Receptions get creative, personal

More personal, more inventive.

Those are the dominant trends in wedding receptions, experts say, in an era when brides have all the resources of the Internet to plan, share and often produce their own affairs.



Many are drawn to something beyond the traditional banquet/speeches/garter throw-and-go reception of the past.


Sites like Project Wedding, The Knot, Wedding Wire and Pinterest show a wide variety of designs for fabric and paper decorations, centerpieces, color schemes, food table displays and party activities. A bride can take on the creative task herself with friends, or share her favorite ideas with professional planners or vendors.

There are tips online for hosting an under-$5,000 wedding (have an afternoon affair serving cookies, cider and champagne instead of a whole meal, decorate tables with trails of polished river rocks and small bowls of single-hued flowers), or making a large reception feel more intimate (group people at smaller tables, provide sofas or lounge areas for casual conversation).

Many sites include region-specific vendor lists.

A bride “has access to tons of creative, easy ideas that she can even replicate herself to save a little money and add unique personality to her event,” says Diana Vermeulen, who runs the Detroit-based Moxie Photography. She shoots photojournalist-style weddings with a contemporary vibe; she likes to train her camera on candid moments — a group of guests sharing a laugh; the bride in a pensive moment; kids and dogs enjoying the party.

Shira Savada, an editor at Martha Stewart Weddings, says that when it comes to details, today’s brides aren’t “just duplicating something they see in a magazine — it’s ordering something custom through Etsy, or having mom make fabric napkins instead of renting.”

Vermeulen recalls one couple who gave a nod to older relatives by displaying several of their old wedding dresses on dress forms.

“It was a real point of interest for guests and a virtually cost-free way to decorate some areas of the reception hall,” she says.


Craig Norton, director of operations for the Prince George Hotel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, says themes are in. He oversees between 40 and 50 weddings a year, with budgets from $10,000 to $120,000.

“We’ve done a Parisian theme, with a bistro menu en francais. We did a summer camp theme for a couple who had met at one. There was food served in a canoe, a campfire, picnic tables and s’mores,” he says.


Savada, at Martha Stewart, says color palettes have gotten more unusual: combos such as gray and black paired with coral, or ivory and cream with emerald.

“Black may not be the first color you think of when you think wedding, but it packs a punch and can be quite elegant,” she says. “And metallics are all over the place.”