How to Make Your Wedding Look and Feel Authentic

Your wedding day is a magical occasion that reflects the unique love you share with your partner. It’s a time to celebrate your journey and embark on a new chapter together. And amidst the whirlwind of wedding planning, creating an experience that feels authentic to your relationship is essential.

From invites to decor to music, every detail plays a part in shaping the authenticity of your wedding. It’s about infusing your personalities, values, and shared experiences into every element, creating a celebration that resonates with you and your guests.

Wondering how you can make your wedding look and feel more authentic? We sat down with a handful of industry experts to gather their thoughts — here are their best tips.

Photography by IVS Photography

Lean into your vision

Before you dive headfirst into planning, it’s important to consider what you truly want out of your big day. Sit down with your partner and brainstorm ideas to get started.

“There are lots of ways to incorporate ‘you’ into your event,” says Christina Lovelace of Lovelace Design. “Take a close look at the life you live, what you love, and who you love. When you ask yourself, ‘What matters to me?,’ ways to infuse authenticity into your event become clear.”

So while it can be tempting to jumpstart the planning process, take a minute to consider your vision and set yourself up for success.

Get creative

Gone are the days of cookie-cutter weddings! Today’s couples aren’t afraid to try new things and incorporate ideas that are uniquely special to them.

“I’ve seen weddings with arcade claw machines, temporary tattoos, tarot readings, pillows shaped like the couple’s pets, ‘Pi Day’ pies instead of cakes, sword fights, glow sticks, drag queen performances, boat entrances, boozy ice pops — the list is truly endless,” shares Amy Sims of Amy Sims Photography.

So whether it’s your food, outfits, or entertainment, no idea is too wild in the wedding industry. Let your creativity flow, and focus on what captures your one-of-a-kind relationship!

Photography by Radostina Boseva, Planning by Pocketful of Plans

Don’t worry about the camera

If you want your wedding to look and feel authentic, it’s best to avoid getting caught up in what your photographer is doing. Some of the most candid shots are the ones you’ll cherish forever, so step back, be yourself, and trust that they’ll capture every moment.

Tracy Autem of Tracy Autem & Lightly Photography notes, “When you are in front of the camera, remember that it is ok to move, laugh and be yourselves. In fact, if you need to act silly or crack jokes to break the ice, that can create some beautiful images. Don’t be afraid to interact with those around you when the camera is pointed in your direction for more authentic images. Have fun and let loose!”

Your photographer should make you feel comfortable from the moment they arrive to the moment they say goodbye. If you’d like to test your chemistry with a photographer, book an engagement session as a trial!

Search for your favorite editing style

Though most are pros at making you smile, every photographer offers a unique look through custom editing styles. Chat with your partner about your ideal photo styles to find a photographer that brings your perfect pictures to life.

“In the photography of modern times, styles of editing are starting to play into the story as well,” reminds Jen Sulak of Weirdo Weddings. “You will now see a range of editing and art styles that capture what you feel is authentic to YOU and your personal style added into your photographer’s style of capturing, and together you make the story YOURS.”

Light and bright, dark and moody—regardless of your preference, continue your search until you find a photographer whose style aligns with your vision. 

Photography by Jessica K Feiden

Start with the smaller details

Having your wedding look and feel authentic doesn’t always mean changing major items on your to-do list — even the smallest details can have a big impact!

For example, “paper goods are one element that can bring a huge bit of personality and shape your guests’ experiences from the first touch through the final hours,” explains Samantha Leenheer of House of Joy. “We recommend getting unique with your paper goods from the save-the-dates to the day-of stationery pieces.”

Megan Breukelman of Megan & Kenneth agrees, adding that “personal details in table numbers, guest books, and other decor details can go a long way. One of our favorite things to see at a wedding is when couples use cocktail napkins or table signage to tell their love story. Whether it’s places they’ve traveled, facts about them, or pictures of their beloved pet — it’s always a hit.”

Stationery, signage, cocktail napkins, and decor — have fun bringing these minor elements to life, as guests often remember them most!

Photography by Manda Weaver Photography

Find a venue that suits your style

The venue search isn’t always easy, but to have the most authentic day, finding a space that reflects who you are as a couple is vital. It doesn’t have to be a standard venue, either—widen your search to find something unique!

“The event location has a big play in personality for many couples, and the pressure to have a wedding outside of a traditional church setting has been minimized,” emphasizes Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss

Sheils continues, noting that “many of today’s couples feel free to have their wedding at their favorite restaurant or even at their favorite music venue if they want — all while bringing in plenty of personalized details and decor along with it.”

Sit down with your partner and determine the must-have factors for your perfect wedding venue. Do you want a rustic barn, romantic garden, or modern museum? Is accessibility a priority? How close is the hotel? Most importantly, how easily can you envision your celebration? Your venue is one of the most important wedding planning decisions, so it’s not one to take lightly!

Consider alternate entertainment options

Think you can only hire a band or DJ for your big day? Think again! These days, couples are getting creative with their entertainment.

Sarah Chianese of Mangia and Enjoy! shares, “One of my couples held their wedding day on a Friday and blocked out many concert tickets to a particular artist playing the following night at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY. Talk about immersing their guests into a shared experience that authentically represents the two of them! What a novel idea!”

Other unexpected ways to entertain guests include live artists, aerialists, one-act plays, sporting events, drag performances, or magic shows! Connect with your venue to inquire about fun entertainment ideas for your wedding day.

Planning and Design by Carrie Darling Events, Photography by Hunter Ryan Photo

Opt for fun flowers

Yes, roses are popular, but if they aren’t your style, you don’t have to incorporate them into your big day. Your blooms must match your and your partner’s personalities for a wedding that looks and feels authentic.

“Why choose a spherical bouquet of white roses bedazzled with gems when you could work with your florist to use beautiful blooms that represent what you may grow in your own garden?” asks Michelle Kurinec of LOLA Event Productions.

Florals are the perfect way to infuse your personality and style into your celebration, so have fun exploring different options and creating a combo that reflects your love story!

Look at social media

There’s a good chance you’ve gathered wedding ideas from Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest — so don’t forget about them after the early planning stages! You can find plenty of inspiration on these platforms to see you through to your wedding day.

Adrienna McDermott of Ava and the Bee notes, “You can now spend hours seeing real, behind-the-scenes images of weddings without the picture-perfect filter facade that platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have. The #wedtiktok alone has 4.3M views, and #wedtok has 197 Million Views. This non-cookie-cutter view on weddings has also led to the shift of more personalization.”

You can always come up with your own ideas, but if you get stuck, there’s nothing wrong with going for a little inspo scroll! 

Photography by Kelly Hornberger Photography

Represent your culture

Infusing culture into your special day is a beautiful way to honor your roots and host a truly authentic party. Consider which parts of your background you could incorporate into your ceremony or reception, like a beloved family tradition or religious ritual.

“It’s important to tap into the things that make you unique — both as individuals and as a couple,” advises David Fox of Bunn DJ Company. “Look to heritage and culture as well as shared interests and hobbies for food and entertainment reception.”

As you continue planning your wedding, embrace the joy, challenges, and beauty of bringing your vision to life. Surround yourself with loved ones who support your authenticity and share in your excitement. And remember: The love you and your partner share is at the heart of it all — and it’s a love you deserve to celebrate in a way that feels true to you both!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.