What's new in greetings, gifts, bouquets, catering - and everything else
By Marianna Barbrey and photography by Mark Staff
The black and white tuxedo is still the quintessential wedding look for grooms and groomsmen, but classic doesn't have to be boring. Many grooms are personalizing their looks with simple touches that show off their personalities, like having the wedding date or the bride-to-be's initials stitched onto their shirt cuffs, or giving their groomsmen bright argyle socks to wear with their tuxes and special sunglasses to don immediately after the ceremony or when entering the reception. HaIR Let your hair down, ladies.
Instead of that first look that brides and grooms often share from opposite ends of the aisle, more couples are opting to have a small "first look" photo shoot before the wedding. This is a special moment shared only by the couple and their photographer where the bride and groom see each other right before the ceremony begins, while the photographer captures their reactions. This intimate pre-wedding reveal can ease the jitters and release emotions before vows are exchanged in public.
When thirsty guests arrive at the reception the bar can quickly become congested. To ease the stress on guests and bartenders
and to add a personal touch, consider serving a signature cocktail to guests as they enter the reception. The cocktails can be prepared beforehand and served on trays as guests enter. A signature cocktail can range from a martini to a Bellini to a favorite local brew. It's a great way to set the tone for your reception and add a personal touch. (Some couples opt to limit the bar selection to beer and wine in addition to the signature cocktail, which can cut down on the bar tab while still allowing guests to imbibe.)
While many brides and grooms have shelved the traditional cake topper in favor of fresh flowers or a beautiful monogrammed design atop the wedding cake, those who are keeping the tradition are not satisfied with the generic plastic couple from yesterday's weddings. Vintage cake toppers are popular right now, as are customized toppers that can be made to look just like the bride and groom, right down to their wedding day attire.
For a vintage cake topper, consider asking a relative if you could borrow the one they used on their wedding cake, or use the Internet to hunt down a replica of your parents' cake topper. Those who want to get creative with a more modern design can find lots of options at www.etsy.com. GuEstBooK Fewer couples are using traditional guestbooks, opting instead for more unconventional methods. Some fun ideas include using a Polaroid camera or photo booth to create a pictorial guest book, or getting a magnum of champagne that guests can sign and then be displayed on a wet bar in the couple's home. You can set up a vintage typewriter with bright paper for guests to type out messages that can be assembled and bound into a book. Guests can even sign squares of fabric that can be sewn into a quilt.
The tradition of throwing handfuls of rice at the newlyweds is a thing of the past, but that doesn't mean brides and grooms are getting a more low-key (or less messy) sendoff. These days guests are given sparklers to light, flower petals or biodegradable confetti to throw, butterflies to release, Silly String to spray, bells to ring or party horns to blow.
TRIED AND TRUE ADVICE ABOUT ... PLANNING
Don't try to plan your wedding without help; no matter the size of the wedding, you'll need back-up. Often a best friend or family member can assist in this role,but more and more brides are attempting to take on the wedding planning task singlehandedly, which leads to much stress and hand-wringing. And nobody likes a frazzled bride. If you'd like to hire a professional but you think price is an issue, ask a wedding planner about their services and whether there's a package or level of service that suits your needs and your budget. Finally, don't be afraid to delegate responsibilities, and if someone offers you assistance, take them up on it!
THE BRIDAL BOUQUET
The bridal bouquet is the perfect place to add a sentimental touch to your ensemble. You can tuck a treasured keepsake around the base of the bouquet where it will serve as a hidden reminder of a special person or memory. For a different kind of sentimentality, have a beautiful ribbon monogrammed with the date and the bride's initials wrapped around the bouquet. Or make a mother or grandmother proud by using bits of lace from their wedding gowns to adorn your bouquet and add a bit of vintage chic.
Think outside the vase when it comes to flower arrangements. If you're having a casual outdoor wedding, consider putting simple arrangements in mason jars or oversized tin cans wrapped in burlap. Purchase simple vases or urns from a craft store and spray paint them to add drama. You could also use tea cups, mint julep cups or even wine glasses to hold flowers, floating candles or other centerpiece decorations.
Here's another area in which the trends are moving away from tradition and toward the couples' personalities. Modern stationery remains popular, but brides are incorporating vintage themes this year, such as 1960s retro flair and floral and paisley patterns. With couples increasingly looking for ways to celebrate their heritage, invitations incorporating cultural motifs and bold colors are also big. The goal is to achieve color continuity - using the same colors and patterns throughout the entire wedding portfolio. Plus, in a age where there's an app for everything, technology can add a special touch; brides now have the option to us photo montage invitations, videos and even integrated websites.
The same venues get used over and over, but don't be dismayed if a dear friend had her wedding exactly where you dreamed of having yours. Think outside the box when it comes to staging the party, using different areas of the venue in different ways than what may be "normal." In the Lowcountry we are blessed to have many beautiful venues in breathtaking locations. Take advantage of that natural beauty.
Weddings can be exhausting affairs for the bride and groom. Why rush off to your honeymoon right after your nuptials? Consider taking a mini-moon or quick weekend trip to a local spa or resort within driving distance. Once you are rested and the thank you notes are written - perhaps even several months (or years) later - you can set off on the honeymoon of your dreams and truly enjoy yourself.