GUEST BLOGGER | “Your wedding should be a reflection of you…” A Blueprint for an Unforgettable Wedding, by Aleah & Nick Valley

We’re Nick + Aleah Valley, the duo from Valley & Co., the Good Life Special Events, and Fine Line Management & Events.  We’re so incredibly honored that the ever-lovely Alison asked us to guest post while she’s away!  If you know us at all, you know that we absolutely love weddings, love what we do, and love to provide out-of-the-box advice!  Only the best for readers of The Knotty Bride!

We preach this to all of our clients and we mean it: your wedding should be a reflection of you.  If you’re the kind of person who dreads the idea of ordinary, this post is for you.  While tradition is fantastic, starting your own traditions or melding old traditions with new will make for a creative, unforgettable, and amazing wedding for you and your guests.  After all, you deserve only the best!  Each stage in our blueprint should leave your guests wondering what could possibly be next and wanting more.

Keep your guests guessing: this is a key to an event that’s out-of-the-box unexpected.

Starting with the invitation: there are a million ways to be unique…set the tone with something fun and, maybe inside a box!  Or work with your stationer to commission passports to fun, complete with monogrammed passport holders for each couple or household.  If you’re big wine or champagne connoisseurs, nestle your favorite demi bottle into a wine crate created just for you topped with stationery goodness that is your invitation suite.

Add an element of surprise prior to saying I Do: walk down the aisle to an off-beat song you’ve loved since childhood.  Have a guitarist, pianist, or ukulele player serenade you down the aisle with a sentimental tune…we once had a bride and groom {together} walk down the aisle to the enchanting sounds of a bagpiper!  Talk about unexpected and so memorable.

Image: Frank Ross Photographic

Sprinkle in desserts with your hors d’ oeuvres during cocktail hour: why not!  Offering guests something unexpected like will be sure to set the tone for a fun bash.  Start off with something light: doughnuts, anyone?  To accompany those delicious treats, hire on bartenders who can really put on a show.  We’re talking spinning bottles and flame tricks, the whole nine yards… or mix up your cocktail hour by having steel drum players! Whatever you fancy, make it happen!  Staging multiple bars in surprising places {like in the woods!} adds a bit of whimsy.  Cocktail hour should be fun and your guests should be well tended to, especially while you’re off taking photos or catching your breath.  The old adage of cocktail hour being a stale waiting period is nonsense!  Make it fun, make it unique, and put your mark on it!

Image: Amore Studios

Dazzle your guests by mixing up tables: while there’s nothing wrong with round banquet tables, there’s something so right about mixing up sizes and shapes.  Aesthetically, going with square tables mixed with long-rectangular family style tables looks amazing and different, and creates a whole new ambiance.  Or go with a café feeling and dot around two person, four person, and ten-guest tables for an eclectic and memorable feeling.  This works really well for small, intimate weddings.

Image: Terri Rippee Photography

Bring in entertainment during dinner: Polynesian Dancers… dueling pianos… lei making… all of the above are incredibly fun activities and keep the excitement mounting.

Image: Frank Ross Photographic

Appease the senses: whether you’re sitting your guests down to a formal plated affair or a buffet dinner, present a conversation piece like a gourmet cheese and charcuterie platter to each table towards the end of the meal.  Servers can chat with guests about the artisanal goods and let guests pass the platters around.  Amidst a formal affair this sparks conversation….and who doesn’t love gourmet cheeses?  Even better: offer guests a palette cleanser like a lemon basil sorbet before the entrées come out.  Talk about a fine dining experience at your wedding!

Image: Frank Ross Photographic

Involve your guests: If you have musically inclined guests, let them join in with your band!  We’ve seen this happen more than once and it makes for a rockin’ bash and takes the excitement level up some notches.

Furthermore, save the best for last!: Do something unexpected when guests are expecting the night to wind down. Après-dinner bring out a unique tasting station.  Dependent upon season, offer a wine tasting paired with some light bites.  An apple cider buffet for a fall wedding with all of the accoutrements will be sure to delight guests.  Or for a winter wedding set up a hot chocolate station where guests can make their own spiked gourmet hot cocoa, dollop whipped cream on a mug of cocoa, or even package their own to take home on a chilly winter night.

