“For Your Eyes Only” cocktail party benefited the Early Youth Eyecare community initiative
Wolfgang Puck with the Wedding Guys, Bruce Vassar and Matthew Trettel.
“For Your Eyes Only” cocktail party benefited the Early Youth Eyecare community initiative
Wolfgang Puck with the Wedding Guys, Bruce Vassar and Matthew Trettel.
Vineyard in Vogue
Samantha Kemming & Nathan Flaherty
June 29th, 2007 St.Croix Falls, Wisconsin
Photographed by Kate McGough
Samantha Kemming and Nate Flaherty met by chance while attending a festival in their hometown Minneapolis. But it was Samantha who made sure their first meeting was no their last. “I actually asked Nate to take my number because I didn’t think he was going to ask for it,” she admits. Her insistence worked, and the couple fell in love.
With Christmas being Samantha’s favorite time of Year ( “I love snow!”), Nate planned his proposal for a wintry December evening. He asked a local restaurant to open its rooftop dining area just for him and cleared a path in the snow to set a table for two. There, overlooking the festival area where he and Samantha had first net and with the holiday lights displayed across town, he asked Samantha to be his wife.
It seemed that the couple’s wedding planning was as fated as their introduction. Samantha and Nate envisioned having a small summer celebration at a winery, but due to a lack of available venues, the couple settled on a large, winter event instead. They soon learned., however, that their dream event was still within reach. Samantha and Nate were the winners of the 2007 Trend Wedding contest, which entitled them to an all-expense paid celebration organized and designed by Bruce Vassar and Matthew Trettel, the coordinating duo known as The Wedding Guys. From fashion to favors, food to flowers, each and every element of the wedding would be catered with Samantha and Nate in mind, but the most felicitous part about the prize was that the Trend Wedding theme was dubbed the “Vineyard Wedding Experience,” and was designed to embrace the trend of “smaller, more intimate experiential weddings.” With their ideal wedding day laid out in front of them, Samantha and Nate happily trimmed their 250-person guest list down to seventy-six and put their hopes and dreams in the hands of the local wedding industry’s most innovative thinkers.
Copper and dark blue invitations delivered in cork-lined wooden boxes announced the location for the wedding — the Chateau St. Croix Winery and Vineyard, a sprawling location that boasted a quaint courtyard for cocktails, a grand hail for dinner, an art gallery that was transformed for dancing, and an outdoor ceremony area graced by an enormous elm tree. The entire property was dressed for the wedding in rich and dramatic colors ranging from chocolate brown and copper to aubergine and royal blue. Plum calla lilies, burgundy roses, hanging fuchsia amaranthus, purple mums, and amber orchids were just some of the flowers that were used alongside grapes, feathers, maple leaves, and vines to play up the rustic elegance of the setting.
As guests arrived at the chateau, they were greeted by a polo match being conducted on the grounds. Samantha and her maid of honor rode out to the ceremony pasture in a horse-drawn carriage strung with a garland of blooms. The bride walked down the aisle on her father’s arm and met Nate beneath the majestic tree with traditional love knots fashioned from ribbons and flowers dangling from its limbs.
The bride and groom exchanged original vows, which they spent much time creating together. “This was a great learning and growing experience as we prepared for marriage,” says Samantha. They also decided to forgo lighting a unity candle for something a little more personally inspiring: a dove release as Nate’s father sang “In My Life” by The Beatles. After becoming husband and wife, the couple relished the ride back to the main house. “It was such an amazing moment seeing everyone all decked out in their finest, waving and smiling in the beautiful sunshine.”
Having enjoyed cocktails and appetizers with their loved ones, the newlyweds dashed away to change into their reception attire. Nate donned a white dinner jacket while Samantha appeared in her second Michelle and Henry Roth gown of the evening, one that was a little more conducive to a night of dancing. But before she and her husband took to the floor, the entire group gathered at a single horseshoe-shaped table draped in midnight blue and copper linens for the eight-course wine pairing dinner. “We could not have thought of a better way to combine our love of wine and cooking,” asserts Samantha. The caterers even took their favorites into account, addressing Nate’s love for steak with a filet mignon course and Samantha’s taste for seafood and cheese with a salmon Napoleon and a separate duet of brie and Maytag blue cheese. The decadent courses were served simultaneously to each guest, an impeccable presentation technique described by Vassar as “waiter ballet”.
