WEDDINGS TRENDS: VARIATIONS ON A GUEST BOOK

A Bible, guitar, a cookbook, even Jenga game blocks! Brides and grooms are coming up with unique and creative ways to remember their wedding day by asking guests to forego signing a typical guest book in favor of something more personal to them. My good friends at The Sonnet House, one of my favorite wedding and event venues (located in Leeds, Alabama) have shared some wonderful and personal variations on the traditional wedding guest book. Here are some of my favorites...

 Photo by Alisha Crossley Photography at  The Sonnet House Leeds, Alabama

Photo by Alisha Crossley Photography at The Sonnet House Leeds, Alabama

This bride and groom asked their wedding guests to highlight a favorite bible verse in a family Bible and sign it. Each time they look through the Bible over the years of their marriage, they will be reminded of their wedding day and the family and friends assembled to wish them well.

 Photo by Amy Carson Photography taken at  The Sonnet House, Leeds, Alabama

Photo by Amy Carson Photography taken at The Sonnet House, Leeds, Alabama

This couple had their wedding guests sign a guitar which they will hang on a wall in their new home as a reminder of their wedding day.

 Photo by LaShay Photography taken at  The Sonnet House, Leeds, Alabama

Photo by LaShay Photography taken at The Sonnet House, Leeds, Alabama

In keeping with the selfie station trend you find at many events these days, using a Fujifilm instax™ Mini 8 camera and smartphone wireless printer, this couple had family and friends take a selfie which was printed on the spot and clothespined to a rustic board for the wedding. Later, the couple will assemble the photos into a keepsake wedding guest album. Find the camera at Michael's, Wal-Mart, Amazon, etc. From $70.

Photos by Rob and Wynter Photography taken at The Sonnet House, Leeds, Alabama

This creative couple will be able to relive their wedding day each time they pull out the Jenga blocks! If you have a large guest list, you may need to provide several games to accommodate all your guests good wishes. Afterwards, these wooden blocks can be fixed to a frame and hung as a piece of art.

Photo by SCB Photography taken at The Sonnet House, Leeds, Alabama

One of my favorite wedding guest book ideas for foodies, cooks and food lovers: have wedding guests sign pages in a favorite cookbook! Love this! Maybe one day, a bride and groom will have guests sign MY cookbook!

Many thanks to Ellen, Jared & Corey at The Sonnet House and all of the couples and photographers for the inspiration.

WEDDINGS: TRENDS IN BRIDAL BOUQUETS

Today almost anything goes when it comes to wedding flowers, but we are seeing some definite trends emerge. Consider your own personal style when selecting your bouquet. Are you a larger-than-life personality? If so, a tiny little bouquet is not for you. Go for something big and bold in texture, color or size. Love feminine details? How about some pearl sprays or clusters of beads to add a delicate difference? From traditional bouquets with stylish flair to wildly exotic flourishes- consider these fresh ideas:

 Soft pastels like blush and coral are showing up in bridal bouquets again; big blooms like these peonies are a showy way to express your style. PHOTO:  ARDEN PHOTOGRAPHY

Soft pastels like blush and coral are showing up in bridal bouquets again; big blooms like these peonies are a showy way to express your style. PHOTO: ARDEN PHOTOGRAPHY

WHITE IS THE NEW WHITE

Well, for quite a while white bouquets were out. Now they are back and better than ever. Consider using roses, gardenias, and calla lilies for a traditional style or orchids, hyacinth, and cattleya for something more exotic. White freesia is very fragrant as is jasmine. Adding a little pop of color as in the bouquet below adds texture and depth.

 An all white bouquet looks fresh and modern, not dated when you use different blooms to add depth and texture.  Photo: Arden Photography

An all white bouquet looks fresh and modern, not dated when you use different blooms to add depth and texture. Photo: Arden Photography

BIG BLOOMS

Big bouquets of big flowers are back. We are seeing lots of large bouquets of one type of flower massed into an extravagant look. Your best bets are masses of peonies, hybrid Catalaya orchids, and mini calla lilies in cream or colors like apricot. Also try cymbidium orchids, or any rose, along with the stunning European fringed roses. These are simply smashing because even when fresh they have the look of an opened rose.

 Massive bouquets of one type of flower make an impressive statement. These blush peonies are so fragile against the bride's gown, a perfect compliment. Photo: Arden Photography

Massive bouquets of one type of flower make an impressive statement. These blush peonies are so fragile against the bride's gown, a perfect compliment. Photo: Arden Photography

RIBBONS ARE BIG

Use ribbons to make a big statement. The wider the ribbon, the better, in fact! Make sure to use a great quality ribbon for your bridal bouquet because all eyes will be on you! Polka dots or patterned ribbon to pick up or set a theme, sheer organza, embroidered ribbons, lush satins and combinations of these will certainly make a simple bouquet more lavish and stylish, too. Using a scrap of lace from your mother or grandmother's gown along with a satin backed ribbon is a beautiful, sentimental detail.

 Lace from mom's wedding gown adds an elegantly sentimental detail. Photo: Robin Proctor Photography

Lace from mom's wedding gown adds an elegantly sentimental detail. Photo: Robin Proctor Photography

COLORS WITH CHARISMA

Bold colors are really popular right now. Many brides are foregoing the iconic white bouquet and blooms and opting for striking masses of blazing color.

