Wedding planners specialize in curating the perfect Big Day that’s unique to each couple. They have the expertise, local contacts and their clients’ best interests in mind. That’s why it’s important to let the experts handle the details. Here, we speak to three local wedding planners — Amanda Price, owner and lead planner at Amanda Price Events; Emily Sullivan, owner and visionary at Emily Sullivan Events; and Elyse Jennings, owner and principal designer at Elyse Jennings Weddings — who share their insights as well as some of the hot trends becoming more popular today.
For starters, the best piece of advice that each of these experts shares — aside from hiring a wedding planner — is to set a realistic budget.
“Planning a wedding is all about compromise and communication,” Price says. “When you start the process, take some time to think about your must-haves and what things you are willing to be flexible on.”
Also important during the planning process is to first develop a solid idea about what you want your wedding to say about you as a couple. For example, if you’re traditional and formal, you may prefer a lavish ballroom wedding. If you’re free-spirited and more excited about the reception, you may prefer a non-traditional outdoor venue.
“[Think about] what adjectives will allow your guests to leave saying, ‘That was so perfect for those two,’” Jennings says. “Those descriptors should inform all decisions you make throughout your wedding-planning [process].”
Trends are always changing, and it’s important to design a wedding that not only fits your style, but also one that isn’t outdated.
“[My clients] are breaking tradition a little to create weddings that are more custom to their personalities,” Jennings says. “Maybe they aren’t having a church wedding, they are having a friend officiate, they are doing less bouquet and garter tosses and inviting less family so they can put more money toward the experience.”
According to Price, one of the trends that has recently lost favor is rustic weddings with burlap, mason jars and chalkboards. Instead, couples are opting for lots of color. Fuchsia, lavender, coral and teal are popular for spring and summer weddings, while emerald, cobalt and violet are hot for fall and winter weddings.
Instead of photo booths, many couple are choosing to incorporate mirror booths (for fun selfies) and roaming booths (where photography teams capture moments that can be shared via social networks). Another trend in photography is the “first look,” with many couples choosing to take those photos in advance.
Couples also are choosing to have smaller wedding parties, or none at all. For those who do, it’s customary today to see bridesmaids in dresses of the same color but different style.
“We also love seeing the trend of grooms with unique elements in their attire: color in suits and tuxedos, custom cufflinks, floral boutonnieres and custom-made suits or tuxedos, such as pattern-lined jackets,” Price says.
There’s also a newfound focus on sweets, with dessert buffets and late-night passed desserts — or any late-night snack — replacing the traditional groom’s cake.
“We are seeing catering and bar experiences being cultivated as a part of the design and experience,” Price says. “People are paying attention to the presentation of the food and timing.”
Just as important as the food offerings are the cocktails, especially here in New Orleans.
“I am so excited about the craft cocktail, luxury ice and edible cocktail movement,” Jennings says. “This has become a new, creative way to welcome and wow your guests. Then designing a gorgeous bar setup with a custom bar front, bar back or fun sign describing the cocktails adds major bonus points.”
Also popular today is the use of lounge sections, where guests can enjoy all of those great food and beverage options.
“Creating a cozy environment for your guests to observe the dance floor or relax away from the noise is always a ‘yes’ in my book,” Jennings says. “It’s also a great place to add a pop of the wedding color through the pillows or even monogram them.”
In terms of decor, Price is seeing balloon installations; specialty lighting, such as various shaped chandeliers, to enhance spaces; and hanging floral arrangements that feature lots of texture, such as pampas grass and amaranthus. “And velvet is everywhere — in attire, linens, shoes, guys accessories and more,” Price says.
For those who are looking for something a bit non-traditional in terms of a New Orleans wedding, there are a number of appropriate options. Many couples are choosing eclectic venues, such as breweries, industrial spaces, museums and theaters for their weddings and receptions. Another way to add distinctive flair is to offer a tap truck or bubbles bar; live-action stations, such as tarot readers, caricature artists or glitter bars; and made-to-order food stations.
Of course, after parties following the reception are de rigueur. A way to keep it fresh is to have your live band or DJ follow you there. Even better, have a DJ and a live band play together for some added pizazz. And for venues that have noise ordinances? “Bring in a silent disco for the end of the night to be able to stay later and continue to enjoy the party,” Price says, referring to the practice of giving guests wireless headphones to curb the sound.
Another non-traditional aspect is to have a Friday night wedding. We know, this goes against anything you’ve ever heard. However, by doing so, you allow your guests to attend the ceremony and reception on Friday night, and then have a rehearsal rewind celebration party on Saturday.
“This way, couples can enjoy the entire weekend with their guests and do a more laid-back event on Saturday such as a crawfish boil or party at a local brewery,” Price says. “Also, hosting your wedding at a venue where some of your guests can stay over the weekend … allows the party to continue as long as you’d like — and you have the entire weekend to enjoy your closest friends and family.”
Of course, there are some wedding trends that have stood the test of time and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Of these, first dances, second lines, statement cakes, floral centerpieces and candlelight top the list. Sullivan also lists ballroom receptions (but reinvented to truly reflect the couple), hedge walls, and champagne and signature cocktails as enduring trends.