- "Hold hands the entire day -- never separate, even to thank guests for coming," bride says.
- A groom advises, "Remember, it's your wedding, and make sure you do what you want."
- "Most important, don't sweat the small stuff!" according to a happy bride.
These sweethearts put their own unique spin on the traditional ceremony, from exchanging vows in a yoga studio to celebrating on the streets of New York City.
Kelsey and Isaac
When they were married: June 23, 2012, in the backyard of Kelsey's yoga teacher in Orem, Utah.
How they met: "We met at a coffee shop through a mutual friend whom we both love dearly," Kelsey says. "Isaac was drumming in a band with him, and I had taken a ballet class at college with him."
Size of the wedding: About 75 guests
What they wore: They both wore J.Crew.
Wedding music: "Ben (the friend who introduced us) played old Simon and Garfunkel songs on his guitar," Kelsey says. "As I walked down the aisle, he played 'The Three of Us' by Ben Harper. He continued to play an original melody he wrote for the occasion in the background throughout the ceremony. At our luncheon, Isaac played the guitar and sang 'I Have and I Always Will' by David Barnes for me."
What did they love most about the wedding? "It was outside and we were able to go barefoot in the grass," Kelsey says. "Isaac and his brother built the arch we got married under with wood they found in the mountains. My grandmother, who is a Lutheran pastor, was able to marry us, but we actually wrote our entire ceremony and our vows ourselves."
Any words of wedding wisdom to share? "Hold hands the entire day—never separate, even to thank guests for coming," Kelsey says. "Have a moment to focus on yourselves and check back in with why you're doing all this."
Tessa and Ashoke
When they were married: August 3, 2013, in Sonoma, California, at Cornerstone Gardens, where they went on their first trip together. "We loved that we could get married overlooking a vineyard, drink cocktails while wandering outside through works of art, dine under a tent of twinkling lights, and end the night dancing in a barn while never leaving the grounds," Tessa says.
How they met: "We met at a small start-up (that happened to become Facebook) shortly after college," Tessa says. "Ashoke had already been living in San Francisco for a while, so he showed me the ropes by taking me to a lot of dance concerts."
Size of the wedding: About 160 guests
What they wore: "For the Hindu ceremony, we wore traditional Indian garb," Tessa says. "For the vow ceremony, Ashoke wore a deep blue suit and I wore a cap-sleeved Amy Kuschel dress. His nieces made small crotcheted flowers for him and the groomsmen, in place of boutonnieres."
Wedding music: "We danced with all of our family and friends to 'Shout' at the end of the night, waving glow sticks through the air," Tessa says.
What did they love most about the wedding? "Since Ashoke grew up Hindu and I grew up Catholic, we decided we would incorporate our favorite traditions into two ceremonies: a Hindu ceremony and a vow ceremony, with a cocktail hour in between," Tessa says. "During the vow ceremony, my aunt, the officiant, shared what we admired about one another—something we had each shared with her privately."
Any words of wedding wisdom to share? "Do what makes you happy!" Tessa says. "And find a moment for just the two of you to relish in your newly married bliss."
James and Aubrey
When they were married: On November 19, 2011, at their friend's ranch in Round Top, Texas -- the same place where Aubrey had proposed the year before.
How they met: "It's a really long story," James says. "But basically we met when Aubrey tried to get me to carry men's vintage in my old online shop. Years later I moved to Houston. Aubrey is from Houston, and we met randomly through a mutual friend at the time. The rest is history."
Size of the wedding: 50 guests
What they wore: James wore a headpiece, dress, and boots, all from BHLDN; Aubrey wore vintage, from Forage Haberdashery.
Wedding music: Poor Pilate from Houston played live, and then they had The Flashdance, aka Michael Antonia, spin records into the night.
What did they love most about the wedding? "We stayed at the ranch with our wedding party (and best friends) for almost a week," James says. "The ability to make it like a destination wedding and spend a week with some of the most amazing and talented people we know definitely made it special for us. Those memories we will always hold close."
Any words of wedding wisdom to share? "Keep it simple," James says. "Remember, it's your wedding, and make sure you do what you want."
Shenae and Josh
When they were married: May 2013
Size of the wedding: Small, intimate garden ceremony
What they wore: Josh wore a three-piece custom-designed Saint Laurent suit; Shenae wore a black Vera Wang gown. "I tried on a few lacy boho cream dresses that were beautiful and elegant and they were certainly fit for a bride, just not me as a bride," Shenae says. "When I saw my dress online, I got this butterfly feeling in my stomach. When I went in to try it on, I knew it was the one. I felt like myself."
What did you love most about the wedding? "[The details], like flowers and table settings, were totally forgotten the second that music started and I saw my soon-to-be husband in the distance," Shenae says. "I didn't take my eyes off him the entire evening, and the only thing running through my mind was, 'I'm the luckiest girl in the world!'"
