Planning A Wedding? Read This First

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182675006Photo: Courtesy of Kriss Russell/ Getty Images


Your wedding is that most special of days, where you share your love for another in front of your near and dear. Sure. Yes. But, you also want it to be the best. Party. Ever. We tapped industry pros — from event planners and designers to dress merchandisers to app experts — on just what elements they're seeing at the cool-kid weddings this season. So, what are the entertaining trends that’ll turn your fete into the end all be all? Look no further, and you're sure to love what you find.

Non-Traditional Traditions
Couples are giving customs their own spin, according to Faith Popcorn, CEO of the marketing consultancy BrainReserve. “We’re seeing a lot of non-traditional traditions, like having Grandma as your ‘ring girl,’ wearing a fuchsia wedding dress, or an engagement ring for the guy, or having the bridal couple’s child walk down the aisle with them.” She adds, “It’s all about putting their own touch on tradition, and finding unexpected ways to express big emotions.”

The Wired Wedding
While famous couples may ask guests to check their phones at the door, most brides are eagerly plugged-in. “The digital age has made tech a key guest at most weddings,” says Popcorn. “Why not have a social media maid/man of honor (similar to tweeters of honor, but broader in scope), to make sure no big moment goes undocumented?” You can even hire a social media maven from a company like Tweet the Bride, Kim Forrest of Wedding Wire says. “People use Instagram, Facebook, live-streaming, and other social media more than ever for relatives and friends who weren't able to come, especially if it's a destination wedding.” Also, celebrities are using photo drones to snap their weddings, so look for that bit of tech to trickle down to the rest of us, eventually.

Aisle Moments For Him
The rent-a-tux isn’t the only way to go. “Grooms are trying to wear something that makes them stand out a little, that more expresses their personality," says Forrest. "They are finding fun ways to personalize their look.” Think: patterned socks, funky bow ties, Converse sneakers, or suspenders (hopefully not all at once). “They’re definitely being playful,” says Lori Conley, senior merchant at David’s Bridal.

There’s An App For That
It’s not just the ceremony that’s gone digital, according to Forrest. Couples are using apps like WeddingWire’s WedStyle to plan (bold brides can even reach out here for unbiased reactions to potential dresses). They’re sending paperless save-the-date notices or even invites. And, it doesn't stop there. Kanye West famously spent four hours editing his first wedding photo to post to Instagram. Brides, grooms, and even guests head to YouTube to share standout moments, or apps apps like WedSocial and Eversnap to see their photos go viral.
m_k_wedding_81Photo Courtesy of Glitter and Rye
Let Them Eat (More Than) Cake
Now, it’s all about the dessert table. This sugary smorgasbord is on track to replace the cupcake tower, according to Jordan Slocum, event planner at Baked in New York City. “Why just settle with a cupcake when you can have a bite of a sweet-and-salty brownie, a mini strawberry whoopie pie, and a slice of a raspberry lemonade cake?” he says. “Couples love variety, and with our dessert table, you can mix and match well over 25 bite-sized items.” (Including, yes, cupcakes.) “Wedding dessert trends are constantly changing and evolving,” says event planner extraordinaire Colin Cowie, and his latest cake replacements include the impressive croquembouche, the “macaron pyramid,” and, a top pick, “fabulous, over-the-top candy bars,” he says.

Food On The Move
The hottest trend in wedding catering, according to Colin Cowie: pulling a food truck or two up to the reception. This is a (sometimes) more thrifty way to feed guests while adding to the fun — we’ve seen kimchi tacos, pizza, In-N-Out Burger, lobster rolls, ice cream, and other ways to send formal fare packing.

Bridezilla Bit The Dust
Brides are being more flexible with bridesmaid dresses, according to Conley. “They’ll say ‘This is the dress I picked out, but find it in the color you like.’ They are easing up and allowing the bridesmaids to be more comfortable,” she says. Adds Forrest, “Either the girls get to customize a dress (with sleeves, a different length, a different neckline, etc.), or they can go out and pick their own dress in a certain color or palette.”

It's A Small World
Weddings are going global, Cathryn Gross, accessories manager of David's Bridal says. “The bride is getting her inspiration from everywhere. There are so many beautiful trends worldwide that she's looking at on Pinterest. We just launched the Sarah Gabriel line, taking jewels and putting them in your hair. That comes from India.” Says Popcorn, “We’re hearing about American brides who are emulating the Chinese tradition of changing into three or four different dresses during their wedding and reception.”

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All About Me Us
“Regardless of budget, Millennials are all about customization,” says Popcorn. “As the generation that values all things artisanal, handmade, and perfectly curated, off-the-rack doesn’t cut it. Couples these days really view their weddings as a chance to express their vibe through every aspect of the ceremony.” That includes playlists filled with their favorite songs, appetizers exploring the limits of their favorite food (bacon-wrapped everything?), custom craft brews, handmade invitations, and infographics explaining their journey as a couple. Plus, mini-me cake toppers that are customized to look like the couple are all over Etsy. Or, you’ll see two of something the pair cares about, like manatees, mermaids, or a sports team. “That goes back to the personalization of the entire wedding,” Conley says.

So Succulent
Brides are adding these wilt-proof and shapely plants to the bouquet and table arrangements, Beverly Hills-based party planner Mindy Weiss says. Adds Forrest, “Succulents are huge right now. They have a sort of modern, edgy look. In bouquets, flowers like lush garden roses and succulents provide fun contrast.”

Outdoors In, Inside Out
Ceremonies are increasingly taking place in “non-traditional settings, like barns and meadows,” Conley says. “Weddings are more whimsical. They used to be all pomp and circumstance and tradition. These are less formal.” Adds Weiss, “I'm seeing so many brides wanting to make their wedding feel at home even though it might be in a grand ballroom. Many are bringing the outdoor feeling inside by creating indoor gardens, and bringing the inside feeling out by placing couches in the middle of a garden.”
m_k_wedding_191Photo Courtesy of Glitter and Rye
Strike A Pose
Of course, there’s the obligatory wedding photographer, but one of the latest reception musts is a stop at the photo booth. The trend has been taken to a new level these days with fun props provided — from frames (giant Polaroid and Instagram cut-outs, or ornate carved wood) to fake moustaches, tiaras, noisemakers, and...trampolines? Some booths spit out a vintage-style photo strips, others take snaps and record video for the aforementioned social purposes, according to Molly Hartman of Glitter and Rye.

Charitable Giving
There’s a limit to how many packets of Jordan almonds one can eat or engraved tchotchkes one can shove in a drawer. Now, instead of meaningless giveaways, conscientious couples make donations to charity in their guests' honor.

Think Ink
Throwing a hipster-themed wedding? You can add some Williamsburg edge with this favor: customized temporary tattoos, a hot trend on Etsy. With the initials of the bride and groom and the date, these will keep everyone from grannies to tots (temporarily) amused, says Hartman.

After The Wedding? The After-Party
Instead of a "leave-taking" complete with bouquet toss and airplane tickets to a honeymoon destination, couples have an after-party with more casual decor, funkier music, and cooler dress. “I haven't done a ‘send off’ in years,” says Weiss. “Many brides and grooms are also opting out of the bouquet toss and garter toss. My brides don't want to display their single friends…and especially do not want their groom trying to get the garter off with their teeth.” Some couples are even sticking around for brunch the next day, for a chance to actually enjoy their guests.