The diners took a break and adjourned outdoors for an impressive fireworks display before returning for the dessert finale, a wine inspired “cake flight” that was according to Samantha, the highlight of the meal. A tasting of the three-wedding cakes-in-one were plated along with sugar grape leaves personalized with “Samantha and Nate” in piped chocolate.
A Performance by professional ballroom dancers kicked off the dancing and set the stage for the newlyweds’ first spin around the floor. The Big Band sound of the Minnesota jazz Orchestra was followed by a DJ who kept the gallery packed all night long.
Upon their departure, guests were given gift bags full of treats (such as artisan chocolates and St. Croix ‘s Thoroughbred Red wine) and custom-designed lanterns tagged with the sentiment “Let Love Light the Way.”
But the wining and dining was not over for Samantha and Nate. They enjoyed a thematically fitting honeymoon in the wine country of Napa and Sonoma, stopping to explore San Francisco along the way.
The Latest in Wedding rites: bridal showers for men
By Candance Taylor
One of John Dixon’s favorite wedding presents doesn’t appear on most gift registries.
In fact, before he got married last fall, Dixon, 34, had only a vague idea that laser levels–tools used for hanging pictures–existed.
Luckily, a family friend who has been married for 40 years brought the level to Dixon’s “groom shower,” where 15 men played poker, grilled hot dogs and presented Dixon with gifts they suspected he’d need as a husband.
Sure enough, Dixon has used the level four times since the wedding. “Suddenly my wife wants me to hang pictures,” he said, adding that the shower was a unique opportunity for friends and family to give not only presents, but marriage advice.
Bridal showers have long been popular for women, but in recent years groom showers, often with sports or home-improvement themes, have become increasingly common. Experts say the trend is part of a broader tendency for grooms to become more involved in wedding planning than in years past, when such details were largely the domain of the bride and her mother.
“The wedding has always been about the bride,” said Dixon, an elementary school physical education teacher in Happy Valley, Ore. “It’s cool to have a piece of the wedding that’s kind of the guys’ chance to get together.”
The popularity of groom showers is rooted in the fact that couples these days are more likely to plan and pay for their weddings, said Christa.
Vagnozzi, a senior editor at the wedding website The Knot,”Couples are more involved in the process now,” Vagnozzi said.
Aaron Markson, 27, of Hudson, Wis., picked out the photographer and band for his nuptials last June. “It used to be that the girl made all the decisions, and the guy nodded his head,” Markson said. “For our wedding, it was much more collaborative.”
This newfound enthusiasm has extended to pre-wedding festivities, prompting a rash of showers for couples and, increasingly, the grooms.
“My wife was having all these showers, and I thought, ‘Why don’t the guys get to do anything?”‘ said Markson, whose parents threw him a shower at their house in Brooklyn Park, Minn.
Groom showers are an outgrowth of the “gentleman’s dinners” popular in the 1940s and ’50s, according to Bruce Vassar, one of The Wedding Guys. Usually hosted by the groom’s father, such dinners functioned as “a dad’s sendoff to his son, to manhood and being married,” Vassar said.
Over time, gentleman’s dinners were largely replaced by wild bachelor parties, Vassar said. But in the past few years, more sedate sendoffs have resurfaced. Resembling “a much more tame version of a bachelor party,” groom showers often consist of casual parties, trips to the racetrack or rounds of golf, Vassar said.
Bachelor parties are still popular, but groom showers, or “power showers,” function as an additional pre-wedding celebration for the groom’s friends and family, he noted.
At Markson’s bachelor party, for example, a few close male friends went jet skiing on Lake Minnetonka and barhopping in downtown Minneapolis; his groom shower a few weeks later drew a very different crowd. At the shower, some 50 guests, including his mother, grandparents, uncles and co-workers, traded stories about Markson while scarfing down his favorite foods: chicken wings and pizza with sausage and green olives.
“It was just a bunch of people coming together and hanging out,” said Wes Wilmer, a pastor at the church where Markson is the music director. “It expands who’s involved in their wedding at a deeper and more personal level than just the reception.”
