Tips & Techniques

T-dot trendsetters can find inspiration from Big Apple brides for a Metropolitan wedding with flair

New York City is synonymous with high fashion. Brides across the U.S. and Canada look to The Big Apple for the newest trends. Wedding Essentials spoke to insiders about what’s hot for the upcoming season, and one word came up again and again: individuality.


The New York bride wants to stand apart from her friends. Everyone wants a sexy gown, sophisticated décor and a fabulous honeymoon, but a Gotham girl wants a little more – those few unique elements which none of her girlfriends had at their weddings. Canadian ladies can have a New York-style wedding easier than you might think!

 

THE GOWN
Customizing the gown is the first step. Jennette Kruszka, Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York, says that brides who attend their trunk shows often consult with the designers to customize a gown. Combining the bodice of one with the skirt of another and the fabric of yet another can result in a one-of-a-kind dress for a fraction of the cost of a designer original.
Kleinfeld has seen a huge increase in business with the popularity of the hit TV show, Say Yes to the Dress. Kruszka laughs, “I come into the store and the place is already packed before I’ve even had my coffee!” She says there’s also been an increase in Canadian customers. “One girl drove the ten hours from Toronto just to buy at the store!”


You don’t have to travel to Manhattan to get a custom look. Canada has many fashionable wedding gown designers, too numerous to name, who can offer you a wealth of choices to create your perfect gown. Discovering an emerging designer can help ensure you won’t see the same gown on any of your friends!


At New York’s International Bridal Fashion Week, the big trend for 2012 was texture — moulded, three-dimensional structure and cascading details like bows or flowers. Feathers and tulle add fun and volume to the gowns. The corset bodice also makes a big comeback, adding texture with laces, boning and beading.


A new, ladylike vibe was in the air too. Lace sleeves, keyhole backs and illusion necklines wowed the crowds, influenced in part by Kate Middleton’s stunning gown. Of the many gorgeous dresses floating down runways, perennial favourites were still visible: strapless gowns, sweetheart necklines and mermaid silhouettes are all top sellers.


You might choose a heavier satin for a winter wedding, or a light organza for summer, but the shape and details are what matter. Kruszka says, “Brides always come in saying, ‘I don’t want strapless. Everyone has strapless.’ And in the end, they walk out with a strapless gown.”


Lea-Ann Belter, a Canadian designer whose line is available across Canada, the USA and the UK, agrees that the style has become a bridal staple. “Strapless gowns started selling well in early 2000, and we thought it would last a few years, but now it seems that strapless is here to stay.” The majority of gowns in her newest line are also strapless. (Canadian actress and director Sarah Polley wore Belter’s “Lucy” style gown for her summer wedding.) Another fresh bridal fashion trend is colour. Several designers sent light-coloured gowns down the runway in a variety of off-white and gentle hues. Vera Wang surprised many by adding a black gown to the colour palette. Of course there were plenty of white dresses, but even the traditional white gown got an update with a boldly coloured sash or bejewelled belt. The trend toward shorter lengths started a few years ago, and Belter comments that shorter designs “are getting a great response, and brides can showcase a fun, unusual shoe with it.” New York boutique owner, Erica Chasto of The White Gown, says this fashion shows no sign of slowing. “Brides always explore the idea of a full-length gown first, but many end up with cocktail length.” Chasto and Belter both agree that downtown clients are often artsy and eclectic. They lean toward simple silhouettes, made special with one unique detail and statement accessories. Big cities like New York and Toronto offer endless shopping possibilities, and Chasto says that accessorizing is part of the fun for any bride.

 

THE ACCESSORIES
Bling is the thing. Beaded belts and a stunning necklace can make any gown unique. Brides are passing up the classic pearls for bolder pieces. Your neck, wrist and waist offer fantastic opportunities for customizing a gown, turning an off-the-rack beauty into your one-of-a-kind personal statement. Not to mention the shoes! “Girls will reduce their dress budget so they can afford Louboutins,” laughs Chasto.


Kruszka adds that coloured shoes are still ontrend for next year. Whether they are your “something blue,” or they match your bridesmaids’ dresses, coloured shoes are in. As for veils, let your hairstyle dictate what you wear. Not every bride chooses a traditional veil. There’s a trend toward long, loose romantic hair, with a gorgeous headband across the top. Birdcage veils are still very popular, and they go great with a sweeping up-do. Overall, bridal consultants encourage you to keep an open mind. Let your consultant guide you to choices you may not have considered. Kruszka says 95% of her customers walk out of the store with something completely different from what they expected to buy.

 

THE VENUE
One way to personalize a ceremony is to have it in a non-traditional setting. Traditional venues in big cities can be expensive, get booked quickly and come with tight restrictions. New York brides delight in discovering unique venues. There are several advantages to having your wedding outdoors, in a theatre, at a friend’s home or in a public space. It’s something no one else has done, they’re often less expensive, and they’re not booked up years in advance. Toronto and New York City have plenty of big city similarities. If you’d like the feel of renting the famous Reading Room at the New York Public Library (at $50,000 for three hours), try booking the newest space at the Toronto Reference Library (for under $5,000). Want a small wedding party to gather in a chic café in Little Italy? Toronto can do that. How about a hip restaurant in Chinatown? Check that box too.


No matter what your downtown city desire is – art gallery, museum, historical buildings or vintage, boutique hotels – you can find many venues in and around Toronto with that sexy cosmopolitan vibe. For example, the AGO, ROM and CN Tower all have unique spaces for a reception, as do intimate downtown hotels like the Windsor Arms and Hazelton Hotel. Spend a little time wandering your city and use your imagination to unearth hidden venue gems. The newest trend in NYC receptions is a cocktail hour before the ceremony. In a city known for its traffic jams and subway delays (sound familiar, Torontonians?), a cocktail hour before the ceremony gives guests some leeway in case of travel delays, and lets them spend more time with visiting family and friends. For after the ceremony, entertainment stations are big for 2012. A game room, a photo booth or a karaoke machine gives you a reception as individual as you are. Include your favourite hobbies and activities in various locations around the reception. Two stations are must-haves: the Welcome station and the Good Night station. Set the mood for the evening with an interactive guest book – where people can include a favourite poem or funny memory when they sign in. At the end of the night, send your guests off with swag bags of personalized goodies, like cookies with icing monograms, or samples of your favourite wine and chocolates.

 

THE FOOD
Both formal dinners and buffet menus will always be in vogue, but serving tapas is an economical trend in New York. Let your guests mingle right from the start of the reception, as servers circulate with appetizers, small dishes and specialty cocktails all night long. Food stations can also feature more elaborate selections, like a fondue fountain, candy counter or a wine-tasting table.

 

BEFORE AND AFTER
There are two big trends for events surrounding your wedding day. The first is a combination bridal shower/bachelorette party. New Yorkers have friends and family scattered across the globe. Brides often combine the bridal shower and the bachelorette party into one big event the day before the wedding. This lets your guests travelling in from Nova Scotia or Vancouver attend all of your parties, instead of having to choose between events on different weekends.
The other trend is a delayed honeymoon. More and more couples honeymoon weeks or months after the wedding. This takes advantage of off-season travel, and gives you time to rest up after the wedding! The key to a unique wedding is to know who you are and know what you like. For your downtown wedding with NYC style, keep an eye on the coming trends, and then add your own unique twists. You’ll have a wedding that you and your guests won’t ever forget.

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