Skip to main content

New wedding trends shake things up

By Liane Membis, CNN
Click to play
Chelsea Clinton's big day
  • Wedding trends are changing, and you may not get assigned seat at reception
  • Weddings can be held at brunch time with a fruit punch to cut costs
  • Some couples rent entire mansions for a weekend of festivities

(CNN) -- Former President Clinton's daughter, Chelsea Clinton, took great pains to keep the details of her wedding extravaganza a secret even as the media pointed cameras at the posh estate in Rhinebeck, New York, where the ceremony will be held.

Whether your own wedding is lavish or not, you have the opportunity to make your event extraordinary. Celebrity event planner and caterer Andrea Correale, owner of Elegant Affairs in New York, shares tips on wedding trends that will be making a buzz in 2011 and ones that should be avoided altogether.

CNN: As a wedding and event planner, details are key for you. What are some trends that you are seeing that make weddings unique?

Andrea Correale: A major trend with wedding receptions is mixing the shapes and sizes of tables. It's one of the quickest ways to switch things up at a wedding, yet it's a rather unique trend.

The days of just doing round tables of 10 are pretty much over. So mix them up: Have a triangular table, raise some up, throw in different types of chairs and stools that complement each other.

Also, people are getting rid of assigned seating. If you want to make it one big fab extravaganza, create a setting that allows for people to get up and move around, like a lounge, and allow people to sit where they want to sit. Ditch the nameplates.

CNN: Are there other trends that can cut back costs for a wedding?

Correale: If you do a wedding reception at brunch time, you can get away with having a fabulous event without really breaking the bank. Brunch food items are less expensive, and you can always have a nice easy morning punch, like a cocktail or passionfruit juice mix. Couples can do this in lieu of having a nighttime reception.

CNN: If you're not having a nighttime reception or you don't want your invites to stray away after a wedding, what can couples do to keep guests around?

Correale: A lot of people are doing afterparties now. You can set up a cognac bar, put out coffees and cappuccinos, and get cordial cigars for men and create lounge-like events.

Also, couples should think about getting a DJ for the nighttime event instead of the band or piano player. Brides will get the opportunity to switch into something sassier for the nighttime event, and friends will have the opportunity to keep the party going all night long.

CNN: But what if you really don't want the party to end?

Correale: What some people like to do is seek out Realtors and rent out a home for the weekend to do their weddings. They'll find a fancy home on the beach or a mansion and host their weddings. But it's not a daylong event; it becomes a weekend extravaganzas.

People should really try to utilize space. You can hold a event in one room, a dinner in the other, or host a bunch of other activities in different places and at different times, like an exclusive loft. It really makes the event more fun and allows the excitement to last for days.

CNN: With money being tight these days for some people, are there alternative trends for the wedding gift?

Correale : More people are being environmentally friendly and charity-friendly these days and asking for donations instead of gifts. I believe it has something to do with the economy. With all the recent events going on, more people are being driven to give, and they want to share that feeling with their guests. Donations to charities are becoming another trend that seems to be replacing the traditional wedding gift and reduces pressure on guests and their decisions of what to give.

CNN: Are there any spots that are becoming more popular places for weddings?

Correale: As far as where people are having weddings these days, more people are thinking out of the box. Vineyards are a trendy place to hold a wedding because it creates a setting of togetherness. It's a place where people are breaking bread together, serving dinner on long wooden tables, having salads in the center and drinking fine wine. Sunsets on the vineyard really take people back to nature, and it's a calmer way of doing things.

CNN: If there is one trend that couples should avoid at their weddings, what should it be?

Correale: Don't be predictable. Stay away from the traditional timing of a wedding. Typically, you have the first dance, people sit down for the flower-throwing, and so on and so forth.

Take away some of the rigidness. Mess it up a little. Maybe you do the toast before you cut the cake, or as a couple, you can do the toast yourselves. You can move around the room to break up the strict formality of the event. Just keep it a little loose and clean so that the wedding itself becomes a surprise.