Spring wedding season is off to a promising start. And while some couples are throwing large celebrations, others are opting for a more intimate affair. But what rings true for all is a wedding that’s personal and memorable. Brides and grooms are reinventing their own traditions, thoughtfully and creatively planning everything from unique decor to a show-stopping cake and timeless and fun fashion. The goal is to create a special experience for both themselves and their guests.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS AND EXPERIENCES
At Ocean House, in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, old-world elegance meets the barefoot, salt-tinged ease of the beach. Known for its glamorous receptions with oceanfront views and surprising sophistication, Ocean House was the chosen venue for one creative couple, who completely transformed the spacious, open-air tent into a brilliant aviary filled with butterflies, a kaleidoscope of streamers, and vibrant flowers spilling out of birdcage centerpieces.
“The inventive decor celebrated the transporting beauty of summer by the sea, but also showcased the trend for transforming a standard tent or ballroom with immersive decor stretching all the way to the ceiling,” says Laurie Hobbs, group director, public relations and marketing at Ocean House and its sister properties.
She says that another wedding last year had an amazing wall of “take your own” champagne glasses for guests to help themselves after stepping out of the ceremony. With people posting on social media, visuals are important more than ever.
“It was beautiful, clever and very novel,” add Hobbs, who is seeing “Instagrammable moments,” as a definite element that they might not have seen five years ago. “They’re looking for these memorable moments not just for Instagram, but for everyone to look back fondly on and mention specific examples of why it was fun and unique.”
While couples still very much want a large, traditional wedding, there is a trend toward smaller weddings, or what she refers to as “reservation window” weddings. Instead of reserving their day one or two years in advance, brides and grooms are being spontaneous, booking six months or less. If there is a cancellation, or if couples can plan festivities outside of a weekend, Ocean House can accommodate the request.
ICING ON THE CAKE
The wedding cake invites another opportunity to create a visual impact with many opting for high barrel cakes with double tiers on each level. One trend is custom cake hoops decorated with fresh flowers or left plain for a more modern look. The idea is to add an interesting focal point to either the cake itself or the wedding cake table. Decorating the cake with fresh or even wooden flowers is also popular. And soft color cakes such as blush creams or eucalyptus are in demand.
According to Rachel LaChica, director of catering at Ocean House Collection including Ocean House and Weekapaug Inn, “Popular desserts for 2022 include carrot cake and VVV (Vanilla, Vanilla + Vanilla) cakes. Declining in popularity have been dessert buffets because of health/COVID concerns.”
Donna Everett, owner of Creative Cakes by Donna in Haddam, who has been in business 37 years, and has created more than 30,000 custom wedding cakes, tells brides, “Complete a really nice meal.” She personally does not recommend a dessert or coffee station. And she especially does not like the latest trend of having a custom small cake for a cake-cutting ceremony, but then serving cupcakes to guests. This trend doesn’t really work, she says.
“Think about it,” she laughs. “If you’re dressed to kill at a wedding and you see the bride cut a wedding cake, would you want a cupcake? With that said, if the couple really wants cupcakes or other finger foods for dessert, it’s nice to put a group together on each table to enjoy after the cake for a little extra.”
“Wedding cakes are a fashion,” Everett continues. “They are here to stay forever. I tell all of my brides that cupcakes, donuts, and pies are all fads. They come and go.”
A FASHION STATEMENT
A return to timeless is taking center stage for bridal gowns and attire for grooms. Boat necks and long sleeves are coming back, along with more clean and classic fabrications, such as a return to satin in 2022 and 2023.
“For so long, we’ve been seeing plunging necklines and sheer lace bodices, and we’re seeing a shift towards more traditional and classic necklines,” says Beth Chapman, owner of The White Dress by the shore in Clinton, who just celebrated 18 years in business.
Textured floral jacquard is a fabric that designers are introducing into their collections, says Chapman. And gowns are also seeing slits, which is different and interesting. Instead of a plunging neckline, brides are showing a little leg. And billowing, romantic, dramatic sleeves are very in fashion.
“We thought we would never see billowing sleeves after Princess Diana got married,” says Chapman, who sees the trends emerge at Fashion Week in New York City twice a year, spring and fall. “Sleeves are often detachable, so that a bride can have an option of wearing them for the ceremony and then taking them off for the reception.”
Men are typically the more practical side of the couple, wanting to get more use out of their wedding day attire, notes Enzo Valentino, owner of Hamden-based Valentino Tailors. They had been getting lots of requests for charcoal grey and navy blue suits, but recently they’ve seen an increase in requests for traditional black tuxedos.
“We find that the brides are still driving the bus by setting the theme of the wedding, says Valentino. “The grooms then follow with either a suit or tuxedo depending on the level of formality. Most grooms will sneak in a little of their own personality by choosing a fun lining for the inside of their tuxedo jacket. We recently did a groom’s jacket with a Cuban theme of cigars, palm leaves and vintage automobiles! It’s one place where the guys can be a little expressive. We encourage it by showing them how serious the jacket looks when it’s buttoned up and how fun it can look when they flash it open.”