 Apricot, cream, peach, and coral are the big colors of the moment. They look strikingly beautiful against a cream or ivory gown. My sweet friend Jenna's wedding flowers were by my other precious friend Corey Hults of  Corey Daniels Design for the Sonnet House in Leeds, Alabama. Stunning. (Photo: AppearPhotography.com)

Apricot, cream, peach, and coral are the big colors of the moment. They look strikingly beautiful against a cream or ivory gown. My sweet friend Jenna's wedding flowers were by my other precious friend Corey Hults of  Corey Daniels Design for the Sonnet House in Leeds, Alabama. Stunning. (Photo: AppearPhotography.com)

TAKE FLIGHT

Feathers? Yes, feathers! We are seeing lots of pheasant feathers in bridal bouquets. They add an exotic touch to a typical bouquet.

SOMETHING BLUE THAT IS NEW

Rather than the traditional garter or hankie, stylish brides are more creative than ever when it comes to something blue. Why not an all blue bouquet? Hydrangea, delphinium, bluebells, grape hyacinth and blue iris are perfect hues of blue for your own signature bouquet.

 Adding a touch of blue to your bouquet is the new "something blue". Photo: Arden Photography

Adding a touch of blue to your bouquet is the new "something blue". Photo: Arden Photography

BREAKAWAY BOUQUETS

This trend isn’t exactly new, but it is making a comeback. Three or four mini-bouquets are composed into one large bouquet that the bride can break into parts to give to those closest to her so that all may have a keepsake from the day. Instead of the traditional single rose presentation to each mother or grandmother, why not breakaway a small nosegay that each can have preserved as a keepsake after the wedding?

BEJEWELED BOUQUETS

We love the way our designers are using pearls, beads and jewels to accent their floral creations. A strand of glass beads can add elegance to a simple arrangement and sprays of beads add a hint of sparkle. 

COLLARS ARE NOT JUST FOR SHIRTS

A collar of big leafy greens to surround your delicate blooms will show them off to their best advantage. Use tulip leaves or another long, slim leaf and gather them into ribbon-like loops and nestle the bouquet inside. Again, bigger is better. Large leaves, like hostas or galax, really make a bold statement. Lately, we have seen beautiful pearl or beaded floral collars that can be passed down from bride to bride, too. These collars have an antique look and feel. We have seen woven pearls, beaded handles, silver holders and silver collars that are not only stunning, but a beautiful keepsake. Ask your florist for ideas.

COORDINATING STYLES

Right now, letting bridesmaids select their own style gown is very big. Brides select the designer, the color and the fabric and let the bridesmaid select the gown style that she feels most confident wearing. Why not carry that theme over to the bouquets? Select a different coordinating flower from the bridal bouquet for each attendant’s bouquet using a common element to tie all of them together.

WEDDINGS: GUEST ARRIVAL BAG SUGGESTIONS

MAKING GUESTS FEEL WELCOME FOR YOUR WEDDING WEEKEND...

You’ve received the RSVP’s and blocked off the rooms at the hotel. But to really make the friends and family who traveled from near and far to witness your vows feel warm and fuzzy upon arrival, welcome them with some special items in their room to make their stay in your city more fun and fulfilling:

 A few of my favorite ideas for favors or for guest arrivals include Starbuck's cards, LL Bean or Lands End monogrammed totes, mini Champagne bottles, local transit cards, or local favorites like Garrett's Popcorn in my other hometown of Chicago or Peanut Depot roasted peanuts in my hometown of Birmingham.

A few of my favorite ideas for favors or for guest arrivals include Starbuck's cards, LL Bean or Lands End monogrammed totes, mini Champagne bottles, local transit cards, or local favorites like Garrett's Popcorn in my other hometown of Chicago or Peanut Depot roasted peanuts in my hometown of Birmingham.

A gift card for the coffee shop on the corner – who wants to go without their grande latte mochaccino fix on the morning of the nuptials?

A snack pack assortment of locally made items that you just can't get anywhere else. In my hometown of Birmingham, that would include Golden Flake potato chips and Milo's Sweet Tea along with some Good People Beer and maybe some fresh, hot peanuts from the Peanut Depot. In Chicago, of course that would include Garrett's Popcorn. Enough said.

Maps, coupons or recommendations to nearby shopping, family attractions, and restaurants of interest (tailor it for each guest for an extra touch!)

In larger cities like Chicago, public transit maps, tickets, and local parking permits for zoned areas make stays less hectic.

Bottled water, small bottles of champagne and healthy or homemade snacks like cookies, muffins, or granola.

Ibuprofen, Gatorade, and other hangover remedies for the morning after the party, especially if you opted for an extra hour of open bar at the reception!

Toys, puzzles, a DVD or something special for the kids.

A playlist for the weekend with some of your favorite song. If the wedding is in Mexico, get your guests going with “Tequila." If the nuptials are in Birmingham, add “Sweet Home Alabama!” Other ideas: your college fight song, “Going to the Chapel” or even the song you'll play for your first dance at the reception.

A personalized tote pulls it all together. Allow enough time to order from a company specializing in monogrammed totes like Lands’ End or LL Bean. Embroider the totes with initials or a quote that embodies the feeling of the weekend.  I like "I get by with a little help from my friends."

Whatever you greet your guests with upon their arrival, remember that information is crucial to an organized and enjoyable weekend. After all the trouble they’ve gone through to help you celebrate this milestone in your life, they deserve a few special extras to make them feel loved and appreciated.