TORONTO - Once the venue has been booked and the invitations are in the mail, the journey towards matrimony remains rife with decision-making for brides and grooms, regardless of whether their vision for the big day is a low-key gathering or blowout bash.
Oliver & Bonacini Events manager Natalie Ho oversees bookings at downtown Toronto event spaces Arcadian Court and Malaparte, and helps couples plan their weddings.
"People want to express themselves so much to their guests. And so, it's almost the sense of no idea is off limits," she said.
Ho recalled newlyweds who decided to infuse their elegant festivities with a playful touch by serving boxes of cereal and milk at midnight.
"We're seeing a lot of the nostalgia and the fun... and that's really where it should begin."
From decking the hall to entertaining guests, Ho shares five trends for couples to consider that can help lend personality to the festivities — and often without a significant splurge.
1.BY THE LETTER: Whether they're in the shape of fluttering balloons or bold block initials fashioned from wood, it's fairly easy to spell out this emerging wedding trend: Ho said lettering in various forms is hot for 2014.
When it comes to letter balloons, Ho said options could include spelling out a couple's initials, x's and o's (for kisses and hugs), or even a makeshift billboards of sorts, like the words "cake" or "desserts" in inflatables hovering above the sweets table. Block lettering can also be used as an accessory or backdrop in wedding photos, she noted.
2. IT'S A WRAP: The traditional gift topper is being reimagined in grand decorative displays using ribbon.
"For a long time we were seeing for a simple ceremony... maybe just ... arrangements on either side of the bride and groom. Now we're seeing they want a backdrop. They want something dramatic behind them to kind of set the scene," said Ho.
There are several creative ways to use ribbon, whether it's delicate strips adorning chairs and tables to loops of garland and streamers cascading from canopies and entryways.
For those seeking a more rustic approach, Ho suggested looking to bring birch into the mix, which can be done by wrapping candles, creating place cards or plate holders, or etching a logo or insignia onto bark.
3. LET'S GET DIGITAL: Newlyweds aren't the only ones striking a pose with photo booths continuing to be popular, interactive feature for guests to pass the time and create fun keepsakes. But the mainstay in do-it-yourself wedding entertainment is getting a digital reboot of sorts as couples use social media to personalize the occasion and help pool together posts.
In the leadup to their recent wedding, New York traffic anchor Jamie Shupak and CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter made ample use of their own hashtag (#thestelters) on Twitter and Instagram, with messages and images photos posted prior to and following their nuptials. Some of their guests followed suit.
Ho said Instagram is a main hub to house wedding photos, a process that's simplified now that other social media accounts like Facebook can be linked to the photo-sharing site. She said couples may consider adding their hashtag to invitations or informing guests ahead of time. Even those unable to attend can follow along with posts to watch the wedding unfold, she noted.
"In this world of immediate satisfaction, people want to see their images right away," said Ho. "Essentially, the value in it is that you can have your pictures grouped together from the one night."
As for the photo booth itself, the over-the-top getups guests can use to dress up for a fun snapshot are making way for some smaller-sized accessories, such as miniature crowns and top hats, Ho said. The moustache also remains a popular favourite in the costume kit, she noted.
As for capturing the images, a disposable camera is perfect for the DIY bride or one on a budget.
"There's nothing wrong with having something that's taken right away and then sent to the guests afterward."
4. FUN WITH FLORALS: Even for those without green thumbs, Ho said couples considering the DIY approach and seeking to save on costs may want to consider opting for seasonal florals.
She showcased a lush arrangement that included hydrangeas and ranunculus flowers, and suggested the assembled florals could be just as easily pared back to save on costs. She also said incorporating a succulent — plants with thick, fleshy leaves or stems — which she said will be "huge for this year," as more non-traditional florals are mixed into centrepieces and decor elements.
"It's very versatile, comes in a lot of different colours, so you can theme it with your wedding colours. It's just a little bit different, also really unique."
In terms of the vessels to house florals, Ho suggested some outside-the-box ideas such as egg holders, platters and candleholders.
5. EDIBLE TAKEAWAYS: There's no reason why guests can't have a delectable bite to nosh on once the festivities have wrapped — or even before they've left the venue.
Ho said the edible favour is making a huge comeback, and showcased a spiced carrot cake nestled within a miniature Mason jar.
"Nowadays, we all have so much stuff. It can be good to do something that can be consumed right away."
Ho said couples can flex their creative muscles by having fun labelling containers, or including a customized, monogrammed spoon as a keepsake.
"There are a lot of ways you can take it to the next level."
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