Monday, December 11, 2023

Weddings: ‘You do’ aim to make yours unique; what’s trending?

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

Here’s what some wedding and events planners at area venues (plus one independent planner) told The Chronicle about new, traditional and sometimes unusual things couples are incorporating into their wedding celebrations.

What’s trending

The Girards: Custom neon signs and flower walls or similar — Take the place of once-trendy photo booths, says The Queensbury. Photo by Hannah Rosie. Floral wall by Binley’s Florist.
LeAnna Avila, Director of Sales & Events at The Inn at the Erlowest on Lake George, offers:

• Black tie formal is becoming more popular. Also, “Requesting all of the guests to be in black while the wedding party is in white.”

• Creating new aisle entrances for ceremonies. “Instead of just walking down the aisle, smoke machines or glass walkways are popular.”

From Chandler Atkins at Elms Cottages and Mountain Airstrip Farm:

• Post it: “People like having something they can get out on their social media.

• Destinations: “They’re looking for something that is going to be a memory of a place they went that they will remember forever It’s why desitnations are important.”

• ‘They want barn weddings, celebrity weddings.”

• ‘They want more amenities: A boat ride on the river, the bride and groom coming up the river on a boat. They want to take ATVs and ride out on the mountaintop for the ceremony, then ride back to the reception. Something novel — and not too costly.”

Said Dawn Bennett, wedding planner at Fort William Henry:

• ‘We had a few couples take dance lessons for them to do for their first dance. We had one couple have their entire family do a coordinated dance for the guests.”

From Letizia Mastrantoni, owner of Events to a T:
Dan & Madeline — Not just a ‘first look’ but couples might exchange their vows privately, before the wedding ceremony. Photo: Kortni Maria
• Both parents escorting the bride and groom down the aisle.

• More dancing before dinner and most of the formalities.

• Food trucks, “but done in a gourmet way.”

• ‘The opposite of wedding cakes. Think mini pancake sundae stations, doughnut buffets, gelato carts.”

• ‘Interactive experiences for guests, by means of over the top live performances, painters, Broadway and Vegas-style entertainment.’

• ‘We think wintertime Adirondack weddings are just dreamy and we wish more clients would get on that bandwagon!”

• RSVP: Ms. Mastrantoni also advises, “In general we’re still seeing more positive RSVPs and fewer declines, so couples should be mindful of your invites, send them earlier, but also have a ‘B’ list ready to go in case you have to fill a few gaps.

Stephanie Ottino, director of sales and marketing at the Queensbury Hotel, said:
‘Formal’ makes a comeback — Pictured here: Fort William Henry’s new Carriage House. Photo provided
• ‘Feature walls and custom neon signs are very trendy right now! It’s the perfect way to add personalization to the reception, either with the couples’ last name or a fun saying. They can act as a great photo spot for guests or a backdrop to the sweetheart table!”

• More winter: “While fall is still our most popular season for weddings, we’ve seen that interest start to extend into early winter.”

• ‘Couples are looking for December wedding dates near the holidays and as always, New Year’s Eve or New Year’s weekend continues to be an in-demand weekend. They want a warm and cozy winter vibe.”

A private ceremony

Ms. Ottino at the Queensbury, said, “A lot of couples are opting to exchange their vows privately, in a more intimate setting, before their wedding ceremony.

“Oftentimes it will take place during their ‘first look’ on our mezzanine…or on our rooftop with the Adirondack mountains in the background.

The wedding party arrives by boat for a waterside ceremony. Photo/The Elms Cottages & Lodge
“It helps make the moment that much more special when it’s between just the two of them and for some, it’s a more comfortable setting and helps take the nerves out of it.

“They’ll typically then exchange more standard vows in front of their family and friends during the ceremony.”

Out of the ordinary…

Any unsual requests?

Ms. Avila recalls three:

“The full planning team must also be in costume for a Harry Potter themed wedding.”

She quotes, “Do you know of a Magician I can hire for cocktail hour?

“In one case, the Father of the Bride asked to enter the ceremony via helicopter.”

Mr. Atkins says, “We have a wedding next year that wanted a pig roast for the Friday night rehearsal dinner and reception. It took us a bit to find.”

Ms. Mastrantoni said, “Most unusual recent request: A mechanical bull….”

Pets may be included in the ceremony. Fort William Henry photo
She adds: “We were recently treated to a breathtaking performance by an incredible duo from America’s Got Talent, and we also assisted in incorporating live ballroom dancers who gave lessons to guests after the performance was complete.”

From Ms. Bennett: “Not much. The occasional dog to join in for the ceremony, some ice cream cakes, and maybe an occasional disco ball!”

One stop, full-weekend

Ms. Mastrantoni says, “Couples are looking for lake views, on-site accommodations. One-stop-shop-type venues really seem to be an easy sell (understandably so).”

She adds, “We also try to relay to potential clients that there are many gorgeous venues that may not have everything you’re looking for, but a planner can easily connect you to what remains to piece together the ultimate wedding of your dreams.”

Ms. Ovitt says, at The Q, “Wedding weekends are back. From rehearsal dinners and welcome drinks to late-night after parties and morning-after brunches, they want the fun to keep going all weekend long.

“Our couples oftentimes want their guests to be able to experience as much as possible under one roof. A ‘one-stop-shop’ feeling almost.

“It also allows their guests to spend more time celebrating and less time shuttling between different locations. A great way to keep your transportation costs down, too!”

Ms. Bennett at Fort William Henry adds, “It is almost like a family reunion weekend! Our couples don’t want the weekend to end!

“They are looking for everything to be in one place with other activities for their guests to do,” such as events and attractions in nearby Lake George.

Couples are looking for “A one-stop-shop where rehearsal dinner, welcome parties and post-wedding brunches can all be on the same property,” echoes Ms. Avila at Erlowest.

All said, Covid is no longer a factor.

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