The Rings

First thing’s first – it all starts with a ring and a proposal. The ring is the one symbol, worn daily, as a reminder and announcement to the world that you are betrothed. From the proposal on, it represents a commitment to share a life together.??

“Most guys want to get their loved one the best possible ring they can,” says Michelle Holdgrafer, Bruce G. Webber store director.

When it comes to rings, budget is often the first consideration, followed by the type of metal, the shape of the center stone and the setting.?? Engagement rings generally start around $1,500, with most young couples spending between $3,000 and $15,000, Holdgrafer says, with some ranging upwards of $30,000.?? White metals, including white gold, platinum and palladium, continue to be the biggest trend. The two most popular cuts of diamonds are the classic round and cushion cut.??

“Most brides like the micro-pave settings right now, which are petite diamonds set into the ring and can halo the center gem,” she notes. “It’s a nice addition to the ring.”??

As for grooms, they too are continuing to choose white metals. Palladium has become popular because it has a lower price point than platinum. The trend for a simple band, with a design in the middle, is still popular. However, for grooms wanting a little edge, many are choosing designs accentuated with darkened metal.??

The Gown

A popular trend in bridal design is strapless with a sweetheart neckline, says Haley Cone, assistant manager of Tulsa’s Alfred Angelo.??
“We are seeing a lot of organza or soft tulle along with lots of layers and rosettes on dresses,” she notes. “We also think we are going to see a lot more lace, jackets and longer sleeves because of the royal wedding, and we have a replica dress coming out soon.”
When it comes to the silhouette, Nadia Chaalan of Bridal Palace in Tulsa says brides are keeping it simple.

“Brides don’t want big, puffy dresses anymore. They want fitted, drop waists and are no longer asking for white color,” she says, explaining brides now prefer off-white colors such as diamond or ivory.

?Continuing trends also include lots of headpieces incorporating flowers, feathers or both. Pillbox hats with a birdcage veil are also popular. Many brides are not wearing veils. However, Cone adds that the royal wedding may make them more popular again. Chaalan agrees and says that when brides do opt for a veil, a floor length cathedral veil is usually the choice.

Cone advises putting the bridal gown, along with venue booking, at the top of the list of things to do when planning a wedding. ??Alfred Angelo offers gowns for every budget with prices beginning at $2,000. The store also partnered with Disney to carry a line of dresses inspired by Disney princesses, with prices ranging from $599 to $1,000. Bridal Palace carries pieces from several designers, including several exclusive lines.

The Venue

Macy Amatucci, co-owner of Mayo Hotel, says the biggest trend she sees is couples booking the ceremony, reception, rehearsal dinner and overnight accommodations all in one place.

“It makes it easier on brides because they don’t have to be in contact with as many people during the planning process,” Amatucci notes.
She’s also noticing couples moving away from traditional and toward simple and modern wedding details.

Booking as soon as possible is best, but eight to 12 months prior is appropriate. Cost for a ceremony and reception at the Mayo Hotel averages between $10,000 and $20,0000 for 200 to 300 guests. Prices vary depending on number of guests and catering choices.
“We also help in the planning process and can provide any number of things, such as linens, tables and chairs,” she adds. “We can pretty much be a one-stop shop.”

?These days, many couples are choosing to wed in venues other than traditional churches, including mansions, small convention centers and even unique spots like on the field at a baseball stadium.??

Diane Gawey-Riley, director of sales at McBirney Mansion in Tulsa, agrees that a growing trend is venues that provide an array of services, including lodging. ??Rates at the mansion depend on number of services provided. A four-hour wedding and reception can cost around $3,000, with food and alcohol priced separately, Gawey-Riley adds.??

In addition to providing cakes, photographers, flowers and bartenders, McBirney Mansion also offers eight rooms for lodging and includes breakfast for two the next morning.

On the other end of the spectrum, Andrea Croasdale, facility manager of Harwelden Mansion, says she’s noticed more DIY weddings, and that some are quite well done.

“I’ve seen a lot of do-it-yourself decorations and some turn out beautifully,” she explains. “One recently was the most beautiful wedding I’ve seen in a long time, and the bride had her friends and family doing her set-up all day. It was adorable.”

Harwelden offers a traditional venue with character and history. The mansion also offers options in and around the facility for ceremonies and receptions. Croasdale says many couples choose outdoor spots on the grounds during warmer months.

