In an effort to avoid a reception that feels more like a conference or a business dinner, couples this year are opting for variety. Couples are using a mixture of smaller round and rectangular tables instead of large, round tables. Many brides know the stress of trying to plan where each guest should sit at the reception. Having a friend who isn’t single in the wedding party without his or her significant other could cause some awkwardness at the reception. While some couples are still choosing to sit their wedding party at a large head table, others are opting for a “sweethearts table.” Many brides are forgoing the idea of a seating plan completely and going for a more laid back approach. Log onto Pinterest and you’ll find boards littered with photos of handmade signs telling guests to sit wherever they please.

 

   Are you and your fiancé having trouble deciding between live music and a DJ? One wedding trend could save you an argument. Couples are deciding to have both.

 

   Perhaps you and your fiancé met while traveling or during a semester abroad. Perhaps you both have a favorite spot, but it’s far from home and far from your wedding guests. Perhaps you’ve just been dreaming of a destination wedding. More and more couples are creating their dream destination weddings without the added cost and the added stress of a traditional destination wedding. This year, all you need is the right décor, the right lighting, and the right music to help whisk away you and your guests to a far off destination.

 

   Bridesmaids, maids-of-honor, best men, and groomsmen are starting to look like anything but what their titles suggest. This trend goes beyond brides including their best guy friend to stand with the girls or grooms including a close female friend to mix in with the guys. This year, brides are including brothers, grooms are including sisters, and couples are even including grandparents in their wedding party.

 

   Technology is finding its way into the ceremony. Brides are hiding GoPro’s in their bouquets, using FitBit’s to track their heart rate as they walk down the aisle, and using drones for photos and even to replace the ring bearer. Couples are even inventing their own hashtags for guests to use on social media during and after the wedding.

Dreamy Destinations

Celebrate your wedding with a five-star follow-up. These enviable honeymoon hot spots offer the best of the best—top-notch accommodations, amenities and service set in idyllic locales—all packaged for postnuptial bliss.

 

 

Otahuna Lodge, Christchurch,

New Zealand

Located at the head of a secluded valley on New Zealand’s South Island, just a 25-minute drive from Christchurch International Airport, Otahuna Lodge offers newlyweds the quintessential New Zealand lodge experience in pastoral surrounds against the backdrop of the fluted cone of an ancient volcano.

 

THE COUPLE Romantic traditionalists

 

WHAT TO LOVE A Victorian dream house originally built in 1895, this luxury lodge—an hour south of Waipara Valley, one of New Zealand’s hottest wine regions—boasts seven suites with sheepskin rugs and bedside cookie jars magically refilled each day (evening turndown produces handmade chocolates and perfectly wrapped laundry from the day). Breakfast is served in the kitchen with a come-as-you-are vibe. Fresh baked breads, muffins and made-to-order eggs entice, as do specialty dishes (whatever you desire!). Communal dining for dinner in the opulent formal dining room, replete with a roaring fire and wine pairings, surpasses most resto experiences. More intimate meals for two are served at a private table in the sunken wine cellar, the cozy library, the drawing room turret or a location of choice. Catering to your every whim, staff master-crafts once-in-a-lifetime experiences based on your interests.

 

PACKAGE DEAL The Best of Canterbury begins with a three-night stay and continues with a welcome gift; one-hour massages for two; cooking lessons; a private picnic with a you-and-yours-only guided tour of Otahuna’s 30 acres; and either a private exploration of the Banks Peninsula, featuring volcanic harbors and the colonial fishing village of Akaroa (with a scenic harbor cruise), or of Arthur’s Pass National Park; plus a one-way journey on the TranzAlpine scenic railway. $3,200 for a suite, $4,395 for a master suite (May to September), otahuna.co.nz

 

Le Royal Monceau Raffles, Paris

Located in the heart of Paris, a heartbeat away from the Champs-Élysées, this hotel, built in 1928 by the founders of the Miramar hotels in Biarritz and Cannes, embodies past and present Paris in grand fashion. Original architecture brilliantly blends with contemporary French design within 149 luxurious rooms and suites, including three 3,767-square-foot Presidential suites boasting private entrances—all echoing the rendezvous’ rich history, most illustriously revealed in its 1920s guest roster, which includes the likes of Josephine Baker and Ernest Hemingway.

