The Trends and How to Achieve them
By Nicole Girard
With the sultry summery feel of May upon us, the feeling of love is in the air once again. As our wedding planners know, where there’s love, there’s bound to be marriage proposals, and weddings, weddings, and more weddings. And, yes, professional wedding planners can still look forward to the occasional traditional wedding with the expansive guest list and extravagant details this year; however, it seems that this spring/summer weddings are being toned-down to mirror the subdued state of our economy. The planners we spoke to reported a 20 to 30 per-cent decrease this year in the number of weddings, as the uncertainty of the times has seemingly had a marked influence on couples in love.
But this influence is not only marked by a decline in extravagance. Those interviewed also expressed that this seems to be the year of wed-dings to celebrate family, the individuality of the bride and groom, and the uniqueness of the love they share; that which led them up to their special day.
Keeping this in mind, we located a sampling of top wedding professionals from coast to coast and asked them to divulge what they see as fashionable for weddings this season. We also asked them to share some expert advice on achieving those looks on a lesser budget; thus, throwing a successful and memorable wedding in line with the times.
Despite the great changes in the sociopolitical climate, we found our wedding planners brimming with optimism and enthusiasm and full of useful, innovative ideas for embracing and mastering the art of today’s wedding—changes and all.
Geneene Thornton, owner of Waterfront Weddings, a division of Celebrations Event Planning in San Diego, is “full service wedding party planner specializing in waterfront weddings.” She feels hard economic times provide opportunities for growth and innovation. And Thornton knows of which she speaks—she started her business 12 years ago after deciding to take a year’s worth of saved pay, leave her former job behind, and start her own business in the wedding industry.
Thornton said as far as spring/summer trends go, she has seen a lot of Asian influences this year. She said she’s currently experiencing an emphasis on intricate architectural details along with old-style bridal influences like cascading bouquets and colors that shine.
“The trends in many ways start with the flowers, and you often get the popular colors from there,” she said. “The colors I’m seeing now are shimmery, not gawdy. Sheer peach colors; toned-down sheer mint green is in. People are still in love with purple, and black and white, but everything else will come and go.”
Thornton, who deals with “clients from all over the board,” said her advice for wedding planners in this age of less weddings and a falter-ing economy is to supplement your clientele with all budgets; not just the ones with unlimited checking accounts.
“The wedding industry is cyclic, and only the strong will survive. It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love,” she said.
Thornton said in order to make smaller wed-dings work, the key is to take the time to really get to know your clients and remember that this day is about two people in love, committing themselves to each other. That’s a beautiful thing; It’s not just a party.
“I really believe there is such a thing as perceived value,” she said. “When someone doesn’t have a lot of money, you have to educate her on what the average bride is spending; when she’s only got a third of that, you just have to do something different.”
Thornton advises to throw small summer-time weddings with champagne, hold it in a beautiful park, or a banquet hail, while focusing in strongly on a just a few of the items that are a big part of the wedding.
“Spend money where it matters concentrate on the bride and groom table, the cake table,” she said. “Spend the money on the bride’s bouquet; not the bridesmaids, and always go with seasonal flowers.), The look of mot
Bruce Vassar, vice-president of Elite 100 Weddings Couture, the St. Paul, Minn. company that represents wedding artisans, designers, couturiers and producers and is recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on wedding celebrations, agrees with Thornton’s advice for wed-ding planners when dealing with clients with limited budgets. Like Thornton, he suggests listening intently to the client to discover which aspect of the ceremony they would like to emphasize the most. And, he feels that dealing with clients with smaller budgets is just a part of the job.
“Wedding planners may have to take a few weddings in which they are not going to spend a lot of money, but you have to take those to get through,” he said. “Focus on smaller weddings, perhaps just having a really nice dinner, or lunch-eon, where the focus is on just enjoying yourself.”
Vassar said that for the spring/summer wed-dings this year, the brides have a “real clean, real simple” look—opting to put more emphasis on one area of the wedding versus another.