Groom showers aren’t just for socializing. They also provide opportunities for the groom-to-be to stockpile “stuff that, as guys, we kind of want around the house,” said Dixon, adding that the bride-to-be, despite having multiple showers, often selects most of the items on the couple’s wedding registry. “Most of the things you register for, guys don’t get that excited about.”
Dixon threw his first groom shower 10 years ago, when he and a group of college buddies decided to hold a pre-wedding “tool party” for their friend Ethan. Guests brought toolboxes, work gloves and ladders to outfit the groom’s new house–a fixer-upper. Word of the successful event spread quickly, and groom showers became a tradition among Dixon’s circle of friends.
But over the years, showers began to take on a greater significance for Dixon and his friends, evolving into a forum for advice as well as gifts. At Dixon’s shower, he received an Xbox video game from a friend who told him, “You’re going to need to lock yourself in a room sometimes and get away from it all.” Another friend got him a “doghouse” kit, with items like massage oil for use when his wife, Jenessa, gets mad at him.
“It’s a fun way of saving, ‘Here are some of the experiences I’ve had,’ “Dixon explained. “It’s a show of support and encouragement from your friends.”
Dixon believes that all this sharing and bonding–and men’s greater involvement in wedding planning–has grown out of changing roles within the family. “Guys are allowed to be more sensitive than we used to be,” said Dixon, who claims to cook more often than his wife.
Of course, this reimagining of gender roles is far from complete.
When asked about the dessert at his shower, Dixon said he and his friends usually avoid serving cake. Why? “It’s not very manly,” he said.
S w e e t S t y l e
As The Wedding Guys prepared for their award-winning event, The Wedding Fair, taking place in March, they sat down with our experts to share wedding cake trends.
Lunds and Byerly’s Cake Experts (L&B): A traditional wedding cake is still popular, but we’re seeing some new trends. Some couples are deciding to have a small cake created for each table. Others are requesting cupcakes for each guest instead of one large cake. And we’re making groom’s cakes for receptions as a surprise from their brides. What trends are you guys seeing?
The Wedding Guys (WG): Fashion trends in the wedding industry always lead cake trends. Now more than ever, the cake often represents the bride’s dress or floral design at the reception. As for fashion, we’re seeing wedding dresses with sashes, brooches, and monograms. As a result, those same features are appearing on wedding cakes.
L&B: We love creative brides who request that! It’s fun and sentimental.
WG: And symbolic. Just as the bride is the centerpiece at the wedding ceremony, the cake is the centerpiece at the reception. That’s been true for more than 100 years.
L&B: During our one-on-one consultations with soon-to-be newlyweds, couples are requesting bolder colors and real flowers on their cakes. Have you noticed that as well?
WG: Bold colors are great. And the vintage concept of using real flowers on wedding cakes is coming back strong.
L&B: We’re seeing new cake sizes and shapes. Are you?
WG: Yes and yes. In terms of size, many couples are patterning their cakes after European tortes with each tier reaching eight to ten inches tall. That’s at least twice as tall as a traditional tier. Of course, these taller cakes create stunning centerpieces—especially if the couple’s reception is in a large venue. As for shape, square cakes continue to be popular.
L&B: Some couples want a very specific, nontraditional flavor for their wedding cake. Our pastry chefs are creating more unique flavors than ever before. >>
WG: Sounds familiar. The wedding cake has evolved into a featured dessert—just as if you were (lining in a fine restaurant. And why not While there’s a tendency to pick a very neutral flavor that will be familiar to grandpa, many couples are now choosing unique cake flavors. Some are having each cake tier in a different flavor. With so much variety, the newlyweds are able to please all their guests.
L&B: We’ll see you guys at The Wedding Fair in March.
WG: Couples can see the latest trends at The Wedding Fair on March 18 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. And they time can consult directly with you, the cake experts, any time at Lunds and Byerly’s stores. Remember one of the big benefits of attending The Wedding Fair is sampling the cakes! See you at the show.
Food expertise. Our teams live for it every day at our supermarkets and offices. But I found myself personally benefiting from our company’s passionate expertise at home on my wedding day late last year. As much as we’d like to take credit for planning every detail, I have to admit my wife and I sought the guidance of a few experts.
