Saying “I do” is so much more fun and interestingย  these days. Soon-to-wed couples now have many options available to them, from far-flung destination weddings to barefoot elegant affairs that allow more of the couples’ personalities and idiosyncrasies to be reflected in the festivities. The best part is, nowadays it’s the little personal touches (rather than the ostentatious flourishes) that really elevate an affair from simply being another “special event” to creating a celebration that’s distinctly and memorably your own.

So what are some of the easy, elegant tips for today’s millenial bride and groom?

First of all, beyond all the quickly escalating list of to-dos, a wedding is a celebration of love. So focus on the things that you and your partner truly enjoy and love–then with a little imagination and creativity (and a bit of daring to do things “not by the book”) use these things as the inspiration for your wedding plans. Do you enjoy vintage films or vinyl records? Handmade crafts or the great outdoors? Do you adore your Lola’s stash of vintage fabrics? Or maybe it’s a passion for quirky illustrations that gets you excited? Anything and everything can be a source of inspiration, as long as it makes you both feel good.

Once you’ve focused on what you both love, it’s easier to narrow down your choices:

Keep things personal and intimate. Having a custom-designed dress or gown is one of the highlights for every bride-to-be, but why not make it even more special by having a modern silhouette fashioned from pretty lace handed down from your mom or favorite Lola? A collection of vintage fabric would make great accent pieces for the entourage as well. Decorating the venue with personal items borrowed or inherited from close family and friends such as serving bowls, trays and silverware adds a feeling of intimacy that can’t be bought or rented. Using family recipes or holding the reception in a personal space such as a childhood home, ancestral garden or even a family farm, adds warmth and charm, not to mention a highly personal note, to the celebration.

Keep things simple and easy (and you’ll find that the look will be elegant by default). If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson’s films, for example, you don’t need an elaborate set-up (or a booking at the Grand Budapest Hotel) when a striking color palette and clean, symmetric lines for the clothes and decor may be enough. If you love photography, a simple black and white theme carried throughout the entire ceremony and celebration is effortlessly elegant. If you’re a nature lover, using lots of natural materials with clean lines–twigs, stones, dried leaves, natural fabrics–can be both down-to-earth and beautiful. Or if art and music areย your passion, sharing some of your favorite pieces (while keeping everything else starkly minimal) focuses attention on the display or performance. Steer clear of anything that feels too contrived and avoid the urge to overdo things. Instead, allow simplicity to highlight what truly matters to you.

Keep things as real as possible. Your wedding is best experienced IRL, not just as a hashtag on instagram. So instead of an elaborate themed set-up, why not have your wedding in the locale of your choice? If you’re passionate about the environment, why not get married in an eco-friendly island resort that supports its local community? Or if you love adventure, you can head off on an island cruise and say your “I dos” in the village church of a remote islet. Since Ito and I love art, culture and travel, when we got married years ago we decided to run off to Rome for a morning wedding in St. Peter’s Basilica (click here to view “Blessed By a Saint”) waaay before destination weddings became a thing. The classic film “Roman Holiday” became our unofficial inspiration–from its historic setting, to its spontaneous spirit, to its fashion (I wore a short veil and a long, simple, brocade wedding dress and Ito wore a light-colored day suit with a bright silk tie. The day before our wedding, I bought flowers from a sidewalk florist in Rome with colors that matched Ito’s tie, and we were all set).

In the end, after all the planning and preparations, the important thing to keep in mind is that it’s you and your partner’s special day. And while you may not remember many of the details afterwards, you will both always remember being surrounded by the people and things you love and how special that made you–and everyone–feel ๐Ÿ™‚

*Photos by Ito Ocampo

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