TOP: Allison and Evan spending time together in Bucks Harbor, Maine – a place on the ocean where their relationship flourished. ABOVE: Evan designed this heart engagement ring, just one of the personal touches the couple incorporated. (Photos by Danielle Brady Photography)

Weddings are full of traditions. Rehearsal, ceremony, reception. Vows, drinking, dancing. But it’s important you take time to make your wedding your own and add your own flavor to the mix to make the day memorable in ways that are particularly special to you. There are so many different things you can choose to do.

Our personalization journey began even before the wedding planning process. After thinking a bit outside the [ring] box, we decided to self-design a heart-shaped engagement ring that slipped into an infinity wedding band. The image of a heart above the infinity symbol has been special to us throughout our relationship and meant more to us than the size of a diamond.

Once the engagement was on and the date was set, the venue was our top priority. We wanted the location to be special, just as the rings were. For us, the shores of Maine were a pinnacle piece of our relationship – that’s where it all started, and that’s where we wanted the next stage in our lives together to begin. When we found our venue, we knew immediately it was right for us. The breeze of the ocean and close quarters for our wedding party matched up with our hopes for an intimate setting to bring our families and friends together in celebration.

Recently engaged Allison Eaton and Evan Eckstein pose on Caterpillar Hill, Maine. (Photo by Danielle Brady Photography)

Recently engaged Allison Eaton and Evan Eckstein pose on Caterpillar Hill, Maine. (Photo by Danielle Brady Photography)

Next, we began hunting for decorations with more special meaning. We also used this as an opportunity to share the excitement and journey of wedding planning with our friends and family. We embarked on our first-ever antiquing adventure accompanied by members of our wedding party, scouring shops for blue bottles to serve as table decorations. During a family affair, cousins, aunts and uncles tried their hands at tying monkey’s-fist knots that, if done successfully, would hold the table numbers. On our wedding day, as everyone approaches their table, we will all be reminded of the fun we had together leading up to this day.

Although there were many important details still to be planned, there was one thing we wanted to be sure was taken care of – beverages. We decided to create a couple of signature drinks unique to us. After choosing to include the Jewish tradition of dancing the horah, we knew not everyone is brave enough to be lifted seven feet up in a chair. A shot called the “horah helpah” was born (In Maine, R’s are not commonly pronounced.) Additionally, when the bridesmaids’ dresses turned out more purple than blue, we decided to find humor in the situation and make a drink called the “blurple blunder,” knowing it would help us and our guests laugh about it together come the big day.

Though the drinks are essential to the reception, the ceremony is where the thought really counts. We worked to incorporate traditions unique to both sides of our families but also wanted to add an element to the ceremony that was personal to us. Working with children has always been a thread that bound us together, so we found and will include a children’s book that speaks to our relationship in a creative way.

Our wedding started with an engagement, and that engagement started with a ring. For us, the rings were the beginning, but as we continued through the planning process, we found many more ways to make our wedding unique to us. When that day finally comes, each of the things we spent time personalizing along the way will make our day that much more meaningful.

Evan Eckstein is a speech-language pathologist at Milton Elementary School. Allison Eaton is a clinical behavior specialist supervisor for the Inclusion Program and Baird School at the HowardCenter in Burlington. The couple resides in Burlington and plans a July 2016 wedding.