Tips for Planning and Elevating your Wedding Guests’ Experience
The most memorable weddings usher in heartfelt personal touches, local flair and meaningful details that tell your unique couple story. Don't be afraid to get creative and add personalized dashes that will make your Charlottesville wedding truly unforgettable.
Where to Start?
You’ve set the date, selected your perfect Charlottesville wedding venue and signed your vendors. Now how do you make your day truly yours and ensure your guests have the time of their lives?
Consider these wedding personalization categories to infuse your authentic selves into your special day:
- Local Flavor: Charlottesville is known for its wine and farmland bounty, so consider having a wine tasting welcome party or wine pairing with each dinner course. Feature locally sourced food and wine from a purveyor that means something to you — perhaps a winery or restaurant where you had a special date.
- Personalized Decor: Incorporate elements that are meaningful to you and your partner. Place photos of the two of you throughout the venue, create a custom monogram for your invitations and napkins and add in notions from your favorite hobbies (think cruiser bikes, poetry or record players).
- Your Story: Consider sharing your personal love story with your guests through your wedding program, signage or speeches. This will help your guests feel more connected to your special day and give them a deeper understanding of your relationship.
- Desirable Favors: Instead of traditional wedding favors, offer personalized items that reflect your interests and personalities. Make homemade jams, create custom scented candles, offer a tasting of your favorite coffee or tea, share a family cookie or fudge recipe or gift wildflower seeds or monogrammed hand fans or umbrellas.
- Heritage: If you and your partner have different cultural backgrounds, consider incorporating elements from both into your wedding day. This could include traditional attire, food, music or dance. Ask an elder to share a story or a tradition at your reception.
- Seating Charts: Instead of a traditional seating chart, get creative and assign guests to tables based on shared interests, favorite colors or places you have traveled together.
Tips From the Pros
Novela’s Preferred Charlottesville Wedding Vendors Share Their Favorite Personal Touches
Charlottesville wedding planners, florists, caterers and designers love to connect with couples and find unique ways to intertwine personalities into the wedding day. Here’s what our preferred vendors are seeing across the wide and beautiful local landscape.
"I photographed a wedding recently where it was open seating with stations of food throughout so people could mix and mingle. It was great — guests didn’t feel tied to their table designation and really got to know each other."
— Andrea Lewis, Founder of Amative Creative
"I think the welcome party has become a real focus. Rather than just one day of celebration, clients are really making long full weekends with welcome parties, day-of festivities and day-after brunches with their event design and couple theme carried through each day."
— Perkins Morgan, Co-Owner of Paisley & Jade
"One of my favorite weddings was where the groom was Dutch and they had these adorable matching bicycles they used for their getaway shot. It was a sweet nod to his heritage and the photos were wildly popular because they were so cute, personal, fun and organic. It’s important to make your props personal."
— Jen Fariello, Jen Fariello Photography
"At a Charlottesville wedding last year, the bride’s father — who was a former music producer — created a compilation of songs that meant something to him and his daughter over the years. The DJ played it while the father gave his toast. Everyone was crying. It’s those extra sentimental moments that you remember the most."
— Karissa Grantham, Out of Twig wedding photographer
"I love candles and florals and injecting anything personal. I’m working with a florist for her own wedding and we’re creating little packets of seeds for guests to direct them to their tables."
— Sarah Fay Waller, Owner of Day by Fay Wedding Planning
"Some nix the cake and have a pie cutting. Others ask a parent to play a ceremony song on the piano. Sometimes both parents walk a bride down the aisle. One time a couple entered their ceremony by boat. These creative touches really make the day."
— Mallory Rood, Owner and Lead Planner at All the Dainty Details
"I’ve seen couples personalize their Veritas wedding experience by creating a forested greenhouse aesthetic on the tented brick patio, placing a white adult bouncy house on the ceremony lawn, and planning romantic photo shoots in the cozy, secluded wine cellar."
— Lindsey Navin, Marketing Manager at Veritas Vineyards
"Build in fun, personalized experiences to fill any downtime. Offer a cigar bar or bourbon bar or maybe a customized post-dinner coffee bar. Dance floor and photo booth props that speak to the couple’s hobbies are always a hit."
— Hannah Dubit, Owner of Hannah Rose Events
"I had a wedding a couple years ago where they did a mother-daughter dance, and the bride had secretly created a slideshow of photos of her and her mama that the DJ projected during the dance. Needless to say, as a mama with daughters, my heart burst!"
— Mia Crump, Owner of Little Acorn Events
"Our culinary team gets to know couples’ stories, gathering details that translate into fresh, inspired personalized wedding menus. A couple from the Pacific Northwest served Oregon wines alongside a salmon station. An East Coast couple coordinated a clambake. And another incorporated beer, cheese and pretzels; flavors from their first date."
— Jaclyn Grieger, Wedding Catering Director at Exchange Events + Catering
"We have a concierge team to help set up everything from private yoga to wine tours, so you can get as much as you want out of the full three wedding weekend days. Fill it with all the things that make you happiest."
— Kelly Nordstrom, Property and Events Manager at Rockfish Ranch
“I love the creativity and flexibility weddings have. The best part is being able to see how happy our couples are at the end of it all!”
– Mallory Rood
Owner and Lead Planner at All the Dainty Details
A Friend in the Industry
Working with Novela is like having a trusted friend — one with copious insider knowledge and industry connections — by your side every step of the way. We’ll match you with an expert wedding concierge to customize your wedding day plan, including venue and vendor recommendations, detailed pricing options, a high-level budget framework, and a customized checklist just for you.
Find your perfect Charlottesville venue, book all your vendors, and finance your wedding at 0% interest — all in one place. Novela is the first transactional one-and-done wedding planning company.