Together 2004
Published: February 4, 2004

Wedding chic
From Hollywood glamour gowns to ceremonies:
Wedding planners share the hottest trends

by Gretchen Roberts

While many aspects of weddings will never change, from something borrowed to something blue, certain trends do come and go. Two years ago Madonna's wedding was all the rage; last year destination weddings were in. The Weekly talked to area wedding planners to find out what's hot this year.

Hollywood glamour
From formal sit-down dinners to vintage dresses, brides are watching the stars and taking notes. "Wedding trends are highly influenced by the fashion and design world," said Annena Sorenson, owner of Tie The Knot in Sunnyvale.
Sorenson says dress styles are reflecting bygone days and the red carpet.

"Vintage dresses in '40s Hollywood-glamour style, as well as style from the '50s with lace bodices, are popular. I'm also seeing a lot of sleeveless and strapless gowns," she said. Popular wedding colors this year pay homage to the runway in purples and Tiffany blue, she added.

And speaking of colors, don't forget to dye that martini: Your caterer can create a specialty drink for the reception that reflects the wedding's color scheme.
Receptions are also following Hollywood style: Recent Oscar parties have done away with standard round reception tables, and so have many brides and grooms. Square guest tables that seat eight to 10 people are replacing the traditional round style. And buffet enthusiasts beware: Cafeteria-style dinners are passÈ. Formal spreads are more elegant and usually feature a special entrée such as filet mignon or lamb.

It's not a theme park
Michelle Hodges, owner of "I Do" Weddings and Events in San Jose, has coordinated some unique weddings in the past, such as a Cinderella wedding and one with a Renaissance theme. But themes based around a character or time period are out, she said. "Now, it's more understated," she said. "Themes are geared more around the personalities of the couple."

Couples are integrating their own hobbies and interests into wedding plans. One couple Hodges consulted for were both scientists, highly educated and book lovers. They had their cake designed to look like books, and even wrote some of their favorite titles on the spines. Another couple didn't want a formal ceremony at all, so they were married privately and then threw a celebration with cocktails and a scavenger hunt designed to encourage guests to get to know each other.

Monograms, which reflect the new couple's initials, are popping up everywhere in weddings, especially on the cake. "It's piped on in beautiful script," Sorenson said.

What's a wedding without a dance? "A better wedding," some brides and grooms would answer. Hodges estimates at least a quarter of her clients opt out of the traditional wedding dance, wanting to avoid the spotlight, and instead hire a jazz quartet or a deejay to play background music during the reception.

And finally, couples want to be comfortable. Many are choosing to wed in the comfort of their own home, which is very personal and flexible, Sorenson said. Less formal attire for men, in the form of dark suits rather than the traditional tuxedo, is also becoming popular.

Weddings are about family
Today's bride and groom are older, more mature, and often paying for the wedding themselves, Hodges said. As a result, they're thinking more about the guests and less about themselves.

Many couples have relatives out of state, and they want to show their families what California has to offer. They're getting married in fun spots, like mansions, beaches and Napa Valley wineries. The wine country is an especially popular destination wedding spot.

But Bay Area couples also realize the destination is in their backyard. "A lot of people have said to me, 'My family is from a different state, and I want them to come here and see why we love California so much,'" Hodges said.

Often the wedding and reception are held in the same location for the guests' convenience. Couples are taking more care to make sure their guests are comfortable, from blocking off hotel rooms to providing transportation to the ceremony.

And receiving lines are out. "More people want to go table to table at the reception and thank guests individually," Hodges said. "Thanking guests at each table and doing a toast is an Asian custom we've adopted that's so much more personal."

At the reception, long, rectangular family-style tables and a family-style menu are popular. With food on large plates being passed around the table, guests mingle more. "It's sort of an Italian or Tuscan theme," Hodges said. "It's more like the joining of two families."

Perhaps most importantly, brides and grooms are planning together. In years past, the bride and her mother did the majority of the wedding planning and decision-making, but now the groom is much more involved. Hodges said the couple is looking at the whole picture differently. "Grooms want to do their part from the beginning. They're looking at the wedding as the beginning of their relationship as partners."

Wedding timeline: Courtesy of Tie The Knot
Six to 12 months
Contract wedding consultant
Determine budget
Create guest list
Choose ceremony and reception sites
Reserve rehearsal dinner site
Choose officiant
Select wedding gown and accessories
Select formalwear
Select attendants' attire
Order wedding rings
Contract caterer
Contract photographer and videographer
Contract florist
Contract musicians
Have engagement portrait taken
Four to six months
Order invitations
Choose wedding cake
Arrange for accommodations if needed
Register for wedding gifts
Make arrangements for rehearsal dinner
Arrange for event insurance if required by location
Make plans for wedding transportation
Plan honeymoon
Two to four months
Have mothers of the bride and groom select their attire
Address wedding invitations
Plan ceremony
Get marriage license (no more than 90 days prior to wedding)
Make décor and menu choices
Make hair and makeup appointments
Plan rehearsal dinner
Purchase attendants' gifts
Plan attendants' luncheon
One to two months
Make musical selections
Order documents for name change
Send invitations (six weeks in advance)
Have final gown fittings
Pick up wedding rings
Order favors (optional)
Record gifts received and start thank-you notes
Two weeks
Contact those who have not RSVP'd
Draw up seating plan for reception
Have seating cards printed
Finalize plans with wedding coordinator
Confirm plans with vendors
Confirm accommodations
Confirm all reservations
Wedding week
Make last-minute changes with wedding coordinator
Have a massage and manicure
Enjoy family and guests as they arrive
Have rehearsal