“Everyone is so different,” she explains. “Some want a small wedding, regardless of the economy, and some are always going to want big, outlandish parties.”

The Food?

These days, some couples appear to be having a little more fun with food and drinks, explains Chef Geoffrey van Glabbeek of Gilcrease Museum.

“It seems like wedding food has always been kind of boring,” the chef says. “Now brides are having a little more fun with it. One bride even served chicken and waffles. They are definitely getting more creative.”

The spectrum is wide-ranging, from modern and hip to flashbacks to the ‘50s or ‘60s such as a Gatsby theme with old-fashioned cocktails.
Catering costs can run anywhere from $10 to $200 per guest, with the average around $75 for a dinner, Glabbeek says.

TJ Warren, catering sales manager at the Tulsa Convention Center, says specialty drinks are becoming more the rage.

“They want a special drink that accents the meal or wedding colors,” she explains. “And another trend we are seeing is ice sculptures such as a flat bed of ice shaped like a bar to keep the drinks cold.”

?“We’ve also experienced a slew of couples wanting home-style, comfort foods, such as a Tex-Mex buffett or fajitas,” she adds.

Catering at the Tulsa Convention Center can range from $20 a person for chef prepared hors d’œuvres to $50 a head for full meal and appetizers.

The Invitations

When it comes to wedding invitations, Margo Nelson, owner of Margo’s in Tulsa, says they tend to set the tone for the wedding.?? The more formal the wedding, the more traditional and formal the invitations, she explains.

The majority of the invitations Nelson sees tend to follow traditional rules of etiquette.?? Less formal options, however, can include using email for replies and using the invitations themselves as response cards.

?“And there are definitely new styles of invites for couples who don’t want them to be as traditional,” she adds.

?Couples can pick themes and details of their invitations to reflect not only the wedding ceremony, but their personalities as well. Margo’s offers couples seemingly endless options. Design choices to make include paper quality, motifs, borders, colors, fonts, envelope designs and types of embellishments such as ribbons or even personalized postage stamps.??

Nelson advises couples start looking at invitation designs six months in advance and place orders three or four months in advance if possible. Invites should be mailed six weeks prior to the event.

?A trend becoming more popular is save-the-date cards, which should be mailed four to six months in advance.

??Lastly, she always recommends ordering at least 25 extra invites and envelopes for last minute guests or errors as re-ordering is costly.

The Photographer

Capturing quality, natural and spontaneous moments as they happen are the most important aspects wedding photographer Chris Humphrey of Owasso says brides are looking for now.

“They want the day captured as it happens, with natural emotions, rather than posed or faked,” he explains.

Most importantly, he says couples should look at a photographers’ experience, body of work and ability to follow through with excellent results and service.

?“There’s no denying you get what you pay for with photography,” he explains. “Drastically cheaper photographers are usually the ones hanging the bride out to dry, and there are lots of amateurs out there.”

Couples are looking for quick turn-around times too, and Humphrey has photos available for review within a week. He personally designs each wedding book using photos chosen by the couple to provide the greatest visual presentation of their wedding day.

??Photographers should be booked at least six to eight months ahead and can cost, including the wedding book, from $3,000 to $7,000 for mid-range budgets.?

“Even with the tight economy, brides are still wanting great wedding photographs, and I don’t think that will ever go out of style,” he adds.

The Cake

Emeline Bauder, owner of Nibbles Cafe in Tulsa, says trends in wedding cakes have a tendency to depend on demographics. ??

“Ours is a younger demographic, and what I’ve been seeing is more clean lines and cakes with less ornate detailing like scrolling,” explains the shop owner of eight years.??

The cafe is also receiving an increasing number of requests for cupcake tiers, presentations and chocolate dipped cake balls. Many grooms are getting in on this action by ordering cake balls or cupcakes too. ??Bauder says cupcakes offer a good substitute for the traditional multi-tiered cake and can still give similar presentation when a small, six-inch, formal cake rests on the top layer.??

Giant flowers made of sugar or fondant are also gaining popularity on bridal cakes.?? Regardless of the type of pastry or design, Bauder suggests couples order at least four months in advance.??

The Flowers

Simple garden flowers are one trend for weddings this year?.

?Toni Garner, owner of Toni’s Flowers and Gifts, says some brides are turning toward a more natural, outdoor look.?? Popular choices are peonies, hydrangeas, Queen Anne’s lace and natural greenery. Popular colors include whites and greens with touches of color such as periwinkle, light lavender or pale pink.??

