Whether you want your occasion to be large or small, simple or elaborate, traditional or contemporary, creating a personalized wedding experience for your guests will leave a lasting impression. Now more than ever, couples are spending their time and money on creating surprising, memorable, and Instagram worthy moments. Making sure guests leave with just as much elation as the couple in love is now the biggest wedding trend of all. We spoke with several wedding- and party-planning experts around The Woodlands to get the insider scoop on what fun new ideas couples have been seeking out in entertainment, food, decor and style.

Entertainment

Nestled inconspicuously amongst 17 wooded acres just north of The Woodlands is the Spanish meets English Madera Estates. Ian Ramirez, who runs the family owned and operated wedding estate, graciously walked us around, the very morning they happened to be hosting a wedding showcase. The lush property was built by his family as an all-inclusive wedding venue and was the perfect backdrop for showcasing several Houston area wedding vendors. Madera hosts weddings year-round, as it has the capability to provide both indoor and outdoor events.

As soon as we walked through the property, we noticed an impressive, 17-foot, custom stone fireplace. Ian explained they had designed it based off a 1930s postcard from Central Mexico. The fireplace provides the perfect backdrop for nuptials as well as entertainment. Further back on the property, he showed us a large teepee adorned with fresh flowers. Unique items like these are a huge draw for the wedding planners of today.

Wedding entertainment is traditionally rooted in creating a romantic backdrop for the celebratory dances and lively bands, whose focus is to get the party started. While the wedding band isn’t going anywhere, Ian, a professionally trained opera singer himself, says, “Entertainment is no longer limited to one band or a DJ after dinner. It tends to be a continuous stream of unexpected entertainers.” He has hosted sketch artists, opera singers, magicians and astrologers—just to name a few.

He said there is also a big call for casual entertaining before or after the reception. Lawn games, family entertaining areas and al fresco lighting, within an overall chill garden party, has made its way in addition to or in place of the more formal reception. When entertaining your guests throughout the big day it seems there are no longer any rules; to guarantee a wow factor and a smile, the less expected, the better.

Food as Theatre

When it comes time for choosing the meal, less emphasis is being placed on the seated option. The formality of the event is still there, but couples are choosing theatrical food stations with non-traditional cuisine that speaks specifically to the couple’s journey. Couples are requesting smaller plates and adding courses. Jennifer Coyle, an event planner and owner of Fete, says she gets requests for “sushi bars, build your own slider bars and taco bars.” In other words, “taking street food and making it gourmet.” At Madera Estates we saw a signature, vintage popcorn cart strategically placed adjacent to the bar. Offering guests make-your-own food and drink stations, like coffee bars, mimosa bars and prosecco bars, seems to be part of enhancing the experience. “Couples are opting out of party favors and choosing snacks and late night bites so guests can have more fun in the moment,” says Coyle. Smaller bites throughout the event allows the couple to get creative and have fun with a lighthearted menu. Annemarie McKay, the Private Events Director at The Woodlands Country Club, said she doesn’t see this trend going anywhere. “Donuts were the big stars last year, but pretzels seem to really be making their way into the spot light,” Mckay says. “In this particular area, you are seeing couples add their personalities here. A bride and groom may share the love for brunch food and while it might not be ‘traditional’ to serve a meal of chicken and waffles to the guest for a dinner entrée, you are seeing them embrace the idea of serving mini chicken and waffles for a late night bite instead.”

Flower Power

Trendy color palettes come and go, but lately we are seeing couples more interested in creating an overall personalized vibe. We added florists to the list of vendors who, in general, are being tasked with creating more moments that add to the overall guest experience. Based out of her boutique Tomball storefront, Maggie Baily is the owner at Bramble and Bee and a wedding and special events florist. Maggie says, “We are getting a lot of requests for wow factor moments. Our clients would rather forgo the floral centerpieces and instead focus our energy on creating large photographable moments.” Think big, personalized floral walls that act as backdrops for the cakes, place cards, or photobooths. “Brides with a limited budget can now focus on one or more statement centerpieces in the middle of the room, have flowers draping down length of the table, or even have an epic floral arch.” Anne McKay at The Woodlands Country Club also uses budget-friendly balloons to make an impact with flower power. “Not just regular balloons, but the very large, big balloons. People are using them as backdrops for photo areas, ballroom drops and even small, custom-design elements.” Bridal bouquets are trending towards understated and often are compiled using local flowers. Prince Harry hand-picked Meghan Markle’s bouquet from their private garden, escalating the trend to use meaningful blooms to honor loved ones or create a new family tradition.

Something Borrowed

The Royal Wedding has come and gone, but Meghan Markle made a lasting impression last spring with her simple and understated Givenchy wedding gown. Wedding dress minimalism was a huge trend seen during the 2019 Bridal Fashion Week. Simple, modern shapes with very little adornment made their way through bridal gowns and bridal accessories. On the runways, we saw classic styles in light shades of subtle silver and lavender, accessorized with removable shawls and capes. Brides want to show their unique individuality, expressed by way of subtle color tones or stylish accessories like a capelet. As trends come and go, jewelry actually lasts a lifetime. John Robichau is an owner of Robichau’s Jewelry, a family-owned-and-operated jewelry store that has been an institution of The Woodlands for over 30 years. We are not surprised when John says couples are still most interested in classic and timeless jewelry. He echoes the minimalism trend and says he is seeing couples now mix old and new materials. Brides and grooms are weaving the story of their life together with meaningful accessories, such as layered necklaces that are engravable for future children.

Photography Courtesy Derrick Bryant Photography

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About Carey Scasserra

Carey Scasserra is a designer, artist and creative director. Carey was an Associate Project Designer for Gensler Architecture, Design & Planning Worldwide in Washington, D.C., where she worked with global lifestyle, and hospitality brands in driving design innovation. She was also a studio professor at George Washington University, teaching candidates of Masters of Interior Architecture, Design Thinking and Trend Analysis. She holds a Bachelors degree from James Madison University and a Masters of Architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. She loves writing Design Features for The Book The Woodlands because she gets to research and uncover local design stories that highlight and enrich the community.

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