On Jan. 2, I’ll travel to Owensboro, Ky., to celebrate as a close friend from college ties the knot. The next weekend, I’ll hit the road to Fort Wayne, Ind., with my husband, who’s an usher at another college friend’s wedding. All that traveling takes a little coordinating — and that’s just one month.
Fortunately, both couples sent guests the links to their personalized wedding Web sites, which provided all sorts of useful information: hotel accommodations, driving directions, links to gift registries, and even activities for guests unfamiliar with the area. (The Owensboro bride encouraged out-of-town guests to go ice-skating at the RiverPark Center’s Winter Wonderland, sample local cuisine at Moonlite Bar-B-Q, or stroll through one of the city’s three museums.)
According to national experts, my Internet-savvy friends aren’t alone in their desire to communicate helpful information to their guests. The Knot (www.theknot.com), the country’s most-trafficked wedding Web site, reports that two-thirds of couples have personalized wedding Web sites. Local experts, too, say engaged couples in Evansville are trending toward “wired” weddings. “The ease of an online wedding page is a new way for the couple to communicate,” says Jim Bauer, president of The Bauerhaus, a popular Evansville venue for wedding ceremonies and receptions.
Distributing information online saves postage, a concern for budget-conscious couples. (Last February, CNNMoney.com reported that the average wedding price had dropped $6,000 since pre-recession times.) Still, in the best of times or the worst of times, “for better or worse” goes on. Couples realize that their wedding day happens only once in a lifetime, and they want it to be memorable not just for themselves, but for family and friends. The hottest wedding trend of all, says Bauer, is that “brides today are doing it their way. Not everyone goes traditional. They’re trying to be creative with their planning.”
Through their work with area couples, Bauer and other Tri-State wedding professionals have observed various trends and creativity in local weddings. Here, they share these inspiring ideas with Evansville Living Wedding Book readers.
Whether planning to attend a wedding or planning your own, one of the first questions that comes to mind is, “What should I wear?” That’s why New York City hosts the biannual Bridal Fashion Week, where wedding dress designers showcase their latest masterpieces. At last fall’s show, a spring 2010 preview, feminine details dominated the runway: bows, lace, floral motifs, and sheer straps. A strikingly modern contrast was the number of dresses with bold pops of color, even black. The trend has trickled down to mainstream wedding boutiques, too, where brides are choosing colored sashes or other accents that match their wedding colors.
As for wedding colors, “turquoise is supposed to be the new color for 2010,” says Jane Elpers, event design coordinator at TRU Event Rental. (It pairs beautifully with a range of hues: cherry red for a retro feel, white or gray for a sophisticated look, or even tangerine for a cheery summer wedding.)
Once the wedding color palette is determined, brides increasingly are turning their bridesmaids loose to choose dresses that suit their figures and tastes. (For tips on figure-flattering dress silhouettes, see “Best Dressed”) This can decrease the stress of outfitting the wedding party, particularly for large groups — and the staff at TRU, owned by Darrell and Karen LeMond, has seen wedding parties of 16 attendants.
When planning their wedding ceremony, many couples default to the traditional Saturday afternoon event followed by an evening reception, but this isn’t the only option. Bauer notes that choosing a less conventional day for your wedding may mean attractive promotions and discounts. For couples with many out-of-town guests, Friday night or Sunday nuptials or even a Saturday luncheon still are convenient. It may sound unconventional, but more couples are choosing weeknight weddings, too, says Bauer.
As for ceremony venues, outdoor weddings continue to be popular, both in tents and open-air venues (although a “Plan B” in case of inclement weather is crucial). A large tent, such as those rented by TRU along with tables, chairs, linens, place settings, and other items, provides the convenience of holding the ceremony and reception in one location. So does a venue like The Bauerhaus, where couples frequently hold outdoor weddings in the venue’s park-like setting and then move the party indoors for the reception.
For several years, a “unity sand” ceremony has been a popular addition to weddings, and this trend isn’t drifting away. (It’s an alternative to the unity candle ceremony; instead of lighting a candle together, couples pour sand into a keepsake container to symbolize the joining of their lives.) The sand ceremony “definitely has replaced the unity candles,” says Bauer, especially in outdoor weddings where wind is a concern. (Couples who want to marry outdoors but stick to the traditional unity candle can use flameless or battery-operated candles, which won’t blow out in a breeze.)
After the ceremony comes the wedding reception, and although this usually is the largest expense in a couple’s wedding budget, Bauer acknowledges that receptions have become more budget-conscious in the last year. Fortunately, say experts, you can save money in style. Using a variety of table centerpieces adds visual interest and costs less than decorating every table with extravagant blooms. Specialty linens, too, are eye-catching: TRU has noticed more couples requesting patterns such as zebra print or polka dots. Items such as table runners and chair sashes in a couple’s wedding colors also have “a big impact without a big expense,” says Bauer.
Creative food and drink options can do the same, and Bauer and Elpers say hors d’oeuvres and food stations are gaining popularity. In lieu of buffets or formal sit-down dinners, guests choose hors d’oeuvres, entrees, and desserts from several food stations around the venue. “That lets people eat and mingle all night,” Elpers says. One cosmopolitan couple who hosted a reception at The Bauerhaus invited guests to taste their way around the world, visiting themed food stations with Italian, Asian, and Mexican cuisine. The couple’s friends and family were impressed, Bauer says: “Guests didn’t expect that.”
On the sweeter side, cupcakes continue to be a popular and budget-friendly alternative to traditional wedding cakes, and candy bars with personalized, color-themed sweets still are popular for favors. Creativity reigns in bar service as couples opt for specialty toasting beverages such as raspberry spumante or tinted punches. A popular drink option is the signature cocktail, served in a specialty glass to complement the wedding theme or color. (The Bauerhaus once served a blue-tinted electric lemonade for a couple whose wedding colors were blue and silver.)
While these trends are popular in Tri-State weddings, wedding professionals emphasize that the most noteworthy trend is originality, and memorable weddings are all about adding personal touches. Whether it’s a song, a special reading during the ceremony, or a slideshow of silly photos at the reception, “every bride, every couple wants to be unique,” says Bauer. “They want their personality to be reflected.”