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Weddings: All Things Considered

Fox Cities couples are hitting some of the biggest wedding trends of the New Year.

Are you ready to take notes?

MEET THE BRIDES

Courtney Walker-Tessendorf imagines herself pulling up in a 1940s car. She steps out in her vintage gown, walks down the aisle amidst an intimate crowd gathered in Menasha’s Smith Park. Groom Aaron Klatt and a small wedding party wait smiling, and the whole scene is somehow from another time.

“I love the style and look of that time period,” the bride-to-be says wistfully. “Things were so elegant and classic.”

Since December 2008, when the Neenah couple got engaged during the Christmas holiday, 24-year-old Walker-Tessendorf has wanted a vintage wedding, a concept local experts say is wildly popular right now.

With nearly two years to plan their August 2010 nuptials, she has capitalized on dozens of other trends that will save the budget-conscious couple a lot of money.

“I’ve been trying to think outside the box,” she says. “I’ve enjoyed taking my time to plan things, do something here and there and not cram everything into a month and scramble around.”

Another couple, Anniken Stavem-Mass and Barry Prossner, first rocked their way into love when she joined him in former musical outfit Beyond the Hollow. This winter, the Appleton couple is still singing harmony, and taking their time to plan a September 2010 wedding.

With their location secured, a guest list mounting and a hundred other details in the works, the pair is poised for an elegant, classy affair nestled in Neenah’s popular Best Western Bridgewood Resort Hotel.

It’s a day Stavem-Mass, 26, says will be unforgettable, without costing them a fortune.

“A wedding day is just one day,” she says. “You don’t need to spend a ton of money to make it special.”

Experts say overspending is out. From alternative venues and off-peak dates to downsizing and customization, budget-savvy couples are embracing the freedom to get creative.

Here’s a look at some of the biggest trends of 2010…

VA-VA-VINTAGE

LuAnn Vander Zanden, owner of Kaukauna’s Bridal Elegance & Formalwear for 10 years, is seeing more elaborate gowns fly off the racks this new year.

But an equal number of brides are going for the princess look and the more delicate, antique lace pieces that bride Walker-Tessendorf adores.

“I love that style,” she chimes, noting that a vintage wedding gown is key to creating the old-fashioned look. “Things were so elegant and classic.”

Whether women are going glamorous or vintage, their attention is on the details. Dresses featuring rich fabrics like taffeta, silk and lace, accented with flowers and feathers, jewels, rhinestones and lace appliqués are capturing the hearts of 2010 brides.

Though bride Stavem-Mass says her wedding doesn’t have an exact theme, she loves the classic feel that comes with aptly sewn detail on her dress.

“It’s an ivory colored dress and it gathers at the waist with a bead work along the bodice,” Stavem-Mass explains. “It’s traditional, yet classy.”

The average bride spends about $600 on her dress. Popular collections from Maggie Sottero and Mori Lee run about $600 to $1,000. Many bridal boutiques carry frocks anywhere from $99 to $2,500.

Accessories such as bows, ties, tiaras, brooches, peacock feathers, birdcage veils and side combs with pearls act as icing on the garment’s cake.

Tina Palmer, owner of Neenah’s Vintique, a vintage and retro boutique, carries a handful of vintage gowns and quite a few vintage clutches and glamorous jewelry pieces. She says interest in vintage- and old-fashioned themed weddings has spiked.

“It’s such a classic, classy time,” Palmer says. “When women went out, they had the complete package. Everything was quality.”

MISMATCHED MAIDS & MEN

It’s not just the bride who is embarking on new trends in 2010! Mismatching is in for next year’s bridesmaids.

If this is a choice the couple makes, Vander Zanden suggests the wedding party sticks to the same company line and fabric so that the hues do not look different in photos.

“They can pick whatever style they want,” says Vander Zanden.

She also receives more requests for different tops to go with matching bottoms.

Other couples are going with an opposite retro throwback: rainbow colors where each bridesmaid wears a different shade of the same cut dress.