Any words of wedding wisdom to share? "Definitely bring an extra (wearable) pair of shoes! I bought these sky-high Christian Louboutin platforms that were incredible, but when I practiced my walk to my groom a couple days before the wedding, I was stumbling all over the place," Shenae says. "Thankfully I had backups that were much more realistic! Second, and most important, don't sweat the small stuff!"
Chi and Jesse
When they were married: October 6, 2012, in New York City. "In late August of last year, Chi's mom, who'd been battling a pretty rare form of cancer called multiple myeloma for five years, learned that she was out of treatment options and only had a few months to live," Jesse says. "So we rushed the wedding for her. We were trying to figure out what to do on the fly, and Chi had the idea of our getting married in Battery Park, because we'd ridden bikes there and sat in the sun together all day the first day we spent together (after the first night we spent together), which was Labor Day in 2005."
How they met: "We met through a group of mutual friends on a series of rooftops in the summer of 2005," Jesse says. "Chi had to figure out that the chef she had been pursuing all summer wasn't going to pan out. By Labor Day, all was resolved and we were together."
Size of the wedding: "The day was like a snowball rolling downhill," Jesse says. "We had just under 50 people at our ceremony, counting us and our priest, and then around 75 for dinner and maybe 200 for our late-night party."
What they wore: "Chi wore a beautiful cream gown she designed with a dressmaker she met while working as a fit model for our friend's line Apiece Apart," Jesse says. "I wore a green Dries Van Noten suit, Burberry tux shirt, Ferragamo bow tie, and Lanvin shoes."
What did they love most about the wedding? "The ceremony itself took place on a schooner from 1929 in the Hudson," Jesse says. "We said our vows in front of the Statue of Liberty. I read Chi a poem by Rilke, and Chi read me a poem by Neruda. At one point, there was the sound of buoy bells on the river, and our priest exclaimed, 'Church bells!' A helicopter flew over and he went, 'Page Six!' He was a good improviser. A dinner followed in the South Street Seaport in the back of a pop-up chocolate shop that had been opened just a few days earlier by the Mast Brothers. After that, there was a dance party in the Wooly, a bar in the Woolworth Building. It was magical."
Zahra and Vincent
When they were married: In April 2013 in Washington, D.C. "We celebrated with three ceremonies spread out over one week," Zahra says. "The Nikkah, the Muslim ceremony, was at my family home in Northern Virginia. The Catholic ceremony was at Dahlgren Chapel on Georgetown University's campus. And, our interfaith ceremony was at the Hotel Monaco."
How they met: "Two of my childhood friends ended up marrying two of Vincent's college classmates," Zahra says. "We met at their two sets of weddings over the years and became friends."
Size of the wedding: Muslim and Catholic ceremonies: Only family and close friends; interfaith ceremony: 130 guests
What they wore: "At the interfaith ceremony and reception, Vincent wore a black custom-tailored Burberry evening suit that he paired with a T.M. Lewin white shirt," Zahra says. "He accessorized with a deep purple Versace tie and a paisley black-and-purple pocket square. I wore a custom-made traditional lengha designed by my cousin, and a pair of Sigerson Morrison shimmery bronze-and-gold heels. My jewelry was a custom set my parents picked out on a trip to India. My clutch was by Judith Leiber. I also carried my paternal grandmother's handkerchief, which had her initials on it. My mother surprised me before the ceremony by embroidering my initials on it, too."
Wedding music: "We had an impromptu dance party with a street band in front of the Verizon Center, while taking pictures before our reception," Zahra says. "And there was a surprise flash Bollywood dance mob performed by my family and friends at the start of the reception to Akon's 'Chammak Challo.' It set off a firestorm of feverish dance-offs! As guests were taking their seats, we played music from the Sachal Orchestra (from Lahore, Pakistan) playing over the loudspeaker. It's one of my favorite orchestras because they play jazz on classical Pakistani instruments."
What did they love about the wedding? "Our interfaith ceremony was a wonderful amalgamation of the Muslim and Catholic ceremonies and our respective cultural traditions," Zahra says. "The audience was seated in an arc around us."
Any words of wedding wisdom? "Give yourself time to plan so you can manage stress and concerns," Zahra says. "Also, interfaith weddings are not always going to be understood or accepted by everyone. Figure out what's important for the bride and groom, and then remain open and respectful while getting input from family."
Kara and Thomas
When they were married: On August 11, 2012, at Kara's family's home in Rockport, Maine. "Beauchamp Point in Rockport is a very special place to me, my family, and now Thomas and his family," Kara says. "We have spent many vacations, holidays, and family events there so it seemed like an obvious choice. We wanted to harness that feeling of staying up late catching fireflies and making s'mores on the beach."