One place we sought expertise was from our highly trained pastry chefs and cake decorators at Lunds and Byerly’s. Their attention to detail and quality was evident as our guests marveled at their stunning creations.
Just check out my snapshot below. The traditional three-tiered cake featured white cake layered with butter cream. The butter cream frosting was topped with beautiful roses and handcrafted white chocolate leaves.
The groom’s cake—a surprise gift from my bride—was an exact replica of a saddle-bag hanging in my tack room. This chocolate cake was layered with chocolate ganache. The basket weave details were applied with an airbrush. My buddies thought the attached lasso was a real rope and not created from marzipan. Though I learned much helping plan my own wedding, I certainly can’t claim to be a cake expert. But Matthew Trettel and Bruce Vassar, the Wedding Guys from Twin City Bridal Association, are experts. We visited with them about wedding cake trends, and you can discover more on the latest sweet styles on pages 10-12. If you’re planning a special occasion, please visit with our experts. We have certified pastry chefs and cake decorators ready to meet with you in most of our stores. Their expertise is truly a wonderful resource. I know.
Thank you for shopping with us.
CEO, Lunds and Byerly’s
M I n n e s o t a T r e n d s e t t e r s
“We keep Twin Cities weddings on cutting edge.”
Bold, daring, and impassioned, Matthew Trettel and Bruce Vassar—the creative force behind Twin City Bridal Association—bring a unique sense of fashion and individually to engaged couples. They are driven to elevate the simple virtues of style and taste in today’s wedding celebrations.
Three times a year, this dynamic duo produces The Wedding Fair, recognized as the nation’s leading wedding event. “We keep Twin Cities weddings on cutting edge,” says Trettel. “It’s not just about doing what’s trendy,” adds Vassar. “We strive to preempt trendy”.
Continually pushing the envelope, they were the first nationally to produce a couture wedding event and to have added the “Weddings Couture” area to The Wedding Fair. Twin City Bridal Association represents 450 wedding experts with whom Trettel and Vassar work to publish The Wedding Dictionary –a free, 400-page wedding planner.
Their knowledge of the wedding industry, according to their clients, has earned them the title “The Wedding Guys”. You’ll find their expertise online where their high-tech website offers an interactive Q&A, answering wedding questions from Minneapolis to Tokyo.
Trade Show Stoppers
By Amanda Fretheim
Planning Tradeshows is a tricky business. Not only do show directors have to assure that the current event runs smoothly, they must also think ahead. The success of future shows depends not only on the strength of the current event, but also on research efforts between shows. Promoters need A-list exhibitors at their next show to guarantee exceptional attendance. Here, three tradeshow directors weigh in on some significant questions regarding the trials and tribulations of catching and keeping quality exhibitors at their events.
Booking the Talent
The Minnesota Green Expo is the product of a merger between two long-time events: the Minnesota Nursery & Landscape Association (MNLA) Convention and Trade Show and the Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation Conference. “The two events merged in 2003 and have achieved success in booth sales and attendance beyond our expectations,” said Bob Fitch, executive director of the MNLA. In 2004, the show exceeded 800 booths and 7,400 attendees.
Held each January at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Minnesota Green Expo is a private trade-show that provides networking, buying and selling opportunities for green industry professionals such as arborists, garden center operators, golf course superintendents, landscape designers and more. Featured booths include full lines of plant materials, machinery, tools and equipment, plus services for industry specialists.
Booking exhibitors for the following year’s show begins immediately after the expo, when next year’s contracts are mailed to all current exhibitors. “For those companies wanting to maintain their cur-rent booth location, move or expand, the deadline to return the contract with a deposit is March 15. After March 15, we assign booths, then send a contract again to exhibitors who were in the previous year’s show and also to those on the waiting list,” Fitch said. “Finally, in the summer, we mail information and contracts to companies in our prospective exhibitor database.
The Midwest Poultry Federation (MPF) has held an annual convention and tradeshow for the past 33 years. The private event has been held at the River Centre in St. Paul since 1998. Currently held in March, the show emphasizes education and business opportunities for the turkey, broiler and egg industries in the upper Midwest and caters mainly to the production side of the industry.
