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Setting the Tone

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Setting the Tone

By Andrea Scarlatelli

Congratulations! You’re engaged! By now, the initial flush of excitement has probably given way to reality – you have a wedding to plan.

When it seems like there are a million things for you to do, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. A lot of brides have trouble even figuring out where to start! So in case you need a little help getting started, here are a few ideas to spark your creativity:

Believe it or not, one of the most important decisions you make in planning your wedding will be the color and style of the bridesmaid’s dresses. Any time you have a group of grown women dressed identically in the same room, they’re bound to draw attention. And the last thing you want to do is have your best girl friends clashing with the décor!

According to Caprice Palmer of Enchanted Florist, the dresses do so much in setting the tone of the reception that some wedding planners and florists won’t even meet with you until you’ve chosen them! For example, a tea length bridesmaid dress (a style that has absolutely exploded in popularity this year) will naturally dictate a more casual, laid back atmosphere, something you’ll want your reception to reflect.

So before you start choosing which fabrics, colors and flowers you want to have surrounding you while basking in the glow of your newlywed bliss, think of your bridesmaids first!

Flipping through bridal magazines, the choices seem absolutely limitless. And they are! But the biggest question brides have is often, “Where do I start?” Once the bridesmaid dresses are chosen, the next logical step is to pick a complementing color scheme for the reception. Once those colors are chosen, all other pieces will fall into place.

Jill Cole from Southern Events Party Rental and Event Company reveals that this year, it’s all about the color combinations. While chocolate, ivory, blues, pinks, apple green and lilac are all popular colors, very few people choose a monochromatic color theme. The most popular color combinations in recent months have been chocolate with apple green, chocolate with ivory, and pink with apple green. The idea behind grouping these particular colors together is one of contrast. Brides are experimenting more and more with what colors work together.

However, many colors are still considered seasonal. Winter tones, such as red, black, silver and white, are often “crystallized” for winter weddings. Summer weddings see a resurgence of sage, periwinkle, pink, lilac and lime. Anything rich, like burnt orange, chocolate, ivory or light blue is popular in the autumn. Pastel versions of any of these colors are seen in spring, making it perhaps the most versatile season for weddings.

Just remember, whatever color you choose is also going to affect your choice of fabric for everything from tablecloths to chair slips. If you’re planning on having fabric tied around your chairs, a vertical tie or knot is a great alternative to a plain bow. Some popular fabrics for this wedding season have been Fairmont (a crushed fabric) and Bengaline (a heavy, shiny material). Perhaps the best option for tablecloths, however, remains good old polyester. It’s inexpensive, there are many color options, and it’s easily dressed up, especially if you use the extra money you save on the polyester toward a more elaborate centerpiece.

Creativity is a must when planning your wedding and reception. Take ordinary objects and place them in new settings. For example, a wine glass makes a great dessert bowl. Or try using a champagne glass for shrimp cocktail or serving soup in a martini glass! Who says you can only drink out of a glass?

Instead of plain circular plates and coffee cups, opt for square or triangular. Tuck small flowers, such as button mums, into your napkin rings or tie ribbons around them. Some brides even create signature drinks to serve as novelties at the beginning of the reception. It should be a drink that’s somehow meaningful to the couple and continues the theme of the wedding. For example, a winter wedding could feature Godiva white chocolate martinis. Unusual details can add a bit of playfulness to your reception and allow your personality to shine through.

This year’s centerpieces are small, simple and understated, but that doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the creativity! Tired of flowers? There are plenty of alternatives out there. Plants, twigs and anything with height provides room for people to talk amongst themselves while providing a great conversation piece! Copper twig stands are a striking addition in the autumn, while silver twig stands provide elegance for a winter wedding.

Black iron and pewter are two metals that are versatile to use any time of the year. Glass cylinders centered on the table are also popular, mostly because the options for what to put in them are absolutely limitless. Many brides choose to float flowers or candles within the cylinders, while others opt for quirkier fare, such as marbles, lemons, limes and assorted fruit. Candles – whether as part of a centerpiece or scattered around the room – are an inexpensive way of softening the mood of the room. They add instant romance and elegance, no matter what the theme of your reception.

Despite the changing fashions in wedding décor, there’s one thing that will never go out of style …having your family and friends there to share your big day. In fact, a strong supporting cast is such an important factor for so many people that receptions have begun to reflect those values.

Family style seating, where everyone sits at a U-shaped table, makes talking and socializing easier and more inclusive. If you’re having a smaller wedding (100 guests or less), it might be fun to put out custom place cards or custom menus. If you’re planning on inviting children to the reception, you might want to consider having a “kids station.” This can simply be a table filled with coloring books, candy jars or cookies the kids can decorate themselves. Chocolate fountains or dips are also a fun treat that the kids and adults will love! Whatever you decide, try to make the activities relatively quiet and easy to clean up. You’ll be happy you did!

Photographs by  David Wright  Photography