Weddings on Trend

By Sara Perez Webber

Experts share some of the latest styles and customs that are catching on with their clients

Event designer Jamie O'Donnell incorporates such trends as feather chandeliers and meaningful bouquets into weddings for her clients.

Event designer Jamie O’Donnell incorporates such trends as feather chandeliers and meaningful bouquets into weddings for her clients.

An intimate event that gives a glimpse into the marrying couple’s lives through its food and décor, with rustic, romantic touches and guests who feel like they’re a part of the celebration. That’s the kind of wedding that’s trending these days, according to the experts who shared with Catering Magazine which styles and customs are being embraced by their bridal clients.

Jamie O & Co. Orlando, Fla.

Meaningful Bouquets

Jamie O’Donnell, event designer and founder of Jamie O’ & Co. in Orlando, has found a way to make the bouquet tradition more personalized and significant for her clients. “I personally think a wedding bouquet is really special; it’s always a moment filled with true emotion when the florist presents it to the bride for the first time on her wedding day,” says O’Donnell. “It’s the moment the day starts to become real.” O’Donnell came up with the idea of having her bridal clients bring a small, beautiful notebook to showers and other events leading up to the wedding. Loved ones write wishes in the book, and then the florist designs the bouquet around it. “The bride walks down the aisle carrying all that love and support from friends and family as she takes steps toward the new chapter of her life and marriage,” explains O’Donnell. “Additionally, she has a meaningful keepsake of her bouquet to last long after the flowers of a traditional bouquet.” Another idea is to add a special piece of jewelry to the bouquet, such as a grandmother’s brooch.

Playful Centerpieces

Another way event designers, including O’Donnell, add interest to the dinner reception is by making sure centerpieces are creative and sometimes even whimsical. “Couples shouldn’t feel like they have to stick to traditional and tailored centerpieces unless they want to,” says O’Donnell, who incorporates such elements as ribbons and glass ornaments into her eye-catching designs. “Playful, colorful and deconstructed centerpieces can make for a statement element of the design and a memorable ‘wow’ moment for the guests.”

A Focus on Love and Storytelling

Weddings have become more intimate in recent years, reports O’Donnell, with couples compiling “a meaningful guest list, versus everyone the couple and families know.” Hand in hand with that trend is the desire couples have to share their love story with their guests. For example, O’Donnell’s clients Jenn Brown, an Emmy award-winning sportscaster and television host, and Wes Chatham, an actor, became engaged at a Journey concert, when Wes proposed as the band performed their hit “Faithfully.”

“To carry the meaningful moment of their proposal into their wedding, Jenn and Wes used the names of Journey songs as their table names for the reception, and guests were given custom-designed ‘concert tickets’ as their escort cards [created by Dragonfly Custom Design],” says O’Donnell. The groom’s cake was designed in the shape of a Journey record, and the night ended with the reception band, Party Nation, performing “Faithfully” as guests surrounded the dancing bride and groom. “There are so many ways to bring the guests into the couple’s love story so everyone can share in the special day,” says O’Donnell. “The guests should walk away saying, ‘That wedding was so them.’”


According to O’Donnell, feathers and other natural elements have taken on a new form in weddings this year. “Instead of the over-the-top Gatsby look we’ve seen over the last few years, feathers are playing a more understated role in design, showing up in gorgeous feather chandelier lighting, placemats and bridal accessories,” she says.

D’Amico Catering Minneapolis

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Playful, colorful centerpieces make a memorable statement in the reception decor.

Memorable Party Favors/Place Cards

Clever and useful party favors, as well as place cards that double as party favors are two trends catching on with wedding clients of D’Amico Catering in Minneapolis. “For example, we created a Bloody Mary bar recently with custom pint glasses, which were also handed out as party favors,” says Kristen Zwieg, event planner at D’Amico. “I think this trend has evolved because brides are trying to come up with favors that the guest may actually use and enjoy, versus handing out something they will never look at again. This is also another way to tie in the look or theme of the event.” Additional examples at D’Amico weddings include individual personalized candy bars, or mini succulents with the guest’s name and table number, which they can take home.

Cuisine That Reflects the Couple

Gone are the days of “chicken or beef?”, according to D’Amico Catering. Couples are increasingly working with caterers to present a menu that helps to give their guests a sense of their style and preferences. “We did a fun s’mores bar for a couple that got married in a winter month and loved to travel to their cabin and roast s’mores,” says D’Amico’s Zwieg. “Food stations can highlight places the couple traveled to—including ethnic cuisines—and individual courses can highlight places they lived.”

Food Installations

When it comes to the food at the wedding reception, creativity is the name of the game, as couples are gravitating toward eye-catching displays and interactivity, according to Jason Brown-Hoesing, special events senior sales manager at D’Amico Catering. “The food and beverages at weddings are becoming the center of attention this year in a fun way,” says Brown-Hoesing. “We are seeing hanging salad stations, doughnut dessert carts, oil-tasting bars and chef-carved charcuterie walls, complete with carved meats and local cheeses. These stations allow the bride and groom to express themselves while giving guests a fun, memorable experience. Some couples are even including food trucks that offer guests small bites of popular comfort foods for a late-night snack or take away as guests depart.”

Fewer Blossoms, More Greenery

While florals are a traditional element of wedding design, more couples are going green when it comes to table décor. “We are starting to see more and more brides using greenery in centerpieces,” says D’Amico Catering’s Brown-Hoesing. “Succulents, potted plants and herbs are a great twist on flowers, and work well for weddings due to their durability and variety.”

Classic Party Rentals

Romantic Lighting

Wedding designers are shining a light on romance, reports Trish Stevens, senior account executive at Classic Party Rentals, by utilizing lighting to give the reception a romantic, intimate feel. “Edison lightbulbs in particular have been seen on dance floors, near the bar area and in lounge areas, as well as custom-made chandeliers,” she says.

Rustic Meets Ranch

The rustic-chic style is still going strong, and at least on the West Coast it’s being married with a Western ranch feel, according to Marc Esposito, general manager of Classic Party Rentals in Los Angeles. It’s the “West meets Tuscany” look, he says. “Rustic chic combined with a Western ranch feel has become the hottest wedding look,” says Esposito. “Leather accents and distressed woods along with gold and copper table settings add a relaxed, lounge-like flair for guests, in place of the traditional sitdown style.”

In California, a Western ranch vibe is being added to the popular rustic-chic style.

In California, a Western ranch vibe is being added to the popular rustic-chic style.


Family-Style Dining

As couples aim for celebrations that make their guests feel included, they’re increasingly choosing family-style dining, says Leah Neumann, catering and delivery director for FIG & OLIVE, the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant with locations in California, New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C. “More and more of our clients have been requesting family-style service versus a more formal, plated dinner,” says Neumann. “The format allows for a more communal and shared experience between family and friends.” Dishes at FIG & OLIVE that are conducive to this type of set-up include its signature salad, penne funghi tartufo and roasted seasonal vegetables.

Interactive Food Stations

Couples are making the food part of the entertainment, choosing interactive stations that encourage guests to mingle and draw their attention. One particular favorite at FIG & OLIVE is its large-scale paella, says Neumann. “Not only is the dish presented in a visually stunning manner, it becomes a focal point for amazing photos, and even allows for a somewhat themed occasion,” she says. “Couples also often request charcuterie and cheese stations for either the appetizer or dessert portion of the event. Once, we did a ‘cheese’ cake of tiered cheeses for the bride and groom’s wedding cake.”