According to Lam Durben, MPF program director, the process for selling booth space involves several mailings to both past and potential exhibitors. They maintain an up-to-date database of companies and include a special section for exhibitors on their Web site.
The MPF also sends a representative to the International Poultry Exposition in Atlanta in January. This person visits as many booths as possible and distributes sales packages for the federation’s St. Paul show. “This is often a very successful way to sell our few remaining booths. We can talk to a large variety of companies who we think will be a good fit for our show in March,” Durben said.
Three times a year at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Twin City Bridal Association (TCBA) puts on a large public expo: The Wedding Fair. On average, 5,000 people, including 1,500 brides, attend the three one-day events.
About 200 exhibitors present the latest in wedding ideas to the mass of attendees. According to Bruce Vassar, a TCBA marketing and sales representative, because the Wedding Fair is so well known and is looked up to by international bridal show producers, filling the space with exhibitors is not a problem.
Attracting Major Players
Every tradeshow has several companies considered to be major players because they attract both attendees and other exhibitors. Exhibitors who rent the most booth space, have the bigger budgets, feature the latest industry products or have been with the tradeshow for many years are also considered a show’s anchors. Showcasing the latest products and equipment is key. Vassar calls them “trend forwards.” These exhibitors are usually a little over the top, he said, but they under-stand the industry well. Because these trend-forward exhibitors are usually the best of the best, they may not feel the need to exhibit at the Wedding Fair. But they need to support the industry, said Vassar arid it’s important to offer the brides different choices.
“We have to keep in mind that not everyone can afford [the most expensive] price points,” he said. “Brides will spend a lot of money on certain things and not as much on others. That’s why we need to offer a wide variety [of exhibitors].”
At the Minnesota Green Expo, equipment is a huge draw. So much so that the expo has increased the size of’ its equipment displays and the number of equipment exhibitors. But, as with the Wedding Fair, variety at the expo is essential. Plant materials are also important to attendees, though the number of those exhibits have not increased at the same rate as the equipment exhibits, said Fitch.
“It’s a priority for us to ensure that we keep a good balance between hard goods and green goods,” he said.
Because of company mergers and acquisitions, the number of companies exhibiting at the Midwest Poultry Federation tradeshow has decreased slightly. But those who are important to the industry, whether large or small, are the ones who Durben wants to see at the show, such as equipment manufacturers, feed and feed product vendors and animal health product exhibitors.
Tradeshow longevity and consistency is also a factor when it comes to the major players. All three of the event directors have exhibitors who have been with their shows for several years. It’s important to both oblige long-time exhibitors while at the same time continue to look for new exhibitors.
“We certainly don’t want to see a company that has been exhibiting with us for 20 or 25 Years suddenly decide not to exhibit at our shows,” Durben said. “That would be a sign that either we’re doing something wrong or the economy of the poultry industry is lagging in some way.”
Tradeshow directors accommodate their long-time exhibitors, usually with preferential booth placement. At the MIT trade show, companies who have previously exhibited have “first clips” on their spot from last year, Durben said.
Exhibitors who attend all three of the Wedding Fairs during the year also get priority. “We try to raise the bar,” Vassar said. “When exhibitors really invest in what we’re doing and believe in our vision, we invest back.”
Sometimes priority placement can he a frustration for tradeshow directors. “Long-time exhibitors tend to gather toward the front door,” Fitch said. “If I had perfect control, I’d spread out these anchors, just like at the mall.”
To keep exhibitors coming back each year or to lure new companies to a tradeshow, directors need to collect attendee information and use specific marketing strategies. Direct mailings, comprehensive Web sites (complete with a list of previous exhibitors) and word-of-mouth are huge influences on current and potential exhibitors.
Most tradeshows collect demographic information on attendees through surveys and then compile the information to provide to exhibitors. This data includes total registered attendees, the percentage of attendees from each industry segment, the percentage of registrants who are decision makers (i.e. owners, managers, etc.), geographic information and more. “Showing potential exhibitors that we have quantifiable numbers of their target audience is critical ill the selling process,” Fitch said.
