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Wedding Making it personal | Here comes the bride

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Making it personal

Personal touches and elements of surprise are infusing today’s weddings with sentiment and style. They’re also catapulting traditional receptions into one-of-a-kind celebrations. By Lisa M. Jensen

Photography Courtesy Kai Heeringa Photography

Wedding Day 2011:

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While bride Liz Pasco wore a Casablanca Bridal gown and Ursula cage veil with Russian tulle, both from Septembers Bride in Holland, she found her silk taffeta jacket through Etsy, an online market for handmade goods. Bridesmaids wore dresses of their own choice but shoes dyed to match at Septembers Bride. Bouquets and floral centerpieces (below) at Eve Lounge were created by Forrester Farms; table cards by Jill Childs at Eye Candy. (Opposite page) Newlyweds Emily and Tyler Beute shared a sparkling exit after their outdoor reception.

The bride wore ivory — and a teal bolero jacket. “She just saw it and fell in love,” reflected wedding planner Aletha VanderMaas, owner of Grand Rapidsbased Pearls Events. “I have never seen anyone be so sassy on her wedding day! It was definitely unexpected, but expressive and fun.”

Photography Courtesy Lisa Kae Photography


he bold color also inspired other unique details of the couple’s special day, from the couple’s whimsical invitations to linens and menus at Eve in The B.O.B. “Though the bridesmaids all wore different styles of brown dresses,” VanderMaas added, “their shoes were teal, too, just like the bride’s.” Such personal touches and elements of surprise are infusing today’s weddings with sentiment and style. They’re also catapulting traditional receptions into one-of-a-kind celebrations. “Because many brides aren’t marrying until their later 20s or after, they’re drawing from more experiences, are exposed to more ideas, and are more established in their own sense of style than brides a generation ago,” observed floral and special event designer

Barry Jeter, owner of Procedo Events in Holland. “The ‘don’t-make-waves’ mentality isn’t theirs.”


From Urban Fresh and Orchard Chic to Vintage Glam and Whimsical, some brides can envision their wedding day down to the last button. But those drawn to different styles may not know where to begin. Wedding planners and special event designers can help. “I always ask a bride where she shops — Banana Republic? BCBG? Anthropologie? Do her home accessories come from West Elm, Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware? It all plays into how she’s envisioning her wedding,” said Jenn Ederer, a special events designer and owner of Grand Rapidsbased Modern Day Floral, whose team (like

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In Ada on property along the Thornapple River, tents provided by Cascade Rental and polka dotinspired linens and tableware through Modern Day Floral echoed the delicate accents on bride Emily Beute’s dress.

families or have just discovered it, they feel a spiritual connection to this majestic lake,” said Tom, who has been officiating shoreline weddings for the past six years. Because so many couples meet outside of their faith and are not as geographically bound, more are deciding to exchange vows in non-traditional settings like the beach, a state park, a rented lakeside home or their family cottage’s backyard, he noted. “But I’m finding they still want a traditional ceremony, to honor the sanctity of marriage.” More regularly, the Hamels are hosting couples who come to exchange vows on the beach or at the inn, accompanied only by immediate family and close friends. “There may only be a dozen people at the ceremony,” Tom said. “It’s very personal, very sincere, and very relaxed. The bride and groom can immerse themselves in this moment, and really focus on one another.” Afterward, the newlyweds often return to their hometown for a grander celebration, either

the same weekend or at a later date. Other couples like to simplify their big day for guests by hosting the reception where they exchanged vows. While VanderMaas recently coordinated both for one bride at her uncle’s home on the Thornapple River, Ederer’s team used Modern Day Floral’s specialized CAD program to refashion spaces in San Chez Bistro for ceremony and celebration. “Brides are open to different table configurations, and venues are thrilled to get away from standard set-up, too,” Ederer said. “Our CAD lets couples see their reception space designed a lot of different ways, which sparks everyone’s creativity.” Getting married can also be the perfect time to create a fantasy, Jeter said. “Rent and invite guests out to a lavish lakefront estate,” Jeter suggested. “It’s fun to welcome them into your palatial home and show them around the gardens. It’s your day to be the princess, after all.”


Tom and Amy Hamel manage The Hexagon House Bed & Breakfast, an historic inn minutes from Ludington in Pentwater. Activities in this Lake Michigan village vary from sunset sails and gallery hopping to exploring nearby Silver Lake Sand Dunes. “Many times, whether a bride and groom have vacationed here for years with their

Tom Hamel, who manages The Hexagon House Bed & Breakfast, an historic inn minutes from Ludington in Pentwater, has also been officiating shoreline weddings for the past six years. “Many times, whether a bride and groom have vacationed here for years with their families or have just discovered it, they feel a spiritual connection to this majestic lake,” he said of Lake Michigan.

