Today’s weddings place a premium on the unique. In the age of social media and online sharing, no one wants a cookie-cutter wedding. Instead of worrying about what’s trendy, today’s couples are emphasizing personalization and weaving meaningful details into everything from the food to the flowers.

“The way we thought about [our wedding] was if somebody just walked into our reception by chance and didn’t know that this was our wedding reception, we wanted them to feel like it was us,” explains Megan Bradley of her nuptials to her college boyfriend, Nicholas Park. “We wanted people to be able to know right away this was Megan and Nic’s reception.”

Many young couples, like Bradley and Park, are using their wedding as an opportunity to make a personal statement, to say: “This is who we are as a couple.”

One way couples are putting their personal stamp on their wedding day is through fun and creative themes. Just about anything can be made into a theme, from Disney movies to TV shows to superheroes. What makes it special is its significance to the couple. Bradley, for example, took inspiration for her big day from a favorite childhood poem, “The Owl and the Pussycat.”

“I always loved the whimsical nature of it and it’s about this love story of these two very different people who sail away to sea,” Bradley says.

A friend’s wooded backyard made the perfect ethereal setting to bring the poem to life. Copies of the poem were printed in the programs and guests were given tiny jars of honey as favors – a reference to a line of the poem. Bradley even had a cake toper made of a little owl groom and pussycat bride.

Of course, an overarching theme isn’t the only way to personalize a wedding. For some people personalization may look like using a family heirloom in the bouquet or incorporating pictures of their dogs in the décor.

When Nicole and Harry Swartout tied the knot, they wanted to pay homage to all of the places they lived. They served Canadian beer, pretzels from Pennsylvania and gourmet popcorn from Chicago.

“One of our goals was to have everyone leave with a sense of where we came from as a couple,” says Nicole Swartout. “So that everybody who came would have something that felt familiar, but they would also get to see other facets of our life that maybe they hadn’t been privy to before.”

Weddings always have been inherently personal, but it’s clear that today’s couples are giving extra care and thought to their wedding-day decisions.

“Don’t worry about how weddings should be, worry about what you want your wedding to be. Then everything else should follow suit,” advises Harry Swartout to other couples planning their weddings.

©CTW Features