Long gone are the days of stuffy church weddings, inflated guest lists and stressful itineraries that adhere to “tradition.” Modern brides have finally recognized that the wedding day is about enjoying one of the most important events of our lives. Today’s weddings are often held in intimate venues and settings focused on the bride and groom and their loved ones.

MARY AND TIM— MAKE YOUR WEDDING UNIQUE TO YOU Mary Lieser and Tim Reed were married in July 2014, exactly 10 years from the day they met each other. They say, “I do,” in the company of 20 close friends and family at a friend’s lakeside home in Crosslake, Minnesota. Three days after their picture-perfect ceremony, the couple hosted a larger celebration at Rochester Golf & Country Club. Mary’s vision for a “Vegas White Party” came to life with Japanese lanterns, giant balloons floating in the pool and vibrant splashes of orange. For Mary and Tim, incorporating their family and friends into the execution of their wedding was part of what made it so unique. As the lead singer of locally renowned band Incognito, Mary’s “family” of musicians treated her guests to an evening of dance-inspired songs. Friend Mike Hardwick served as the photographer. Mary’s voice coach officiated the ceremony, and other talented friends contributed too. Their wedding and reception was a reflection of who they are, celebrated with people whom they love.

JENNA AND MORAN— CREATE YOUR OWN PERFECT DAY Jenna and Moran Cohen were married September 2014 at Four Daughters Vineyard & Winery, in Spring Valley, Minnesota. They tricked their 15 guests into believing they were there for an engagement party, but to the guests’ surprise, they witnessed Jenna and Moran exchange vows. Four Daughters made the whole experience stress free, seamlessly delivered and beyond magical. Flowers by Jerry provided unique and fun flowers within a two-day window. The couple plans to travel to Israel next year and host a small reception with Moran’s family. Jenna offers the following advice to brides, “Think about your perfect wedding…and DO THAT! The wedding is about the bride and the groom’s love. You should have a wedding day that celebrates the sanctity of marriage with your loved one.”

KIM AND TODD—DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF Kim and Todd David tied the knot at their lake home in Pine City, Minnesota in August 2014—the second marriage for both. Kim describes her first wedding, held more than 20 years ago, as “an extremely traditional church event.” What did she do differently this time? Kim considered the cost and stress associated with large weddings and decided that was overrated. The result was a fun, amazing day with the people she loved. Catering was provided by a Pine City catering company, and decorations and various other needs were provided by local Rochester businesses. Kim’s last dance as a single woman was with her father down the aisle, beginning with the traditional tune “Canon in D” and concluding with a high energy rock rendition of “Everybody Dance Now” by the time she reached her husband-to-be.

JENEE AND ANDY— NO SHOES REQUIRED I married Andy Cummings in November 2013 in the Dominican Republic. This was our second marriage, and we each brought along three daughters from our first relationships. Combining lives resulted in a busy household where the needs of our estrogen-fueled “six pack” (as we refer to them) most often takes priority. When it came time to plan our wedding, we both wanted it to be about us, the ceremony and the vows we were exchanging. I knew I wanted to marry the love of my life on a beach— barefoot and in a gorgeous wedding gown. It was that simple to me. Adler’s Rochester Travel assisted in all the details of our destination wedding at Punta Cana Excellence, and David’s Bridal made my gorgeous gown a reality. From the music that accompanied me down the aisle to the song I felt in my heart as I recited my vows, it was the perfect way to start our new lives together. Whomever you are marrying or committing to, I recommend following your heart and finding someone who makes you laugh, even through the hardest parts of the journey. And the day you say, “I do,” it isn’t about putting on a show for anyone, it is about your commitment to each other and the next chapter of your lives.

Jenee Cummings is a freelance writer.