The do’s & don’ts of preparing for “I do”

Trends and tips to kick off planning a wedding

By Rebecca Norris

It’s 2013 and wedding season is fast approaching. Delicious food, exquisite décor and dazzling dresses are just a few things that couples first wrestle with in the planning process. With endless possibilities and budgets to work with, it’s essential to understand the trends of the season and the proper course of action to take when preparing for your big day.


Invite Me stationary

Selection of Invite Me stationary (Courtesy of invite Me)

“Don’t underestimate the importance of your wedding stationery,” Krysta Ardigo, owner of Invite Me Invitations says. “Your wedding invitation sets the tone for the entire event. It conveys to guests much more than the date and location, it is a representation of the bride and groom.”

With 2013 paving the way for more casual vintage, garden-themed weddings, traditional all-white palettes with exquisite calligraphy is no longer the top priority. This year, mint and pastel color palettes are the way to go. These colors, paired with embellishments such as bows and crystal buckles, can make for a lighthearted formal invitation. Whereas, if you incorporate lace, twine and pearls; invitations can take a turn for the vintage. Combine different textures of those colors with laser-cut embellishments, digital calligraphy and the occasional monogram, and your invitations will be perfectly in line with this year’s top trends.

“Brides should set aside around 6 percent of their wedding budget for their wedding stationery,” Ardigo advises. “This includes save the dates, invitations, programs, place cards, etc.”


Brianna Alcorn

Brianna Alcorn arrangment (Courtesy of Brianna Alcorn)

Floral Arrangements
Floral arrangements, everything from bouquets and boutonnieres to table centerpieces, have the ability to bring about a certain style and grace to a wedding that, in effect, can bring about an other-worldly charm.

Colorful, multi-textured bouquets are very popular for 2013. With rustic romance as a key trend, Laura Larrick Walker, owner of Buttercups Floral Design, explains that creating flower creations with different materials such as pods, unripened berries, grasses, veggies, fruit, brooches, lace, etc.; combined with the softness of garden roses, sweet peas or peonies, will create the perfect look.

Adding color and texture to flower arrangements will grab the attention of attendees and prompt their eyes to move through the arrangement. One of the most popular trends of 2013, ombre, reflects this idea by combining multiple variations of a color or hue in order to show progression.

“Everything is more ‘out of the box’ and nothing is impossible,” Walker says. “A color or a concept can give us ideas of new things to do with flowers. A few weeks ago I even created a fully functional purse made of flowers for a bride!”


popular patterns

Rustic and garden-themed weddings are the biggest trend for 2013, introducing the idea of incorporating more foliage and delicate décor. You can accomplish this feel with candlelit entrances, paper lanterns, laser-cut embellished mason jars and a variety of patterns.

“Chevron kicked off the pattern surge,” Kaella Wilson, wedding design expert and founder of Kaella Lynn Events in San Francisco informs readers on Jennifer Margolin’s Red Sole Diary. “And others are being introduced to the scene: honeycomb, gingham, quatrefoil and my new favorite, the rising sun pattern.” 2013 is setting the stage for mixing patterns and textures and putting an end to the once-popular idea of matching everything flawlessly. From mismatching bridesmaid’s dresses to centerpieces, brides will be able to incorporate more color and variation into their ceremonies and create an overall eye-catching atmosphere.

Another key trend is the idea of featuring custom photo booths at the reception to capture unique photos of all your guests. “We are seeing a lot of photo booths and some brides even make up their own!” says Victoria Trummer, event planner and co-owner of the upscale restaurant Trummer’s on Main in Clifton. “One upcoming bride bought a Polaroid camera and a bunch of props—and then she’s just using one of our cook white brick walls as the backdrop for people to take photos.”

With all the new trends, originality is still the biggest priority. When choosing a color palette, patterns and other décor, make sure to stay true to your own visions and not just everything the experts say, for weddings should reflect your personality, style and the relationship you share with your spouse-to-be.



Soft Chiffon Sheath Tank with Illustion Lace Back by David’s Bridal; Organza Lace and Satin Sweetheart Trumpet Gown by Melissa Sweet; Atelier Diagonal by Pronovias

Cap Sleeve Fit-and-Flare Lace Gown by Melissa Sweet

Cap Sleeve Fit-and-Flare Lace Gown by Melissa Sweet

This year, brides all over are engaging in the influx of au courant styles. From delicately embroidered portrait backs to the popular peplum that is seen throughout all fashion circles and is known for creating an alluring silhouette, brides are engaging in styles that are exquisite from all angles.

