2014 Wedding Trends: A Theme of Contradictions

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Brushing up for an overdue blog post, I spent a morning researching trends for 2014. What I found was a series of contradictions.

Gathered from such eminent sources as the knot, Bridal Guide and Vogue Weddings, here are a few contradictory pairings for 2014 wedding trends:

1. Lots of couples seem to be reigning it in, with “intimate is chic” weddings of 50-120 guests,

yet…..

Wedding budgets are on the rise, with a trend toward “all nighter” weddings with features like trampoline photo booths.

2. Woodland weddings and highly personalized weddings are big (“pin-spiration”),

yet….

Hollywood inspired glam weddings (think Gatsby, formal portraiture, and hothouse flowers) are big right now, as are 90s themed weddings.

3. There is a 20% decrease in destination weddings,

yet…

Destination wedding booking at Mexico’s Riviera Maya are at an all-time high.

4. Brights are making a color comeback,

yet….

Blush and pale pinks rule when choosing color schemes in 2014.

And my favorite contradiction is one that those planning weddings should consider very carefully:

5. Unplugged weddings are becoming “a thing,” (phone check at the door, polite reminders on websites, programs, etc.),

yet…

“Supercharged” weddings seems to be a popular and current choice (custom hashtags, charging stations, insta-everything!).

What does all this mean? To me, it says that regardless of the trends and the exploding wedding industry, there are as many kinds of weddings as there are couples planning them.

Establish a budget and start planning the wedding that’s right for you! A happy couple is a happy party.

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Pre-Engagement Wedding Planning

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Photo from bridalguide.com

Here’s a question I fielded recently:

“I’m not engaged yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be soon. Is it weird to start having conversations with my boyfriend and with my mother about the kind of wedding I’d like to have?”

No, not at all. In fact, the more communication that goes on before you’re engaged, the more joyful and stress-free the engagement period will be.

Most couples start talking about their future life together long before “the proposal,” and that’s a good thing. Once you start having those conversations, you will likely start to share your wedding thoughts with each other, and maybe even with your mom. This is good! The more communication that goes on before you’re engaged, the more joyful and stress-free the engagement period will be.

It’s especially helpful to open the line of communication about money so you can dream within a budget. Some questions to ask your parents: Have you thought about what kind of wedding I’ll be able to have? Will you host a wedding for me or should I plan to help financially? I’d like to start planning; is there a budget I should have in mind?

If you’re reading this as a future mother-of-the-bride, you know it’s just a matter of time until your daughter is engaged; otherwise, why would you be on this site? If you’ve been observant, you can tell it’s coming, so now is the time to have a conversation with your husband, or your daughter’s father.

Some things to discuss: Are we prepared to pay for a wedding? How much can we afford? Will we share this expense with our daughter and her fiancé? Be prepared when the happy day is announced so your daughter’s announcement isn’t received with a look of blind panic.

What I’m getting at is that if engagement seems inevitable, now is the time to start thinking about the financial aspects of a wedding.

The best advice at this stage is to communicate openly, honestly and realistically about money. When parameters are set and expectations are clear, everyone’s happy!

Setting the Wedding Date

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photo from getwed.com

How do you begin to pick a wedding date? You (or your daughter) probably have some idea of the time of year you would like to be married, but the time of engagement may dictate whether or not that will happen. For instance, dreams of a June wedding may not be realistic with a January engagement—not enough time for THIS June, and too much time til next.

When looking at the suddenly daunting task of setting the date, the bride and groom should sit down together and ask themselves these preliminary questions:

1. What kind of wedding do we want? Religious or nonreligious? Large or intimate? Sooner or later?

2. How deep is our faith? Is a religious ceremony important to either of us?

3. Where will we do this? The bride’s home town? Where we live now? Our college chapel?

4. Who will pay? Are we OK with parental control, or do we want this to be all ours?

As you can see, this will lead to some bigger conversations—make sure you have them! Regardless of how well you know each other and how deep your love and commitment, prepare to compromise.

Following this conversation, several possibilities will unfold.

You will either

*start with your place of worship and go from there, or

*decide on a religious ceremony but not in a specific place of worship. In this case, your phone call should be to a priest, rabbi or minister and see what the “rules” are. Or you may choose to

*decide on a nonreligious ceremony, in which case you can start with reception venues and let them know you will also have the ceremony there.

This is often the point where girlhood dreams get a dose of reality. This isn’t necessarily a negative.

My daughter dreamed of a beach wedding at a relative’s remote beachfront home. But she also wanted a fairly big wedding with all her college friends, which didn’t mesh with the beach dream. She moved on, and because she met her fiancé in college and shared so many friends, they were married in their college chapel. Lovely!

Happy planning!

Discounted Wedding Gowns: Could 2014 be the year of sensible thrift?

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Last month, an episode of Shark Tank featured entrepreneur Jackie Courtney, asking for a stake in her used wedding gown business (www.nearlynewlywed.com). The male sharks, not surprisingly, didn’t really believe in the market. I do. Now I’m wondering, are today’s brides open to purchasing a barely used designer gown, curated of course, for oftentimes half the price as new?

I have to believe that there are thrift-minded brides out there who approach the wedding planning project with a sense of challenge—how much can I save, so we can (a) have a better honeymoon (b) put a down payment on a house or (c) just because so much wedding spending is flat-out wasteful.

Newly engaged ladies, consider this. By the time your first issue of Brides arrives in the mail, it will begin to seep into your consciousness just how much the dream dress costs.

Here are some tips before you commit to a budget-wrecker of a dress:

• You will wear it ONCE, and then spend another small fortune “preserving” it. As my friend Jess said, “there’s not even a window in my dress box. How funny if it winds up not even being mine?”