 

THE COUPLE Culturists and art-lovers

 

WHAT TO LOVE The hotel has hosted and pampered prestigious luminaries for 80-plus years with a wealth of amenities and proximity—the best of Paris is but a whisper away. Couples seeking seclusion find it in luscious, whimsy-laced suites. Meals are experiences at the hotel’s two signature restaurants, La Cuisine (French) and Il Carpaccio (Italian)—both recently receiving a star apiece from the mighty Michelin guide. Sunday Royal Brunch is a must, as are cocktails in Philippe Starck’s Le Bar Long. Not to be outshined, The Katara Cinema, a 99-seat theater, is Europe’s most modern, state-of-the-art screening room.

 

PACKAGE DEAL On-arrival overtures include Champagne, flowers and a special heart-shaped cake by Pierre Hermé Paris. Fall for a grand buffet breakfast in award-winning La Cuisine, before settling in to the ultramod Spa My Blend by Clarins, for a 60-minute massage for the missus and endless time in the indoor pool, relaxation areas and workout room. See the hotel’s exclusive art concierge to arrange a just-the-two-of-you tour of the property’s private art collection, and save stogie time for the Viñales Club. Honeymoon packages start at $1,429 per night, leroyalmonceau.‌com



Capella Pedregal, Los Cabos

Making a dramatic architectural statement, Los Cabos’ newest ultraluxe resort straddles a craggy mountainside, protruding as a series of low-rise, rock-hewn sanctuaries with 66 rooms, suites and villas spilling onto swathes of stunning sands and sparkling, aquamarine seas.

 

THE COUPLE Sexy sophisticates

 

WHAT TO LOVE An in-suite plunge pool, colossal bathtub, fireplace and afternoon fix of guac ‘n’ chips and Coronas come standard. Loungers line the main pool’s shallow end, so expect to sunbathe with your feet wet, cocktail in hand. With the resort’s high-design furnishings and accessories available for purchase at its boutique, you can take your honeymoon back home.

PACKAGE DEAL The four-night Romance Under the Stars package includes a daily breakfast spread, round-trip airport transfers and swoon-worthy extras (a couple’s spa treatment, private dinner on the beach and more).Low-season rates start at $785 per night, capellahotels.‌com

 

Setting Pretty

Serviceware is experiencing a romantic renaissance. Gone are the days of overly formal, matchy-matchy table settings bordered by a simple boring band. So when you approach your registry, keep these few gems in mind: Mixing and matching within complementary colors is 100 percent acceptable—and, in fact, trend-forward. Don’t be afraid of pairing bold patterns like the Edie Rose by Rachel Bilson Dinnerware’s peacock-emblazoned salad plate shown here atop the line’s floral dinner plate. And don’t feel like you have to stick to one designer; it’s perfectly posh to create your own service by mixing Versace for Rosenthal with Anna Weatherley. Last, take risks with whimsical accent pieces like petite condiment bowls. Much like fashion, it’s all about the layering.

Brilliance, Unveiled

An undisputed star in the world of fashion, Carolina Herrera is shining yet again.

Carolina Herrera needs no introduction. Every woman who appreciates fashion knows the designer renowned for her femininity, sophistication and elegance. What we are just discovering, however, is her spring/summer collection. “While I have always included some lace in my bridal dresses, this season I have reinvented the way it’s used,” she explains. “By bonding it with metallics, such as hand-painted gold and silver, I created a new functional fabric that still has a romantically classic feel, but with hints of modernity.”

For fans of the designer who fear she might jump on the color-trend train, she responds: “I have always believed whites and creams should be the main color of the wedding dress. I try not to follow trends.”

But she certainly did not shy away from shine. “Metallics are a large part of the collection story,” she says. “Where lace evokes elegance, the gold and silver create a fresh element.”

Herrera’s spring collection was significantly larger than in the past. She premiered 30 dresses, doubling the amount shown last October. Her goal remains unchanged, however. “The bridal industry has never stopped being a world of fantasy,” she explains. “Bridal dresses always have to be romantic, ethereal and also demure in a very sophisticated way.”

Herrera has dressed numerous celebrities, yet her most rewarding accomplishment might just have been creating wedding gowns for her brood. “I experienced so much joy in designing all of my daughters’ dresses,” she says. “All of the gowns were so unique, reflecting their personalities. The rewarding part to me is making each woman I design for feel beautiful, confident and special.”

