In terms of overall looks, it's back to the future for weddings this season. "Nostalgia is a big trend," says Adele Wechsler, a Toronto bridal-gown designer ( www.adelewechsler.com) whose eco-friendly gowns are vintage-inspired. "People are yearning for a connection to the past." Equally old-fashioned, Toronto's Pantry Press ( www.pantrypress.com) creates hand-crafted, custom-designed invitations with an antique letter press. "People like them because they're tactile and one-of-a-kind," says Julie Gibb, a partner in the company.
Once an afterthought, local produce and wines are becoming de rigueur for receptions, says Chris Alward of Local Food Plus, which certifies farmers and processors across Canada. "It's a trend that's definitely on the rise." The eco-chic ethos is also being applied to boutonnieres, which these days incorporate everything from pesticide-free flowers to recycled road maps. "There's more environmental awareness among today's brides and grooms than in the past," observes Lisa Rutland, whose green catering business, Toronto-based Sequel Event Planning ( www.sequel.ca), is 50 per cent busier than last season, she says.
A different head space
See you later, tiaras and crowns. Hello, birdcage veils and feathery fascinators. As bridal gowns have become more glamorous - even sexy - over the years, headpieces have also grown a lot more fashion forward, says Karin Gingras of Toronto's Lilliput Hats ( www.lilliputhats.com). "They've become more whimsical and versatile, allowing them to be worn after the wedding on other occasions."
Less is more
For a number reasons - economics, a desire for intimacy - big weddings have given way to affairs of fewer than 50 people. "It's all about giving guests an experience to remember," says Catherine Lash, founder of The Wedding Co. ( www.theweddingco.com). To keep it personal, couples are eschewing raised head tables to sit with their guests at single long communal ones, dinner-party-style. Hipper venues like art galleries and boutique hotels are also replacing cavernous banquet halls as gatherings get smaller.
Forget the lowly video: Oscar-worthy wedding movies made by multi-media producers like Vancouver's Cloud Nine Creative Inc. (www.cloudninecreative.com) are gaining star status when it comes to capturing nuptials. In Cloud Nine's case, two cinematographers and three months of painstaking editing create a wedding film that even Robert Altman would love. A corresponding trend is the same-day edit of early wedding-day scenes that are screened for guests at the reception. Applause all around.
Let them eat cakes
Recently overshadowed by cupcakes and (egad!) marshmallows, the wedding cake is back this season with a vengeance. Think elaborate seven-tier constructions featuring tinted fondants, statuary and even peacock feathers, says Alexandria Pellegrino, owner of Toronto's Cake Opera Co. ( www.cakeoperaco.com). "Clients are off pastels this year and are asking for more dramatically coloured cakes in hues such as black, deep purple and gold," she adds.
Bridesmaid dresses were once synonymous with shades such as baby blue and cotton-candy pink, but that was then. This season, bold purple, earthy orange, rich raspberry and dramatic crimson are among the distinctive new hues brightening attendant dresses as well as table linens and invitations. The only white thing is the wedding dress, although that's not a given either: Next month, Ann Swerdfager, of Stratford, Ont., is walking down the aisle in peacock blue. "White is too old-fashioned," she says. "Besides, my mother wore green at her wedding, so this is my nod to tradition."
People living together before marrying may already have all the crystal and cake mixers they need. So what to get them? How about a new car from Roy Foss Motors ( www.royfoss.com) or a museum-quality photo from Toronto's Stephen Bulger Gallery ( www.bulgergallery.com)? Both are among the growing number of suppliers offering registries that apply monetary donations toward big-ticket gifts such as art and automobiles. Also popular: honeymoon travel gift cards.
Wedding night stagers
It used to be that the wedding night involved three parties: the bride, the groom and Mother Nature. But now you can add the stager to the lineup. Couples - especially those who have lived together for a while - "want their wedding nights to be extra special, unlike any other night they've experienced," says Monika Mondal Verna of A Night of Romance ( www.anightofromance.ca), a Toronto company that transforms ordinary bedrooms into rose-strewn temples of love. Rose petals too cliché? How about a tropical oasis or a Bollywood night to remember? You'll always have Mumbai.