“Just fun and natural looking and not very formal,“ she explains.

Ken Youngblood, floral designer with Petal Pushers of Tulsa, agrees that brides definitely want a looser, less formal look, and says garden roses are a trend that he’s noticed.

Youngblood also says green is a hot color right now, often mixed with complementary colors, such as pink, white and chocolate.

He also notes that brides are doing lot of homework and turning to the Internet to find exactly what they want.

?But flower choices vary widely across the board, from wedding to wedding, Garner notes. About half of the weddings they see are large, traditional events and half are very simple, more personal events.??

And in perhaps a positive economic indicator, Youngblood says that while brides have been spending less in recent years, budget are on the rise.

“Now it’s going the other direction, and they are spending more – upscaling,” he adds.

Florists advise ordering at least three to four months in advance and the cost for an average wedding starts around $1,000.??

The Makeup

Perhaps more than any other, your wedding is likely to be one of your most photographed days. Family, friends and your wedding photographer will be capturing images of you for hours.?? And what bride doesn’t want to look her best???

Trends that have emerged are false eyelashes and lighter eye shadows, says Nicole Wyatt, make-up artist and beauty specialist with Yves Saint Laurent at Saks Fifth Avenue in Tulsa.??

Falsies and liquid liner can enhance the eyes without giving a “cat eye” appearance. Wyatt recommends waterproof liner and suggests no heavy makeup for your wedding.

?The eyes are important, but Wyatt says the most crucial beauty aspect is flawless skin.??

“High definition is all the rage right now,” Wyatt adds, saying the makeup gives fuller coverage without feeling heavy, looks good in any light and photographs well.

“?YSL has the number one selling complexion product in the world right now,” she notes.??

Saks offers beauty consults and make-overs at no cost. Wyatt suggests booking ahead for a trial so brides can see what products may look the best for them and which they might like to have handy for their big day.

The Hair

Kristy Shackelford, stylist with Jara Herron salon, says messy side buns and other types of up-dos are very popular. She explains they can still give the appearance of hair around the face, while better able to stay in place. In addition, keeping the hair up can help brides stay cool with less worries about wind blowing hair out of place during outdoor photos.??

“One of my favorite new trends is the use of family heirlooms, like a grandmother’s Tiffany broach, rather than a tiara or something,” she says, adding tiaras, headbands and flowers are still popular hair accessories.

?“I think a lot depends on the style of the dress,” she adds.

“And I think the biggest trend of the summer will come from the royal wedding,” she notes. “I think it’s going to be a huge trend to wear the hair down with soft, big curls.”??

Ideally, brides should book as early as possible and schedule a trial appointment. Most range from $75 to $100, she says.?

The Honeymoon

After all the months of planning and the “I do’s” are sealed with a kiss, it’s time to disappear together as husband and wife. So where in the world are newlyweds heading to this year???

Frank Evans, director of marketing with Southern Journeys of Oklahoma, says affordability is an important factor. Some couples put more focus on financing the honeymoon than they do the actual wedding.??

Couples are still disappearing to some romantic place, but he notes that, overall, there is a trend of cutting back. Couples who would have spent $10,000 to run off to Greece, Italy or Spain are now spending around $5,000 to $6,000 to travel to the Caribbean, the Bahamas, Cozumel and Southern Mexico.?? And many who would have spent $5,000 for those romantic locations are now choosing popular spots in the United States for as little as $1,000, Evans notes.

??As for the most popular spot, in general, he says the Bahamas is seeing a lot of honeymooners.

??“And cruises are really popular,” he adds. “With Carnival and Royal Caribbean, you can really get great deals right now, especially if you plan ahead.”

Greg Spears, CEO of Spears Travel in Tulsa concurs.

“A cruise offers multiple locations for a great value, lots of activities and are no more crowded than many beaches or resorts,” he says.
Spears also notes that destination weddings continue to be popular. A demand his company is working hard to meet.

“More couples are saying, ‘Instead of spending all this money on a wedding, let’s go someplace fun,’” he explains.

Additionally, Evans wants to reassure those who’ve shied away from honeymoon spots like Acapulco due to stereotypes that all of Mexico is currently unsafe.??

“Southwest Mexico isn’t any more dangerous than the Bahamas right now,” he points out. “It’s as safe as anywhere. Most problems areas are around the U.S. and Mexico borders.”

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