1. Bold Bling
Tiny though they may be, engagement rings and wedding bands are no small thing. We asked Briannah Wayman of Marci Jewelry to share some leads on what locals are loving:
From precious gems like sapphires or emeralds to diamonds in shades of black, yellow, or pink, couples are definitely crushing on alternative hues for the engagement ring’s center stone. That said, Wayman notes classic white diamond solitaires are still the go-to for proposals.
Mix and match a variety of bands in different sizes, hues, and textures, with or without stones, for a decidedly modern look. Wear them around your engagement ring, or move the stack or your sparkler to your right hand. (Psst—new bands make great anniversary gifts.)
Rings featuring the romantic warmth of pink or rose gold is a trend that shows no sign of stopping. And it’s also all the rage in watches. Speaking of, Wayman says watches are the most popular engagement gift for grooms, but she’s also seeing an uptick in traditional money clips— why should brides have all the fun?
2. Speedy Service
The rise of on-demand services makes it faster and more convenient to get everything from an extra case of wine to a deep-tissue massage. Use Amazon’s Prime Now app in the Seattle area for one-hour deliveries of nearly anything you could need. Soothe sends a professional masseuse and all the equipment to work out pre-wedding kinks, also within an hour. Need rides? Transportation services like Uber and Lyft allow you to create custom discount codes to share with your guests so they get around safely and affordably. Bonus: both ride services give you credit every time a guest plugs in your code.
3. Practically Inviting
In our eco-friendly, digitally minded city, it’s no surprise that online invites are on the rise. Seattle-based Greenvelope sits at the head of the trend, with striking, fully customizable digital invitation suites that mimic real-deal paper goods—think textures, foils, custom shapes, etc.— but with the added feature of a built-in wedding website, gift registry, maps, and a messaging system (not to mention a lower price tag). Worried that an e-vite might be too complicated for some of those on your list? “So long as they have an e-mail address, even less-tech-savvy guests can enjoy the digital invitation experience as easy as opening an e-mail,” says Lauren Fennell, Greenvelope’s artistic director. “As a bonus for guests, the RSVP functionality is a simple click of a button rather than needing to send physical return mail.”
4. Big-Impact Moments
Getting married is a pretty big deal, right? So make the day downright memorable with a showstopping twist. Here are our favorite fresh ways of adding that extra oomph to your “I dos.”
Katie Aweida, owner of Wonderstruck Event Design, shares her awesome ideas for surprise entertainment: Have dueling pianos instead of a DJ, a marching band parade your crew to the reception, a personal arcade with pinball machines (West Coast Entertainment provides rentals), or an aerial dancer spin during the cocktail hour. Sports fans? Bring in Blitz, the Seahawks mascot, to hang with your guests.
We’ve seen the viral videos of flash mobs, surprise choreography, and breakdancing grooms. Make your own mark on the dance floor with more than a waltz; Velocity Dance Center and Century Ballroom offer classes. More of a wallflower? Skip the first dance to show off your other skills—like one of Aweida’s couples, who opted to play a first video game against each other.
Closing time? Arrange for a favorite food truck to bid your guests a tasty adieu, have the valet leave a sweet surprise in each car, or arrange for a fabulous after-party— the farewells can wait.
5 . Day-Before Bash
Like weddings, rehearsal dinners are becoming more personalized and detailed. Be it a backyard barbecue with a wedding-themed piñata (fill it with mini plastic bottles of liquor, or lottery tickets) or renting out a bowling alley or arcade, many couples love to get the fun started early. See our city from a unique angle by booking an Argosy Cruises boat to sail the Puget Sound with up to 300 of your motley crew. Rather stay on land? Jen Owens of Jen Leslie Events worked with newlyweds Aaron Frease and Kira Schreiber to turn their July 24, 2015, farmhouse rehearsal dinner into a family-style feast where everyone contributed to the big meal.
6. Photo Ops
Photo booths are still popular for today’s receptions, but not just your typical setup, notes Aweida. “Couples are loving photographer-manned booths where we bring in special backdrops, whether custom or classic,” she says. “I often work with Greenroom Décor to create entire backdrop scenes. They once made an awesome ‘canoeing in the woods’ set, complete with grizzly bears. Hilarious.”