How they met: "We met very serendipitously through a mutual friend," Kara says. "Oddly enough, we had gone to college together but never met. One summer our mutual friend invited me and some friends on his annual trip to visit Thomas in Seattle. Thomas and I fell in love instantly. We dated bi-coastally for a year and a half until he moved to New York City."
Size of the wedding: Around 175 guests
What they wore: "I wore a vintage evening gown that I found at Bergdorfs," Kara says. "Thomas wore a light gray J.Crew Ludlow suit and tie."
Wedding music: "Our first dance was something that I will never forget," Kara says. "Thomas' sister and brother-in-law sang 'Home' by Edward Sharpe, and our friends and family filled in the chorus, singing and whistling. It is something that I think back on all the time."
What did they love most about the wedding? "We really just wanted to create our ultimate night together," Kara says. "We never picked colors or themes, but instead both made a list of things we wanted to do or include. Thomas and I wrote our own vows, and were barely able to choke them out through the smiles and tears. Both my mother and father walked me down the aisle, a cousin did the ceremony, our siblings read poems and passages, my mother made my bouquet, and the ceremony took place under a tree my grandmother had planted when she was four-years-old."
Any words of wedding wisdom? "Make your wedding your own," Kara says.
Maggi and Alex
When they were married: On June 29, 2013, at a converted barn next to a pond in Saugerties, New York. "We had the ceremony next to the pond, dinner on the patio, and danced inside the barn afterward," Maggi says. "It has a modern summer-camp feel, but with fun luxury touches."
How they met: "We met in July 2009 at a Williamsburg rooftop going-away party for a mutual friend. We actually had many mutual friends but had never met before," Maggi says. "[A group of us ended up] roaming around Brooklyn looking for tacos and beer until the wee hours. We had both just gotten out of relationships and weren't necessarily looking to start dating anyone so soon, but it really was an immediate connection."
Size of the wedding: 68 guests. "Alex and I designed the invitations ourselves," Maggi says. "It was pretty simple calligraphy of our names (by myself) with small botanical drawings by Alex. Our friend Jared Friedman (Econo Graphics) screenprinted them with us (along with lots of Greenpoint Polish food and beer) in his studio."
Wedding music: The music for the ceremony was "My Baby Just Cares for Me" by Nina Simone.
What did they love most about the wedding? "We didn't really want it to be too traditional," Maggi says. "I am strongly against anyone giving away the bride, so I walked about halfway down the 'aisle,' which was actually a grassy hill. Alex met me and we walked to the chuppah together. We ended up writing the entire ceremony—it was about how marriages unite and create communities. For the dinner, my mother-in-law made all the table arrangements in funny little glasses and jars that we'd thrifted and scrounged."
Any words of wedding wisdom? "Make many, many lists in the days before the wedding (like one per every aspect of the wedding) and then delegate them out," Maggi says. "Getting all your ducks in a row on paper beforehand will make everything run much more smoothly."
Amy and Carter
When they were married: On September 10, 2011, at their Traverse City, Michigan, home, which is a 100-year-old farmhouse. "We both have a true love for the Midwest and both our families are back there. The setting was unbelievable," Amy says.
How they met: "We are both on the board for the Environmental Media Association (EMA)," Amy says. "We were assigned to adopt a school garden at North Hollywood High."
Size of the wedding: About 220 guests
What they wore: Amy wore Carolina Herrera and Carter wore Tom Ford.
What did they love about the wedding? "I'm Roman Catholic and Amy is very spiritual," Carter says. "So, of course, she had Guru Singh, her spiritual adviser, and I had the priest who baptized me, Father Thome. And later in the night, people literally never got off the dance floor and that was exactly what we were hoping for."
McKenzie and Jamie
When they were married: June 2012. "We said our vows in the pine grove on a farm we rented," McKenzie says. "The reception was held in the pasture next to the orchard and barnyard."
How they met: "Jamie and I started 'dating' after we started living together," McKenzie says. "A little unconventional, yes, but we wouldn't have it any other way. Within a year, we were mama and papa to two alpacas that we named Oliver and Abraham, a Babydoll sheep we called Bill Murray, and a starter flock of chickens."
Size of the wedding: "At first, we wanted something very small," McKenzie says. "But when we realized how large our extended families were, we decided to go all out. We invited about 250 people. Since I'm an illustrator, I drew our own wedding invitations based on Jamie's love of sacred geometry. Little did I know that those invitations would open the door to working with other brides through my Etsy shop and becoming self-employed."
What did they love about the wedding? "When it came down to it, the ceremony was the most powerful and significant memory of our wedding day," McKenzie says. "My best friend played the guitar leading us down the aisle, and our neighbor living across the pasture married us."
Any words of wedding wisdom? "We greeted our guests down a winding path through the grass," McKenzie says. "I'd recommend to any bride that she greet her guests this way—it took the pressure off of us to mingle during the reception."
How did you put your own stamp on your special day? Let us know in the comments below.