Top Trends from The Great Bridal Expo

On a beautiful spring day at the luxe Marriott Marquis in Times Square, hundreds of brides gathered for the opportunity to meet with and sample the work of dozens of bridal vendors.The Great Bridal Expo — the nation's premier bridal showcase—has over 30 years experience connecting the best vendors in the industry to brides across the country.

great bridal expo logo

The Great Bridal Expo featured row after row of booths containing everything brides need, from photographers and cake artists to travel experts and registry pros. Here are a few of the top trends from the event:

The hottest flower this year: Hydrangeas. Brides love how lush and full these flowers look in bouquets and centerpieces, and they're great for brides on a budget, since each stem is so voluminous. Other top picks: Splurge-worthy peonies and their more budget-friendly alternative, garden roses.

I chatted with Danisa’s Flowers, a wholesale flower shop from Silver Spring, Maryland. They pointed out that these days, it won't stretch your budget as much if your favorite flower is not in season during your wedding month— flower distributors like Danisa's regularly import hundreds of blooms from carefully-selected farms worldwide, so no flower is ever truly out of season.

flower bouquet
A gorgeous bouquet of roses and hydrangeas — perfect for spring!

whimsical centerpiece
A bright and whimsical centerpiece. 

I had the privilege of meeting with and sampling the work of two amazingly talented cake artists, Madison Lee of Madison Lee Cakes and Nancy Lagomarismo of SophistiCakes. Here’s what I found out:

Watercolor is the hottest new trend in wedding cakes this year. Fondant creates a blank canvas that a cake artist can fill with a gorgeous hand-painted work of art. Minimalism is a key element in this type of cake artistry. By adding a few 3-D elements, the cake comes to life.

butterfly cake watercolor cake with bow detail

For a bride seeking a more traditional cake, floral embellishments will always be in style. Whether you choose fresh flowers or sugar blooms, they instantly dress up a simple cake.  

rustic flower cake pink pearl cake

Did you know? “A simple cake only takes few days to create, but a very detailed and intricate cake like this one [below] took a few weeks," said Lagomarismo.

gorgeous towering cake

With favors this year, it's all about practicality; couples are eschewing trinkets and even edible options in favor of items guests are almost guaranteed to use, like these adorable personalized flip flops from Party Flops. Your guests can kick off their uncomfortable heels and dance the night away in these comfy sandals. You can choose from over 35 designs or create your own, and different patterns are available for men and for women.

party flops

While visiting all of the different makeup booths at the Expo, everyone agreed upon one thing — airbrushing is the best bet for your bridal makeup. By combining water and pure pigment, it gives you a more natural finish than traditional makeup application, avoiding the dreaded caked-on look. The best part of airbrushed makeup is that you can mix different shades together to create a truly custom color, so it’s easy to match any bride or bridesmaid's skin tone. And the makeup lasts all day, so the only thing you’ll have to worry about retouching is your lipstick! 

airbrush makeup

Mexico is no longer just a fun place to party on Spring Break; it's the hottest trend in honeymoons. Offering romantic seaside escapes at ultra-luxe resorts with private beaches, spectacular pools, and lively nightlife, Mexico is a must-go for your post-nuptial trip. 

riviera maya

One of the best parts about The Great Bridal Expo were the incredible trip raffles. Two lucky couples won the trip of a lifetime to a luxurious resort in Mexico. The first prize was a four-day/three-night stay at the Iberostar in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and the second was an all-inclusive vacation to The Valentin Imperial Maya Resort & Spa

After perusing the booths and entering every possible getaway raffle, we all sat down for a little entertainment and a swoon-worthy fashion show.

great bridal expo fashion show Bridesmaids make a statement in bright coral gowns. This flirty hue is a top pick for 2013. great bridal expo fashion show
This season we saw a re-emergence of gowns with sleeves, and sparkling sheaths were a nod to decades past. great bridal expo fashion
Non-white wedding gowns continue to be a popular trend, especially pastels. Brides are also opting to ditch the traditional veil for something more fun, like a bejeweled headband or sparking clip. 

great bridal expo fashion show

For more information and to find out when The Great Bridal Expo will be in your area, visit

—Mary Gillen