Stand Out: Modernise the classic elements of your wedding

Published by Claire Gould on

Eleni and Shane's stunning Dulwich Village wedding, images by Emily Black Photography (36)

Thank you lovely Ellie Entwistle for this guest article!
Header image credit: Emily Black Photography

When you get married, there are certain things that are going to be there on your big day… A ceremony, a meal, photographs, invitations, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the same as everyone else’s, right?

Some people like to stick to tradition and that’s great! But why not break the mould, venture off the beaten track, go your own way and put a unique twist on some of the biggest wedding must-haves?

With that in mind, here’s seven things that every wedding has, and how to make yours more modern and more unique.

1. Vows – make them your own

It’s not just about the after party. Before you can celebrate, you first have to tie the knot itself.

Nowadays the only parts of a wedding ceremony that you can’t change are those that are legally binding. When you walk down the aisle there are certain things that just have to stay the same, because if you or the officiant deviates from the script, then the ceremony wouldn’t be legal.

You can stick with the vows that are read out for you to repeat, but why not brush off those high school writing skills and whip up your own? This allows you to really get your feelings out there – as if marrying them wasn’t enough – and can show off your quirks and personality as a couple. You can make it soppy and sweet or go funny and entertain the audience. The choice is yours.

2. Shoes – switch ‘em up

Every bride (and groom) needs a killer pair of shoes for the big day. Now if you dream of walking down the aisle in a pair of perfect white heels, then go for it. But if you’re looking to switch things up then there has been a huge surge in the number of brides opting for quirky footwear. In fact, SEMrush, which monitors what people search for on Google, has seen a 67% increase in people in the UK searching for ‘alternative wedding shoes’.

Sarah Mahoune of Wedding Converse and Yeah Boo, who provide personalised wedding shoes, echoes that she has seen a huge upswing in the number of people going against the footwear grain:

“The trend for re-writing the wedding rulebook and doing things your own way is as hot as it has ever been, so no wonder brides (and grooms) are looking for unique ways to express themselves with their wedding attire, especially their footwear.

“More couples than ever are choosing to rock up the aisle in style wearing flats, not just because they are comfortable and perfect for late-night dancing, but also because they can show off their fun sides by having their favourite brand of sneakers customised for their special day.  The trend first hit headlines when Serena Williams was pictured at her wedding in 2017 wearing a personalised pair of trainers with her wedding dress.

“Customised shoes are also being used to surprise a partner or the wedding guests as they can be personalised with your name, a private joke or silly slogan to get that all-important Instagram moment.”

3. The little moments – go digital

Let’s step away from the ‘big things’ or the ‘must haves’, and instead focus on the details. Sometimes we get so swept up in the whole day that it’s easy to forget the little moments that make a wedding truly special. The silly photographs taken by your friends, or catching up with that family member that you haven’t seen for years… It all adds up to one incredible and unforgettable day.

The best way to make these moments even better? Add a little bit of tech; here’s our favourites…

  • Come up with a ‘hashtag’ for your wedding and encourage people to use it if they are posting on Instagram. That way you can look through the photos when you’re nursing your morning after hangover and see what mischief people got up to away from the main photographer
  • Live stream. If you’re having a big wedding, or if you have friends or family overseas, then unfortunately some of them may not be able to make it on the day. But that doesn’t mean they have to miss out. Why not set up a live stream of the ceremony so they can be with you as much as possible for your big moment?
  • Photography equipment. Of course we recommend having a professional photographer on the day, but how about something a little extra to capture people’s personalities and those funny moments that get lost in the busyness of the day. Hiring your very own Photo Booth can provide hours of entertainment and gives your guests a little something extra to take home

“Everyone loves a wedding,” says Leon Crosby, Managing Director at Photography Booths. “It’s the perfect opportunity to let your hair down and celebrate the love between two people, which is why we think it’s important to capture every little detail, and a Photo Booth is the perfect way to do that. Photos of friends and family donning hats and holding props are the memories we truly believe will make you laugh and smile when you look back in years to come.”

