When photos of Sarah Mallouk Crain's wedding hit social media, brides everywhere went crazy for her puppy-carrying bridesmaids. She bucked tradition and made our hearts melt all in one.
"While tradition definitely has it's place, seeing couples incorporate out of the box ideas into their wedding day is a welcome change of pace," says Jaclyn Fisher, owner of Two Little Birds Planning in Philadelphia. "Couples want their wedding to reflect their personality, and adding fresh and unique details, such as swapping bouquets for something unexpected like puppies, is the perfect way to do that."
Brides-to-be can follow her lead without using furry creatures—though we certainly encourage you to incorporate pets into your big day. Here are some unique alternatives that your bridesmaids can hold for pictures—other than a bouquet.
Fisher suggests ditching the bridesmaids' bouquets for pretty and practical parasols. "Not only are they a beautiful, feminine accent to an outdoor summer wedding, but parasols also offer shade against the hot sun, which means less squinting and less sweating in photos," she says.
Hosting a winter wedding? You can keep your bridesmaids cozy and warm with fur winter muffs. "They will look adorable in photos and keep your bridesmaids' hands warm during an outdoor photo session," says Fisher.
If you're having outdoor portraits, this one's for you. "Pinwheels are colorful and whimsical, which make for amazing photos, and cost-effective, which is great news for your budget," says Fisher.
Want to make a statement? According to Amy Nichols, owner of Amy Nichols Special Events and co-founder of The Poppy Group, paper flowers are trending. And not only are they a Pinterest photo-worthy accent, "they're something your bridesmaids can keep long after the wedding, with no wilting," says Nichols.
Lanterns aren't just for reception decoration. "They're a romantic replacement for the traditional bridesmaid bouquet that also adds a pretty glow to an evening ceremony," says Fisher. Then, once the photos are snapped, "they can be repurposed into your cocktail and reception décor or gifted to your bridesmaids," she says.
Much like parasols, "fans are a functional alternative to bridesmaids' bouquets that keep your gals cool and well-accessorized at the same time," says Fisher. Plus, "fans come in different shapes, colors and materials, so you'll have no problem finding the right one to fit your wedding day style."
If you don't want to give your bridesmaids something that will wilt, consider building arrangements from baubles that have already lasted through the years. "Talented crafters are using a wide combination of vintage jewels, often from the family's own collection, to create gorgeous and collectible jeweled bouquets," says Nichols. "They are classic and add a perfect shine to the wedding party line-up."
Fisher suggests having your bridesmaids hold oversized balloons "for a fun, non-floral pop of color," she says. "Be sure to have extra balloons and helium on hand, and don't forget to check the forecast for wind."
Finally, remember: "It's important to make it your wedding day by incorporating details that make sense for you as a couple," says Fisher. "Since the puppy-carrying bride, Sarah Mallouk Crain, works for a non-profit organization that rescues pups, it was only natural for her to highlight adorable rescue dogs in her photos."