by Sammy Key
Five professional Fort Worth wedding experts kindly offer the inside scoop on what is currently in for weddings.
What’s the one thing all the planners agree on? That the best wedding is the one personalized to the bride’s (and groom’s) desires, especially if those desires require exquisite styling and design. When planning a wedding, it can help to hear from a variety of sources. These planners are well seasoned, fast-thinking and have no shortage of tips. Wedding specialists Betsy Drew, Julie Eastman, Naomi Hulme, April Coltharp and Chrissie Stuntz have plenty to say on all subjects wedding, from what’s fun for flowers to how to romantically light your picturesque reception.
Betsy Drew wedding planner and owner of Weddings 'n Such
What is the cool trend for dining at receptions? Do you prefer to plan weddings with or without assigned seating?
I find that at most of my receptions, people prefer to have seated dinners without assigned seating arrangements. The bride and groom then can have a separate table with no one else seated with them. I like to use different table sizes throughout the room to provide depth, as opposed to having everything look exactly the same. I personally like when food is served at different stations — which sets up more of a party atmosphere and keeps people moving around. That way, guests can do what they want, visit with whom they like, dance, go to the bar and so on.
So what about types of food?
The kind of food is totally up to the bride and depends on the budget. Most people go with a beef or fish dish, but a combination can be good. The different food stations can have all different types of food. Tenderloin can be good. Everyone loves that. Also, I would add in a delicious salad station with lots of mixins, some smoked salmon in one station, a Lighter station with stuffed mushroom hors d’oeuvres. Guests may use multiple small plates for the different stations, and waiters can be on hand to keep the tables clear.
And maybe more importantly, what about the alcohol?
As far as alcohol goes, I think an open bar is a really good idea. People are conscious about what they drink, and most of the time they won’t drink as much as you might suspect. I think it’s fun when the bride and groom have a signature cocktail at their reception. The wedding cake martini is really cute. It’s pink in color and tastes not like alcohol but just like wedding cake, which makes it fun and different.
What have you been seeing brides do as far as the cake is concerned?
Well, the cake is the focal point of the entire reception. The cake can follow the theme of the whole wedding. Brides are now having colored accessories of all sorts that the cake may be coordinated with to match, which can look quite lovely. Pieces of decoration (non-edible) may be added to the cake. Also a lot of brides are very into lace, and we can do a lot with adding matching lace styles to a cake.
Naomi Hulme bridal show coordinator and president/CEO of Bridal Shows, Inc.
What is happening with trends in flowers?
What I’m seeing now is that the brooch bouquets are really hot. They bring in the sentimental element. With a brooch bouquet, you can use lots of antique pieces, such as a grandmother’s pearls, military metals, really anything antique from a family. They are just very special, and they are not something you throw away. This kind of bouquet brings in personality and is full of mementos from all parts of the family, from both his and her sides.
Also with flowers, brides are asking for more vintage pieces, using more antique and ivory lacing with different groupings and arrangements for the flowers. This also comes into play when using natural garden styles.
Vases used at the reception are now in different sizes, each can be very unique and different while still all tying in together in some way. The same is happening with the actual flowers. They don’t all need to be the same types; you can use your flower pieces on the tables as conversation starters instead of just centerpieces. Again the natural garden style is making a comeback, the white and green is always hot. I like the green and white a lot. Those colors are neutral, but they pop. You’ll see that year round. Needless to say, roses will always be in style. They’ll never go out. We all love roses. Also, add gold accents. Wedding trends are starting to sparkle!
What do you have to say about music?
When it comes to music, it needs to be fun! If you want a great reception with dancing, it has to stay alive and exciting. That’s what the bride is going to want, that her guests walk away saying, “that was the best wedding ever!” Whoever is doing the music, it needs to be personalized for the couple and keep things really flowing. As far as a DJ versus a band, it depends on the couple and what they want. I think it’s a good idea to mix in both. The band may play for four hours, and then a DJ can come on for afterhours dancing.
What kind of music is trendy for Fort Worth?
Fort Worth will naturally prefer country bands. One thing you can add to the reception entertainment is a photo booth. They add entertainment especially to folks who may not like to dance as much. It makes it fun.
When the couple is finally ready to leave the reception, what’s the trend for exiting?
First off, much of the time the bride is now changing into a little white dress for dancing and music at the reception. It’s fun and flirty. Then when the couple leaves, the limos are still the hottest mode. For Fort Worth, the horse carriages are also still in, and vintage limos are becoming very popular.
Julie Eastman CWS, owner of Extraordinary Events & Design
What months/seasons are the most popular for getting married?
June is always popular, but my busiest months seem to be September and October. The fall in general is the most popular, I would say. Texas weather is a part of it. Those months have cooler temperatures and are maybe a bit more predictable than the spring weather.
Do you know of any good trends when it comes to inviting the guests?
With invitations, a big thing is custom monogramming and branding. People do it to have a custom design or logo for their wedding. We can also integrate and use their monogram in different items, such as the invitations, menus, escort cards and place Cards. Couples come up with a theme idea, such as a feather or tree branch, (something that’s personal), to make people realize how the wedding reflects the couple. It’s a neat way to make the wedding theirs. Most couples will use a graphic designer, such as PS The Letter or Paper Planet. Couples can also use their logo on their thank you cards and “save the dates.”