4. Guest book – make it fun

If there’s one wedding feature that we’re glad to see has gone the way of the Dodo, it’s the traditional guest book. Don’t get us wrong, it’s wonderful to see who attended your big day and read about the lovely time they had, but let’s mix things up a bit, shall we? And let’s face it, no one wants to take time out of the festivities to write the same few sentences as everybody else in a book that’s going to sit on a shelf and gather dust, never to be looked at again.

Thankfully, Pinterest is a breath of fresh air and is crammed to the brim with unique and modern guest book ideas. Here are a few of our favourites…

  • A jigsaw puzzle where each person signs a piece
  • A photo guest book with a Polaroid camera nearby
  • A thumbprint poster
  • A Jenga tower
  • Signing a globe

5. Desserts – think bigger

Throw out the fruitcake; it’s old-fashioned and let’s face it, nobody really likes it anyway. Enter the desserts of modern weddings. Of course many couples will still opt for a cake on their big day, because who doesn’t love cake, but dessert tables and sweet carts are all the rage right now. If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, then you’re going to love this.

Cupcakes, doughnuts, cookies, pies… The possibilities are endless. That’s what so great about having a dessert table or sweet cart; they have universal appeal, will keep your guests happy throughout the night, and are incredibly photogenic.

6. Celebrations – go eco

One of the ‘must-do’ moments of any wedding is when the happy couple exit for the first time after the ceremony. In the olden days, the gathered guests will have thrown rice over the pair as they walked between two lines of people. But now this is a big ‘no no’; birds eat the rice which can cause them to get seriously ill. Plus, who wants to spend the rest of the evening picking rice out of their hair?

Ashley Corrigan, Marketing Manager at Shropshire Petals, specialists in natural petal confetti, says there are far more eco-friendly ways for couples to have their big moment. Green doesn’t have to mean boring!

“Confetti is a long-standing tradition still upheld today for modern weddings. However, in the current ‘insta-age’, couples want their wedding, especially their confetti moment to be as original and unique as possible, at the same time as having their photographer capturing it perfectly. There are many ways in which couples can modernise the throwing of confetti. Our favourite three are:

  • “Have an intimate confetti moment, just the two of you where you take a large handful of confetti and blow it slowly towards your photographer
  • “A fantastic way to inject some additional entertainment to your first dance is to have confetti cannons fired whilst you celebrate dancing together for the first time as a married couple
  • “Why not be different and let your child guests have their own confetti moment. Give them plenty to have fun with and let them be children by throwing confetti over each other or shaking it from Confetti Wands.”

7. Centrepieces – be unique

Most, if not all weddings will be decorated with centrepieces. And if you’ve attended a few of these celebrations in your life, then you’ll probably recognise a few staples that often adorn the tables. Flowers, beads, feathers, candles… to name but a few. But why opt for the same as everyone else? We say think outside the box when it comes to your wedding decorations, and let your imagination run wild.

It seems we’re not the only ones who think that…

Katie Hart, Owner and Wedding Stylist at Get Knotted, says more and more couples are seeking out wedding decor that is both unique and kinder to the environment:

“All couples want their wedding reception and table décor to stand out and to reflect their individual styles and vision. Many couples are now more environmentally aware, so are opting for more sustainable and eco-friendly details for their weddings.

“To modernise the reception décor at the same time as being kinder to the environment, couples are use living centrepieces. Using centrepieces that are made from live plants such as cacti, air plants, herbs and succulents is the ideal way to ensure that there is no wastage. Not only do living centrepieces look stunning and add a touch of nature to the décor, they are funky, unusual and can be reused after the wedding by other couples or given to guests as gifts.”

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.


Charlene McNabb · July 9, 2019 at 2:07 pm

I have to agree with the personal vows. It seems like a HUGE deal to even think about but on the day it really adds to the service and it’s a way to add a bit more of ‘you’ in to your wedding! It always gets people reaching for the tissue when I share wedding videos of the personal vows!

    Claire Gould · July 9, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Charlene I totally agree! A few of our friends have done this – and it’s the absolute best thing ever. Registrar vows are like reading from a business contract ?

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