Lace, lace and more lace has set the scene for romance and elegance this bridal season. Brides can find lace on any silhouette but the fit and flair remains a popular design choice. These head-turners are often accentuated by elongated bodices accompanied by ruching, jewels and beads, as well as embellishments along the waists and shoulders. Miriam Liggett, president and CEO of Soliloquy Bridal Couture explains that while sweetheart necklines are still a bride’s first love, illusion necklines and covered shoulders are trending because many brides are asking for the coverage.

2012 paved the way for high-low skirts and dresses, known to the fashion world as transformers. This interesting trend has spilled over into 2013, allowing brides the opportunity to wear dresses that cater to the idea of having a second dress for their reception. These transformers are characterized by removable skirts and trains, in order to enable an effortlessly chic change after the ceremony.


Tips from a

“Relax and enjoy your wedding day! It will go so much faster than you can ever imagine. I tell my clients that they can worry about all the details up until the rehearsal. At that point they have to let everything go and let me handle things from there. When they are nervous or stressed the guests will pick up on it. When they are having fun, everyone else has fun also.”
–Susan Smith, Simply Elegant Weddings

2013 is paving the way for a variety of receptions. While preparing for your big day, it’s essential to nail down the type of venue you want to host your wedding; from gardens to hotels, beaches to bed and breakfasts, the options are endless.

While experts are witnessing a lean towards smaller guest counts, less-coordinated décor and dessert bars instead of cakes; people are left wondering if there are any traditions that are still going strong.

Well, don’t you fret, because there’s a few, including wearing something old, borrowed and blue, that are still staples of today’s weddings.

Speeches are still a huge aspect of weddings for 2013. However, instead of writing the speech weeks in advance, couples are veering towards asking for spur-of-the-moment speeches, so as to avoid any uncomfortable rants that might ensue. Though, make sure to schedule the speeches early in the reception so as to avoid the tricky situation of your speaker over indulging on food or drink, thus hindering their speaking abilities.

Two of the oldest surviving trends are throwing the bouquet and the garter (both dating back to the Middle Ages). And, it’s no different in 2013; men are still removing the garter from their bride and throwing it to the wild boys, while women continue to throw their bouquets into the crowd of eager brides-to-be.


Tips from a

“I always tell the bride and groom that all the wedding details are really being done for themselves because their guests won’t remember any of them. Guests will remember if they had a good time and if they enjoyed their food. They won’t remember whether there was a menu card at the place setting, what the floral arrangements looked like, or what color linens were on the table. So, while it’s easy for a bride to start stressing over the details and wanting everything to be perfect it’s helpful to kept he details in perspective.”
–Susan Smith, Simply Elegant Weddings

As weddings have become less formal, so have the appetizers and main menu. Brianna Alcorn, the marketing director of Windows Catering Company in Alexandria, explains that she is seeing a move towards comfort food; ranging from miniature southern ham biscuits and shrimp and grits. Couples will go heavy on offering sliders, macaroni and cheese bites, grilled Vermont cheddar cheese sandwiches with vine-ripened tomato, etc.” Lisa Renee Johnson, owner of The Pink Bicycle Tea Room in Occoquan, believes that offering mini sandwiches, treats and savories is meeting the demand for weddings by offering guests a wide variety of everything without over indulging. Alcorn explains that main menus range from plated options to buffets, and that one is not more popular than the other, though, plated menus, where guests have a choice between two or three options, are more cost effective. “We are seeing a lot of themed stations as well,” Alcorn says. “Especially stations that feature food from ones background like an Asian fusion station, or an all-American station.”

Although wedding cakes used to be the main focus, many couples are veering toward the idea of a “Cut the Cake menu,” They’re opting for a menu that features a number of small desserts for their guests to choose from. These dessert buffets generally consist of mini pies, s’mores on a stick, strawberries dipped in chocolate, and more. However, in the name of conventional weddings, some couples will order a cake topper to perform the tradition of cutting the cake. And, for those who still opt for a full cake, they adjust by having a multi-flavored tier cake that will appeal to a number of tastes.

And to top it all off, why not offer “His” and “Her” cocktails? Stefan Trummer, co-owner of Trummer’s on Main, works with couples for a one-on-one tasting to create custom signature cocktails for their wedding. “Recently a couple went with a Pepper Cocktail as hers (‘She’s pretty spicy’) and a Bourbon Cinnamon cocktail for his (‘He’s very bold and stong’),” Trummer says.


When it comes to choosing music for the reception, oftentimes couples do not have a vast list of songs, but rather a list of specific songs that they do and do not want to hear playing. Reception music ranges to all genres of music. DJ’s, especially, can play anything for the client, where sometimes a band cannot, as they must know the song or have to learn it for that one wedding—and, sometimes that just isn’t possible.