Photography Courtesy Kai Heeringa Photography (top); Sue Brown, (Bottom)

Jeter’s) is often tapped by planners including VanderMaas to create the right look. Knowing what a couple likes to do when they’re not planning a wedding also lends great insight into style. Are they avid hikers, antique shoppers, sports fans or travelers? “The bride who loves Cosmos and having a good time may love a more urban, loungestyle reception with unassigned seating and varying-sized tables,” Ederer said. Unique elements emerge from listening and reflect the bride and groom. “If they enjoy the outdoors and became engaged while they were camping,” VanderMaas illustrated, “we might surprise guests with a s’mores bar at evening’s end.” Decorative details can hold meaning as well. Jeter paid tribute to the fruit-producing families of one couple by dressing the corners of a clear outdoor tent with swags of moss and apples in natural branches. Glass containers wrapped in birch bark and brown satin ribbon lent further organic elegance. Regardless of a wedding’s style, “It’s our job to create a symphony of visuals, textures and fragrances — the building blocks of memory,” he said. “Everybody loves presentation.”

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From rich jewel and juicier tropical tones to vintage, sun-washed hues, 2011’s trendiest wedding colors make an instant statement. Bolder themselves, modern brides are sweeping out whispery pastels in favor of these shades that radiate elegance, drama and comfort. “Dark colors and brighter tones look better on everyone than lighter shades,” Jeter observed. “But brides are also being drawn to earthier, organic colors that look distressed, because they feel comfortable and authentic.” Frequently, Jeter said, brides approach him with colors in mind. As he gets to know them, though, there are times he recognizes that what they’re presenting in a magazine isn’t what they’re really all about inside. “If a designer’s any good, he or she has to be a psychologist, too,” Jeter noted. “You can just see that glint in a bride when she uncovers it’s lavender or magenta inside of purple that best expresses who she are.” Sophisticated yet friendlier than black, chocolate brown hasn’t lost its standing as a wedding party favorite, VanderMaas said. “It’s a classic neutral that is definitely more skin flattering, and goes with almost anything.

Brides who want to wear brown in a new way might combine two different tones to create depth. “One of my brides recently paired brown with platinum and mixed in a lot of white and ivory, which was gorgeous.” Grays ranging from silver to charcoal are expected to be the next hot neutral, VanderMaas added. When possible, Ederer encourages brides to consider their reception space’s colors before choosing wedding hues. “What five girls are wearing won’t stand out more than this room’s décor,” she said. “As a florist, that palette is my concern.”

 


Today’s biggest trend is “breakaway” design: Dressing up reception tables with different sizes and styles of floral vessels, Ederer said, and filling them with varying blooms and organic elements. Brides often like hunting for vintage containers such as milk glass themselves. Bouquets are becoming more relaxed, too. “Cascading bouquets are really making a comeback, but they’re much airier and more natural-looking with an abundance of garden varieties like roses and sweet peas,” Ederer noted. “Texture is very big right now, too. If we’re doing all roses, we’re doing a mix of them.” “Antique” roses in muted tones of silvery plum, mauve, lavender, cream and cocoa are favored for lending vintage appeal. Monochromatic schemes are also popular for contemporary bouquets that may feature the

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same tropical bloom or an eclectic garden mix that infuses softer tone-on-tone hues with bolder and brighter pops of fuscia, purple, chocolate and magenta. “If it’s a purple wedding,” Ederer said, “we’re using every shade of purple there is for florals.” Selecting one special bloom that’s only worn or carried by the bride and groom is a special way to personalize their day, she added. In addition, Modern Day Floral specializes in custom hand-sewn couture bridal bouquet handles. These are personalized as well by incorporating something treasured, such as a family rosary, heirloom brooch or piece of lace from the dress of the bride’s grandmother. “Brides are often opting to wear one big bloom in their hair as well,” Ederer said. “A garden rose, peony or gardenia looks beautiful, and can be preserved for the day with a special spray.”


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Once just ham rolled on buns in the church basement, what’s served at today’s receptions is decidedly more of an experience. “The menu and how it’s presented is a lot more personal and expressive of the couple,” said Bob Johnson, owner of West Michigan Caterer in Grand Rapids. “A lot of them have dated longer, have experienced more together, and are more savvy about food; they’re typically not looking for a classic plated meal.” Chef-attended food stations (commonly featuring global fusion cuisine) are popular for

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varying reasons: “They get people out of their chairs and mingling, chatting about the food, making the party feel relaxed and friendly,” Jeter noted. “Couples love too that they can customize stations with foods that may have special meaning to them,” said Stephanie McIntyre, event designer for Applause Catering. “It’s fun when a DJ announces what’s available — guests get excited about what they can sample next.” One crowd-pleaser from West Michigan Caterer is a mashed potato bar: The potatoes, served in martini glasses, can be personalized with a variety of toppings, much like a sundae. S’mores, sundae, fondue and coffee stations — especially when unveiled toward evening’s end — are favorites, too. And a tiered dessert station featuring an array of bite-sized, gourmet sweets is often paired with or replaces wedding cake. “Brides who still want a cake for looks can have bakers build an artificial cake,” Johnson shared. “The top layer or two might be real, but others may be just frosted Styrofoam.” Server-passed hors d’oeuvres and family-style meals are current trends as well. McIntyre noted that both make guests feel welcome, while being less wasteful than a buffet. “We’re doing more ‘morning after’ brunches, too,” Johnson said. “Because couples often have been dating longer, their families have become friendly, and bridal parties are interacting a lot more with them as a big group. “It all feels very relaxed, and personal.” To learn more visit www.pearlsevents. com;; www.mod; www.hexagonhouse. com;; www.; www.mywestmichi ■

