Show off your sensational style with the best new reception ideas—from flowers to food to favors and more.
The "something new" is something blue. The major color trends for 2005 are blue and lavender, reports Mindy Weiss of the Los Angeles-based Mindy Weiss Party Consultants, the event planners behind Tori Spelling's and Kate Beckinsale's weddings. But stay away from harsh sapphires and ices; this look is soft and subdued.
"We're using trees in reception rooms," says Weiss—not topiaries or anything that's too sculpted, but wispy, drippy trees, like Chinese maple, magnolia or pepper trees. "We're also hanging candles on the branches, which creates a subtle, romantic mood." Lights Gobos—lights projected through stencils—are still as popular as ever, but the look has been updated for the new year: Instead of beaming a couple's monogram onto the dance floor, the new trend is to have floral patterns and romantic quotes ("It had to be you" or "Come live with me and be my love") projected onto filmy fabric hung from walls. This results in a softer-looking space.
While it's still a fantastic idea to set up a lounge area with comfortable sofas and chairs in your reception space, avoid all-white furniture, says Weiss. Instead, go for hints of subtle color and texture, either in the fabrics or the pillows. Also, "opium beds"—those enormous platforms covered with cushions—are hotter than ever.
Those stark tropical arrangements, so popular in the '80s and '90s, are out! Today's style is softer and more varied—think orchids mixed with roses, moss and lotus pods. "Orchids, especially green cymbidiums and frilly white cattleyas, are a huge trend these days," says Mark Held of Mark's Garden, in Los Angeles, the floral firm behind the weddings of Adam Sandler and Tori Spelling. "Brides are also choosing more unusual blossoms, like Chinese lanterns, fiddleheads and kangaroo paws.
Keep it sleek and simple, with one or even two types of blossoms in no more than two complementary colors. Try mixing blush roses with blue hyacinths, pale-blue hydrangeas or apricot tulips, recommends Held. Two other hot color combinations: blue and brown, and green and orange.
Rather than placing one large arrangement on each table, mix things up with multiple containers of varying heights and sizes, says Held. You might scatter low bowls filled with water and floating candles around your centerpiece clusters. As for containers, those retro blue and green glass vases are "in" right now, as are vessels wrapped in fabric or ribbon.
Weiss reports that linens with rich textures, elaborate patterns and lush embroidery are very popular right now. Sheer fabric overlays, like delicate organza, are also hot, adds Christopher Robbins of Robbins Wolfe Eventeurs in New York City, the caterers who dished up wedding banquets for Matt Lauer and Jerry Seinfeld. And consider buying napkins and having them monogrammed as a special touch. Weiss suggests couples have gorgeous ivory hemstitched napkins embroidered with their initials.
"Today we're using all sorts of sizes and shapes in order to avoid a cookie-cutter look," says Weiss. "Try combining long banquet tables with smaller squares and rounds."
White plates in geometric shapes—especially squares and rectangles—are super-stylish these days, reports Robbins. Better yet, mix them up, using a different-shaped dish for each dinner course.
Since ornamented linens are taking center stage on wedding tables this year, opt for silverware in a plain, simple pattern, advises Weiss. But in order to play up the "romance" theme, you could use silverware with mother-of-pearl handles, she adds.
Trendy couples are still choosing signature drinks, says Weiss, whether it's a favorite cocktail or one that matches their wedding colors. Some hip choices: vodka gimlets, sloe gin fizzes and anything tropical (think caipirinhas and mojitos). "Couples are also taking care in choosing the wines they serve," says Robbins. They're offering guests artisanal wines from small vineyards they love and even planning entire menus around their selections.
Whether you set the styles or simply follow them, keep these tips in mind:
"Octagonal cakes are ‘in' right now," reports Sam Godfrey of San Francisco's Perfect Endings, which created wedding cakes for Jessica Simpson, Courtney Cox-Arquette and Christy Turlington. "The shape is sophisticated without being overdone." Another stylish twist on the classic round cake: an elegant oval. Godfrey adds that brides are also clamoring for individual cakes—instead of a slice, every guest is served a miniature cake-shaped confection. They're also requesting a variety of shapes and decorations for a fun look. For instance, ask your baker to prepare mini cakes that resemble beautifully wrapped presents or Limoges boxes, both popular designs right now, says Godfrey.
Believe it or not, black is making a big appearance on cakes this year. "A pastel cake covered with an intricate black design is dramatic and gorgeous," says Godfrey. Shimmering metallic frosting is also hot. Brides love the opulence of an entire cake iced in gleaming platinum or silver.
Old-fashioned cakes—coconut, buttermilk pound, red velvet and all the other favorites from your grandmother's kitchen—are "in." (Godfrey believes the trend started when he whipped up a red velvet cake for Jessica Simpson's Southern wedding.) Fruit flavors are also popular right now. "We're doing a lot with passion fruit," reports Godfrey. "That touch of the exotic really appeals to brides and grooms." Of course, chocolate cake—mixed with caramel, cognac or raspberry—is still as popular as ever, says Godfrey.
Candy has always been a popular choice for guest gifts, but this year, skip the box containing one or two truffles. Instead, make a splash with a tableful of sweets and allow people to help themselves, suggests Carolyn Mason, a wedding planner with A Grand Affair, in Los Angeles. Fill glass pharmacy jars with everything from jellybeans and Swedish fish to chocolate-covered nuts and miniature candy bars, and provide plastic bags and ties, as well as scoops. Serving "vintage" treats—like Pixy Stix, Buttons, Bazooka Bubble Gum and Mary Janes—is even more special.
"Gift baskets are very ‘in' right now," adds Mason. "For a recent Saturday-night wedding, I filled picnic baskets with muffins, coffee, mugs, orange juice, champagne flutes and a Sunday newspaper. Guests loved them!" You can pass these goodies out as people leave the party, but it's also a great idea to have your valets place one in each car as a surprise.
For favors that are prewrapped, Chinese takeout boxes are really popular right now, reports Mason. Choose boxes in vivid hues or those topped with colorful satin bows. Another trend is to decorate bags or boxes with brooches, pins or rhinestone buckles, a super-trendy look that comes straight off the fashion runways, explains Mason.
Steak and potatoes, lamb chops, chocolate-chip cookies, ice cream— comfort food, whether served as appetizers, the main course or dessert, is back. "At every single wedding I'm doing, the brides and grooms are requesting that pigs-in-blankets be served at the cocktail hour," says Robbins.
Soup is in, too: Consider asking your caterer to serve a creamy concoction in shot glasses as an amuse-bouche, says Robbins. At weddings he caters, he also likes to carve mini "bowls" out of cucumber and fill them with spicy mango gazpacho.
Brides and grooms today are also crazy about cheese. But instead of a groaning cheese table during the cocktail hour, Robbins notes that the new trend is to serve just one or two imported selections to guests after they've taken their seats.
To Your Stations
Couples are opting against formal sit-down dinners, choosing instead to have a variety of food stations—a sushi table, a carving station, a pasta bar and a Viennese dessert table, for instance. Separate serving areas keep the party moving, says Robbins.
According to Robbins, more and more couples are choosing to incorporate their wedding colors in the food they serve, like minted sweet pea vichyssoise to match a celadon color scheme or orange nasturtiums in salad to play off a colors-of-the-sun palette.