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We asked Malvina Chevolleau, the owner and principal designer of Fabulous Occasions, an event planning and design boutique, to share some of her best tips for making your big day easy, breezy, fun and -- most importantly -- personal.
1. Have homemade wedding treats
Having each of your guests contribute a signature dish to your wedding feast adds a hint of family tradition and community, and makes for a unique table feature.
Chevolleau recalls one wedding she planned that included a down-home, collaborative sweets table: "All the women in the family contributed something, whatever their specialty was -- pie, cupcakes, tarts, trifle. It was really pretty and really unique," she says. "There were little notes placed beside each dish saying who contributed it and what their relation to the bride and groom was."
After guests circulated the sweets table, they could move on to a DIY drink station. "We had a big lemonade stand with big jugs of pink lemonade made from the bride's mom's recipe with Mason jars, and everyone helped themselves," Chevolleau adds. Creating stations for your guests to mingle around doesn't need to be fussy when everyone pitches in. It also creates a fun, DIY twist and makes for great conversation among those in attendance.
2. Get creative with your wedding decor and guest seating
An outdoor wedding will allow you to be more creative with your setting than a traditional chapel or reception hall.
"If you have a nice, big open space, the way you create your seating doesn't have to involve everyone sitting in one direction, staring at the bride and groom," says Chevolleau. "You could do a circle formation with your chairs if you're in a woodsy area, and use the trees as your backdrop, hanging some flowers from the branches themselves."
Situating your guests in a more immersive formation, especially in the great outdoors, makes for a conversation-friendly atmosphere and takes some of the pressure off the bride and groom.
Page 1 of 2 -- From local wedding favours to making your wedding more green, discover three more ways to plan a summer wedding on page 2.
3. Present your guests with local wedding favours
Leave your guests with a token from your wedding that will remind them of the scenery. "100 per cent of the time I encourage my couples to give their guests something they can consume or to make a donation to a charity," says Chevolleau.
"Favours like bottle stoppers and picture frames, a lot of the time we find them discarded under tables -- it's a real waste," she says. "But who doesn't want a cookie at the end of the night? Or a nice treat the next day, like a really good jar of honey?"
Locally made preserves, honey or even small jars of maple syrup are a welcome addition to any cupboard, and they also provide a way to support small, local businesses and eschew the waste of conventional favours.
4. Plan a DIY wedding
Your personality is what will bring your casual wedding to life. Going the DIY route (whether through decor, flowers or favours) allows you to show your character in the most forgiving and inexpensive manner.
"Do it yourself doesn't necessarily mean that you have to make it yourself. You could also find it yourself," suggests Chevolleau. "Scouring thrift stores is a great idea for some things, like finding different vessels for your flowers, or finding a secondhand dress or maybe a shrug or little vintage sweater. You don't have to be super crafty to do little things. You can even bedazzle your own shoes," she adds.
Head to your local flea market and stock up on mismatched galvanized buckets or barrels to create country-style coolers. Plus, look for canning jars or lanterns to turn into candleholders or mismatched glassware to give the tables more character.
5. Make your wedding greener
Chevolleau lets us in on one rustic decor trend taking off this season that will let you celebrate the thriving life of summer: "Terrariums are really popular right now," she says. "You can create a little living environment for your centrepiece. You don't have to be crafty to do it, it's just a matter of finding the correct glassware and putting some earth in it and finding out what kind of plants thrive in there."
It can be as simple as filling a glass bowl with stones and setting a cactus or bamboo plant inside, or layering large canning jars with sand, pebbles and moss, topped with twigs and wildflowers. Terrariums also make for great keepsake centrepieces that your guests will actually want to display.
Against the backdrop of summer, a casual wedding embraces the natural environment and local and family traditions. Incorporating these themes into your wedding will make your guests feel right at home and create a relaxed atmosphere in which you can celebrate your special day.
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Plan the most beautiful wedding you can imagine with expert tips and helpful advice from our special wedding planning guide.