One look at the baubles in Baz Luhrmann’s recent revamp of The Great Gatsby will have you seeing stars. Tiffany & Co. collaborated with Oscar-winning costume designer Catherine Martin to custom-craft the one-of-a-kind pieces for the film. In case you’re looking for something available outside Luhrmann’s rendition of East Egg, check out Tiffany’s new Ziegfeld collection. Based on the brand’s archival designs from the 1920s, the collection is named for the famed art deco theater that served as an epicenter for the era’s fashionable flock. The collection’s luxuriously long ropes of pearls, drop earrings and lockets will have you looking as fresh as “Daisy” on your big day.

All Jazzed Up

Bridal's Best: Latest Trends

Stepping Up

   Weddings often prove to be just as exciting as a season opener, even for 7-year-old boys. When photographer Martha Ramirez at Unique Design Studios captured this moment with groom Zeus Hernandez and his son, prepping for daddy’s big moment in January, she remembers being taken by the pair. “The groom is an energetic, passionate person,” she recalls, and adds, “His son is a loving little boy with an old soul.” Elaine Spottswood and Zeus Hernandez tied the knot at The Basilica of Saint Mary Star of the Sea in Key West, Fla., at the behest of the bride’s father, who owns a hotel in our country’s southernmost point. “It was a bonding moment between my son and I,” Hernandez recalls. “We were talking about Elaine becoming his actual stepmom and a Hernandez. He was already asking for a little brother!”

Care for Your Ring, Protect the Bling

After your groom slides the rock on your finger and the glow of your engagement starts to settle, you might not think about it much. It's one of the few pieces of jewelry you'll wear everyday, take precautions to keep your ring looking it's best!

   You might stop to admire your ring now and then, but throughout daily tasks, you might not pay much attention to your ring. Make sure your ring comes with an insurance policy. We insure our cars, our homes, and our health. But, how often do we think about insuring jewelry? Insuring your ring can guarantee that if your ring needs to be repaired, you’ll be covered. Get your ring inspected and cleaned. Take the measures necessary to make sure you ring lasts for years to come.

 

   Give your ring a break. From time to time, take off your ring. Laundry, working out, cleaning, washing the dishes; these are just some of the tasks that can stretch out the band or provide the perfect opportunity for the setting to break or a stone to come loose. And do you really want that 25-pound barbell bumping in to your diamond? When you do take it off, make sure you store it in a safe, clean, dry place.

 

   Don't rush to get it resized. Pregnancy is one factor that can change the size of your hands. If you become tempted to rush out and get your ring resized so that you can keep wearing it, you may want to think twice before you do. Resizing your ring too many times can be hard on the metal. Instead, wait about six months after your pregnancy to put your ring back on. Weight gain and weight loss can also cause your hands to swell or shrink, but still use caution when having your ring resized.

Made in the Shades

Bold American’s Steve Bales creates a dynamic centerpiece that is an on-trend, textural mix of ombré florals and foliage.

   Typically featuring a color gradient that fades from dark to light or vice versa, the ombré trend has swept everywhere from the runways and beauty world to home decor and now, event design. “A monochromatic centerpiece makes a big impact—it carries lots of texture with a variety of different flowers and also adds painterly interest to your table,” says Steve Bales, creative director at Bold American Events.

For this striking look, Bales chose an estate table in order to emphasize the transition from one tone to the next. “Ombré centerpieces work exceptionally well on a long table where you can showcase the design all the way down, and make it visually pleasing for guests, no matter where they are seated,” he explains. The flowers lead the eye as they transition to lighter shades extending down to both ends. “I’m drawn to featuring it in this more symmetrical way,” Bales acknowledges.

Bales chose to showcase the shaded style in a palette of greens for a fresh, spring feel, that could easily work well for a summer or winter wedding. The arrangement incorporated 12 different varieties, including green dianthus, green Fuji mums, geranium leaf, magnolia foliage, camellia foliage, Queen Anne’s lace, variegated pittosporum, green and white roses, white dahlias, white ranunculus, pale green dianthus and white Veronica. “I used green foliage to add some texture, and to work in the darkest of greens,” Bales explains. “I don’t know that this design works for everyone, but I do see this monochromatic look as suiting someone with a sophisticated style; whether that’s vintage or classic, it works for both,” Bales offers.

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