Photo: Amy and Stuart Photography
Weddings are typically a family affair, signifying not only the union of two people but also of two distinct lineages. And when it comes to nuptials, everyone wishes to be included in some fashion. However, including loved ones into your wedding plans is a slippery slope, as Mom, Aunt Betsy or Grandma may have a few ideas and traditions you don't care to embrace for your big day. Luckily, there are a few creative ways you can incorporate your family into your wedding plans without relinquishing creative control.
1. Incorporate Heirlooms
Expert wedding designer Caroline Bailly, founder of New York City-based planning company L'Atelier Rouge, insists that incorporating a cherished family heirloom lends character and beauty to a nuptial ceremony. "There are ways to work family into your wedding design without being too literal—repurposing pieces with family significance, with a subtle hand, can make your decor all the more meaningful," notes Bailly.
2. Take Your Family's Lifestyle Into Account
If your family enjoys a fuss-free Sunday in the garden more than a formal night on the town, planning a more relaxed affair for your wedding is an ode to your family in addition to your relationship. Says Bailly, "We recently worked with a bride who came from a family of winemakers; she gave us empty bottles that we spray-painted rose gold and used to hold small floral centerpieces during the reception. These customized vases were eye-catching and memorable without looking too crafty, and not overly obvious. Better yet, they contributed to the laid-back vibe that was so important to the couple and both of their families too."
3. Use a Family Recipe
New York City's Danielle Bobish, owner and creative director of acclaimed event planning company Curtain Up Events, asserts that food is the way to your family's heart. "Food always brings people together," Bobish explains. "Is there a family recipe that you would love to incorporate into your reception? For example, we had a bride from Venezuela who loves her family tequeños recipe. We had them passed throughout her entire cocktail hour. The chef had them at their tasting so that they could see that the recipe translated well with this chef. It was a great way to keep the family involved in the planning process!"
4. Gift Thoughtful Welcome Bags
Nothing solidifies a family bond quite as well as a joint project, and Bobish vows that creating welcome gifts for your guests in conjunction with your family is a wonderful way to keep them involved without permitting anyone to take away your creative control. The ideal enterprise? "Welcome bags!" says Bobish. "If you're planning on having something for your guests who are staying in the hotel, you're going to want some help! Enlist family to help you source your favorite local and/or childhood treats. Pick a day when you all can gather and assemble the bags (or boxes) and divide up delivery if there is more than one hotel. Make it an enjoyable family get together rather than a last minute task you won't have time to do."
5. Choose Florals Wisely
Your family will be equally touched if they are included symbolically in your wedding, such as the inclusion of floral accents which have special meaning to your loved ones. Wedding specialist Erica Taylor, a partner at New York City firm Tinsel & Twine, favors flowers that were once used in other family affairs. "We love the idea of sourcing flowers that were used in family members' weddings", Taylor explains. "For example, if you know your mother had magnolias in her own bouquet, it's a great touch to use in yours, as well, or to incorporate into her corsage."