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Wedding Bells

by Allie Harcharek
Couples are finding unique ways to make their special day one that they’ll never forget.

Uniqueness is an important factor in wedding plans today, as the future Mr. and Mrs. look to tailor everything—from color themes to designer attire, decorations and even the signature cocktail menu—to perfectly suit their personalities.

“The trends have changed,” confirms Jennifer French, of Mount Laurel’s Daydream Events. Couples are putting their own twist on the big day with early receptions followed by less-formal after-parties, and they’re relaxing the rules on who can see the bride before the big moment. In short, everything you know about weddings has been turned on its head.

That’s just as true for the minute details, like wedding favors. Today, rather than passing out personalized mints or monogrammed candles, many couples prefer to make donations to cancer research or other charitable foundations, French says. “They’re saving money, in a way, and the gifts aren’t being wasted,” she says. Also popular are individualized signature desserts or tables of sweets, as a less expensive and more creative option than a large multi-tiered wedding cake.

Couples are also integrating handmade touches into their ceremonies—creating their own chuppahs and wedding arches with the help of family and friends. “Rather than unity candles, we’re holding wine ceremonies; the bride has white wine, the groom has red, they pour both into one glass and drink from it,” French explains.

Location, location, location
“Part traditional, with a twist,” is how Henry R. Gosik, president and chief executive of Sensational Host Caterers, describes the current trend in personalized weddings. The Maple Shade-based caterer and event coordinator explains that it all depends on the couple. “It really starts to take on a life of its own as we talk with the bride and the groom,” he says. “To personalize weddings, you need to spend a lot of time with them.”

One-of-a-kind weddings start with the venue and work down from there, Gosik says. A boathouse provides a nautical theme, while a rustic vineyard sets the stage for wine lovers. He once even organized a truly remarkable ceremony, complete with a patriotic view, on a cruise ship circling the Statue of Liberty.

While classic styles still rule the market, vintage or unusual touches are in. One recent wedding involved some serious theatrics: a Moorestown couple set their vows against the backdrop of Lowe’s Theater in Jersey City, an 82-year-old movie house complete with 3,000 red velvet seats and a classic stage. Gosik and his team helped the bride and groom plan a reception in the theater’s lobby, with staff in 1920s uniforms and a cocktail bar in the concession stand.

“We’re not talking about expensive cost, but just enough uniqueness,” he says, noting that small details can make the event. “You’re really getting the feel that this day is about the bride and groom.”

Serious eats
The formal chicken, fish or steak dinner options are a thing of the past. Action stations and buffets, rather than sit-down dinner service, are extremely popular among guests now, as they allow for more variety and excitement. Menus can be customized to reflect a favorite style of food or cultural cuisine, and dishes can be presented in unique, unexpected ways. A table presentation can be decked out with details to reflect the couple’s first date, proposal or family background, while cakes are no longer just three tiers of white buttercream.

Many couples choose to center their theme on a specific experience, vacation or travel they’ve shared, bringing the magic of a bygone Caribbean paradise or winter ski trip into the reception, says chef Mike Giletto, a 45-year veteran of the food industry and owner of Mount Laurel’s Cater 2U.

“We’ll match that experience for them: the food and wines they tasted and enjoyed in say Tuscany, Hawaii or Costa Rica,” Giletto says.

Giletto adds that young couples are actually scaling down their special day, paring down guest lists and venue sizes for a smaller, more intimate affair. But smaller doesn’t mean less special, Giletto says. His chefs and caterers help couples plan one-of-a-kind menus, from appetizers to desserts. Cater 2U has an on-site facility suited for 200 guests, plus six additional locations across the region.

Trimming down
With every little detail planned out, a few pesky pounds can throw off your plans—especially when trying to fit into a wedding dress. Many brides-to-be are heading to medical spas to get ready for the big day and honeymoon.

Dr. Jose Diaz-Jimenez of Creations Medical Spa enrolls seven or eight new members in his spa’s supervised weight loss program each week, with the majority gearing up for a special occasion—grooms included!

“We teach patients how to eat the right things and in the right combinations to help them lose weight,” Diaz-Jimenez says. Trained nutritionists provide individualized services and weekly education sessions about leading a healthy and active lifestyle. And, the spa offers an all-natural appetite suppressant.

Those looking to shed pounds for their wedding should plan at least six months to a year in advance in order to achieve the results they want, Diaz-Jimenez says.

With proper planning, commitment and careful attention to detail, your customized dream wedding is yours for the taking.

Wedding Planner
A Special Advertising Section from the pages of South Jersey Magazine

When it comes to that special day, say ‘I Do’ to these local vendors.

Aloft Mount Laurel

Ignite your signature ceremony and reception ideas in our sassy space on a savvy budget! Open to possibilities with all-inclusive menus and customizable lighting, it’s all about creating your wow moment!
Mount Laurel
(856) 234-1880

Cater 2U
Enjoy our warm and elegant atmosphere coupled with sensational food served by a courteous and professional staff. Strict attention and dedication to every detail on your special day will allow you to achieve the wedding of your dreams. Enjoy your day with peace of mind at a reasonable price.
Mount Laurel
(856) 235-3032

Creations Medical Spa
Are you preparing for your wedding day and looking to drop a dress size? Lose up to 20 pounds or more in the first month with Creations Medical Spa’s Celebrity Weight Loss Program. Tired of diets that don’t work or just tired of feeling out of shape, sluggish and unhealthy? The physicians and staff at Creations Medical Spa have the solution you have been waiting for! Their board-certified physicians use nothing but the latest scientific data to customize a weight-loss program designed specifically for you to improve your overall health while you lose weight as quickly and safely as possible. They also give you the tools to keep the weight off once you have reached your goals! You owe it to yourself and loved ones to be healthier, with more energy to enjoy life. Contact Creations Medical Spa for a free consultation today!
(856) 589-1151

Dharma Karma Salon, Spa and Boutique
Cherry Hill
(856) 751-0801

Harbor Pines Golf Club
At Harbor Pines, we know how much this day means to you. And that’s why we promise to do everything in our power to make it magical for you.
Egg Harbor Township
(609) 927-0006

Padma’s Beauty Salon
(856) 216-1133

Sensational Host Caterers
One of the Delaware Valley’s premier catering companies. At home or at one of our 15 beautiful locations, our wedding consultants make sure that every detail is handled with professionalism. From customized menu items and signature drinks to enhanced lighting options and entertainment, your occasion will be nothing but sensational!
Maple Shade
(856) 667-5005

Trump National Golf Club Philadelphia
Trump National Philadelphia’s newly renovated ballroom is available to the public for corporate outings, weddings, award banquets, meetings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, private parties, showers and so much more. Our elegant, 43,000-square-foot clubhouse is the perfect venue. Perched atop the highest point in Southern New Jersey, one may enjoy panoramic views of the Philadelphia skyline and surrounding countryside. We offer a personalized consultation allowing you to customize your event, and provide your guests with memories to last a lifetime.
Pine Hill
(856) 248-2982

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 5 (August, 2011).
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