Rules that a bride wouldn't dare to break as little as 10 years ago are now officially gone from the etiquette books.
OK, that might be overstating the trend. But things certainly are changing as brides break out of prim-and-proper mode and do their own thing.
THE BRIDE WEARS WHITE
A bride can wear any color that makes her happy. Pink gowns stole the hearts of recent celebrity brides Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway and Reese Witherspoon. Champagne and other blush tones remain strong for spring-summer 2013. For fall-winter? Silvery hues. The word from Rachel Leonard, fashion director for Brides magazine: “You don't have to wear a white dress anymore. But it still has to look like a wedding dress.”
AN ENGAGEMENT RING MUST HAVE A WHITE DIAMOND
Colored diamonds and gemstones rock in engagement and wedding rings. Princess Diana wowed the world with her choice of an 18-carat sapphire surrounded by diamonds for her engagement to Prince Charles in 1981. Prince William reminded brides everywhere of the beauty of a colored gemstone when he proposed to Kate Middleton with his mother's ring. Mark Edward Schmelzer, of Mark Edward Private Jeweller in Omaha, has had increased interest among his clients for fancy yellow diamonds, possibly due to rings flashed by Carrie Underwood, Megan Fox, Kelly Clarkson and other celebrities over the past five years. Black diamonds also are getting hard looks. Schmelzer's brides tend to be after that “very unusual piece that their girlfriends aren't going to have.” Rings with white diamonds and a colored gemstone are an attractive option. “Colored gemstones have been favored by royalty and used in engagement and wedding rings for centuries,” Schmelzer said. So dazzle away. But stick with sapphires and rubies for durability.
BEYOND THE CAKE
The wedding cake isn't going anywhere, but it's not necessarily the star of the dessert table anymore. The couple's favorite sweets — donuts, ice cream cakes, homemade pies and giant cookies — are becoming more popular.
“Brides and grooms are truly making their weddings about themselves and sharing themselves with their guests,” said Vivian Green of Tin Box Weddings in Omaha.
Omahans Melanie and Chris Schultz have a special place in their hearts for Chicago Dawg House. The restaurant was a low-key date destination early in their courtship. When the couple married in July 2011, they hired the restaurant's food truck to cater their reception at Ackerhurst Dairy Barn in Bennington.
“Guests stepped up to the truck window and ordered Chicago dogs, brats, burgers, fries and onion rings straight off the menu,” said the bride.
Thirsts on a blistering hot day were quenched with beer from Upstream Brewing Company and wine from Trader Joe's.
“We went pretty simple on the decorations and flowers,” Melanie said. “That freed up resources to throw a fun, laid-back party for the people we love.”
Megan Duster and Jamie Locatis, like a growing number of engaged couples, decided everything together — colors, menu, flowers, favors, etc.
They held their September 2011 ceremony and reception at Weiss Studios and Gardens near Springfield, Neb.
“We had the ceremony in the wildflower garden and danced into the night under the stars,” said the bride.
The dessert table featured a traditional wedding cake baked by the bride's mother and aunt, plus cupcakes baked by a friend, an ice cream cake for the groom, and a gourmet cookie cake.
Fresh-popped popcorn and the couple's favorite beer also were included on the menu.
Wedding Essentials Bridal University
What: A bridal event hosted by The World-Herald's Wedding Essentials magazine. Meet top local vendors, shop dresses on the First Look Runway and score a free copy of the new issue of Wedding Essentials.
When: Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Runway fashion shows start at 11 a.m. and run all day
Where: Mid-America Center, One Arena Way, Council Bluffs
Cost: $12 at the door
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SETTING THE MOOD
When it comes to ambiance, “lounge areas are hot, hot, hot,” said Kaleigh Wiese of design boutique Méldeen.
Add throw pillows, potted trees, draping and uplighting and you can transform any room in to a lounge, Wiese said.
“Brides are willing to invest in ambiance,” said Rachel Richards of STEP Group, an Omaha-based event marketing firm that recently added tabletop fireplaces to its inventory of lounge furnishings. The pieces, Richards said, have been especially popular for weddings with hors d'oeuvres receptions.
Erin Williams and the design team at Memrical helped Omaha newlyweds Lindsay Ehresman and Adam Ickes transform the Fountains Ballroom in Glenwood, Iowa, into a swanky clublike setting using lounge furniture, tall cocktail tables and uplighting.
“The couple had 300 guests but didn't want seating for everyone,” Williams said. “My first thought as an event designer was 'No, you can't do that.'” The couple persisted, arguing that minimal seating would promote mingling and get people on the dance floor. They were right, Williams said. “The vibe in the room was awesome.”
PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEO
When it comes to professional photography and videography, it's not just about documenting the wedding day or having pretty backdrops for portraits, said Vivian Green of Tin Box Weddings. “Bridal couples want something out of the norm.”
Video love stories have been a hit for Green and her husband Jordan. The video tells the couple's story leading up to their wedding day.
“These videos can be so sweet and personal,” Green said. They're typically shown at receptions. “But we recently had a couple play theirs right before the bride walked down the aisle. It was like we were witnessing the 'happily-ever-after' part of their story.”
Tin Box encourages couples to consider places and spaces that reflect pieces of their story for both video and still photography.
“Maybe it's a library where they met, a miniature golf course where they had their first date, or a coffee shop where they hang out,” Green said.
Even bridal portraits are done on location these days. Tin Box recently captured a bride's shabby chic wedding theme in portraits taken in a vacant farmhouse with torn wallpaper, peeling paint and fire-singed wood. “It was like a movie set. It fit perfectly with her style,” Green said.
For their own reception, Vivian and Jordan hung photos gallery-style. “It was a fun way to express our love of photography, share our interest in art and tell our story in a creative way.”
While brides are choosing gowns with color, grooms are thinking twice about tuxedos.
“The number of tuxedo rentals for weddings has dramatically dropped,” said John Ryan of Jerry Ryan Clothing and Sportswear in Omaha. “I used to do 225 tux rentals a year. In 2012, we did 50 tux rentals and sold 250 suits to bridal parties.”
There's a practical consideration: “The average tuxedo rents for $175 at my store,” Ryan said. “That's a significant investment for one day of wear.”
And a image-driven consideration: “A young professional guy working toward a six-figure salary isn't interested in the business casual look. He's dressing to impress,” Ryan said.
Grooms in their 20s and 30s, Ryan said, have taken such a strong interest in dark suits, the third-generation clothier has expanded its inventory of wedding-worthy models in three price categories: $149, $199 and $229.
Nine out of 10 grooms are buying the shirts and ties for their groomsmen as a thank-you gift. After the wedding, all of the men have a useful and welcome addition to their wardrobes.
“Brides love it,” Ryan said of the suited look. His own daughter and son-in-law, Shannon and Michael Sands, chose suits over tuxes for their December 2011 nuptials.
“We've booked about 10 weddings for spring-summer and they're all suit weddings,” Ryan said.