Compiled by Nicole Barley, Andrea Bosco, Rachel Jones, + Liz Petoniak

Flower Child

“Be daring, be true to yourself, and take risks!” says Carmel Vandale, owner of Mt. Lebanon Floral. Much to Vandale’s excitement, the cascading bouquet has made its return. “Brides are asking for drama, and that’s one way to achieve it,” she says. Vandale sees brides choosing color schemes in coral, poppy, teal, plum, and lavender. The “woodland theme” is gaining popularity, too, she says. Think moss, bark, and natural elements, such as wood, lichen, and pine cones.

Mt. Lebanon Floral, 725 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon. 412.561.2500. mtlebanonfloral.net.

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“Wear a funky headpiece for a few shots! It is OK to change up your look for a few photos. Get it on film. Have fun!” Vandale specializes in custom flower crowns and fancies herself an expert on the abloom headpieces. We hope this trend is perennial!


Get Creative!

When planning your reception, Steve Lebo, owner of PartyTime Productions, says it’s time to get your creative juices flowing, in particular, by bringing in aspects that involve technology and the element of surprise! Lebo suggests implementing a “wildly creative grand entrance to totally ‘wow’ your guests. It’s called the Shadow Grand Entrance, and we are the only area DJ company to offer this. We set up a special curtain by the entranceway where guests can only see the shadow of the bride and groom. Then, with lights turned down, we tell the couple’s love story — first date, first kiss, when he proposed — and the bride and groom mime it to their captivated audience, truly bringing down the house for the grand entrance!” Also new for the upcoming year: “Cocktail hour couple trivia. Guests can answer fun questions about the newlywed couple.”

PartyTime Productions, 215 Carriage Blvd., Monroeville. 412.401.5320. partytimeprodj.com.

PartyTime Productions Monroeville

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“Surprise your guests with a special ‘rock the reception dance’ or a unique end-of-the-night send-off. This send-off could include sparklers, glow sticks, or other favors for a spectacular surprise. The goal here is to end your wedding with a bang! This will create memories to last a lifetime!“


Back to Basics

The “shabby chic” look is a trend that is on the rise, and has been growing and evolving since last year. “Brides love the back-to-basics look. The farm table and chairs, along with lace overlays, runners, and jute (our version of burlap) have been the top choices of newly engaged brides. Mason jars are the glass of choice,” says John Bibbo Jr., president of Event Source. The antique look for china and flatware has also been making a comeback. “Brides are choosing to mix and match patterns to really give the look and feel that they are using dinnerware from grandma’s china cabinet.”

Event Source, 412.809.8100. eventsource.net.

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“Have fun with the planning! This is a very big and important day, but is also one of the best days of your life, so don’t stress. Pick out your venue, rentals, food, etc., and then relax and have confidence in your vendors to make the magic happen.”


Just Dance

It’s more than OK to break from tradition, says Dean McAfee, owner of Pittsburgh DJ Company. In fact, non-tradition is the new tradition, with personalized changes appearing in everything from the type of venue to the shade of the bride’s wedding dress. On the dance floor, too, it’s all about customizing the reception to your liking. “Traditional dances, such as the anniversary dance, the money dance, and even, the bouquet and garter toss, are definitely not a requirement anymore. These dances can really gobble up valuable reception time, and plenty of newlyweds are opting out of them in favor of getting the party started earlier.”

Pittsburgh DJ Company, 412.683.5350. pittsburghdjco.com.

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“It’s your choice when it comes to traditions. Keep what you like, lose what you don’t. It’s your day, so just do what you think works best for you!” says McAfee. “And, keep in mind that some of these old, quirky traditions can really be fun if done right. In fact, one wedding reception tradition that I don’t ever see going away is the cookie table. After all, we are in Pittsburgh!”


All in the Family

Embrace the feeling of two families becoming one with a family-style dinner. Patti Gerasole of Girasole says it allows guests to be more interactive with each other, as well as the food. “We think an Italian menu is very conducive to this style,” Gerasole says. “We usually serve the soup and salads, and then present bowls and platters of the menu choice to the guests for them to pass.”

Girasole, 733 Copeland St., Shadyside. 412.682.2130. girasolepgh.com.

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Liven up cocktail hour with an Antipasto station. The endless options and attractive display are ideal for mingling. “Guests enjoy gathering around the station and discussing their choices prior to the formal dinner,” Gerasole says.


So Dreamy

The classic white wedding is making its return, says Allison McGeary of Allison McGeary Florist. Pretty and polished, brides are leaning toward blush tones, offset with muted color palettes using gray and lavender. Full, romantic blooms help accomplish the entire look. “We’re seeing hydrangea, garden roses, succulents, and dahlias — just to name a few,” says McGeary. Also popular are pops of navy and Radiant Orchid, the Pantone Color of the Year. The pairing of those hues even sounds magical!

Allison McGeary Florist, 3625 Butler St., Lawrenceville. 412.621.6427. allisonmcgeary.com.

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“Trust your instincts and really go with what you love. If there’s a look you like, stick with it. When you’re using a muted palette, you can really offset the arrangements beautifully with your linens. Keep them more neutral for a soft, romantic look, or use a deep, bold linen to create an incredibly dramatic statement.”


From Rustic to Picnic

“Picnic-style seating has transcended from the rustic approach,” says Erin Sovich, owner of Angel Event Productions. “Couples are seeking more informal seating, using tables that are pretty and plain, and white picnic chairs.” Sovich says she’s also witnessing a demand for suspended cakes à la Kaley Cuoco. This, of course, takes plenty of planning, and a supportive ceiling.

Angel Event Productions, P.O. Box 272, Sewickley. 412.336.8237. angeleventproductions.com.

