Winter 2016
And the Bride Wore… By Sam Ujvary

Planning a wedding allows the happy couple to put their own spin on a celebration. Look for these trends this upcoming year.

It finally happened. The day every girl has been dreaming about for as long as she can remember, and it was everything she had hoped for — the love of her life got down on one knee, ring in hand and declared an undying love.

For some, the engagement process is slow and steady. For others, it’s a fast frenzy leading to the altar. No matter how the planning goes, it’ll be here before they know it, and your shop will have been along for the entire ride. Bridal retailers somehow known everything: what will be in style come the day of, what etiquette has been around since the dawn of time, and just what pieces speak to the couple so that their personality will shine through. Everything from Save the Dates and invitations to the place settings, name cards and centerpieces — they just get it.

Leading into a new year, here are some products, styles and trends that will be paving the wedding aisle.

Jeni Prosser is a lover of all things artsy. And to her, anything can be artistic through the lens of her camera. One day some 20 odd years ago, she picked up a camera and it seems as though she just never put it back down. And when her own wedding photographer, Andrea Boettcher — whose style Prosser had been charismatically drawn to — offhandedly asked Prosser to start second-shooting weddings, an opportunity arose.

“I didn’t get into shooting weddings on purpose,” Prosser said. “I had always said I’d never photograph weddings because I’m married to a collegiate football coach (Saturday games, Saturday weddings), and because of the stress that comes with a wedding, but I have to say I love it now.” Sure, it can be incredibly stressful, and hectic and rushed, “but seeing the tangible love so many people have for the bride and groom, and the sheer happiness and general cheer, it’s just awesome to be a part of it.”

Her love of love led her to start a wedding photography business with Boettcher back in 2013 — she’s the Luna in Luna + Lou Weddings. Throughout her experience as a wedding photographer and shooting over 30 weddings in the past two years, Prosser has gained some insight when it comes to what’s popular, what’s unique, and what will forever be ingrained in the couple’s memory.

Get the cocktail party started with all the essentials in Acme Party Box’s craft cocktail box.
Get the cocktail party started with all the essentials in Acme Party Box’s craft cocktail box.

Making not so run-of-the-mill memories

When it comes to planning a wedding, a good place to start is with solid-color décor items. The color palette selected is the backbone of the wedding design and should work hand-in-hand with the theme to complement every aspect. The color selection will set the tone in the save-the-dates and invitations; then couples can add their own personal touches to the rest of the décor.

Every element, every intricate detail and every brass tack of a wedding is meant to be a reflection of the personalities of the bride and groom. No matter what’s popular now or was considered in style some time ago, a couple’s wedding is inherently their tastes realized in tangible objects. “My favorite part is seeing the personalized details each couple brings to their wedding, as well as their unique relationship with each other, their friends and their family,” Prosser said.

The popular wedding website, The Knot, is a major resource for wedding planning. When it comes to providing a unique touch, the site recommends personalizing the boutonnieres — among other things — with broaches, artwork and any other hint of individuality. The idea is that couples should be free to embrace the looks they love, with their wedding acting as a blank canvas.

Emma Arendoski, creator of Emmaline Bride — a blog dedicated to all things handmade — has turned her admiration of weddings into a book, The Inspired Wedding (Sellers Publishing, 2014). “A handmade piece is special — it’s been crafted with love and care,” she noted in the book’s introduction. While customers might be privy to Pinterest and everything it has to offer, most weddings pinned are often from the previous year, so a better approach would be to use it as an inspirational jumping off point. This also allows them to pick and choose from different boards to create their perfect vision. From there, it’s the individual touches that create a truly one-of-a-kind wedding; jewelry passed down from generation to generation, dedication lines in the wedding program, and family photos on the dessert table are all representations of that couple and them alone.

Timeless themes

Wedding trends ebb and flow, but there’s a concept that celebrates the timeless classics that always seem to be in style: vintage-themed celebrations. Prosser’s own nuptials featured a compilation of vintage finds and handmade décor pieces that festooned her reception hall. Used books matching her color scheme as centerpieces; repurposed glass vases and milk jars; a reconstructed veil from her mother; and, for an added touch, the bride, groom and wedding party were escorted from the ceremony to reception in classic cars rather than the standard limousine. From heirloom pieces to borrowed jewelry, if enduring details and vintage décor shine from the couple’s personality, a romantically vintage wedding theme may be the perfect choice.

