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.


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.


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!


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.


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!


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.

Tradition Tuesday: Nonreligious Weddings

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 secular wedding ceremonies.


Until very recently, the word “wedding” almost certainly conjured images of a lovely church (or other house of worship) ceremony. Religious weddings often include very specific guidelines, time-honored traditions, and time for spiritual readings and prayer. We love nothing more than to see couples for whom these traditions mean a great deal incorporate their faith(s) into their special day. For many other couples, however, faith may not be a major part of their day-to-day lives. In those cases, we firmly believe that nonreligious couples should plan a ceremony that first and foremost reflects their own priorities and personalities. If that sounds like you, follow our tips to begin writing your own ceremony rules, making sure every moment feels 100% personal.

Find the Perfect Officiant

It’s so important to find someone you trust and connect with to officiate your wedding. After all, he or she will be the one delivering a (hopefully) heartfelt message to your family and friends as you tie the knot. Some religious figures are more than happy to conduct a secular ceremony, while other officiants (like a justice of the peace or judge) specialize in nonreligious and/or nontraditional weddings. Either way, an officiant seasoned in secular weddings will be a huge asset to you in planning the structure of your ceremony. Another route, and one of our favorites, is to be married by a friend or family member. While this may require some additional research about what your state/county requires of an officiant, the extremely personal touch this brings to your big day is almost certainly worth it.


Choose Your Ideal Venue

Gone are the days where all weddings take place in the family’s church. Today, there are so many different kinds of venues to choose from! When searching for venues, think about what kinds of locations inspire you; what reflects you as a couple. Your options are endless: parks and gardens, museums, libraries, historic homes or buildings, loft spaces, barns, vineyards, country clubs, hotels, banquet halls, galleries, city landmarks… the list goes on and on. Once you narrow down a venue type or two that speaks to you, research a list of such places in your city or town and make sure to experience your favorites in person. The venue is such a key piece to your wedding day puzzle, so make sure that the one you choose can accommodate your needs and, more importantly, feels like the perfect fit.


Write Your Own Vows

We love love love when a couple decides to write their own vows to each other. There is almost nothing more intimate and unique than to hear a couple commit to one another in their own words. Your loved one and your guests will appreciate and remember hearing your unguarded, genuine sentiments as you promise your own happily ever after. This is your chance to express what’s most important and personal to you as you move forward into married life. Whether you choose to be funny, sentimental, or somber – or a combination – we truly believe that this will be one of the most special moments of your day.


Embrace Your Uniqueness

Our number one tip: While it may seem daunting to break with tradition, never forget that you deserve a day that perfectly represents you and your bride or groom-to-be and honors your love together.


We want to hear from you! What you think about nonreligious ceremonies? How did you/are you planning to update traditionally religious customs? Tell us in the comments!

Tradition Tuesday: Wedding Colors

Welcome to our first ever Tradition Tuesday! What is Tradition Tuesday, you ask? Great question! Well, we at Once Upon a Wedding are huge proponents of the nontraditional wedding. While that means something different to every couple, we think it’s important for our couples to know that the sky’s the limit for their big day. 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. Each post will focus on one wedding day tradition and our ideas on how couples can spin the tradition on its head and make it their own.


3 Alternatives to Choosing Wedding Colors

Today, we’re looking at wedding colors. Traditionally, a bride would select 2-3 colors for her wedding; these would then be reflected in everything from the attire of the wedding party to the ceremony and reception décor to the cake. (Does anyone else remember Julia Roberts proudly declaring her wedding colors to be blush and bashful in Steel Magnolias? “Pink is my signature color.” But I digress.) With so many options available to today’s brides, we say why limit yourself? Instead, here are a few ideas of how to harmonize your wedding look without locking yourself into boundaries like specific colors:

  • A Whole Color Palette
  • When it comes to choosing your wedding décor, several complimentary colors can look lovely without being overly limiting. When selecting a palette of colors, the best way to begin is to figure out the vibe you wish to achieve for your day. Pastels are perfect for a spring garden celebration. An array of metallics can make an elegant black-tie affair look flawless. The key here is to give yourself permission to select any elements that speak to you and the wedding you envision. Even if a specific selection of colors is what you decide works best, keep an open mind when implementing them in your decisions. This Fourth of July wedding (below) used a red, white, and blue scheme throughout. However, to achieve the rustic chic vibe the couple desired, elements of burlap and various different shades of their colors were used to provide contrast and variety.


  • Nontraditional Colors
  • There was a time when certain colors were not to be used for various wedding purposes: bridesmaids and guests didn’t wear black, brides only wore shades of white (but no one else did), etc. For the most part, those days are past. We love (love love) when a bride chooses black dresses for her attendants. They’re classy and timeless, make it much easier for bridesmaids to wear different dresses (another look we love), and are way more likely to be worn again. Bonus: black goes with anything, and can be a great neutral to serve as a base for the rest of your color palette, or can be the cohesion you need if you select different colors for everything else. We feel the same way with shades of white. Cream and/or blush dresses and décor can be a clean, classic look for an elegant affair. Remember Pippa Middleton’s gorgeous white maid of honor gown? Or, should you wish to go for a colored or patterned dress (yes, please), bridesmaids in customarily bridal hues can be a gorgeous, unexpected, and modern spin on tradition. Bottom line: do what works for you.

  • Themes

We can’t help but advocate for themed weddings. When a couple integrates one of their passions into their big day, it becomes so personal and fun. Whether you choose to incorporate small hints of your theme that only other keen-eyed fans would notice, or decide to go all out, the theme, rather than just colors, becomes the focus of your planning. This provides such a rich, interactive, and memorable atmosphere for your guests to celebrate your love. The theme you choose could be anything – a fandom (Harry Potter, Disney, Star Wars, superheroes, etc.), an era (20s, 40s, 60s), a holiday (Halloween, Christmas), a hobby (travel, art, sports) – whatever means something to you as a couple might just be the perfect concept around which to center your day.


What are your favorite ways to think outside the box with wedding colors? Do you prefer to honor the tradition of selecting a few? Tell us what you think in the comments!