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“Make a priority list and really think through your list. Know what’s most important to you in the planning phase because it’s really easy to get lost in all of the details. Note one to two things you know you have to have and everything else will be put into perspective.”


Mini Delights

What’s hot in the catering world? Bite-sized appetizers and casual, family-style dinners, according to John Vallese, president of Yes, We Cater. He says, “People are loving mini creative foods for appetizers, like high-end grilled cheeses on the rim of tomato soup, or ceviche in a little martini glass. And, couples now are leaning towards dinners served with family-style options. It gives their guests variety, and they don’t have to pick their dinner on RSVP cards. It’s the ease of a buffet with the classy touch of being seated.”

Yes, We Cater, 2326 Mosside Blvd., Monroeville. 412.373.9322. yeswecater.net.

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Nail down any dietary or religious concerns with your caterer prior to booking.


How Romantic

“A return to romance and formality are back in 2014!” proclaims Lisa Mason Eck, owner of Extraordinary Events Group. “Think white-gloved waiters, crystal candelabras, gold-rimmed china, and big dance bands. Brides are choosing shades of pink in nude, blush, and bashful; and vintage-style dresses with illusion back details.” We can thank Hollywood, particularly 2013’s The Great Gatsby, for the traditional revival.

Extraordinary Events Group, 2004 Pelone Drive, Verona. 412.427.2987. extraordinaryeventsgroup.com.

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Any budget can achieve a romantic atmosphere by including lots of candlelight in the reception area. Try centerpieces of multiple candles at varying heights on a mirror!


Relaxed Grandeur

Gone are the days of stuffy wedding receptions! “Weddings are becoming more relaxed with a fun, outdoor atmosphere. Couples are choosing venues that can accommodate a whole day of wedding events for their guests to enjoy, “ says Stephanie Fitcher, event planning division president for Royal Grandeur. “Many couples are looking for a nature or rustic themed wedding. The décor is very elegant, but also brings in pieces of nature, like centerpieces made from bronze-painted bottles, filled with elaborate flowers and wrapped with twine.”

Royal Grandeur, LCC, 423 Telegraph Road, Brownsville. 412.916.6860. royalgrandeur.com.

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Provide your guests with favors they can use throughout the night and also take home. “Mason jars are affordable and customizable, and guests can use them throughout the night! It also makes for a great conversation piece every time they use it thereafter.”


Following Through

Anyone who has ever stumbled upon Pinterest or Etsy knows the web has revolutionized wedding planning, from looking to other brides for inspiration, to purchasing custom-made pieces. “I love it!” says Sean Gray of Sean Gray International. “They are engaged, and their friends and families are engaged — a trend I am happy to see growing on both sides of the aisle.” Gray says he takes those visions and works to make them extraordinary experiences.

Sean Gray International, 815 Copeland Way, #5, Shadyside. 412.512.5208. seangrayintl.com.

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“Always keep the big picture in mind at every point when a decision needs to be made,” Gray says. “This through-line is going to help keep all aspects on track to come together on that one special day.” Find a theme and carry it from the save-the-date all the way through to the thank-you notes!


You’re Invited

Want your wedding to make a memorable first impression? Start by sending stunning stationery. Evvy Diamond, co-owner of Nota Bene with Amy Bass, tells us that letterpress printing and foil stamping will continue to be popular typography trends in 2014, with white foil stamped on navy or black paper as an especially striking combination. Also energizing invites are “fun, unusual fonts, and thicker, heavier stock with edge painting on the sides in a contrasting color, along with laser-cut paper, which creates a lace-like look around borders.” Rather stick with a classic theme? Throwback styes are hot, too. “A number of brides are going back to the very traditional invitation as well. Monograms are huge, and they’re then used to brand the wedding day. We put them on napkins, stir sticks, straws, and coasters.”

Nota Bene, 9 Brilliant Ave., Aspinwall. 412.782.6300. notabenepaper.com.

Nota Bene Aspinwall

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The creativity doesn’t have to stop at the invitations. “We have seen an increase in signage, favors — any way to make the day more personal and fun.”


Mix and Match

SAVOY’s Executive Chef Kevin Watson says guests are requesting nontraditional wedding menu items that have a little kick, served up in action stations. From pasta and salad, to ceviche and Asian cuisine, the added variety lets diners personalize their plates with a made-to-order feel. “It also allows large wedding parties to be able to eat more quickly,” says Watson. “With two or three action stations dispersed throughout the room, the guests can move around to different stations, take their portions, and be seated. Action stations can also be used in combination with plated dinners.”

SAVOY, 2623 Penn Ave., Strip District. 412.281.0660. savoypgh.com.

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Choose vendors who have a history of working together. While they work out the details on their end, you have more time to perfect other aspects of the wedding.


Fresh Feasting

Bob Sendall, owner of All in Good Taste Productions, is a proponent of the farm-to-table movement, and is leading the charge to serve healthy, sustainable foods at wedding celebrations. GMO-free, organic, gluten-free, and even, raw foods are all on Sendall’s extensive and evolving menu. Other trendy highlights include pickled vegetables, cured meats, and sushi. Interactive, eye-catching food displays are also topping his list of wedding must-haves — think made-to-order salads, stunningly presented pans of paella and jumbalaya, and farmers market-inspired displays of food, that are both appetizing and add to the overall décor. When personalizing the menu, “It’s really about tuning into the likes of the couple,” he says.

All in Good Taste Productions, 1520 Monterey St., North Side. 412.321.6869. allingoodtasteproductions.com.

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A major trend Sendall is seeing at weddings is more intimate crowd sizes, ranging from 100 to 150 guests. “When you keep the wedding a little smaller, that feeling of intimacy is just there,” he says.

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