Image: Laurel McConnell

At the end of the night your guests will be raving about the unique touches you put on the big day.  And you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the brilliance and fun of your day {and take all of the credit!}.  The moral of the story is: by adding in unexpected elements in each “step” of your wedding day, you’re creating a true experience and will leave your guests wanting more and dancing until the wee hours!

A huge thank you to the wonderful Alison for asking us to guest post. We’re so thrilled to share our advice with you!

Cheers and Enjoy!

xoxo!  - Aleah and Nick Valley, of the Good Life Special Events


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Love all of this...


  1. Marie @ Emici Bridal on October 6, 2010

    I wish more people getting married could feel comfortable about not getting trapped in what is “expected” at the wedding. It’s so important to have it reflect who you are so you can feel present and enjoy the festivities with your own personal touch. Great post Aleah and Nick!

  2. Ariane Fisher on October 6, 2010

    Great post. Keeping the balance between it all about ‘you’ and making sure your guests have a good time is key. There is no set formula for a great wedding.

  3. Kate Holland on October 6, 2010

    So many great tips from a fabulous team!! Love the idea of mixing up tables! And nothing like going to a wedding as guest and being surprised with the unexpected. The last thing you want is for it to be the same as ‘all the rest’. Weddings at certain venues are so predictable as the venue dictates a lot of the vendors and style, so you need to think outside the box and get your own imprint on it somehow! Or choose another venue :-) (I think this is a NZ thing!!)

  4. The Realistic Nutritionist on October 6, 2010

    SO true! What a wonderful set oft tips!

  5. Aleah + Nick Valley on October 6, 2010

    Thank you so much, Alison for having us guest blog! We’re so excited to share our Blueprint with your awesome readers! And thanks all for the sweet comments – we’re thrilled you enjoyed the tips!

  6. Paula on October 6, 2010

    My Fave?

    LOVE- Sprinkle in desserts with your hors d’ oeuvres during cocktail hour: why not!

    Life is too short, some folks want to eat dessert first.

  7. Brancoprata on October 6, 2010

    So many good ideas for couples to use!!! You are so right and you talk about wedding being a reflection of the couple!!!

  8. TheDemoiselle on October 7, 2010

    Mixing dessert into the cocktail & hors d’oeuvres – that’s a WONDERFUL idea! Can’t believe I never thought of it. Thanks so much for the insider tips. ;)

  9. Paloma on October 7, 2010

    my excitement for the event i was “imagining” as i made my way through this blueprint just kept mounting…and mounting…and…

    aleah & nick’s passion for what they do has translated into creative inspiration yet again!

  10. Naomi on October 7, 2010

    Love, love, the tips! Such great advice and tips. It’s always memorable when you do the unexpected!

  11. Jenny Llanes on October 7, 2010

    agreed!! great advice! Aleah & Nick are inspiring.

  12. Anonymous on October 7, 2010

    Heck yes! Great advice! Love all the tips…especially the off-beat childhood song for the walk-a-lock.

  13. Kim @BrideGoggles on October 7, 2010

    Awesome advice, amazing pictures… I love Aleah & Nick!!!

  14. Christie O. {Hindsight Bride} on October 8, 2010

    You two offer such great advice and have some of the loveliest weddings. I totally agree that the best weddings are e a unique expression of the couple. And I love the idea of including sweets with the hors d’ oeuvres during cocktail hour. You two rock!

  15. Lauren @ ELD on October 9, 2010

    Love the tips! EVERY bride needs to live by these!! :)

  16. Erin*Sparkle&Hay on October 11, 2010

    These tips are SO fantastic & true! Great advice!!!

  17. Wedding4444 on January 11, 2011

    So many great tips from a wonderful team!! I wish more people getting married could feel relaxed about not getting attentive in what is “expected” at the wedding. Awesome advice, amazing pictures.


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