Over the years, band requests have dwindled in comparison to hiring DJ’s due to the prices of bands being considerably higher. Oftentimes, when couples are paying for a wedding themselves, they opt for a DJ because they simply can’t afford the exorbitant costs that a band would require. Whereas, when parents are backing the bill, a band is generally preferred. However, according to Myrna Hyman of For All Occasions Inc. located in Fairfax, over the last two years or so, the requests for bands and DJ’s have equalized.

“It truly is a personal preference when it comes to music for a wedding, but one thing is for certain,” Hyman says. “Whether it be a band or a DJ, the emcee needs to know how to read a crowd to make sure the dance floor is always full… that is what makes or breaks a party!”


Budgeting for your big day
It is so hard to give a true breakdown of costs since each wedding is so unique. For a $30,000 wedding, below is a typical budget. (this is only an estimation):

60%+ Food, Beverages & Reception Site including taxes and gratuities
10% Photography
8% Flowers
2% Invitations
4% Clergy music for ceremony
2% Cake
5% Reception entertainment
2% Gown
3% Special transportation
4% Video

Sometimes the planner, honeymoon and rings are outside of this budget as they are paid for by the parents as a gift. Most weddings of late have been couples who are already established at work and who are paying for big bulk of the wedding themselves.

My client’s mom was telling me that 40 years ago, she had nothing to do with planning of the wedding. Her parents planned everything, it was casual, friends of her parents cooked and it was held in a backyard. It was a church ceremony, and didn’t even cost near $10,000, but it was about 75 people.

Years ago there were also places that had everything inclusive as a wedding package … the venue had their own DJ, photographer and flower person, so people saved tons of money. That was a regional thing in the Northeast, and I do not know of any place doing that now in this area. —Myrna Hyman, For All Occasions Inc.



Soliloquy Bridal – 754 Elden St., Suite 103, Herndon;
Amy’s Bridal Boutique – 13410 Occoquan Road, Woodbridge;
Hannelore’s of Olde Town – 106 N. Lee St., Alexandria;
Katherine’s Bridal Boutique – 3104 Duke St., Alexandria;
Blush Bridal Boutique – 7332 Atlas Walk Way, Gainesville;
Curvy Girls Bridal – 3903-M Fair Ridge Drive, Fairfax;

Window’s Catering Company – 5724 General Washington Drive, Alexandria;
Trummer’s On Main – 7134 Main St., Clifton;
Pink Bicycle Tea Room – 303 Commerce St., Occoquan;
Design Cuisine – 2659 S. Shirlington Road, Arlington;
Main Event Caterers – 3870 S. Four Mile Run Drive, Arlington;
Kitchen Gourmet and a Company of Caterers – 14825 Build America Drive, Woodbridge;
R&R Catering – 8004 County Road 790, Springfield;
Rocklands Barbecue and Grilling Company – 25 S. Quaker Lane, Alexandria;
Better Events Catering – 14220 Sullyfield Circle, Chantilly;
Cupcakes Actually – Multiple NoVA locations;

floral arrangments
Twinbrook Florist – 9575 Braddock Road, Fairfax;
Buttercups Floral Design – 147 N. Loudoun St., Winchester;
Holly Heider Chapple Flowers
Royal Floral Designs – 7100 Brookfield Plaza, Springfield;
Lavender Green – 657 Federal St., Paris;
Wedding Muse – 8826 James Madison Highway, Warrenton;
Ultimate Floral Designs – 9912 Georgetown Pike, Great Falls;
Toulies en
L’Artisan Lily – 8201 Greensboro Drive, Suite 101, McLean;

The Dandelion Patch – Multiple NoVA locations;
Lettering by Lynne – 3315 Carolina Place, Alexandria;
Staccato – 3773 Osborne Drive, Warrenton;

Superlative Events – 2850 S. Quincy St., PO Box 6590, Arlington;
Spectacular Occasions by Design – 6445 McCoy Road, Centreville;
Crave Event

Musical DJ’
A2Z Music
Washington Celebrations – 13134 Quann Lane, Dale City;
Sage String
Nadia Pessoa,

wedding planners
Simply Elegant Weddings – 8300 Greensboro Drive, Suite 800, McLean;
For All Occasions,
A Simply Chic
True Wedding
Cherry Blossom Events – 4615 Newcomb Place, Alexandria;
A Sweet Soiree – 32 Southall Court, Sterling;
Kelly Cannon

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