The wedding has come a long way since the days when women were coerced, captured, or bartered off for marriage in exchange for cash or livestock. It wasn’t until the 1820’s and 1830’s that the American upper class began to incorporate a fancy cake, a dinner reception, and a toast to the bride and groom into the wedding ceremony. In the early part of the nineteenth century only the very rich could afford to get married in white, because white clothing was so hard to clean and maintain. But in 1840, when Queen Victoria chose to wear an elegant white satin gown for her wedding to Prince Albert, the white wedding dress became all the rage. In the latter part of the century, when weddings moved out of the home and into churches, the family of the bride began to seek out vendors for food and flowers. By the 1920’s stores began to offer bridal departments, and the bridal market took off.
Fast forward to 2010. To find out the latest trends in weddings this year I checked in with Anja Winikka, an editor at TheKnot.com, the authority on all things weddings and the #1 wedding website. I then consulted wedding expert Maria McBride, Wedding Style Director of BRIDES magazine, and the author of six books including Perfect Wedding Details, The Perfect Wedding Reception, The Perfect Wedding, The Wedding Dress, and Bridal Flowers (see our story in Reading Around), to find out some of the most exciting new places in New York to spot the trends. (You can read a profile of Maria on Woman Around Town, and visit her website at www.MariaMcBride.com).
According to TheKnot.com, one of the hottest looks for wedding dresses this year is the white or ivory, high-waisted, tea-length dress. Top accessories include gloves, pearls, and even, believe it or not, an occasional pill-box hat. It’s a style that harkens back to the nineteen fifties and early sixties. Think Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy, or the women on the TV show Mad Men. To find these trends along with an excellent selection of beautiful styles in an intimate setting,
Maria recommends Gabriella New York Bridal Salon, located in Chelsea (www.gabriellanewyork.com, 400 West 14th Street). Short wedding dresses at Gabriella’s start at $750; long dresses run from $1,800 to $8,000. Styles favored by customers include fitted dressed and accessories such as cage veils, and flowers or feathers for the hair.
Another cozy, downtown favorite is Lovely Bridal Shop (www.lovelybride.com) 313 West 4th Street, lower ground level, photo of selected dresses, above). Lovely’s carries sought-after designers along with creative up-and-comers. Prices at Lovely’s range from $500 to $5,000, with an average dress price of around $2,000.
For the bride looking for a high-end salon in midtown, stop by the elegant Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier (www.bridalatelier.com,110 East 55th Street, 8th floor). Mark Ingram Bridal Atelier carries luxury designers like Oscar de le Renta and Carolina Herrera. Prices for a gown start at $4,000 and go up to $20,000.
After interviewing Anja from TheKnot.com, it became clear that there is a key trend permeating all elements of the 2010 wedding: a return to formality. The rustic, homespun, backyard wedding popular in 2009 is last year’s news. This year, couples who can afford it are once again choosing to hold their weddings in hotels, and New York has no shortage of great choices. From brand-new hot spots to tried-and-true old favorites that never go out of style, there’s something for every couple. The world-famous Plaza Hotel was recently renovated with an eye toward creating ideal wedding spaces, and if money is no object, The Plaza’s Grand Ballroom (above) or The Terrace Room is the ultimate location for a luxury wedding (www.theplaza.com, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, prices available upon request).
For a more intimate affair, Maria likes the new Crosby Street Hotel (www.crosbystreethotel.com 79 Crosby Street), located on a quiet cobblestone street in SoHo. Designed in a fresh, contemporary English style, the Crosby Street Hotel can seat 40 people for dinner or 150-200 for a reception with passed hors d’oeuvres. (Room rental is $600 per hour, menus for a sit-down dinner range from $65 to $95 per person). For an entirely different feel, Hudson New York (www.hudsonhotel.com, 356 West 58th Street, photo, above), a hip hotel located in midtown and designed by the legendary Philippe Starck, describes itself as “the next generation of Cheap Chic – stylish, democratic, young at heart and utterly cool.” Features include a 2,000 square foot tented terrace with panoramic views of Manhattan and the Hudson River. The hotel can accommodate 120 guests for a seated dinner. (Prices are available upon request).
For couples on a budget, Wedding Chapel (www.grandopening.org, 139 Norfolk Street), a store front on the Lower East Side, is a clever choice. It’s description says it all: “It’s Vegas–the New York Way.” The base price of a wedding there is $350 for 24 guests. (For a look at real Vegas weddings, see Snapping Around).
TheKnot.com reports that couples who want to spend less but still want a formal atmosphere are hosting receptions that have the feel of a cocktail party, with lots of hors d’oeuvres and an emphasis on socializing instead of a four-course sit-down dinner. New York has no shortage of catering companies to choose from. Maria describes Olivier Cheng Catering and Events (12-16 Vestry Street, website coming soon) as “an extremely creative caterer who sets the trends that others follow.” (Lobster salad, above). Cheng employs a staff of top restaurant chefs to create elegant, modern, and inventively presented dishes. Passed hors d’ouevres from Olivier Cheng Catering and Events start at $25 per person. Another great option is Creative Edge Parties (www.creativeedgeparties.com, 110 Barrow Street), a prestigious catering and event planning company that believes in working closely with their clients to achieve a memorable celebration. (Prices available upon request).
Wedding cakes are back in a big way for 2010, according to TheKnot.com. Cupcakes, a popular choice last year, are no longer a major trend. Like flowers, cakes are returning to a cleaner, more sophisticated style, and are often the centerpiece of a wedding. A Simple Cake (www.asimplecake.com 335 West 38th Street, #11), offers a beautiful collection of designs and an easy ordering system. A bride can choose from 19 different cake designs, from classic to modern, and then pick from 12 different decorations to adorn the cake. Prices start at $6.50 per person. Maria also suggests Eat Cake Be Merry (www.eatcakebemerry.com), located in Jersey City. Their cakes feature clean, fresh designs with a modern aesthetic. Prices start at $8 per serving and go up depending on the intricacy of the design. (For more on cakes, see Dining Around).
Monochromatic color schemes are popular, and are reflected in floral arrangements as well as decor. Bridal bouquets are trending back to all-white, with an emphasis on a textural mix of different flowers as opposed to the just-picked-from-the-garden, colorful bouquets of last year. Maria recommends L’Oasis Floral Designs (www.loasisfloraldesigns.com, 917-601-2540) for their personalized service, elegant flowers, and reasonable prices. L’Oasis does not have a shop, so to ensure that the bride is getting what she wants, co-owner Laurence or her partner will visit the wedding site to discuss flowers with the bride. A bridal bouquet from L’Oasis starts at $150. Prudence Designs (www.prudencedesigns.net, 231 West 18th Street), a charming shop in Chelsea, creates high-style, slightly quirky floral arrangements with looks that suggest English and French country with a modern twist. A bridal bouquet from Prudence Designs starts at $200. (For information on another florist, Florisan, see Living Around).
The latest in bridesmaid’s gifts this year is not to give everyone the same thing. Instead, TheKnot.com suggests that the bride buy something special and meaningful for each bridesmaid. A great new place Maria likes for finding unusual, one-of-a kind gifts is the Limelight Marketplace (656 Avenue of the Americas at 20th Street, once a nightclub, website coming soon), a European-style bazaar with more than 60 pop-up stores and a green market.
These are just some of the trends and hot spots for weddings this year. There are many more, and exciting new places are opening all the time. All of which proves the fact that, no matter what the latest trends might be, one thing is certain: whatever your style, you can find what you’re looking for in New York.