Fashion hasn’t forgotten grooms, however, classic black is still popular. Today’s sharp suits come with customized cuts and colors to complement the couple’s style and theme.

DuBois Formalwear is one local shop that offers a Build-A-Tux option.

BRIGHT BOUQUETS

From dresses to vests, bouquets and boutonnieres, this year is all about rich, intense color.

“All jewel tones,” says Casee Meach of Appleton floral boutique Branching Out of the burgundy, wines, magenta, and deep bluish-green colors.

She recommends accenting deep hues with bright colors. For example, couples will pair plum or purple-toned gowns with same-colored orchids and contrasting bright greens.

“They really want to make that ‘wow’ for guests when they walk into a reception space,” she says. “Everyone’s loving the Calla lilies, hydrangeas, dahlias and orchids.”

For brides looking to keep things a bit quieter and simple, standout metallics make a big impression. On Walker-Tessendorf and Klatt’s big day, gold accents will make an impact.

“All the flowers are going to be write and ivory, with maybe a hint of gold in them to give them that antique look,” the bride says. “We’ll bring a little yellow and green into the reception with the fruit I want to use in the centerpieces.”

To keep costs manageable, many couples opt for a mix of candle and flower centerpieces. And as the eco-conscious movement gains steam, unique textured foliage and grasses are popular for offering a natural look and feel.

“What’s nice about flowers for wedding days is, no matter what the budget we can work with them and make it a custom product,” Meach adds.

GREEN TIE AFFAIR

Since there’s no place like home, many couples are holding their nuptial celebrations in their parents’ backyard or at a scenic park. This trend allows brides and grooms to make upscale choices in areas like food and decorations by saving on hall rental costs which run up to $3,000.

Walker-Tessendorf and Klatt reserved Smith Park for their big day.
“Some churches, depending on whether you’re a member or not, can cost $700 to $800,” she says. “Whereas it’s $140 for Smith Park, even if you’re not a City of Menasha resident.”

Couples still want cover when it comes to reception space, and finding a hall can be a long process of comparing fees and food-cost minimums. Fortunately there are budget-savvy options for those willing to explore Fridays, Sundays and off-peak wedding dates November through April.

Walker-Tessendorf and Klatt chose Appleton’s Pullman’s at Trolley Square in Appleton. Their incentives include Fridays where couples need to meet a smaller food and beverage minimum and get the room free. Friday’s minimum is $3,000, Saturday’s $5,000. It’s just $1,600 on Sundays. They have already booked every Friday and Saturday from May to October 2010.

“It’s perfect for the smaller parties or the ones trying to save money,” event manager Catherine Johannes says.

One-stop weddings are another trend for 2010 especially for couples with out-of-town guests.

At Neenah’s Best Western Bridgewood Resort Hotel, couples take advantage of a golf course, outdoor ceremony area, an elegant lighted patio, large ballroom and discounted block of hotel rooms among other amenities.

“They like that they can have their rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception here,” says Shelley Lauer, wedding coordinator and executive meeting planner. “Gift opening the following day is free.”

ICING ON THE CAKE

Customized cakes are still a wedding must-have.

Cake Anatomy owner Dawn Bybee, who runs the business with daughter Brianna Ropski and husband Allan, has already closed out dates for 2010 and is meeting with 2011 brides.

This year buttercream is the big kick and it’s something Bybee is famous for.

Cakes will also be designed to match the couple’s style. Bybee is seeing simple elegance, clean lines and stenciling. Another popular choice is the green theme with bird toppers, leaves, twigs.

Bride Stavem-Mass says she found many options in the Fox Cities when looking for her customized cake. She chose a woman who worked out of her home for an affordable and amazing option.

And when it comes to any wedding essential like this, brides say that with a little time and research you can have your cake and eat it too.

“There are definitely a lot of choices,” Stavem-Mass says. “Just think about what the biggest elements are for a wedding and see what you can do.”

The saying “in with the new and out with the old” usually proves true for weddings. But in 2010, the new is marrying the old, with vintage and timeless attributes fusing with hints of glitz. In this case, it couldn’t be more fitting.

—By Sarah Owen

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