15 exciting new tips to make weding day a marriage made in heaven
From laidback dining to wildflower bouquets, the personal approach is key to making you and your guests feel happy, says Jillian Bolger
Tradition has never seemed more appealing than when you're planning a wedding. No matter how hip or unconventional a couple you are, you may be surprised to find yourselves drawn to the old-school values that have defined weddings for centuries. While there's something utterly romantic and reassuring about following tradition, modern couples and wedding vendors are now deconstructing conventional practices and dreaming up creative ways to put a new spin on old customs. From dress codes to floral fancies, and menus to venues, here's our round-up of 2015's hottest wedding trends.
1. Venue envy
Cookie-cutter weddings in boring banqueting rooms are so passé. Nothing excites guests more than an invitation to an unexpected venue - preferably somewhere obscure they've never been before. Historical buildings like Mount Stewart or Mussenden Temple are up for grabs, or you could always try somewhere completely different like a theatre, a lighthouse, mill or converted barn.
2. A family affair
Four-course menus have their place but 2015 is all about guest interaction, with family-style meals trumping fine dining. Buffets are well and good but family-style means waiting staff serve up platters of sharing food to seated guests who pass dishes around. (Long tables work especially well for this). Charcuterie platters might be followed by plated steaks, which guests supplement with bowls of delicious salads and sides. Cheese boards and crackers keep it continental and convivial before a delicious dessert buffet where guests help themselves.
3. Midnight feasts
Skip the late-night sausage rolls and sandwiches, and feed guests from a food truck. From wood-fired pizzas to fish and chips, burritos to pulled pork rolls, you'll find all manner of delicious street food served up at the hippest weddings. You'll need to check restrictions with your venue, and consider the practicalities of feeding the masses from a hatch, but good street food is guaranteed to make way more of an impression than dance-floor tea and ham sandwiches, and means evening-only guests get in on the party action.
4. 48-hour party people
Gone is the notion of a single wedding day. Want to be the ultimate hosts? Then book out your venue for two nights and offer a barbecue as a pre-wedding night icebreaker or post-wedding day comedown. Either way, it doubles the time you can hang with your nearest and dearest, while extending the party you've worked so hard to plan.
5. Piece of cake
Sweet carts are already feeling hackneyed, but there's no end in sight for the rather delicious dessert buffet. If your budget is tight, why not ask your pals to rock up with their signature cake as a wedding gift. You'll need a dedicated table to set up the feast, and make sure you have more goodies than you think you'll need. A mix of gateaux, bite-sized nibbles, cupcakes and macaroons will ensure everyone finishes your wedding feast on a sugar high.
6. Dare to bare
Pared-back and rustic are the buzzwords in baking circles, replacing our obsession with show-stopping, OTT wedding cakes. All that gilded icing and ornate decoration is being abandoned in favour of naked sponge cakes. Think fluffy Victoria sandwiches, triple-stacked and filled with fresh cream and jam or butter icing. Summer berries, a few flowers and a dusting of icing sugar are all that's needed for a slice of sponge cake heaven.
7. Wild thing
Formal, structured floral displays have been replaced by wild flowers for 2015, with loosely structured bouquets the biggest news. Showcasing a more bohemian style, top florists are using a mix of summery blooms and lush foliage to create a just-gathered-from-the-meadow look. Pastels are back in demand too, but this time around they're loose and free, featuring wild flowers and plenty of free-flowing greenery.
8. Green fingers
Green-on-grey mixed foliage bouquets are an edgy and original choice that keep costs down while being bang up-to-date. Featuring textured leaves in silvery shades bound with delicate herbs, this hot all-leaf trend results in a lush, natural bouquet that's the perfect accessory for a frill-free dress. Follow the theme through with table centres - maybe tin cans or wooden boxes planted up with spiky succulents or single pot cacti that double-up as cool favours.
9. A perfect match
Partly celebrity-inspired (remember Olivia Palermo's cashmere sweater, shorts, and over-skirt bridal combo?), partly channelling our love of dressed-down glamour, 2015 is all about bridal separates. Play it bold with a whimsical skirt (maybe flouncy layers of silk tulle) balanced with an ultra simple top that's free from embellishment. Bonus points if your skirt has pockets.
10. Head's up
Boho brides can dump the veil and choose an edgy, minimalist headpiece from one of the great milliners out there. For something more romantic and original, why not choose a floral crown which is bang on-trend once again? Work with your florist to ensure you look more 2015 than 1985.
11. White wedding
Wearing white as a wedding guest used to be seen as the height of bad taste. Now modern brides are less concerned, with many choosing this non-traditional colour for their bridesmaids' dresses too. By picking different styles, with less detail than the bridal gown, there's no mistaking who's the star of the day.
12. Mix and match
Identical dresses for all the bridesmaids is decidedly naff. Break with tradition and choose a single colour palette that your girls can work within. Alternatively, pick a style and let all your maids select dresses that complement each other. The mix-and-match effect is way cooler and you can use matching bouquets to tie together the big day look.
13. Freestyle grooms
Morning suits are so last decade. Unless you're having a black tie affair, ditch the traditional and let the groom and his groomsmen rock a mix-and-match affair too. Maybe he'll wear coloured chinos and a tweed waistcoat. How about a coloured suit for the groom or different-coloured shirts, bow ties and braces for his crew? Dinner jackets are optional, as are practical shoes and ties. If he's a laidback kind of guy, then let his big day outfit say so.
14. Take your seats
Table plans are as popular as ever at weddings, with couples endeavouring to match up like-minded pals, especially those who won't know many others attending. Place cards, however, are less important, with modern-day couples simply designating tables but not seats. This allows guests to find their table but sit wherever they choose. Eliminates a logistical nightmare for the couple - and offers guests some welcome autonomy too.
15. A few words
Traditionally the boys got to do all the talking at weddings. Thankfully, there's equality and common sense around these days and guests expect the bride to step up to the mike to share a few words. It may be the only chance you'll get in your life to address everyone you love, so make sure you don't let the opportunity pass you by.