Hot Tips & Trends in Today's Wedding World
by Cheryl Kimball
Photo by Stacey Kane
TIP: A GOOD DATE
Be sure to find out what is going on the weekend of your wedding to avoid venue conflicts. Check online, with the Chamber of Commerce, and in last year’s tourist magazines for annual events. This can help ensure you don’t end up sharing your chosen venue with the Children’s Festival and finding Chucky the Clown in all your wedding photos or a rock concert drowning out your vows and overwhelming the harpist at your ceremony.
A photo booth at your wedding reception can be great fun, create memories, and help guests pass that limbo time between ceremony and dinner. For a couple hours’ rental, an attendant sets it up, breaks it down, keeps it supplied, and helps guests take their pics. Rental prices vary but one vendor quotes around $800 (rentals without an attendant are often available only for events of two days or longer). Prints usually take just a few seconds and can be incorporated into a wedding album along with a message to the newlyweds; other products, such as acrylic frames unique to the vertical strip photo size, are available depending on the vendor. The couple also usually gets digital copies of the photos.
Your invitation no longer needs a directions card, advises Samantha Finigan of Gus & Ruby Letterpress in Portsmouth and Seacoast Bride advisory board member. The electronic age means most out-of-town guests come fully prepared to find their hotel as well as the ceremony and reception sites. You do need to be sure to include exact addresses (street number and zip) so guests can plug them into their GPS and online mapping sites. Use the cost savings (not only on the printed piece but also any additional postage and larger envelope size that would have been needed) to create exactly the invitation you’ve dreamed about!
TREND: ENGAGEMENT NEGOTIATIONS
“We’ve gone from popping the question to a long conversation, hammering out the details of when and how the engagement will happen,” says Hannah Seligman in “How the Marriage Proposal Became a Negotiation” (Wall Street Journal, 4/30/2010). Much of this trend is precipitated by practicality, such as how to fit in a wedding amidst two career paths. The negotiations vary widely depending on the couple, but often together they decide in what timeframe they would like the proposal to happen. The planning negotiations may even include in what kind of setting—a moonlit night on the beach, by horse-drawn carriage in the park, at the couple’s favorite restaurant, during their annual vacation at the family summer cottage on the Vineyard—as well as pre-chosen rings.
TREND: COMFORT CLOTHES
“We have been seeing a lot of brides choosing to change their dress during the reception, after the special dances are done” says Leslie Barbini, owner and lead designer of The Wedding Belle, a wedding planner serving the New England seacoast. “Not only does this allow them to dance more comfortably, but it helps preserve their bridal gown. Most dresses get trashed by the end of the night from being dragged around on the ground or accidentally stepped on by guests. Changing before this happens means less repair has to be done before preserving the gown for the next generation! Whatever your reasoning might be, please make sure that you choose a dress that you can easily slip into so that you don’t miss any of the fun with your family and friends!”
And Barbini offers this extra tip: Have all of your other accessories handy (undergarments, change of shoes, jewelry, etc.) so when time is tight, you aren’t rummaging your suitcases in search of that bra you purchased specifically for your reception dress!
TIP: LOSE CONTROL
It’s important to make sure the “guest experience” is enjoyable, especially for those spending their own money and vacation time to come quite a distance. But be careful not to plan every minute of your guests trip to your destination or out-of-town wedding. Guests want time to explore on their own. One way to include them but not control them is to provide a “schedule of events” and let them choose to come or not to these extracurricular social times.
TREND: COFFEE CHIC
Hi-level coffee service later in the reception is a growing trend, says master of all aspects of the wedding industry, Jay Bishop, owner of Madeleine’s Event Central in Portsmouth and Seacoast Bride advisory board member. As Americans have become more sophisticated in their coffee selections, expectations are for exceptional coffee. This has the added benefit of slowing down the liquor consumption before the end of the evening which can mean less cost in the case of an open bar and can aid in making sure guests leave the party sober (provided the coffees don’t include liqueurs!).
TIP: DON’T SKIMP ON THE FLOOR
If you are having your wedding or reception outside with a tent, wedding planner Kate Parker (mykateparkerwedding.com) advises also leasing a floor for the tent. A floor makes the tent look more polished and also serves a couple of very practical purposes: it will be easier to walk and the floor will deflect the dampness of the ground especially if your reception is after darkness falls. And a full floor doubles as a dance floor limited only by how many tables you want to move away as the party gets rocking!