“Vintage weddings have an ethereal quality, a sense of familiarity,” Arendoski said in her book. Selecting a location from one’s childhood or that has special meaning from the couple’s courtship — for the Prossers, it was the college where they met, with college-coordinated cufflinks to match — the venue can be transformed with a little tender, love and care.

Pastoral picks

Available in a variety of colors and materials, the mason jar cuffs from Mason Bar Company wrap around mason jars and make for a great rustic touch at receptions.
Available in a variety of colors and materials, the mason jar cuffs from Mason Bar Company wrap around mason jars and make for a great rustic touch at receptions.

With Mother Nature as a backdrop, the homespun wedding is connectedness with the outdoors realized — think wildflowers, animals, mason jars, burlap and anything farmhouse. At some of the rustic weddings Prosser has shot, she has noticed a lot of personalized signs, like chalkboards and banners, on the dessert table, gift table and at the bar.

“I also feel like there’s more couples doing homemade edible favors — brownies, candies and mixed chocolates — and putting them on the place setting of each guest,” she said. Western Style Pillow Boxes from Hortense B. Hewitt are small, scalloped-edged favor boxes perfect for holding these edible treats.

Speaking of the bar, couples seem to have come to the realization that splurging on a bar that specializes in craft cocktails is never money wasted. Creating a signature drink or two and offering it for the duration of the reception has bee

A chic, down-home version of the koozie, Rustico makes leather jackets that fit cups, cans and bottles.
A chic, down-home version of the koozie, Rustico makes leather jackets that fit cups, cans and bottles.

n somewhat explosive as of late. Acme Party Box Co. has everything necessary for a great cocktail program available as an instant party starter. Each box features 12-ounce glasses, cocktail napkins, an ice bag and mallet, and wooden cocktail picks. The box spotlights “craft” and adds a little sparkle to the reception. Offering a more rustic touch, mason jars are used in lieu of standard rocks and highball glasses. For the down-home weddings, companies like Rustico and Mason Bar Co. offer leather jackets for bottles, cans and cups, and cuffs for mason jars, respectively.

Dreamy décor

The romantic theme can be an all-encompassing one. It includes anything from vintage to traditional and modern boho motifs; from dark, rich colors to neutral tones with a splash of color. A grand chandelier, classic flowers, pearls and anything that feels intimate evokes a sense of romance for both the couple and the attendees.

When it comes to invitations, what couples send sets the tone for the wedding. Couture Ink bases a lot of its themes and

designs first and foremost on the color swatches that pertain to each specific wedding. Robin Marino of Couture Ink is seeing a lot of classic elegant looks. “(Brides seem to be) going for a traditional feel with a twist of embellishments,” she said. Thermography — raised printing — on wedding invitations seems to be a thing of the past. “Now that we offer foil stamping, a lot of people are going with that. We have a few companies that are offering digital metallic printing, so they don’t have to spend the money on thermography and it’s a very traditional look,” added Marino. The modern elegance look is a spin on the romantic theme overall. Touches of metallic gold, rose gold and copper add a little magic to any wedding.

Lace dresses and floral décor might just be the epitome of a romantic-feeling wedding. The Vintage Floral collection from Wedding Star consist of soft blues and pinks and are made up of straws, paper parasol and paper lanterns for a cohesive finishing touch. Likewise, Hortense B. Hewitt offers its Floral Forever Table Decorations — large and small vellum table confetti with a floral design to conjure up romantic feelings during dinner and throughout the evening.

Popularity contest

Doing away with big fancy cakes and instead offering dessert bars filled with homemade cookies, brownies or cupcake towers will continue to be seen on the wedding market in the upcoming year. Unique cakes with out-of-the-ordinary cake toppers too are anticipated to continue in popularity for 2016.

Alternative wedding parties too are on the rise. “There are more and more brides that are forgoing veils, but then there are others that are bringing back the blusher for their parents to lift as they give them away. Which also brings up both parents walking the bride down the aisle, as well as men being bridesmaids and women being groomsmen,” Prosser said. Sparklers, Chinese lanterns and bubbles have replaced throwing rice, and supporting local businesses is thriving as well.

It’s true, wedding paraphernalia almost seems so endless that it’s difficult to choose just a handful of trends. Think of these as your shop’s jumping off point; an array of essentials off of which your customers can build their truly unique dream wedding, because, as Dr. Seuss so fervently put it, “There is no one alive who is you-er than you.”

Sam Ujvary

Sam is the managing editor of Gift Shop Pets, Museums & More and Party & Halloween Retailer, and is a contributing editor for Gift Shop Magazine. She has a copywriting background and has been in publishing for six years.

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