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Creative Ways to Handcraft Your Wedding

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When I was planning my wedding and looking for ideas and inspiration, I was disappointed in what I saw -- row after row of generic wedding décor, invitations and accessories that were impersonal and had no heart. I knew there had to be a better option. There was. I discovered the beautiful work of handmade artisans from around the world. In 2009, I founded Emmaline Bride as a resource for couples to find the best handmade items, as well as ideas and inspirations for a truly memorable day.

Planning a wedding that reflects your handcrafted style doesn't have to make you crazy or sink you into debt. I've found that the best weddings are those where the couple decided to skip out on the stress and opt for fun at every possible turn. The Handcrafted Wedding is a wedding planning approach that offers hundreds of ways to personalize each detail of your wedding and the days leading up to it in a fun and imaginative way. Today I'm sharing 10 fun ways you might not have thought of to handcraft your wedding using handmade finds, DIY details, and twists on tradition from "The Handcrafted Wedding." Read on to see the list...

1. Send a fun, thematic save-the-date to gear up your guests.
If you're planning a wedding with a book theme, consider a library-themed save the date asking to 'borrow' your guest. It comes complete with a vintage library card, sleeve and stamped wedding date.

2. Serve up yummy homemade treats instead of traditional cake.
If you don't want a conventional wedding cake, then don't have one! Homemade treats -- or a dessert bar -- are a fun alternative to the traditional tiered dessert. If you're a skilled baker, try your hand at your best recipe or hire a favorite bakery to create an assortment of tasty sweet delights.

3. Opt for a handmade bouquet (made of silk, brooches, buttons, etc.) instead of fresh flowers.
Fresh flowers will wilt, but handmade bouquets last forever. After the wedding, place your handmade bouquet in a decorative vase on your desk or in your home as a keepsake.

4. For a take-home favor, offer your guests jars of salsa or jam.
Make your own salsa, jam, or honey and attach personalized labels. This is one favor guests can savor -- and you'll be hard-pressed to find any leftovers.

5. Add details to the dress.
Once you've found your perfect gown, don't limit yourself to the handcrafted possibilities. A few unique touches can make a wedding gown more perfect for you. Add pockets (if the style allows), sew a blue bow to the underpinning as your 'something blue' or have buttons sewn along the zipper for a classic bridal look.

6. Personalize the playlist at your reception.
No handcrafted wedding is complete without a hand-selected playlist. Find a disc jockey who gives you a little freedom while offering their insight and expertise. Include a few tunes you share as a couple, along with a few surprises in the playlist (like your parents' or grandparents' wedding song). As an example, my husband and I snuck a song by my brother's band into our playlist as a surprise. When our D.J. played the song, my brother was shocked -- and thrilled -- to hear his music played over the stereo system. Don't forget to also include tracks that are guaranteed to get your guests out on the dance floor.

7. Add a unique topper.
A wedding cake topper is one of those popular must-have items, but finding one in stores that even remotely reflects you as a couple is tough. Instead, opt for a handmade cake topper made in your image and likeness, or one that ties into your theme.

8. Keep guests entertained.
A wedding is a big party, so don't forget to bring the entertainment! Make cocktail hour more fun with appetizers and drinks alongside lawn games like corn toss, horseshoe, or my newest favorite: lawn Jenga. (Click here to see how to keep guests entertained at a wedding.)

9. Share your story with table 'names'.
Instead of table numbers, opt for table names. Use names of sites you've visited as a couple, your travels, bands you've listened to on road trips, favorite songs, hobbies, etc. Include a short blurb that lets the guests know what the inspiration was for the table name.

10. Include a photo booth.
A photo booth is one of the most exciting additions to the wedding reception. Guests have fun snapping photos while the couple enjoys flipping through the hilarious images post-wedding. As an easy alternative, opt for a DIY backdrop and supply a blank photo book, a few Polaroid cameras, film, tape and a marker. Instruct guests to snap a photo, tape the photo to a page in the book, and add a message with the marker -- a fun alternative to a traditional guest book!

Click through the slideshow below to see some gorgeous handcrafted wedding elements.

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For more handcrafted wedding ideas and inspiration, grab a copy of Emma's book, "The Handcrafted Wedding," available in stores October 12, 2012. For daily inspiration, visit Emmaline Bride (www.EmmalineBride.com) to read the blog, find local handmade vendors and shop the best handmade wedding finds in The Marketplace.