TREND: SHRUB FOR HIRE
Leasing shrubs, trees, and other live plants for your ceremony and/or reception venue is a growing (pardon the pun…) trend. In the era of everything-as-green-as-possible, this is a way to have a good deal of live foliage which would be very expensive to purchase in quantity. “This allows the event to have more of a ‘wow effect’ without having to buy everything,” says David Kirkpatrick, owner with wife Diana of Churchill’s Gardens in Exeter (www.churchillsgardens.com). “And this way they have things they can plant after. We have a large display of containers, which we rent as well, and four acres of live plants in spring/summer/fall. Couples come in, we do a walk around and design on the fly.”
TIP: FACE TIME
While wedding traditions have not been abandoned all together, there are many places in your wedding where you can choose to forego the way it’s always been done. For example, a church altar dictates that the couple face the altar during the ceremony. But if the ceremony is in a space other than a church, why not face the group of people who are gathered there to witness your union and let the officiant’s back be to the audience? And did you know that the tradition of the betrotheds not seeing each other in wedding garb before the ceremony harkens back to arranged marriages where the “plain” bride’s parents were concerned the groom might have time to back out if he saw her too soon? So, unless yours is an arranged marriage, get those wedding clothes on a bit early and have formal photos done before the ceremony!
TREND: SASH SWAP
At the National Bridal Show this year, advisory panel member Jay Bishop of Madeleine’s Event Central says, designer Alfred Sung offered the sash in myriad colors. For the ceremony, the sash can be the same color as the gown—worn high on the waist so it won’t be hidden by the bride’s bouquet. At the reception, the sash embellishment can be switched to a lower position and a color that reflects the reception color scheme. The value-added element of the sash is that it makes a lovely heirloom—even if your gown doesn’t fit or appeal to your daughter, your sash might. And she can choose to wear it for other occasions, like her prom.
THE DESSERT BUFFET
First, the wedding cake began to accommodate different tastes with different-flavored layers. Then the cupcake came along to take over that job, enhancing or even replacing the traditional cake. Wedding dessert fare has now made even one leap farther into the world of the buffet.
Dessert buffets can be themed—a myriad of truffles, whoopie pies, or ice cream sundaes. Or you can appeal to every taste with a little of a lot of different sweet items as well as an old-fashioned candy buffet for the kids (or kids at heart). If you are concerned about missing the cake-cutting tradition or not having that top layer to celebrate with on your first anniversary, consider adding a mini-wedding cake to the festivities.
But don’t go for the dessert buffet thinking it is automatically a less expensive option! While it can be, those individual treats can also add up fast. And, like going to the grocery store, be sure to pick out your dessert buffet items after you have just eaten a full meal…
Having each table get serving platters of food to pass around family style is a fun way to approach the reception dinner. For large gatherings, this may mean that all the tables are served and commence eating closer to the same time compared to the served meal. For more intimate-sized receptions, serving family style is informal, comfortable, and great for the smaller group, allowing everyone to sit at the same large table.
Casual meals like lobster bakes, clam bakes, and other outdoor-cooked meals make perfect family-style options. And combination family-style/served may be possible, depending on your meal choice—main dishes may be served, even prepared/carved tableside, with side dishes placed on the table to be passed.
Family-style service has a couple advantages to guests: They get to plate their meal according to their own likes and dislikes—something more typical of buffet-style service—but they also get to remain seated.
However, if yours is going to be a very formal affair, family style may not be the best choice. You don’t want to expect your guests to serve themselves while they are dressed in their finest clothes.
TRENDS/TIPs: A SMALL COLLECTION
Here are a few simple tips and trends working their way around wedding world:
Consider edible table numbers/place cards! Chocolate would do…
Charity donations and usable items for favors are definitely still the in thing.
Statistics show that the gown and the venue are the most stressful selections when it comes to weddings. Be sure to give these two elements plenty of attention early in your planning to reduce the anxiety. Use our planning guide to help!
Picking a color and then letting your attendants choose their own dress of any style has gone beyond being a trend to being an accepted practice. Bridesmaids look more comfortable, are happy to purchase the dress, and the variety looks fun!
Strapless continues to be the trend in wedding gowns. However, if strapless doesn’t work so well for you, don’t despair—a lovely lace bolero can do the trick.
Don’t choose an at-home wedding ceremony and/or reception
thinking it will be less expensive—it won’t feel that way after the bill comes for repainting the house and reseeding the lawn so everything looks perfect…