Today's brides don't want their mother's wedding. Modern trends include big bridal parties, small--or no--wedding cakes, and the extinction of the receiving line.
GETTING BIGGER …
"Here in Ohio, I'm seeing the guest counts creeping back up to where there were five-plus years ago. For awhile, we saw weddings that were around the 100- to 150-guest mark, and now I'm seeing 250 to 300-plus on the guest lists." --Kasey Skobel Conyers, Bliss Wedding and Event Design, Columbus
The Wedding Party
"A few have as many as 11 bridesmaids this year! I am seeing an increase in the size of the wedding party from last year and, also, the number of children in the wedding. This is indicative of the growth of the budgets from last year to this." --Robyn Martin, The Wedding Belle, Edmond, Okla.
"We have several brides right now that we are working with who have between nine and 11 bridesmaids! My question is: How special do you feel when you are one of 11? Or is it just a show? Often, we know this answer after the very first meeting with the star--I mean, the bride! Last year I had a wedding with nine bridesmaids and then six honorary attendants. That’s like saying, 'You can carry a bouquet but don’t stand by me during the ceremony'--that just feels second-rate! I think they should be in, or be out!" --J Wilbur Smith, EventScapes, Atlanta
"It may be because we are getting more American brides coming up for a destination wedding in the mountains, or people just want more people to stand up with them. We have many clients that cannot say no to their 'super friend' groups, so they ask everyone! Or, they opt for a small wedding party but then have a secondary bridal party of honorary members that sit in a special spot and have special roles. Just all around BP VIPS!" –Lynn Fletcher, Lynn Fletcher Weddings, Calgary, Alberta
"Oh yes, the number of bridesmaids and groomsmen is totally increasing. I blame Facebook. People are just staying in touch more with high school and college and camp friends. I have 12 groomsmen and 11 bridesmaids at a wedding in May! And I see how brides are more trending to doing one color and letting the bridesmaids chose different styles. With eight to 11 bridesmaids, you are bound to have a lot of different body types." --Ali Phillips, Engaging Events by Ali, Chicago
"Big wedding parties are back, and actually have been popular from time to time in the past years. My cousin back in 1982, wins the prize, though--18 couples, two junior bridesmaids, a ring bearer, flower girl and a 'miniature bride and groom'--whatever that was all about? Also, my April [wedding] had 13 couples as well. It appears many feel it is appropriate (or payback?) to ask every single person who they stood up for to stand up for them." --Frank Andonoplas, MBC, Frank Event Design, Chicago
GETTING SMALLER …
The Wedding Cake
"The trend is having the cakes as more of a piece of art and not going overboard with the amount of tiers. Our clients are not doing huge cakes with several tiers. Clients are doing a minimal amount of tiers that do not feed every single guest, since most offer a selection of passed desserts or dessert stations to accompany the cake. These other desserts tend to act as a 'wow' and are less expensive." -- Stacy Weiner, Plan-it Parties, North Potomac, Md.
"Eighty of my brides have [wedding cakes]; the other 20 percent have a dessert buffet or a special served dessert, or doughnuts or cupcakes. Of the 80 percent; 50 percent of those have a smaller cake for cake-cutting photo opp. Some don't even serve it; it gets packed up for brunch the next morning. Sometimes it's smaller because it ends up being in the center of the dessert buffet and servers cut small 'tastes' along with the other desserts." --Carol Rosen, Party Designs by Carol, Los Angeles
"Gelato stations, country pie stations, mini ice cream stations and gorgeous dessert bars--cupcake babies, cake lollipops, icebox desserts, macaroons, etc.--have replaced the traditional wedding cake." --Joyce Scardina Becker, Events of Distinction, San Francisco
"I am completely seeing the cake go away. Everyone is more focused on fun things like late-night snacks, (deep dish Chicago pizza and mini Chicago-style hot dogs come to mind), and really popular are doughnuts in all shapes and sizes late at night. I see sweets tables coming back, but not little cookies and brownies--more like cotton candy stations. We are doing fancy chocolates this coming fall and renting a display case like you would see in a pastry or truffle shop. And for some reason I see cheesecake lollipops really coming back in style. And we're doing cannoli lollipops rolled in chocolate and nuts this summer too! I'm also seeing experiences, like the chocolate, or the cotton candy or popcorn bars where you get to pick your own popcorn. I don't see candy bars at all anymore." –-Ali Phillips
"Large wedding cakes have been absent for a while, if not completely absent. We set up a pretty table where the bride and groom can have photos taken serving each other their favorite dessert. Or they have their photos taken in front of a magnificently displayed dessert table. When budget is an issue, they would rather spend that money on a coffee bar and a couple of great baristas." --Jaimie Hastings, Churchill House Events, Las Vegas
"I have seen more smaller cakes lately, but any savings associated with having a smaller cake don't apply because the cakes I have seen seem to be getting more ornate in their design. I've noticed that brides who are having smaller weddings splurge in areas that make them happy, such as wearing designer shoes." -- Sandra Aaron, Mindless Sophistication Events, Toronto
The Regret Rate
"It is interesting to me that since the economic downturn of a few years ago, the typical average regret rate has decreased. It seems that nowadays, guests are looking for a 'valid' reason to take a trip or attend an event. While I use to tell my clients that they could expect up to a 30 percent regret rate, that is not the case any longer." --Janice Blackmon, Janice Blackmon Events, Atlanta
"Small, glamorous, restaurant weddings are in. I'm doing one this fall. They are inviting all the friends to an after-party to meet 'Mr. and Mrs.' for the first time! I coached my couple to say in a separate invite/postcard. This couple will be hosting the event by picking up the drinks as well." -- Nancy Swiezy, Nancy Swiezy Events, New York
The Receiving Line
"Unless it's a very small wedding, receiving lines take up way too much time and are a thing from the past. These days, couples choose to greet and thank their guests table to table in between courses verses having their guests line up like a herd of cattle." -- Kevin Covey, Kevin Covey Wedding and Event Coordination, Brea, Calif.
"I am seeing very few receiving lines, maybe one in the past five years. Couples are spending more time going table to table and speaking with their guests. Post-ceremony, they are taking their photos. I love to give my brides and grooms 10 minutes or so, with a glass of champagne by themselves, just to reflect back on their ceremony and to have just a couple of minutes to start thinking ahead!" --Mary Litzsinger, VP Events, Westlake Village, Calif.
The Guest Book
"This is gone for the most part. It's a bit of a dinosaur." –Carol Rosen