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Beyond the Photos

5 Inventive Ways to Make Memories at Your Reception.

By Kelly Aiglon

If you didn’t take photos at the wedding, did it really happen? Well, of course. But the day isn’t just for snapping pictures alone; there are a lot of other inventive ways to make memories.

Here are five ways to memorialize your wedding — and get your guests involved in the process. For some, they’ll have to do a little homework. For others, all they need is a quick second at the reception. No matter what, your loved ones will gladly participate knowing it’s a big, meaningful gift to you.

Rethink the guest book. Instead of simply gathering well wishes in a standard guest book (which, let’s face it, might end up in storage a month after the wedding), why not use something you’ll actually get to see and enjoy for the long haul? Try having guests sign a home décor piece. Thick, wide wooden frames or display boards, or large wooden initials can go up on your living room wall. Into plants? Have them sign terra-cotta pots of all sizes — a symbol of your growing love.

Create a confessional booth. Reality show fanatics, this one’s for you. Think of the confessional footage, when someone is revealing their thoughts privately to the camera. It's sometimes juicy, sometimes hilarious, and always real and heartfelt. Talk to your videographer, if you have one, or create the set-up yourself. All you need is a small private room (or even a quieter section of your reception area) and a camera. Get your guests spilling thoughts and memories about you; leave question prompts for anyone that needs a jumping-off point. (i.e. When did you laugh the hardest with the bride? What’s the most daring thing you ever saw the groom do?)

Load up a time capsule. It’s an activity that’s as old as time. But you can’t deny the appeal. Have a family member or friend bring a large box to the reception (feel free to get fancy and decorate it in a way that symbolizes the calendar year of your wedding). Ask guests to bring small items, or even news clippings, representative of the moment. Bonus points if they can tap into a current cultural trend or topic of interest that you are passionate about at that time. Your only job then is to avoid temptation: Don’t open the box until an anniversary date of your choice!

Gather token pieces of advice. Everyone seems to have advice when you get married, from how to divide up household chores to how to stay on top of your finances. Give your guests a place to spill their tips (other than to your face!). You can do it a few ways: Put a traditional “suggestion box” out at the reception and have people write down advice (you could even do one small one at every table and it could also serve as an icebreaker for your guests). Or, have a designated person record voice messages from guests on their smartphone, and you’ll have an audio memory of everyone’s tips and tricks for a happily ever after.

Let your guests play fortune teller. So, what does your future as a couple hold? Allow your guests to predict it. Place a fish bowl on a table — your version of a crystal ball — and have guests drop in predictions of what you will be doing together in 5 years, 10 years or 20 years. Save all the notes for a moment you need a laugh or a lift.


Sometimes the best Chicago wedding venues aren’t fancy ballrooms or sprawling cultural institutions. The key, rather, can be finding that special event space in Chicago with character and charm that will leave a lasting impression. Enter Chicago Loft Venues, the South Loop-based venue management collective that’s turning heads for its historical venues and amenities-rich wedding packages. Because let’s face it, expensive hotels and vanilla box wedding reception venues in Chicago are a dime a dozen.

Bonus: Go to chicagoloftvenues.com and check out our state-of-the-art planning tools like virtual tours, digital floor plan mapping, an online client portal and day-of live streaming.

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