What’s one huge trend that the bride may not think of?
Lighting. Lighting is a major factor. You can transform anything with great lighting. You can change wall color or even turn off the venue’s lights and bring in custom lighting to create a pattern on the ceiling, such as starlight. We’ll do a lot with lighting for an outdoor wedding. Lighting is becoming very popular and more affordable.
What is something interesting you have done with lighting at a recent wedding?
I just did a wonderful reception that was outdoors, utilizing a combination of tent and outdoor space. I bought, wired and hung 15 massive, vintage chandeliers in oak trees. This offered additional lighting but more importantly was gorgeous and set the mood. This was at a private ranch, but a bride could pull it off anywhere, including a large backyard or a guest ranch.
Do you have the name of a guest ranch that the bride can rent for the evening?
Wildcatter Ranch is a good one, and it’s not too far outside Fort Worth.
What about a recommendation for a caterer? Is there one you keep going back to?
I love using Reata. It always does a great job, and the catering is very affordable. Reata is very professional and offers a big variety of foods. One of Reata’s signature catering dishes is the tenderloin tamales with jalapeño cheese grits. They also have a huge variety of beef and chicken dishes, all very versatile. Their executive chef, Juan Rodriguez, is wonderful. Also, City Kitchen does a good job of catering.
April Coltharp certified wedding planner
What kinds of trends are you seeing in wedding dress fashion?
What I’m seeing a lot of for 2012 seems to be inspired by vintage looks. The vintage style in dress could mean going a little more feminine with lacing. The trend is also to wear more sleeves. More and more brides are choosing dresses with cap and long sleeves, which for a good long while you wouldn’t see at all. No matter what time of day, the brides used to choose strapless and sleeveless. The dress has everything to do with personal style. A trend now is also to add a ribbon with lace or a crystal sash. These are beautiful accents that may not come with the dress. If the look is vintage, a brooch could also be added.
When it comes to the bride’s gown, does the styling of it need to match the other décor of the wedding?
Some of my clients do want to go with a certain theme and really stick with it, whether it be all very vintage or elegant. But even if they don’t, everything will seem to tie in together in a way. The dress is such an individual decision. Brides oftentimes have a vision for their dress, but they’ll try it on and it won’t be right for her body type. She’ll end up choosing something entirely different.
Clearly the wedding dress is a very personal choice. What is your favorite wedding dress shop in Fort Worth?
My favorite shop is Bliss Bridal. I always recommend it because they are great about giving the client personal attention. Another one of my favorite gown shops, due to positive feedback, is Bridal Co, which is in Denton. Clients have really good luck finding gowns there because of their large selections, and they have all different prices.
What is your favorite look for bridesmaids’ dresses?
The brides prefer all different styles and looks for their bridesmaids’ dresses, but in my opinion, my favorite would be having all the bridesmaids wearing the same color palette in the same designer but with all different styles of the dress to suit different body types. As far as colors, I’m seeing everything from lots of bright colors to all black. Black can be beautiful as a contrast. The bouquets then could have pops of color.
If the bride does want to go with a vintage theme, what are some unique ways to pull it off?
With the vintage look, brides are using old books and incorporating photos and smaller floral elements in their centerpieces. These brides can scour the Internet or thrift stores to find different pieces of décor that fit into their theme. They can use anything from old romance novels to silver vintage platters.
Chrissie Stuntz event planner for Chrissie Stuntz Events
What’s the new trend for locations of both the ceremony and reception?
The trend is definitely to have the ceremony and reception in the same place, whether it be the Ashton Gardens, the Fort Worth Club, Colonial or the bride’s home. For one, it’s more convenient, and it helps make your dollar stretch since you’re not having to rent out two places. You could easily save between $1,000-$5,000 when using a single venue.
So how does that work shifting from the ceremony to the reception if they’re both in the same place?
Depending on what your location is, you can have very creative turnovers. Sure, you do lose a little mystery, but in a bigger place like Colonial for instance you can send the guests out into the terrace for a cocktail hour and then invite them back into a totally changed room. During the turnover, you could also do an activity like a photo booth or signing of the guest book.
Would you say the trend is leaning toward more inside or outside ceremonies and receptions?
Either way, I would say that the trend is simply to make it more of a natural setting. If it’s going to be outside, I will say The plan is tents. Anytime I’ve done a wedding outside, we have a back-up plan.
If the wedding and reception are held outside, what is the trend for the styling?
If outside, the growing trend is vintage and very natural. A lot of things are “Etsy” inspired, using a lot of personal heirlooms. Also doing the wedding at a home automatically makes it more personal. I love home weddings. They’re very sweet. Personal touches are really important. So many couples are born and raised here in Fort Worth and are trying to make things as personal and hands on as possible.
What are a couple of ways the couple can make the wedding more personal or incorporate these heirlooms?
You can put family photos by the cake stand. People may also try to tie in how they were engaged, their courtship or how they met. I recently did a wedding for a couple who met in high school and had been together for 10 years. So they placed pictures of themselves throughout those years at each of the tables to show their history together and their story. Also you could add grandparents’ photos and other family memorabilia around the sign-in table or near the altar.