|A summer table is framed by potted lemon trees. Arrangements of fruit and flowers add fragrance and visual splendor to the look. Photography: Meg Smith Photography.|
Pattern will pop up everywhere this year, according to Francesca Abbracciamento, of New York’s Francesca Events. “There’s an emphasis on interesting ones, reinvented in a romantic way,” she says. A graphic floral design, for example, may be embossed on save-the-dates, engraved on menu cards and even used as a decal painted on the dance floor.
The color you won’t be seeing in 2008 is green. “Check last year’s celadon off your list,” says Abbracciamento. The newest colors are dove gray and plum, says Jung Lee of New York’s Fete.
Think in vignettes, says Lee, author of Fete, the Wedding Experience (Stewart, Tabori and Chang). “I’m doing one wedding whose story is an outdoor dinner party given by a Russian czar. Another one was inspired by the lavish look of Marie Antoinette and Versailles.”
Home weddings are popular. “I’m seeing lots of weddings take place in homes offered to the couple by friends or family,” says Abbracciamento. “There’s something special about that because things come together in a flawless, natural way.”
Go for a sweeping vision. Abbracciamento says, “One wedding had white vases, in a million different shapes and sizes. Another had three-foot-high candelabra with lampshades—gigantic and gorgeous. And yet another had long tables for 200 guests, with suede runners and boxes of succulents.”
|Long, elegant tables are popular. Here, tall glass vases are filled with branches, sprays of delicate flowers and dramatic greenery. Photography: Meredith Davenport of Christian Oth Studios.|
Still hot—long tables that give that old-fashioned banquet feeling. “They create instant drama,” Lee adds. Abbracciamento prefers square and rectangular shapes.
Bar décor has changed. “It might be plexiglass lit from within. It should be architectural and modern,” Abbracciamento asserts.
“The after-dinner lounge is bigger than ever,” according to Abbracciamento. “It’s all about comfy, oversize furniture arranged around the dance floor. The fabrics should be plush velvet, and the ambience sleek and sophisticated.”
Hybrid bands: “For a groom who loved Latin music, and a bride who loved klezmer—Jewish or Eastern European music—we formed a klezmer/bossa nova ensemble,” says Manhattan wedding designer Karen Bussen.
Dueling DJs: If you want a club atmosphere and you’re doing an after- party, this can be great fun.
Salsa: “Not many people know all the old-fashioned ballroom steps, but a lot know how to salsa,” reports Bussen.
Classical music played at cocktail hours. “I’m hearing lots more hot jazz instead,” says Bussen. “Couples nowadays seem to want something more unusual for their music.”
Hiring a band just because you think you have to have one. Couples think that a band is the only way to go. Not so! If you prefer, hire a DJ instead.
Split sets “The format used to be dancing, eating, more dancing, more eating,” according to Bussen. “Now many couples are opting to have soft music while they eat, and then kicking up their heels after dinner with live music or a lounge with a DJ.”
|A sleek look is achieved with fondant icing accented with chocolate dots and set off by strategically placed vibrant blooms. Photography: Belathee.|
Height: Wedding cakes are heading straight to the stratosphere, according to Lisa Kincaid of Fleur de Lisa in Sonoma County, CA. “The silhouette is tall and slender,” she says. Karen Bussen agrees. “I recently did a seven-tier white fondant cake with red sugar lilies between the layers. We put it up on a pedestal.”
Pattern: “It’s not always about having flowers on the cake,” says Bussen. “There are all these wonderful appliqués; you can do something that looks like the design on a dress, or a woodcut print. There may not be a flower in sight!”
Color: Monochromatic cakes—last year’s major trend—are still going strong. But for some brides, the seasons may define color. For example, Kincaid says that a fall cake will be done in autumn colors, like reds, browns and oranges.
Taste: According to Kincaid, the latest trend is to pick a different flavor for each tier of the cake. “One cake I did had a caramel-apple tier, a raspberry-zinger tier and a lemon-poppy tier with cream cheese filling.” Always hot? Chocolate, in a million and one variations. “I have
a café au lait cake with devil’s food filling. I also do Italian meringue- espresso and chocolate-truffle cream fillings,” Kincaid says.
|Cakes in one muted color are popular, with subtle tone-on-tone touches. Photography: Lisa Marie Kincaid of Fleur de Lisa, fleurdelisacakes.com.|
Toppers: “Some people are now choosing the retro look of bride and groom figures as cake toppers,” says Bussen. “I think it’s very sweet!”
|This lush bouquet bursts with anemones, begonias, ranunculus, protea and garden roses. Black silk leaves are a uniquely sophisticated touch. Photography: Meg Smith Photography.|
The favorite flowers for 2008? “Champagne mums and poppies,” says floral designer Ariella Chezar, based in the Massachusetts Berkshires. The green of choice? Ferns.
