It’s the time of year when weddings, parties and celebrations are in full swing. As 2013 rolls along, the experts weigh in on everything from floral arrangements to venue choices and apparel.
“The biggest wedding and party season for our store is always January through May,” says Colleen Wilson of Claire’s Fashions in Wilmington.
Since gowns can take three to six months to be made and received, most brides-to-be and promgoers start the shopping process in January and February to make sure they get the dresses they want. “Our wedding season is when the weather is nice so people can take advantage of having their ceremony in our garden and reception in the ballroom,” says Lauren Hanna of Baywood Greens in Long Neck. “We host 50 to 55 weddings between April and November, and a few wedding receptions in the winter months.”
“I am seeing brides steer away from flowers and use non-traditional centerpieces instead,” says Ashlee McCullough of the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts in Wilmington. “Fruit, vases and earthy things are very popular. Bright colors are also popular, or black with a pop of color. For guests gifts, many brides are going with more personal items like handmade soaps, treats made by family members, honey from local farms they love, or donations to nonprofits.”
Many more brides are requesting non-strapless gowns than ever before, says Wilson. “Lace is big again this year, but we also see the return to the more traditional satin ball gown styles. For maids, neutrals are very big. We have a lot of wedding parties going with charcoal and platinum gray as well as a lot of very soft pastel shades.”
“I am seeing two distinct styles trending right now for our weddings,” says Tom Covello of Celebrations Design Group in Claymont. “About half of our weddings are regal and formal, where the couples are requesting abundant sparkling crystal ornamentation throughout the designing,” he says.
“With them, I’m incorporating opulent crystal candelabras, oversized fluffy flowers, textured linens on the tables, hanging crystal chandeliers and impressive ceremony focal points,” says Covello. “The alternate half of our weddings are very casual, unstructured and organic preferences with moss, succulents, wildflowers and ornamental grasses, burlap, wood and mismatched collections of glass bottles and mason jars.”
In both styles, candlelight is always a request and the newest item is chic mercury glass. Many couples are incorporating homemade gifts and favors or recipes at their wedding receptions, Hanna says.
There are also some do’s and don’ts when it comes to planning. “Make sure to set your overall wedding budget before you start making the big decisions,” Hanna says. “Book a date, venue and vendors as early as possible. Take advantage of every free moment you have.”
Make sure you do a test run and sample everything, even if you have to pay for it (food tasting, floral samples, hair and make-up samples, etc.).
Don’t stress the little details. Focus on the big picture—you’re marrying the person of your dreams, Hanna says. Don’t invite more people than your ceremony or reception site can accommodate. Additionally, don’t ignore your partner’s ideas. Make him or her a part of the planning process.
“For a fall wedding, book early,” McCullough says. “Dates go fast. If you book a holiday wedding or holiday weekend wedding remember prices for everything seem to go up. That’s airfare, gas, staffing and much more.”
If you pick a date and can’t budge, don’t expect every vendor and location to be available.
When setting your sights on a specific location, make sure you know the rules for catering and decor, McCullough says. Many unique venues have just one caterer. If you want a candlelight-themed wedding and you love a specific place, but then find out you can’t have candles, your planned theme is not going to work.
If you want a specific caterer, check to make sure your location allows an outside caterer. Find out in advance where your caterer works before you choose a venue.
Get organized, but don’t obsess. If you can’t handle the organization thing, hire an event planner. You want your wedding to be fun and memorable.
McCullough says it’s OK to ask for help. But don’t assume the task will be done exactly how you explained it. Be gracious. People love to celebrate with you and want to help. If you are the controlling type, then find simple things people can do to help. It will make them feel good and you can focus on the big stuff.
Recommendations go a long way. Ask for them or find them. Make sure to get everything in writing.
Don’t assume everyone knows everything they are supposed to do the weekend of or leading up to your wedding. Make timelines for your bridal party.
“There is a nice way of doing this without being pushy or crazy,” McCullough says. “Also, guests really do like a breakdown of what is happening. If you have guests coming into a hotel, leave a brief note in their gift bag stating all of the events happening for the weekend.”
When it comes to a wedding or party, make sure you start early, Wilson says. It is never too early to check major items off the wedding to-do list.
Don’t bring a bunch of people to you bridal appointment. It’s better to bring the two people whose opinions mean the most.
“Do enjoy yourself,” Wilson says. “This should be a fun and exciting time. Don’t get stressed out shopping for your gown. Try to relax and enjoy every minute. Remember you are planning a celebration.”
Don’t let your bridesmaids pick whatever they want, she warns. This can lead to wasted time and major headaches.
Instead bring a couple of women from your wedding party to try on dresses and pick out colors. Most maids want guidance and want to make sure the bride is happy. You are not a bridezilla by voicing your opinion on the dresses or gowns that they wear, but you want to make sure the style is flattering on all of the women regardless of size.
“At Claire’s, we have a private bridal suite with two separate appointment rooms,” Wilson says. “Brides and their parties really enjoy being able to sit down and relax and take their time without having an entire store of customers looking at them.”
Claire’s has everything for your wedding attire needs, including tuxedo rentals.
It usually takes three to four months for bridal gowns to come in, but it can take up to six months for custom changes.
Some brides plan to lose weight before weddings. Always order for what size fits you now, and make the adjustments as you shed the pounds later.
When it comes to venues, the DCCA is unique. It opens its galleries during all of its events.
“This is included in your venue fee,” McCullough says. “Guests can wander through and experience contemporary art. Our galleries are built into an old railroad car warehouse, so the exposed beams, high ceilings, and funky design draws brides looking for something other than a standard ballroom feel.”
The DCCA is also conveniently located just off I-95 in Wilmington, she says, “so many brides love that guests from the south and north can get here easily and quickly.”
Hanna says there are many frequently asked questions when it comes to venues.
Baywood Greens has a food and beverage license, so the venue provides all food and beverages. No outside food and beverages may be brought in.
“We also do not allow outside vendors to handle decor because we have an in-house florist who handles all decor and floral arrangements,” she says. “We do provide an area for the wedding parties to get dressed. We have dressing rooms for men and women that wedding parties can get ready in. We also only handle one wedding per day, so you don’t have to worry about sharing your wedding day with anyone else.”
34026 Anna’s Way, ste. 1, Long Neck, 745-3039,
Brandywine Country Club
2822 Shipley Road,
Celebrations Design Group
950 Ridge Road, Claymont, 793-3893,
605 Second St., Chesapeake City, Md.,
(410) 885-2040, martuscelliandsons.com
1312 Philadelphia Pike,
Delaware Center for the
200 S. Madison St.,
Wilmington, 656-6466, thedcca.org
Delaware Express Shuttle
2825 Ogletown Road.,
110 S. West St., Riverfront, Wilmington, 658-6626,
276 E. Main St., ste. 101,
Kreston Wine & Spirits
904 Concord Pike,
Serpe & Sons Bakery
1411 Kirkwood Hwy., Elsmere, 994-1868,