TORONTO - Couples seeking to stray from wedding traditions may want to consider noshing on a coffee shop favourite instead of nibbling on cake at their reception.
Decadent doughnuts are among the comfort food favourites set to make waves at weddings in 2013, as couples look for unique touches to define their big day.
"Food is a huge area, everything from having a lot of fun with wedding cakes to sweet treats," RealSimple.com managing editor Kathleen Harris said from New York.
"I think my favourite idea I've been seeing lately is bringing food trucks to the reception ... whether it's a place where they always get lunch at or just a favourite date spot to show up and serve a late-night snack."
Harris recalled one couple opting for a cookie bar featuring a mix of homemade family recipes as well as store-bought staples like Oreos served with shot glasses of milk.
Food featured prominently at a preview of The Wedding Co. Show being held Jan. 11-13 at The Carlu in Toronto, including tiers of strawberry-lavender doughnuts, hot pink sugar sticks, colourful macarons and cookies made to resemble love letters.
The sweet table can also be a team effort and not limited to the sugary staples typically served by caterers at weddings. A bride featured in The Wedding Co. Magazine asked guests if they could bring some form of pie, resulting in varieties from apple to quiche making an appearance, recalled founder Catherine Lash.
"It's a reflection of your personality," said Lash, who spent a decade as a wedding photographer.
"It's not what your friend had at her wedding. It's all about the area that you live in, the people that you hang out with, the music that you listen to — it's about your daily life sort of exploded into one day."
But how can couples determine which creative themes will help tie together their big day? And what are some other emerging trends helping to lend a personal touch to the festivities?
Harris, Lash and Sonia Ulmer, president, lead planner and designer of Enriched Events in Calgary, highlight some of their top picks.
SELECTING A THEME
Are you hosting a formal sit-down dinner, casual cocktail reception or dining al fresco? Lash said the venue can be a good starting point to help define other aspects of the wedding, from the style of invitations onwards.
She also recommended sharing potential ideas with suppliers who may be able to offer creative ways to execute the wedding day vision.
Harris said websites likes Pinterest and Lover.ly — the latter curates wedding images and content from around the web — can be a jumping-off point for those in need of a little inspiration
"I think it's very easy to get carried away with a lot, and I think just one or two personal touches really makes a difference in the day."
Looking for an alternative or accompaniment to tabletop floral arrangements? Lash suggested bringing a taste of the outdoors indoors with large-scale decorative trees.
"This is our take on what everybody's doing with chandeliers and glitter and crystals," said Lash. "I love the idea of being under something, under a tree. It's just got a really different, cosier feeling."
Ulmer worked with one couple whose venue didn't have the capacity to accommodate a slideshow. They opted for a more low-tech and personalized approach to presenting photos. Spraypainted frames housed images of the pair from childhood and their courtship and were placed throughout the venue.
"During cocktails, guests were really interested in this, so they were moving about and mingling about the space to go and look at these photos, and they talked about some of the memories that they had," Ulmer recalled.
"It was just a great conversation starter and just really engaged the guests."
Photo booths continue to be a popular feature at wedding receptions to help entertain guests — and provide a keepsake to boot. But the costs for rentals can be steep, ranging anywhere from $800 to $2,000, said Ulmer.
Couples wanting to give their guests the shutterbug experience for less may want to consider making their own photo booth and either providing cameras or letting guests use their own.
To complete the photo booth setup, Ulmer recommended renting a metal frame and drape for the day or even getting a nice piece of fabric or tablecloth for use as a backdrop.
"If you want something sturdier, I've had couples make the actual frame for the backdrop out of PVC pipe, so they get very creative."
Accessories can be fairly affordable, such as tiaras, feather boas, or mini-moustaches and little lips made out of cardboard and attached to little sticks.
Harris said a good rule of thumb for take-home favours is making them edible or for practical use, like personalizing pencils with the wedding date.
"I always think that the best favours are something that is about the couple but also that isn't just going to be a throwaway for guests. You don't want to spend all this time and money making something and then to not have it be useful for a guest at all."
Enriched Events: www.enrichedevents.ca
The Wedding Co.: www.theweddingco.com