Spring weddings have their own flavor and flare. (Especially if you’re looking to make it green or work in some DIY.) The weather’s warming, there’s a threat of rain—which I’ve always found more romantic than most—and the world is blooming in its many beautiful ways, giving you and yours the kind of backdrop made for the movies.

I remember attending a wedding a few springs ago where the pinks, purples, and muted blues of all the bride’s adornments matched perfectly with the hues of the flowers found throughout the ceremony. That, matched with the hay bale seating—elegantly garnished with their billowy pillows and white linens—and the subtle sweetness of the spiked lemonade in my hand made for a moment worth sharing for a lifetime.

Now that winter is once again winding down, I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful ways in which both future and present brides- and husbands-to-be can tie the knot in this time of renewal.

Here are a few of my favorites…

Tea Party in the Garden

wildflowers in a gardenI, myself, never had my own tea party when I was young, but there’s something sweetly innocent about sitting in a garden bursting with flowers, surrounded by your closest friends—whether they be stuffed with foam or covered in floral prints—and making your dreams a reality in the most imaginative of ways.

Serving hot tea at a wedding isn’t the greatest idea, that’s true, but it isn’t about the beverage. It’s about the elegance and charm. It’s about taking the whimsical fancy of it all and letting it run wild.

Teapot vases stuffed with daffodils, tulips, scilla, and muscari. Little cakes and sweets, muffins and lemon meringue. Grandma’s sweet tea, spiked with bourbon for the adults, and garnished with lemons and limes for all.

The perfect setting would be in the style of a secret garden, with vines encroaching on old stone walls, a sea of green every which way, popped and dotted with colors of budding blooms. In a perfect picture, there would be a bubbling brook with smooth stones at its center, a bridge for the bride to walk across, and a soul mate grinning like an idiot and standing like a statue on the other side.

Rooftop Brunch

Mojito in front of a skylineSome couples find magic in sweeping outdoor vistas, others in natural alcoves, but for a spark of modern-day magic, there’s nothing better than having the backdrop of your favorite city sprawling behind you like a painted canvas—the golden sun glowing like a halo behind your veil—while that ring comes to rest, once and for all, at the end of your finger.

And what better way to gather family and friends than over a meal that combines the best of two mealtimes? Shrimp and grits. Smoked salmon and eggs. Homemade-style waffles. Strawberry-almond scones. Sunrise mimosas. Ginger-peach bellinis.

Say “I Do” standing in a canopy of sheer white—its soft cloth swaying gently in the city’s wind—or beneath a wooden arbor accented with vines and soft-colored floral. Take pictures in front of monuments and modern art. Eat cake at a table made to match the regal hue of the sky’s golden hour.

And then, after the sun ascends over the ceremony and sets upon the reception, spend the evening out on the town or within the arms of your former fiancé, watching the city shine and sparkle from the window of a penthouse suite.

Swapping Rings in the Sand

Newlyweds sitting in chairs on a beachWeddings can be, and often are, complicated affairs. Sure, there’s reason to fret over what will likely be the most fairytale-like day of your entire life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kick away the fancy shoes, toss the tuxes, and have a little fun.

Beach weddings are in vogue now more than ever as people are ditching the fancy feasts and frill for a more relaxed and laidback “mini-vacation”-style ceremony. And why not?

When you get married in the sand, with the sea birds singing and the waves of water lapping at the shore—the subtle taste of salt in the ocean-fresh air—the tone is set, and it’s one steeped in serenity and peace. (And, because it’s spring, you shouldn’t have to worry about sweating in the summer sun.)

It doesn’t hurt, either, that weddings near the water aren’t just for you and your mate, but everyone involved. Because fresh fish, beach-style beverages, and the allure of alfresco dining, all enjoyed in one’s most comfortable formal attire, is something even the most curmudgeonly cousin can get behind.

Southern Style and Sophistication

Oak trees and blooming flowers with Spanish mossThere’s a distinct beauty to southern belles, and even more so to their style. It takes a kind of fire and sweetness to settle on a venue and veneer that outsiders might see as being quaint, kitschy, or outdated.

But tell me, what isn’t there to love about the open fields and the rustic accents of a well-kempt farm? And explain to me who in their right mind wouldn’t want to get married beneath the open sky of a rolling prairie, or in the presence of sky-high oaks, their gnarling arms dripping with Spanish moss, each of them set upon the outskirts of an elegant southern plantation?

Even something as simple as an old barn, refurbished and polished to the point of prosperity, their rafters looming large and singing with equal parts grandeur and austerity, their open floors filled with tables topped with white linens and clear bowls capped with chrysanthemums, would be enough to make it into the pages of a wedding magazine.

Of course, to make it truly southern, there would be smorgasbord of booze and sweet and salty treats that would make your mind guilty, your mouth water, and your tummy tingle with utter delight. Items like stoneground grits, ham biscuits, and pimento cheese. Fried green tomatoes, macaroni casserole, whiskey sours, and Kentucky mules. Yum! Yum! Yummmmmm!

Do-It-Yourself Storybook Wedding

Married couple in a cage underwaterOnce upon a time, fairytales told pretty much the same story, one of a dapper prince saving and marrying a princess in peril. But nowadays the only thing they all have in common are that they’re driven by love and imagination.

And weddings are no different. Ceremonies and receptions were once one-size-fits-all affairs, but now, just like a good wedding dress, they’re tailormade to suit your style. Even some of the spring wedding ideas listed above can be tweaked and upended to match your taste of fairytales.

Sure, a garden-style tea party would be whimsical and neat, but so would a tea party set in the vein of Alice’s Mad Hatter. And while beaches might offer a breathtaking backdrop, so would a jungle, or your own backyard. (Professional landscapers can transform and glamorize the entire area, turning it into something the two of you can enjoy well beyond your wedding.)

The point is, while all the best spring wedding ideas and themes will likely come from somewhere else (because who has the time to create a wedding from scratch?) it’s important to take those ideas and make them your own. Otherwise, you’ll be sitting next to yours at sixty, looking at old pictures, and wondering why your bridesmaids were wearing beige when you know darn well that they would’ve looked so much better in red.