published Sunday, February 16th, 2014

What’s trending in weddings: Every thing you need to plan your big day is at Sunday's Bridal Affair

IF YOU GO

What: Bridal Affair, presented by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Where: Chattanooga Convention Center, 1500 Carter St.

When: 1-5:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 23.

Admission: $8 online at timesfree pressevents.com, $10 at the door.

Details: Bridal Affair features wedding planners, caterers, bakers, travel agents, wedding sites, deejays, jewelers, florists, photographers, stationery com-panies and others. Door prizes will be given away at the show, and you can register for a grand prize giveaway of a seven-day honeymoon cruise.

Got the marriage proposal? Check.

Got the engagement ring? Check (hopefully).

Got the dress, wedding hall, food, drinks, tabletop arrangements, deejay, invitations, etc., etc.? Umm, maybe not yet — but definitely thinking about it.

Weddings have tons of moving parts and, for some, those parts become a confusing blur. Trends in weddings change from year to year and what’s hot last year may be tres gauche this year. Pinterest is a big destination point for brides looking for ideas, local wedding experts say, but not everything on the website will fit every wedding.

So what are this year’s trends? Local experts chime in about what they’re seeing — and not seeing — in weddings for 2014.

Dresses

The days of the “strapless sweetheart neckline” seem to be waning, says Julie Cole, manager of Boutique Couture on Market Street. More women want dresses with sleeves and straps.

“A lot more girls are asking for sheer sleeves, lace sleeves, anything that accentuates the skin,” she says.

And brides are also concerned about how they look from the back, she says. They’re steering away from open backs and want something sheer with lace or other embroidered details, she says.

While sleeves, straps and detailed backs have never completely disappeared, “there’s more of a hype about it now,” Cole says.

Details

Traditional is so, well, traditional, and some brides are more interested in putting their own unique stamp on their wedding, says Nadine Woods, co-owner of General Woods Inn in Rising Fawn, Ga., with her husband, Bob.

The bed and breakfast has been hosting full-service weddings since 2007, and Woods says that, this year, they’re seeing weddings that want decidedly nontraditional elements.

“For example, the bride and groom write a letter to each other and put them in a box and open it up when they have their first fight,” she says.

Or, instead of the wedding party’s traditional solemn walk down the aisle, bride on the arm of her father, “a lot of them want to dance in and dance out instead.”

She’s also seeing wedding customs from other cultures being inserted into local weddings. For instance, a “sugar ceremony” is traditional in Iranian weddings, she says, but she’s had couples who have no Iranian heritage asking for it.

“I ask them, ‘Is your family from Persia?’ and they say, “No, we just saw that and we liked it.’

“The bride and groom sit down and have a veil put over them, and they literally sprinkle sugar over the veil so they’ll always be sweet to each other and in how they treat each other,” she explains.

She says the Internet is responsible for most of the uptick in unusual requests, noting that many companies use Pinterest to market their products — sometimes without revealing that they’re a company trying to sell something — and that includes traditions, dress fabrics or other wedding elements.

“Brides are using Pinterest a whole lot,” she says. “They don’t realize they’re being marketed to.”

Decorations

When it comes to decorating a wedding, be it tabletop arrangements, lights or other accoutrements, Billie Dupree is seeing a move to “the more organic, rustic.”

“They’re wanting more natural burlap and a lot of wood arbors” decorated with twigs, lights and greenery, says the manager of party and event rentals at Bradley Rentals in Cleveland, Tenn.

“I’m seeing fewer candelabras” as people turn to lighting such as lanterns. “Again, the more rustic,” she says.

And she’s seeing more weddings being planned this year. Some reports she’s read have predicted that 2014 will be a bigger-than-normal year for weddings and she says her business is already getting calls for weddings planned in October. She’s not sure why, but she believes the slowly improving economy plays a role.

“I think that people are tired of not spending,” she says. They’ve been holding tightly to their wallets for several years, afraid to spend money and “they don’t want to feel that way anymore.

“That’s my theory, for what it’s worth,” she says.

Contact Shawn Ryan at sryan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327.

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