Whether you want to stick to the tradition of “something old” or honor your loved ones, there are plenty of ways to incorporate family. Heirloom pieces add a personalized touch to your celebration and leave guests feeling sentimental.
1. Plan a Photoshoot
Every wedding needs a designated photo-op area. In 2018, the average couple spent $2,679 on a wedding photographer. Take advantage by creating your own set, complete with antique furniture. Bring out the red velvet settee from grandma or the 100-year-old rocking chair. You can also use couches, ottomans, end tables and decorative knick-knacks. Use the set for bridal portraits and shots of the happy couple. Gather the family around for a snapshot of multiple generations. You can also invite guests to use the set for their own photos.
2. Hang up Photos
One way to show off your family is to hang photos at the venue. Choose frames that match your wedding aesthetic — vintage, retro, bohemian, etc. — and display the people near and dear to your heart. Create table centerpieces featuring black and white photos of relatives, or hang a portrait at the end of each row during the ceremony. You can also piece together a display with you and your partner’s love story, including all the family members who took part.
3. Decorate Your Bouquet
Many people receive heirlooms in the form of jewelry, gems and precious metals passed down from one generation to the next. Your engagement ring might already be a piece of family history. If you have a necklace, bracelet or broach you want to show off, consider using it to decorate your bouquet. Jeweled bouquets, whether wrapped in strands of genuine pearls or fastened with a diamond, are becoming increasingly popular. The sentimental piece can be kept close to the bride during the most important moments of the day.
4. Use Heirloom Dishware
If you’re planning an intimate gathering — or have a large number of heirlooms — incorporate passed-down dishware into your reception. Break out sentimental pieces that complement your wedding theme and elicit warm memories. Use champagne flutes from your grandparents’ wedding to toast your commitment. Decorate guest seating arrangements with ornamental dishes. You can even serve the cake on a silver platter passed down from great aunt Bertha.
5. Share Family Recipes
Some families don’t have tangible heirlooms to pass down, like jewelry or dishware, but you can recreate old memories by sharing family recipes used for generations. Pick favorite dishes to add to the menu. Does your mother make the best chicken cacciatore or shrimp tortellini? Perhaps your partner’s grandmother has a penchant for freshly baked blueberry cobbler or strawberry shortcake truffles. Offer guests recipe cards as favors to keep your family’s culinary legacy strong.
6. Play a Reception Game
A great way to incorporate family while keeping guests entertained is to play a game at the wedding reception. Display old family photos and have guests guess who each person is — whether it’s a parent, great grandparent, uncle or nephew. To make the game more interesting, you can offer fun prizes to the people who get the most correct.
7. Offer Handmade Quilts
Do gifts from grandma typically include homemade quilts, blankets and linens? Set out a basket and offer covers to guests who might get cold as the sun begins to wane. Add a small sign to let them know they can use the items when needed — and don’t forget to add a tidbit about the sentimental significance. Keep people warm with the same blankets you’ve wrapped up in for years.
Kacey Bradley is the blogger behind The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Along with writing for her blog, she has written for sites like U.S. News, SUCCESS, Guides for Brides, Hotel Online and more! Follow Kacey on Twitter and subscribe to her blog to keep up with her travels and inspiring posts!