“Some spend $6000 on flowers, while other brides only spend $1000 on flowers but have really nice cakes or cake centerpieces for each of the tables,” he said. The money being spent is now more in line with what the bride and groom appreciate.”
Vassar said that wedding planners will begin to find that the wed-dings of the eighties are a thing of the past.
“The weddings where people spend thousands of dollars are now few and far between,” he said. “As much as the wedding market seems to be recession-proof, I don’t think that’s true anymore.”
Vassar said he noticed a trend in people shopping around more, bargain hunting, and taking their time before making a final decision.
“In these trying economic times, I find that people are not necessarily looking for the best deal or the best price, they’re trying to get a good combination of both.”
For Randie Pellegrini—owner of Los Angeles-based Cordially Invited and the creator of celebrity weddings, who’s been featured in publications, such as In Style, Town and Country and on Lifetime Television’s “Weddings of a Lifetime”—the spring/summer season is still rich. Pellegrini, who said this year’s spring/summer look is full of rich tones, is confident in her ability to be able to do things in the most cost effective way, so that things look their finest with the most minimal of budgets.
“At all of my events, I always make sure they look like they’re quality,” she said. “Right now I’m working on a small wedding in which the feel is very “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie. We’re using square tables with brown benches. There’s a lot of architectural detail. For example, we’re going to wrap vases in brown silk and deep red leather.”
To achieve quality like that on a budget, Pellegrini suggests a wed-ding lunch on a Friday or Sunday because lunches are usually the most cost-effective, as they don’t call for heaters or lights. She also recommended things like opting to have the wedding at a hotel with a piano.
“Use the hotel piano and bring in a player for $200,” she said. “If you want to do a band, the most cost-effective way is to pro-rate it.” Pellegrini said for the Orient Express-themed wedding, the guest count was cut down in order to deal with a smaller budget and still be able to pull out all the stops.
“If I have a minimum budget, the first thing I try to do is get a minimum amount of people,” she said. “If I only have 15 thousand dollars for a wedding, I get the guest count down to 40 or 50 people.
Pellegrini said she often spends up to 50 percent of the budget th on food, so she has devised creative ways to cut corners without sacrificing. She urges wedding planners to be creative and make the most of their resources.
“Make the centerpieces edible, like an anti-pasta dish or fruit and vegetables,” she said. “When that’s gone, do meats and cheeses, then biscotti’s and almonds. Just because you have a minimum budget, doesn’t mean you have to go to McDonald’s.”
Finally, Ilene Lander, instructor of “How to Become an Event Planner” at the New School University in New York and owner of Table of Contents, Inc., New York, a boutique caterer, “specializing in smaller, more intimate events,” is celebrating it’s 20th year in business. Lander said that not only is having a smaller wedding a more economically way to go, but that, with a touch of simple elegance, is also the trend this season.
“Lucky for us, the trend for 2003 is just that, personalized, customized, unique events; weddings that have more meaning for the cou-11 of pie, the family, and friends,” she said. “Couples are more sensitive to the spiritual side of the event, and are not spending a fortune to impress!”
Lander concurs that the important thing is to concentrate on the needs and desires of the couple. She said to pay attention to their personalities and shape the wedding accordingly.
“We tend to marry the cultures of the couple; not just the couple. It really makes it characteristic,” she said. “So for instance, when a Brazilian bride marries a Greek groom, the ambience reflects their countries, their family heritage, and brings the two families together in a more meaningful manner.”
After picking the brains of some of the most dynamic wedding most planners around, it is obvious that the times are changing, and the wed-om- dings are following suit. While the forecast for spring/summer weddings is for smaller and more economical affairs, they have, in turn, been 1 “If transformed into avenues of an abundance of creativity. It seems that in times like these when resources are limited, creative ideas are given a guest chance to flourish and take over. And, thus, we look forward to a year of some of the most unique, innovative weddings ever thrown.
Nicole Girard is an intern and special assignment reporter with Event get a Solutions magazine, finishing up her B.A. in English from Arizona State d University, Tempe, Ariz.