Another hip new rental option is Shutter Bus Co, a mobile photo booth housed inside a vintage 1974 VW bus. The bus is fully restored and decked out with top-notch camera equipment, handmade props, the ability to print photos on-site, and the technology to upload images to an online gallery. It’s available to party year-round, and can park outside or inside your event. “We took the bus to a Portland wedding recently and got there early to build a ramp to a loading dock. Then we drove down several hallways, through a kitchen, and into a ballroom,” says owner Garrett Hystek. “It definitely had a wow factor.”
The photo fun doesn’t stop there: “Slow-motion booths are very in lately,” says Aweida. “And drones are big with videographers. Drone footage gives you a great overall perspective of the venue, especially at outdoor weddings.”
7. Top Tiers
Kara Burfeind, owner of the SweetSide, shares her take on this year’s most delicious dessert trends.
No need to be vanilla. Modern couples are choosing complex and unique combinations to satisfy their sweet tooths. “When it comes to flavor, couples seem to be throwing tradition out the window, and I, for one, love it!” says Burfeind, who offers cake varieties like pink champagne and almond poppy seed alongside fillings that range from apricot to peanut butter cream and toasted coconut pecan. “If my clients are worried about a flavor being ‘wedding’ enough, I always remind them that if they both like it, chances are that their guests will, too.”
Naked cakes are still very in, but Burfeind has noticed an increase in requests for decorations and flourishes, including fresh flowers and fruits. (She suggests stone fruits.) “We are finding that less fussy, more organic design is still really hot for 2016,” she says. And while tried-and-true tiered cakes aren’t going anywhere, many are choosing a dessert bar to go along with their showpiece. “Guests love being given options and couples are really excited to be able to provide that,” notes Burfeind. “Some of our most popular bites to accompany a cake are French macarons, cheesecake shooters, and mini cake doughnuts."
8. Custom Cheer
Signature sips remain a surefire way to give festive character to your soirée—and save money if you forgo other hard stuff with your beer and wine bar. But today’s personalized cocktails are less about matching your palette and more about history (Grandma loved Planter’s Punch, you drank old-fashioneds on your first date) or favorite local flavors, from Oola Distillery’s Waitsburg Bourbon Whiskey to Ballard Bee Company honey. “In the winter, I use a lot of amaro—Italian herbal liqueurs—as well as spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and anise,” says Tara McLaughlin, bar manager at Goldfinch Tavern at the Four Seasons downtown. “I also see a fair amount more manhattans being ordered. Hot buttered rum is really popular. And I love sparkling cocktails around the holidays.” Here, McLaughlin shares the recipe for a wintry refresher that’s all about seasonal cranberry with a spiced twist.
THE CRIMSON FINCH
3/4 oz Remy VSOP cognac
1/2 oz lemon juice
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz spiced cranberry syrup (To make: combine 1 cup cranberries, 2 cups water, 1 cinnamon stick, and 3 star anise. Bring to a boil for 10–15 minutes, then strain and stir in 1 cup of sugar.)
Mix all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and then strain into a chilled flute. Top with dry sparkling wine. Garnish with an orange twist and toast your fellow revelers
9. Hands On
Make way, giant Jenga and custom cornhole. Interactive stations, from build-your-own-flower-crown setups to DIY confetti bars, are entertaining for guests and add an unexpected element to the evening; they’re also fun activities for bridal showers and engagement parties. Temporary tattoo stations are a faux-edgy favorite—online retailer Tattly offers cool custom designs and discounts on bulk wedding orders. We also like grilled cheese or s’mores-toasting fire pits, wedding-related scavenger hunts, and coloring tables for the kids (and adults, too!).
10. Wish List
The world of registries has blown wide open—you can now officially sign up for whimsical ceramics and bedding at Anthropologie, tents at REI, electronics at Best Buy, art through New York’s Museum of Modern Art (yes, really!), honeymoon funds with Honeyfund.com, a down payment for your first home with FeatherTheNest.com, or a grab bag of gifts from all of your favorite big-box stores or local boutiques with MyRegistry.com or MerciRegisty.com. Trend alert: millennial pairs are loving slow cookers, fancy blenders, bar carts, and vacuums.
11. Mini Moons
Did the wedding burn a hole in your finances (and vacation days)? Make like many modern honeymooners and have a shorter getaway nearby. We love the sweeping views at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, quirky TreeHouse Point in Issaquah, historic Rosario Resort and Spa on Orcas Island, and Woodinville staple Willows Lodge. And after a quickie vacay, you can always still head to Iceland, Paris, or Hawaii, too. Just a few months—or even a few years—later.