What’s new and how are you going to be able to afford it all?

Tips from those who know

In case you haven’t been to a wedding lately, some things have changed. Yes, costs have gone up, details have become so important, and the level of elaborateness has increased. Why? Hard to say, but in our media-drenched culture it’s hard to escape from images of what your perfect day should look like, sometimes causing expectations that can’t be met.

Maybe it’s the Martha Stewart effect or TV shows devoted to flashy weddings. Lora Ward, a local wedding planner who has been in the wedding consultant business for 25 years offered her opinion.

“Just Google your wishes and there will be a resource for it.”

Ward is the owner of A Day to Remember Wedding Consultants. She offers full service coordination, which means as soon as a bride contacts her, Ward will begin offering assistance in areas such as time management, research, referrals, bookkeeping and food and beverage management.

Her biggest challenge these days is putting together an event for a bride with “champagne taste on a beer budget.”

“It’s hard to keep telling her she cannot have that certain something because it’s not within her budget,” Ward said.

Over the years Ward has noticed that garden settings or country club-style weddings have increased in popularity. And it also seems that a lightly religious service appeals to more of her clients than a devout service. Of course music has changed.

“Ten years ago many of my clients were excited about the high level of energy and props used by DJs but over the last two to three years, my clients prefer a less energetic style of a DJ and more of a sophisticated party,” she said.

Professional lighting can enhance any venue and can be very simple or completely over the top. Flowers, according to Ward, have been getting away from pastels with brides using more colorful bouquets.

Though sit-down dinners are still common, food stations are becoming more popular or a late night champagne dessert reception instead of the formal dinner. Martinis and cocktail receptions are also popular according to Ward.

Photo by Holly Istas - <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

A few interesting extras she has noticed lately include a photo booth (like at the State Fair) at receptions. She also encourages a short non-alcoholic beverage social prior to a garden setting wedding. Late night treats are popular. Mini hamburgers or trays of white chocolate strawberries passed while guests are dancing are fun additions.

Ward stressed that it is important to establish a budget for your wedding right away. Then begin collecting pictures of looks that appeal. Work out a timeline for the day of the wedding. Listen to vendors and accept their recommendations if they appeal to you and are within your budget.

Both Ward and Allison Fuller, wedding coordinator for Every Little Detail, agree that brides seem be getting a bit older.

Plenty of the brides Fuller works with have established careers and both bride and groom contribute money for the wedding. And though both parties are working, costs are also going up.

“Budgets have increased with the times and weddings can range from $15,000 to $60,000 and up,” Fuller said.

She seconds Ward on the idea of establishing a budget right away. Once that’s done, venues can be picked, then vendors. Fuller suggests picking only three vendors per category to start and then doing your research.

Even with rising costs brides want their weddings to be special. One way to achieve that feeling is to make your wedding more personal. Fuller says she’s noticed a trend away from everything matching, so use colors that you really like.

“There also seems to be a trend toward theme weddings,” Fuller said. “A bride will have a favorite color or flower. So, if a bride likes orchids, we will have orchids everywhere to create a uniform feeling for the entire event.”

Sandy Stringer of Strings and Champagne (who worked with Eric Stein in our Groom story) has also picked up on a trend for outdoor weddings but away from garden or country club settings.

“I have seen more get-away weddings where the entire party stays at a unique venue for a weekend and the wedding and reception are in the same place,” she said.

A large majority of the brides Stringer works with are in their late 20s to 30s and work full time. Stringer recommends getting in touch with a wedding planner about a year ahead of the date, but she has put together a wedding in as little as three weeks.

And for couples with green leanings visit, named to Forbes’ Best of the Web list. Their homepage states they help with,“Eco-friendly and socially responsible events that balance ecology, style and tradition.” They have information on natural bridal gowns, tree-free and recycled invitations and an eco-friendly gift registry.