When I was planning my wedding, I didn’t need the most expensive dress or huge, elaborate floral centerpieces. I really just wanted a fun day surrounded by my closest family and friends in a beautiful location that was totally us and left my guests saying, “Wow! That was the best wedding EVER and it was TOTALLY them.” At first I didn’t think that was possible on my budget. I thought it took lots of money to come up with something unique and memorable. Fortunately for meI was wrong.

What you don’t know is that you can have a day filled with personal, unique touches that really say something about you. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. The secret is what I call the “WOW Factor.”

When your guests experience the WOW Factor at your wedding, they won’t just be impressedthey’ll really “get” who you are and why you choose this wedding day, this location and this experience for them. Your guests are wowed when your wedding is a totally unique expression of you. 

Here are some ways for those unforgettable events:  

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Share Who Are You?

The best way to wow your guests and get them engaged is to give them the emotional experience that is totally you. The secret to having a wedding that really feels like “you” is by weaving your personality into your wedding day as much as possible.

Think about your personality, your interests and hobbies of both yourself and your fiancé to find the inspiration.  These can be your WOW Factors. It’s easy to work them into your wedding.

Telling Your Story

My all time favorite way to get wedding guests engaged is by sharing the couple’s love story. When your guests hear your story they will get emotionally engaged. They may laugh or tear up. It make the event meaningful and uniqueness.

How did you meet your fiancé? What was your first impression of him? Where was your first date? How did you get engaged?

Many of your wedding guests won’t know your story. If you work these unique details into the day, it makes a lasting memory by involving them in your story.

You don’t have to be a writer or a great speaker to tell your story. Here are some easy ways to have someone else do it for you:

  • Have your officiant create a ceremony just for you. This may include vows you have written yourselves, or the details of how you met and what you mean to each other. If your officiant is open to the idea, they might share your love story with your guests as a part of the ceremony.
  • Ask your MC (either the band leader or DJ) to tell your story at your wedding reception.  Consider writing a short love letter to each other before the weddingand DO NOT share it with each other. Then on the wedding day, have your DJ or bandleader read the letters just before your First Dance. The response to this is always amazing. Your words can be romantic, funny, or quirkywhatever fits your personality. Your guests will be drawn in and engaged emotionally. They’ll feel connected.

Here are some more ways to tell your story:

  • If you feel comfortable making a speech, take the microphone and share your story yourself at the reception.
  • If you are shy or prefer a low key way to tell your story, consider printing a brief love story in your ceremony program.
  • A photo slideshow playing during the cocktail or dinner hour can also tell your story in a more subtle ways.

Involve Your Talented Guests

This idea engages your guests both emotionally and physically. Have your family and friends participate directly in your wedding day. This goes way beyond just inviting them to do a reading at your ceremony.  For example, if you have a professional singer or musician attending, ask them to perform for your ceremony or during the reception.

Music Makes the Memories

Have you ever heard a song and immediately started laughing as you relived a funny memory? Music is an incredibly powerful way to engage your guests.

Here are some great places to include those special songs in your wedding day:

  • Your processional down the aisle. Unless you have a strict church ceremony, you aren’t limited to “The Wedding March” or the “Canon in D.” Any love song or instrumental can take your emotions to the next level.
  • Your parent dances. If there is a song your father always sang to you, use it for your parent dance. You don’t have to use a “traditional” Father-Daughter song. A personal choice makes it extra special for both you and your guestsespecially if you have your MC explain the meaning behind it.
  • Your introduction music. Pick a song that makes a statement about your personality and makes you feel awesome, setting the tone for your whole reception.

Active Involvement

Another way to engage your guests is to get them involved physically. Physical movement engages your guests and gets them actively having fun. Entertainers have known this secret for years; that’s why so many of them rely on the Electric Slide and the YMCA to get the party started. Once your guests are up and moving, everything gets fun.

Here are some ways to physically engage your guests:

  • Participation Dances — Electric Slide, YMCA, Cha Cha Slide, Conga Line, etc.
  • Ice Breaker Games — A centerpiece give away, musical chairs, the newlywed game, scavenger hunt.
  • Personally Inviting Guests To Dance — An easy way to subtly get things moving is to simply ask your guests to join you on the dance floor.

Say Thank You

A sure fire way to include your guests in the celebration of your special day is to thank them. You can do this in a speech or even a note on your guest place setting.

WOW examples

Use your creativity, imagination and Wow Factors to find even more ways that fit your personality. To  use the 3 secrets to wow your guests remember these 3 letters: WOW.

W – Weave in your Personality.

O – Get Others Involved.

W – Why. Explain your choices to your guests so that they understand the connection.

Here are some examples:

  • A list of trivia questions about you for each table to answer.
  • Favors that relate to your hobby or special interests.
  • Pictures of your pets or you as children.
  • Put together a collage of your love letters from a long distance romance.
  • A groom’s cake in honor of your fiancé’s hobby.
  • Choosing your favorite flower for the centerpieces.
  • Playing your favorite team’s theme song.
  • Doing the silly line dance you and your friends learned in college.
  • Performances by your musician or singer.
  • Sharing your love story during your ceremony or reception.
  • Giving your guests “table tasks” to do throughout the reception.
  • Playing the newlywed game.
  • Wear an item of clothing or jewelry from a beloved family member and share this with your guests.
  • Name your tables to represent one of your favorite team, country ect.
  • Choose your favorite poems as non-traditional ceremony readings.
  • Leave a gag gift, like a clown nose or fake mustache, at each place setting and photograph all your guests wearing them.
  • A scavenger hunt using disposable cameras to “hunt” for images.
  • Announce birthdays, anniversaries or engagements.
  • Give a dance lesson at your reception.
  • Write special vows that unite your family and friends.
  • Include special ethnic traditions and dances.
  • Play a song or speech together.
  • Make a donation to your favorite charity.
  • Treat your guests to your favorite wine or dessert and tell them about it.
  • Play your family’s favorite wedding songs.
  • Include your signature animal, team, hobby or activity in your wedding theme.
  • Take Polaroid photos of your guests for your guest book.
  • Have your guests write thoughts and wishes for a “time capsule” you’ll open on your 10th wedding anniversary.
  • Serve your special homemade brownies at the wedding and give your guests the recipe.
  • Surprise your guests by sharing your secret talent or skill.

Wowing your guests is about more than just discovering unique ideas and working them into your wedding. It’s about expressing yourself through the look and the feel, as well as the people you’re surrounded by on your wedding day. That’s what makes your day unique.  Allowing who you are to really shine through in every element of your wedding.

Marsha VanArk, Wisconsin Wedding Planner @ Distinctly Yours Wedding & Events