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Here comes

the bride

Whether she’s wearing her mother’s gown or asymmetrical modern style, today’s bride is fashioning a look that’s her own. By Lisa M. Jensen

PhotograPhy Courtesy Kai heeringa PhotograPhy

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Bride Erin DeWittBrewer (left) chose her gown from Bridal Elegance; Liz Pasco selected a dress from September’s Bride.

PhotograPhy Courtesy terri giLLis PhotograPhy (toP LeFt); CLisa Kae PhotograPhy (uPPer right); miChaeL oVerBeeK, oVerBeeKPhotograPhy.Com (Bottom)


dorned with dimensional details like clear Swarovski crystals stitched into floral appliqués, shimmery sequins, layered ruffles and fantastical wisps of feather, 2011’s trendiest dresses invite brides to express their romantic side. “A lot of girls are asking for lace and airier fabrics like chiffon,” noted Kristin Carlson, owner of Bridal Elegance on Cascade Road. “Strapless is still popular, but brides are switching from straight to sweetheart necklines, which we can customize into any dress they find.” She added that last year’s one-shoulder gown trend has come back even stronger, in both traditional and contemporary styles. Such unique new neckline, sleeve and strap options are exciting to peruse, especially for brides uncomfortable in strapless styles, shared Tami Parks. The owner of September’s Bride and Great Lakes Wedding Gown Specialists in Holland offers an array of choices, from well-known designers to vintage gowns she’s restyled or left untouched to be customized. “No matter the era, good style will always be good style,” she said. “We also have brides who bring in family gowns. Right now we’re personalizing one for a bride who will be the fifth to wear it: First, it was worn by the bride’s grandmother, then two of her daughters, followed by the bride’s sister last summer.” When Parks’ team restyled the gown for the first time, they removed its original long sleeves and high neckline, redid the waist and skirt, and added a sash. “For that

bride’s sister, who’s getting married this summer, we’re changing the waistline again, making the dress strapless and repairing lace.” Proper gown preservation — which costs about $180 – is essential for such traditions to continue, or new ones to begin. “We’re updating for another bride the top of a Priscilla of Boston gown her mother wore 30 years ago, a beautiful spaghetti-strap dress with organza skirt and lace ruffle that cost $900 then but would be between $4,000 or $5,000 now,” Parks illustrated. “When we opened it from storage, it was in perfect condition. “Projects like this are some of our favorites, because they’re very meaningful.”

Bride Liz Hoekstra wore her mother’s original silk organza and lace Priscilla of Boston gown, restored by September’s Bride.

The final touches “RiGHT nOW, there are a variety of trends working for every bride’s style,” said Jamie Moore, salon manager at the Crown Jewel in Ada. “Old Hollywood glamour is new again, inspiring big, heavy waves and large, Kardashian-style curls. We’re also seeing a lot of braids, many raised above the head but not so tightly; they’re edgier and funkier, Gwen Stefani-like, a favorite especially of younger brides.” To achieve both looks, many brides are opting to add extensions, Moore noted. “Depending on which type is chosen, they’ll stay in for just a day, six weeks or months, which can add ease for the honeymoon, too.” While some brides are having fun switching their styles up from ceremony to reception, Moore said others are expressing their personalities with accessories: “A bride’s dress can be traditional, but inserting a few white feathers like chopsticks into her hair makes her unique.” Soft side styles accented by one large flower and birdcage veils are also popular.

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Bride Marissa Peterson’s loose curls and single bloom are popular trends for 2011, noted Jamie Moore, salon manager at the Crown Jewel in Ada.

To enhance shine, Moore recommends a weekly Kerastase Chronologiste treatment for three weeks before the big day, which can be done at the salon or home. Two weeks prior is an ideal time to have hair trimmed and Balayage-style highlights (French for “sweep”): “These are hand-painted in for a

very natural, sun-kissed look,” Moore noted. “The result doesn’t look ‘just-done.’” Though nothing can beat plenty of sleep, water and good nutrition paired with the right vitamin supplements to keep a bride’s skin looking its best, Crown Jewel Spa Manager Shanon Hurlbut suggests a lavender/rose allover body scrub a week before the wedding; a gentle “skin rescue” facial is also available to plump up lines and minimize irritations. The final touches? Glossy, light-colored lips and soft blush paired with smokier eyes and long, bold lashes. “Rather than glued-on strips, I recommend individual lash extensions, which will be there as long as you want them to be,” Moore said. To learn more, visit www.thecrownjewelspa. com; and www. ■

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