Staying on the cutting edge of the industry is also important when luring exhibitors. The first way to remain ahead of the game in any industry is to study and attend other tradeshows. “There is something to be learned at every tradeshow, large or small,” Fitch said. Tradeshow directors and staff also keep up On trade publications and belong to industry organizations as well as management associations.
Vassar, with the Wedding Fair, said his fair must always be “25 steps ahead of the industry” by coming up with new concepts. For example, each show has a theme; past shows included Hollywood weddings and legendary brides. In January 2005 the theme will be Winter Weddings. Because hardly anyone gets married during the Minnesota winter, it’s an extremely hard time for exhibitors, Vassar said. Some could see it as a bit of a gamble, but by focusing an entire show around the winter wedding concept, brides discover new possibilities and exhibitors hopefully receive a boost in business during difficult months.
Vassar and the staff at TCBA also keep the Wedding Fair up-to-date by helping their exhibitors stay on the cutting edge. Vassar will work as a marketing consultant and visit companies, holding seminars on how to make the most of the Wedding Fair.
“We create an experience for the vendors which helps them create a comfortable atmosphere for the couples,” he said.
The Measure of Success
By luring the major players and staying on the cutting edge of the industry, tradeshow directors can expect success. The numbers can measure success, whether it’s total attendance or target audience. Post-show surveys and exhibitor feedback are also key measurements. And continued growth each year is definite proof that a tradeshow or expo has accomplished its goal.
But it’s also important to look at the intangibles, Fitch said. Walk the floor and talk to the exhibitors and ask them if they’re getting good leads. He suggests heading to the worst spot on the floor and checking in with the vendors. Another good sign is if a decent number of attendees are on the floor at closing time on the last day.
“As a show manager, spend some time at the information booth or some other high-profile area,” Fitch said. “If you get even three or four people saying ‘Wow this is my first time here and this is great,’ then you know you’re doing something right.”
Making the Most of Your Giveaways
Giveaways have a major presence at any trade-show. Almost every booth has a trash, trinket or treasure for attendees to slip into their bag. From pens and pencils to key chains and T-shirts, exhibitors use these items to a varying degree of success.
According to Debbie Thompson, marketing coordinator for Alpharma Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company that attends the Midwest Poultry Federation’s tradeshow, the main purpose of her giveaway is to attract attention to her exhibit.
“The most important person can be walking around with his family and you would never know the type of business he has or how large his business is,” she said.
“It benefits us to attract that person into our booth to gain information.”
At Alpharma, giveaways are based on the promotion the company is running at the time. They tend to hand out both high-end and low-end giveaways at the booth. The low-end item is given to all show attendees, while high-end items (i.e., a T-shirt or more expensive item) are reserved for a known customer or an attendee who asks for a company representative to call them, said Thompson.
With logos plastered on pens, rulers or Post-It notes, attendees are also reminded of the exhibitor when they bring these items home or to the office. For Alpharma, however, they don’t worry about the impact of the giveaway after the tradeshow is over, said Thompson. Giveaways are used mainly as a tool to draw attendees to a booth during the show. Either way, when it comes to tradeshow exhibiting, giveaways are an important promotional tool. And the attendees with overflowing bags just might be the first callers waiting on your voice mail when you get back from the show.
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.
For the successful event professional
A Perfect Fit for Wedding Marketing
MINNEAPOLIS—Matthew G. Trettel, president and Bruce A. Vassar, vice president announce the launch of Elite 100 Weddings Couture, a marketing and promotional agency, which plans to revolutionize the wedding marketing industry in Minneapolis and St. Paul. True to their name, the company will represent only 100 area wedding professionals who have demonstrated outstanding cutting-edge creative vision and excellent customer relations, while marketing to sophisticated, professional and stylish brides. Trestle, former vice president of the Twin City Bridal Association says, “Elite 100 Weddings Couture has a fresh new vision to the traditional methods of promoting wedding professionals. With our marketing mix, we’ve created something that’s not available elsewhere in the United States.” Vassar, a well known marketing and promotional expert adds, “There is so much talent here locally, but much of the talent being featured in national magazines and media is from the East and West coast. We are here to ensure our clients receive the notoriety they deserve on a national level.”
For more information, call (612) 333-4006 or visit www.weddingscouture.com.