• The odds of your daughter wearing your dress are slim to none. Styles change and bodies are different. Rarely happens. I know of just a few brides who have done this, and only one with success.

• However beautiful your dream dress may be, be patient….. there are others out there, just as gorgeous, for less money!

• At least look into a company like http://www.nearlynewlywed.com. Imagine that $7,000 dress for less than $3,000. Who the heck would know?

• Consider selling it back. The pictures will capture to perfection the vision of you in your dream dress.

• If you want to really embrace the Thrifty Bride idea, tell your family, bridesmaids and friends about http://www.renttherunway.com. Gorgeous designer frocks for rent. The best looking dress at my daughter’s wedding (other than my own daughters, that is) was worn by Cousin Val— a rented, and highly chic, black lace dress that drew the notice of every discerning eye at the wedding.

Have fun planning, but keep yourself from falling off the crazy-spending ledge!

Engagement Season is Here! Early tips for all you brand new brides-to-be (and your mommas)

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year…especially if you’ve just gotten engaged! Welcome to one of the happiest, busiest and most exciting times of your life. Before you jump onto the crazy-fast treadmill known as the wedding industry, focus on just three things for now:

1. Being in love, committed and engaged to your perfect mate
2. Sharing the news (without feeling the pressure to discuss dates and details just yet)
3. Bookmarking bridemomma.com

And here’s just one don’t for today: Don’t pick your bridesmaids too early!

photo from celebrationideas.com

Worth it or waste? Top “totally worth it” picks and 3 things you can do without

Make no mistake about it, weddings are BIG business. Pinterest and The Knot have shown us just how “magical” your big day can be, but all those details can really add up. Every bride (and bridemomma) that I’ve talked with has had ideas to share about which wedding elements were totally worth it, and which were something of a waste.

SO worth it:

1. Music! Everyone seems to agree that it’s worth it to get the best music you can afford. If you can’t afford the best dance band around, then hire the best DJ. Many of the wedding details will wind up being forgettable, but everyone will remember the great time they had on the dance floor.

2. A “day of” wedding coordinator or planner. Everyone I know who hired help for the day itself puts this in the “totally worth it” category. And those of us who didn’t, regret it! No matter how organized you are, MOB, you can’t and shouldn’t be in charge on the wedding day– enjoy it instead.

3. A great photographer is worth the money, but ONLY if he or she is open to your being a vocal partner when it comes to the shot list. Memories fade, but the pictures last forever.

A bit of a waste:

1. Save-the-dates — send it digitally or skip it all together! Those closest to you will know the date just as soon as it’s set, and the others, well, let’s just say you don’t want EVERYONE to save the date. You really don’t need to spend on this.

2. Ice sculptures and fancy cakes — yes, they can be stunning, but for what they cost, no one will miss them if they are not there. Put the money into music!

3. Favors — Those cute little theme-driven favors can cost you a bundle, and many will just be left behind. Why not make a donation to a favorite charity instead? Everyone wins– the charity and your pocketbook, because even with a generous donation, you will likely spend less.

30th anniversary musings: Thinking back to the good, the bad and the ugly of my 1983 wedding

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I was married 30 years ago today , so before we start celebrating this milestone, I thought I would blog about my own wedding– what was good about it (and probably still makes sense today), and what was bad– or even downright ugly about it.

What was GOOD, even great, about my 1983 wedding:

1. My dress was $600, and I loved it! Love still how it looks in pictures. Unfortunately it just hung around, uncleaned in a closet until one day I just put it out with junk. My daughters have not cried over this. My veil was simple, and I was thrilled to lend it to a friend a year later. I don’t even remember where I got our flowers, but they were just fine.

2. We had 90 people at our wedding, which we primarily funded ourselves. I have no memory of agonizing over guest lists, and invitation choices were white or cream. Hand calligraphy though. I received gifts from people who were not able to come, which seems to be a point of etiquette that has gone out of fashion (though it shouldn’t).

3. The after-party (which I believe involved a keg and cups) was awesome! That’s all I can tell you. I do remember that a bunch of friends who were not able to come to the wedding had a great time at the after-party.

4. I really loved my shoes. Women just plain love shoes. I do wish I’d kept those, but I have no idea what I did with them. I bought them at Saks in the city, and had my wallet pick-pocketed the same day.

5. Opening our gifts and envelopes on our wedding night was a blast! We culled all cash to bring with us to St. Croix. We sent out thank-you’s in a timely fashion.

What was bad– even ugly– about our wedding:

1. Well, it was HOT and HUMID, much like it is right now in the East. I only put this on the “bad” list because, even though it didn’t bother us, apparently it bothered everyone else because I hear about it every anniversary on facebook — “Happy anniversary! Wow, that was a hot one!” Our venue was not air conditioned and we figured on a breezy, humidity-free September day. Don’t count on the weather! It did, however, make our event super-memorable. For years we talked about one of my aunts bringing drinks out to my uncle, who would not leave his air-conditioned car.

2. Bridesmaids’ outfits were hideous. I’m so sorry. It was the style (think Seven Brides for Seven Brothers). Again, I’m very, very sorry. Don’t make your bridesmaids spend a fortune, because 30 years later they will look at your pictures and think “hideous.”

3. The ice situation (see #1 above).

4. My wedding china. I did not give a hoot about china, so I let my mother bully me into choosing a pattern I have actually grown to loathe. Did I just admit that? Did I ever even NEED china? Is this an outdated concept? MOBs- don’t force your girls to register for china they don’t want.

All in all, it was a great memory that has given us all kinds of reminiscing pleasure these past 30 years. For all you brides and MOBs out there, RELAX; soon it will all be a wonderful memory. Don’t sweat the small stuff!