A lot of planning has to happen before you get to say, “I do.” From the engagement rings to the dress (and tux!) to the perfect venue, a sometimes intimidating amount of prep goes into making the Big Day exactly what you want.
Thankfully, the experts at the stores, venues and shops you’re looking to for help want your wedding to be as great as you do. They will ensure you know everything from what’s trending to what will always be classic.
“In this day and age, it’s really the Pinterest era, as I like to call it,” says Kelly Skarwecki, a wedding specialist with Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel, which hosts more than 80 weddings and receptions a year. Couples frequently come into venues knowing exactly the kind of aesthetic they are looking for, she says, and venues can then help them achieve that. A more do-it-yourself feel has become popular, with smaller, personalized centerpieces replacing the traditional floral arrangements, for instance, she adds.
Emilie Scantlebury with Gramercy Mansion, which is the setting for 90 to 100 weddings a year, echoes that sentiment. “Couples are more focused and they’re still open to things they haven’t thought of, but [they] have a vision in mind,” she says. Weddings at the Gramercy, she adds, are frequently a blend of traditional—the Gramercy as choice of venue, for example—and modern notes. Almost every young engaged couple she’s worked with has opted for a personalized Snapchat filter or hashtag.
But what is one of the first things most people think about when it comes to weddings?
Dresses! Primarily the wedding dress, of course, but bridesmaid and so-called “mother of” dresses are becoming increasingly important.
No matter what the trends, choosing a wedding dress is all about how you want to look, says Betsy Robinson, who owns her eponymous shop Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection. “Everybody has a different idea of how they want to look, appear and feel that day,” she says.
Popular trends include the “sit and flair” dresses—softer than a full mermaid dress—and Robinson has seen growing interest in two-piece outfits. For both bridal and bridesmaids dresses, strapless is becoming less status quo and detachable skirts (for long dresses at the ceremony and shorter, more comfortable ones for the reception) are seeing their time in the sun.
“Mother of” dresses—for the mothers of the married couple- to-be—can be a lot of fashionable fun, too.
“It’s for moms who are fashionable,” says Karen Mazer of Synchronicity Boutique, which recently renewed focus on these kinds of dresses specifically after seeing a growing demand for them. “What we’ve seen—and this is across the board, not just weddings—is that no one wants to be frumpy. Women are no longer hiding behind their dresses.”
This happens to be true for men these days, too. Gone are the boxy one-size-fits-all tuxes. “Today’s guys all want slim fit, a fitted look,” says Scott Furman, president of Tuxedo House, which has been in the men’s formalwear business for more than a century. Men have fewer options for mixing it up, but that doesn’t mean they don’t. Turns out, black might be losing its crown for go-to wedding suit/tux color. “For formalwear and even just in outfits, blue is the new black,” Furman says.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Before there can be a wedding, there has to be an engagement, and that requires the perfect ring.
“The classics are coming back,” says Dan Kallaugher of Radcliffe Jewelers, and brands matter less, especially to millennials. “I’ve sold hundreds of engagement rings to couples of my [millennial] generation and I’ve not once heard, ‘Can I get XYZ brand?’”
Alexandra Lopato, director of Circa Jewels in Towson, seconds this trend toward simplicity. Circa buys jewelry from the public, often to exchange for new pieces, and many women come in to upgrade their rings—either young women wanting a more modern look instead of an heirloom, or older women looking to make their rings more stylish. From what she’s seen, the go-to rings are more delicate and less heavy. “I’ll have someone sell me a really heavy one—‘metallic,’ I call it—for a simple four-pronged Tiffany-style ring,” she says.
But at the end of the (wedding) day, it’s not the dresses, tuxes, rings or venues that define the ceremony. That’s up to the couple themselves. Wedding trends come and go, but one part of weddings will always be classic—true love.