ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE
One way that couples have been straying from tradition is by opting for a small-scale elopement somewhere in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Kate Faoro Wright, founder and creative director at Tapestry Event Co., discusses the type of couple who tends to prefer a small destination ceremony. “For those who have the core values of embracing adventure, focusing on travel, financially planning for their family’s success, prioritizing the ceremony and celebration of marriage in an already long-established relationship, and giving themselves permission to be who they are on their elopement day,” elopement checks the right boxes.
Image Credit: The Foxes Photography
Krisanna Reiff, owner, wedding planner and calligrapher for Krisanna Elizabeth Co., notes that eloping doesn’t mean you have to go without your favorite wedding elements. “Typically, there’s still a team of wedding professionals with [the couple] – planner, photographer, videographer, officiant, floral designer, pastry chef, rental company, etc.” However, the smaller guest count means couples can spring for higher-end versions of the details that matter to them, such as elaborate commemorative invitation suites.
Image Credit: Niki Rhodes Photography
“With social media nowadays, we have a virtual invitation to almost any wedding,” says Elsa Walker, co-owner of Juliet + Lou Event Planning and Design. “While it’s great for couples looking for inspiration, it can result in a lot of weddings looking the same. Couples want their weddings to be both beautiful and unique. Thus, they are going a step further to personalize it.”
Photo Courtesy of Juliet & Lou
DON’T STOP THE PARTY
At the other end of the spectrum, planners are also seeing weddings transform from one day of fun to an entire weekend packed with activities, finishing off with a hangover brunch. Some couples separate the wedding rehearsal from dinner and invite the whole guest list for a welcome meal. “This gives your guests a chance to get to know each other in a more casual way and takes the pressure off of having to chat with everyone on your actual wedding day,” says Walker. Wendy Wojcik of Weddings with Wendy focuses on providing local flavor for out-of-town guests. “I’ve done beer or wine tastings at several pre-wedding events, and even had a ‘bud bar’ with locally grown marijuana.” Trips to the mountains or the San Juan Islands are also a popular feature of extended wedding weekends, according to Wojcik. “Another growing trend is the pre-ceremony cocktail hour, to help everyone relax, get in the mood and start celebrating.” on suites.
“During one couple’s ceremony, instead of vows to each other, they made vows to their community about how they’d care for each other and the world around them,” says Hallea Tse, owner and principal planner for Hallea Events. “They wanted every moment of their wedding day to be intentional.”
“We like to get couples to think about their favorite restaurant décor, holiday vibe, how they decorate their home, and anything weird and wonderful that is unique to them or their relationship, and then inject these elements into their day in a way that feels fresh and new,” says Amber Hayes, owner and creative director for Rock & Stone Weddings. With that advice in mind, Hayes has helped couples incorporate things like their own rendition of the Rothschild Surrealist Ball or a heavy metal mosh pit into their wedding. “One couple chose to forgo any formality, instead treating 250 guests to a pool party with live music, pizza, ice cream, taco trucks and vintage furniture for a tropical boho feel.” on suites.
Image Credit: Carley Jayne Photography
Guest favors are another great entry point for achieving that personalized feeling. Focus on what you love and think of ways to share that with your guests. “We had a bride whose family owned a fruit farm. They surprised their guests with cartons of cherries as their parting gift,” says Walker. For Wojcik, there’s been an increase in couples gifting something they’ve made together. “We’ve had people mix their own tea blends, spice rubs or wine to give away,” she says.
Improvising with catering has long been a way to put a twist on tradition. Tse recalls one couple she worked with who, rather than family-style arrangements or food stations, stuck with appetizers and finger foods for their all-night party. “I had a couple that were both bartenders, and they chose pretzels with mustard and cheese for their appetizers, and bar-type food for late-night snacks,” she says. “They wanted to incorporate their guest experience, knowing what they and their friends enjoyed.”
It’s easy to get caught up with worry, but the truth is that your friends and family will love whatever you put together. “You know the people you’re inviting,” says Tse. “Your friends are often attracted to the same things as you, so focus on planning a wedding that is totally unique to you and your partner.”