Chezar uses citrus fruits, peaches, cherries and blueberry bushes in arrangements. “To me, fruit evokes the lush, bountiful feeling of a Dutch still life,” she says.
Unusual centerpiece vases and vessels are moving center stage, says Matthew Robbins of Manhattan’s Artfool event-design company. “We’re using items that are outside the box—really eclectic groupings of vintage containers or teapots or creamers or wooden boxes you line and put flowers in. We did one table with Chinese tea tins in different sizes with wonderful flowers. It made a huge visual statement.”
Chezar’s suggestions for different looks: For a tropical feel, arrange banana leaves on a mantelpiece, with an orchid peeking out of a coconut. Go modern with balls of carnations floating in the pool and table arrangements of grasses and branches. For an organic ambience, try a lush, loose, garden-y look, with the natural shape of the branch or vine guiding the arrangement.
The bandstand is a new focal point for flowers, says Robbins. “We build two huge, gorgeous arrangements with branches and really large blooms and light them dramatically to frame the band.”
|Compotes hold citrus fruits, citrus on the branch, citrus flowers, ranunculus and narcissus. Photography: Meg Smith Photography.|
Sweet-tart citrus greenery is everywhere. “I’ve been decorating bars and doorways with citrus garlands, using limes, kumquats and limequats, which all smell so nice, too,” says Sasha Souza of Sasha Souza Events in San Francisco.
In 2007 brides in the know were going green. But according to Los Angeles-based eco-consultant and event planner Audrey Sarn, that trend shows no signs of fading. “Eco-conscious caterers know what’s in season and what’s local,” she says. “And there are special plates made out of sugarcane, bamboo or reeds that are biodegradable. They work really well if you’re doing a casual rehearsal barbecue.” Brides are finding that flowers that can be replanted after the wedding are ideal for centerpieces. Purple hydrangea is simple and beautiful. Wheatgrass looks amazing down the center of a table. As for favors, “There are always the saplings you can give people to plant, but there are lots of other products out there that make a difference. For instance, you can put favors in a Feedbag, a bag developed by Lauren Bush; the proceeds from sales go to the UN World Food program.”
|A bouquet of nicotiana, hydrangea, ferns, cathedral bells, jasmine and clematis seed pods. Photography: Meg Smith Photography.|
“I’m seeing a move back to the purity of ingredients,” say Olivier Cheng of New York’s Olivier Cheng Catering & Events. For the cocktail hour he might serve up tiny pieces of wagyu (densely marbled) beef sprinkled with fleur de sel, or sea scallops with little bits of ruby-red grapefruit.
His and hers stations are huge for the cocktail hour, says Souza. “If the bride likes sushi and the groom prefers down-home pulled-pork biscuits, we’ll do dueling stations.”
“I’m seeing more main courses served family style,” Cheng reports. He’ll prepare platters of a meat, a fish and all the sides and let guests pass them. “It encourages people to socialize.”
The late-night snack is superimportant, according to Lauri Dorman of San Francisco’s Paula Le Duc Fine Catering. She likes to pop gourmet popcorns—think truffled popcorn or sesame Szechuan popcorn. “People are dancing and can smell the popcorn. We serve it to them in little brown paper cups.”
Cheng is seeing more after-dinner cheese boards, with three artisanal cheeses beautifully presented.
|Bites of cheescake covered with chocolate make a delightful after-dinner treat. Photography: Paula Leduc Fine Catering.|
Another trend is tray-passed sweets: “We do fabulous cheesecake lollipops—sticks of cheesecake covered with chocolate. Or, as a surprise, we pass ice cream sandwiches,” says Dorman. Then while guests are waiting for their cars afterward, “We serve warm chocolate chip cookies and milk shots, or mini root beer floats.”
“Wine is a focus at weddings,” Abbracciamento says. “Couples and parents have collections of wine that they’re serving in decanters.” Pairing wines with foods is becoming more popular as well.
“The dark drinks are definitely back,” says Dorman. Bourbon, whiskey and scotch are the spirits of choice, with scotch bars cropping up at receptions.
|A summer wedding cocktail made with peaches and herbs. Photography: Paula Leduc Fine Catering.|
It’s all about really awesome, bar-quality signature drinks, according to Cheng. “We did a six-flavor bellini bar, with peach, pomegranate and other fruit purées.”
It’s stylish to dress up your drinks—lavender or rose petals pretty up just about anything.
“Working with a charity and making donations,” says Bussen.
Presentation: “Favors are all about the packaging!” says Tara Guérard, of Soiree Charleston in South Carolina. “We have done glossy boxes with custom stickers. Each held an old-school Coke bottle, a personalized bottle opener and monogrammed paper cocktail napkins. It was a huge hit.”
Personalization: “Favors are very personal,” says Bussen. For a couple who met in the music industry, she created an arbor and hung 250 individual windchimes with the guests’ names on them.