Brides and grooms are finding inspiration in old Hollywood style, bringing the refined elegance of the past into today’s springtime celebrations—and the resulting affairs are unforgettable events fitting for a modern Manhattan.
By Vicki Hogue-Davies
In a city known for its unparalleled sophistication and style, weddings are no exception. Capturing the spirit of this iconic city, couples marry old customs with new trends in ever-glamorous celebrations tailored to reflect their individuality. For springtime nuptials, brides continue to seek looks reminiscent of 1920s elegance, while receptions feature signature food and drink indulgences that are more contemporary in nature.
“I think people are … going back to more traditional, Old World glamour,” says Kristin Doggett, a partner of Bellafare, a boutique event and wedding planning company in New York City. “New York lends itself to that.”
Though couples are returning to a classic look and feel, longstanding rituals are taking a back seat in favor of festivities that are beyond compare.
“The more traditional elements that our parents grew up seeing are not something our clients do anymore,” Doggett says. “I haven’t seen a receiving line or a bouquet or garter toss in a long time. Instead, it is all about being a party, being really fun and representing them as a couple. It is not so much about stopping the party every hour for another ‘to do,’ but about the overall feel they are going for.”
As with every wedding, the ceremony sets the tone for the occasion. This season’s dazzling gowns make brides feel as though they’re on the red carpet when they walk down the aisle. In a nod to silver screen sirens of the past, curve-hugging mermaid dresses and flowing sheath designs are gaining popularity.
“The bridal world has been heavily influenced by Hollywood … and brides want to be the star of the show on their wedding day,” says Terry Hall, fashion director for Kleinfeld Bridal, the legendary New York designer wedding dress store. “… Glamour [is] reflected in many designers’ collections, specifically with beautiful, unique illusion and interesting back detail. [There is] everything from tattoo lace and intricate beading to lighter, softer fabrics.”
Notably, the once-reigning strapless dress is now a thing of the past, Hall says; many collections feature neckline details that incorporate everything from lingerie straps to flutter, cap and full illusion sleeves.
Kleinfeld’s most popular designers, Mark Zunino, Amsale, Dennis Basso and Pnina Tornai, feature many of these intricate details and incorporate a range of colors, in addition to the classically popular whites and ivories.
“In terms of color and silhouette trends, we are seeing typical blushes and light blues and lilacs, but Dennis Basso’s finale in red [on the runway for the spring 2014 bridal collection] was radiant,” Hall says. “Of course, most dresses shown in a color are also offered in white or, more commonly, ivory … or a slight variation.” Occasionally, a bride will want to make a dramatic statement by wearing red or even black, but white is still the overwhelming color choice.
“There are still brides who want to look and feel like a princess on their wedding day and wear a ball gown,” he adds. As he notes, these styles have a softer silhouette and lighter feel than in seasons past.
Whether aiming for glamour or a romantic look, brides in New York this season are also looking for veils that reflect their sophisticated style. “Veil trends include hints of gold and textural, ethereal elements, such as veils lined with horsehair, which makes the veil look like it is floating around the bride,” Hall says. “Short veils with French netting and headband veils are also very important.”
The same elegance in wedding day attire translates accordingly to reception menus.
“The St. Regis New York continues to see an increase in glamorous dining options throughout the reception,” says Gary Merjian, the hotel’s director of catering. “This menu trend includes caviar and smoked salmon hors d’oeuvres, lobster appetizers, sushi stations, rack of lamb entrees and increasingly special wedding cakes.”
To end the meal, some couples are forgoing the traditional slice of cake altogether. A creative new reception trend involves passing miniature sweets around the dance floor.
For drinks, premium Champagne is a timeless selection for weddings, but couples are increasingly adding other beverages as well. With help from the St. Regis, brides and grooms try their hand at mixology to create signature sips for the cocktail hour. Merjian says, “In the spring and summer, this drink is often a flavored mojito, while in the cooler months we typically serve a flavored martini.”
Going one step further at the bar, couples are adding wine tastings, specialty bars and presentations in lieu of a simple open bar or beer-and-wine-only option. “We’ve done whiskey bars and scotch bars,” Doggett says. “We also incorporate specialty presentations like a Champagne and caviar table or a Champagne and raw bar table. These things are a little more exciting and get those foodies out there involved.”
From the dress to the food and everything in between, individuality reigns at today’s New York weddings—perhaps a reason why themed celebrations are fading from popularity.
“While the wedding itself is not themed, the couple might have a few different elements that tie in to who they are or where they went to school or how they met,” Doggett explains. “They might name the tables after their favorite restaurants or actually bring out props that relate to them at the end of the night, which sounds cheesy, but can be quite fun.”
Even the decor has undergone a slight transformation at receptions, with lighting used to showcase beautiful flowers and other details. “Elegant flowers have been popular for some time now, but recently we have seen lighting used in a way that enriches the floral arrangements and decorations,” Merjian says.
And when it comes to flowers, Doggett notes that her clients are often more drawn to the loosely bunched, whimsical and organic look, although, for highly formal affairs, large bouquets of flowing flowers are still popular.
While lighting and flowers help to create a special setting, the spotlight remains on the couple in this spring’s bespoke New York weddings. The bride and groom shine in glamorous styles against a backdrop of refined elegance in a city unsurpassed for its singular ceremonies. B