Modern love: Reception décor

Jackie Mantey, Columbus Alive

Photos by Picture the Love

Tradition: Roses; white table cloths; floating candles

Trend: A theme evident throughout the day

Get personal. Put endearment in the details.

At what wedding event planner Jennifer Kontomerkos called the "Love at First Flight" nuptials in May, there were food stations named for the cities the couple had visited, a signature cocktail with stirrer shaped like Southwest Airlines' heart logo, wedding programs designed like passports, escort cards made from toy planes, and a guest book of postcards and a suit case.

The bride, Lyndsey Holben, met her future husband, Navy pilot Eric Wilson, when flying to California for a friend's wedding.

"Couples are really just looking to personalize, to pull in these unique ideas and things that are special to them," said Kontomerkos, owner of The Finer Things Event Planning.

Themes, though, can be one glass carriage wedding cake away from going overboard. Focus on creating an ambiance, Kontomerkos said. One way to do that for tight-budget couples is to spend money on lighting.

"The right lighting can spruce up any venue or change the look and feel," she said, adding that other important decor includes escort cards and centerpieces.

A book-inspired wedding in May, planned by Kontomerkos, featured centerpieces made from stacks of old books beloved by the newlyweds. The books were later donated to an adult literacy program.

"Brides these days have been to hundreds of weddings," she said. "They've seen what's out there. They know what they love. They know about all the little details."