I don't know if it's my age (hurtling swiftly towards my 30s) or just that marriage has seemingly become popular again, but this summer more than others I found myself at many weddings. Granted, a few of them were for business (events coordinating) but mostly they were for pleasure, and boy oh boy, do I love a good wedding. What is better than a celebration of love, a selection of friends and family, free-flowing bubbles, and generally a decent meal and dancing? Not much.
Before the big day there's the important question of the hen's night, and I've been keeping a close eye on the trends (and quizzing all my friends about the ones they've been to this summer). Generally speaking, there appears to be a move away from penis straws and strippers (maturity perhaps?). A bit more of a focus on nice food and wine means vineyards are very popular, as are BYO affairs in a hired space. Weekends at the beach are also good, if not a little costly, especially the week before a wedding. As much as one might avoid the veil and the sash, dressing up the bride still seems to be something that has to be done.
It's slightly classier though - think 1950s housewives, day of the dead floral headbands, or lei's around the neck. Dance classes are popular but can be expensive and awkward, cocktail making sessions make for a fun night for all ages, and an outrageously outfitted drag queen serving dessert in lieu of a stripper was also a highlight of recent hens. And as long as the hen is happy (and oh, have I seen some tears) then hopefully everyone else is.
The stag do stories I've most recently heard have involved nudity, fights, and cheap beer. Enough said.
Striving to make the day personal.
The day itself is a slight battle for any couple to make their own. Pinterest has meant that every table setting, sign, and whether or not to have a dessert table, is up in the air. It could all get overwhelming, but if you remember it's not a competition and that it's all about you, then you should be okay. This year I've seen a lot of blackboard signs, less bunting, lots of archways for the ceremony backdrop (often homemade), and sometimes adorned with flowers. Games and activities while the couple are having photos taken can be fun - this year I saw homemade giant connect four and giant jenga, as well as a bit of croquet, and a dress-up box.
A few years ago my sister threw her bouquet to Beyonce's All the single ladies and it was a hilarious bun fight. This tradition went out of favour for a while, and only two brides I've seen this summer went to the effort. I was instructed to take my long-term-coupled-up friend to the front for one of the tosses, but sadly the bouquet hit her shoulder and landed in my arms. Not recommended after a fair few glasses of bubbles and if you've recently started seeing someone. Best to avoid this awkward tradition.
Long bridesmaid dresses have come back into favour, partially probably thanks to the stunning lines of Juliette Hogan. It's true here more than ever though that anything goes. Dressing your bridesmaids to suit their shape and colourings, rather than have them uniform, has been a long time coming. Don't get me wrong, the uniform thing is certainly still lingering, and can look amazing. There's always that worry as a bridesmaid that you are really never going to wear that frilly orange and pink number again, but some brides thinks this through. Kate Sylvester, Andrea Moore, Gorman, and Miss Crabb were my picks for beautiful and fun guest frocks this summer. And with brides there was lots of very simple and classic dresses, and lots and lots of lace.
Food and drink
Some friends went to a wedding of a couple who had bought champagne all year while it was rotationally on sale for their guests to enjoy on the lawn. The mistake apparently though, was offering it to people well before the ceremony. We don't want guests falling asleep during the speeches now do we? Always make sure there's enough bubbles to go round, and for a non-alcoholic drink, sparkling sodas are definitely the way to go. Just watch out for paper straws. Cheese after dessert is a popular option that has made it to NZ. One wedding had a cheese table next to the dessert table, which was a hit. Another flagged having a wedding cake altogether, and just had a tiered pile of cheese, decorated with flowers and all.