

For our couples looking to honor a certain culture during your big day (whether your own or one that inspires you), serving ethnic cuisine is a bold, interesting choice. We recommend selecting a variety of dishes or one or two universally enjoyable entrees to ensure that even the pickiest of your guests will find something new and delicious to try. That said, don’t be afraid to go for something unusual or unexpected; it will make your wedding even more unique to your friends and family.

5. Brunch

To save money on their celebration or secure popular dates, many couples are opting to get married at nontraditional times and/or days. In some cases, this makes a brunch reception the perfect choice (and who doesn’t love brunch?!). A great mix of breakfast and lunch options and delicious cocktails, and your guests will be happy campers.

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6. Late Night Eats

This is a newer trend that we adore: supplying awesome snacks later in your celebration to keep the energy going until the very end. We’ve heard of everything from surprising your loved ones with a couple’s favorite treat (s’mores, anyone?!) to hiring trendy food trucks. So fun!

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Now it’s your turn! What do you dream of serving at your wedding? Have you seen any awesome or unique foods served at weddings you’ve been to? Did you get as hungry reading this post as we did writing it?! Tell us in the comments.

5 Reasons You Want to Work with a Wedding Planner 

Congratulations – you’re engaged!

Now that it’s time to start planning the day you’ve dreamed about, you may be asking yourself if you should enlist the assistance of a wedding planner to help figure all this wedding stuff out. This is a super common question, and honestly, we get it. We truly believe that every single couple and wedding will benefit from some extra help from the experts. Our couples constantly tell us that the minor investment had major payoffs when it came to their planning experience. Here are a few major reasons you should consider consulting with a wedding planner asap:

1. To save yourself time and stress

Let’s face it: a wedding is one of the biggest moments of your life. Combine that with the financial investment that comes with even the smallest production and the potential for conflict with so many family and friends involved, and it’s easy to see why some stress may happen in the planning process. Luckily, wedding planners are there to shoulder many of those concerns for you. The pros know how to navigate just about any snafu you may face, from vendor hiccups to family drama to planning worries, and are there by your side to keep the process as smooth as possible, and to make sure you enjoy it to boot!

The wedding day itself also presents a unique set of challenges and orchestrations. With countless moving pieces and details coming together, it’s almost inevitable that something, big or small, will not go exactly as planned. Wedding planners have the experience to plan ahead to prevent most issues and are the point of contact when any are unavoidable, leaving you and your loved ones to enjoy your once-in-a-lifetime day (After all, who wants to deal with a late delivery when they’re getting their makeup done? No one, that’s who.)

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Once Upon a Wedding’s Kelley helping the groomsmen get ready (and keeping them in line…).

2. To find your wedding dream team

Speaking of all the pieces that come together to make your perfect day, we know just how daunting it can be to find vendors you both trust and click with to provide the services you need. A wedding planner has done extensive research to find and cultivate relationships with the best in the biz. With the assistance of an expert, you can rest assured that you’re working with the vendors most compatible with your needs, style, and budget – after all, we’re personally vouching for them!

3. To bring your vision to life

It can seem super easy and fun to endlessly browse Pinterest and The Knot for wedding inspiration that speaks to you (and it is, trust us!) However, implementing those ideas is another animal entirely. A professional planner can both help you create that vision and use their expertise to bring it to life in the most efficient manner possible, or find alternatives when those awesome pins aren’t quite as simple to pull off as you hoped. We know what to do when your dream flowers aren’t in season, or when a design you like won’t work with your chosen venue, or when those amazing details don’t quite fit within the budget you’re working with; and trust us, we can pull off something you’ll love equally or even more!

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4. To get help with exactly what you need

Working with a wedding planner doesn’t have to mean giving up control of every aspect of planning your wedding. Most wedding planners offer a variety of packages depending on your needs, and many of those will even put together a completely custom set of services if your needs differ from their usual offerings. This means that your wedding planner is involved only as much or as little as you want them to be – whether that means every step of the way or just on your wedding day.

5. To make sure your personality shines through & be confident in breaking with tradition

You may know by now how incredibly important it is to us that each and every wedding reflects the awesomely unique couple being celebrated. Planners will have endless ideas on how to design the perfect details to show off your personalities. And for couples who know that staying true to yourselves means breaking with certain wedding traditions, navigating family expectations and just how to change up those customs can be even trickier. We’ve worked hard to become pros at nontraditional, unique, offbeat weddings, so we’ll provide you with all the tips, tricks, and resources to design the one-of-a-kind day you’re looking for.

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Now it’s your turn – tell us what you think in the comments! Did you work with a wedding planner? Do you have questions about how to find the perfect pros to be your wedding gurus? And if you think Once Upon a Wedding might just be the right fit, Contact Us to set up your free consultation!

Dream Weddings: Vintage

We love putting together inspiration boards to capture the mood of the weddings we’re planning (or the weddings we’re dreaming of planning). Today, we thought we’d play around with one of our favorite themes: vintage weddings. There’s so much to enjoy about a wedding that throws it back to eras gone by. We adore the classic feel of vintage weddings – you know those pictures will never go out of style! And there’s something so special about honoring the history of past decades. Whether you choose to focus on a particular era in your planning – the roaring 20s, the glamorous 40s, the fabulous 60s, etc. – or go for an overall antique vibe, a vintage themed wedding will bring style and charm to your big day.

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We want to hear from you! Tell us in the comments: what do you like about vintage weddings? Are you planning one of your own?