Bridal Guide: How to Plan Your Dream Wedding

By Amy Moeller and Casey Trudeau | August 19, 2016 | Style & Beauty Feature

The new season brings a harvest of options and trends for wedding-planning sweethearts.

Plan the Big Day

Bridal-Guide-1.jpg

Kissing corner: Word on the street says Washington couples are keeping it local this autumn.

Fall is a time of renewal. Trends evolve sharply on the fashion front, an entirely different set of flowers blooms, and even though September is technically more than halfway through the calendar, it feels like the start of a new year. The same holds true for the wedding industry: Everything refreshes, from trending colors and hot bridal gown styles to venue openings and high priorities on wedding wish lists. To help you discover more of what’s in vogue right now, we sat down with a few experts to discuss exciting new trends, browsed some of our favorite designers’ accessories collections, and compiled a guide to some of the DC area’s top wedding vendors. Take a peek, and let us lead you to the fresh, festive wedding of your dreams.

The Luxury Venues: Mandarin Oriental & Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner

Bridal-Guide-2.jpg

Syzygy Events created a pineapples-and-flamingos motif for this rehearsal dinner, featuring an outdoor lounge space that rocks a custom stenciled carpet of the bride’s own design.

A glam venue doesn’t have to mean a staid affair. Couples are adding an individual touch to everything from food to furniture. This fall, couples are changing the wedding atmosphere by moving away from the corporate marriage machine and toward more personality-driven affairs. “I’ve heard ‘We want to be different’ a lot recently,” says Mandarin Oriental catering manager Katie Jones. “Couples want to show off their personalities, whether through décor, food, or a fun interactive station.” To learn more about what’s fabulous right now, we asked a few local experts for the hottest trends.

Dinner for Two (Hundred)
Even the most discerning brides and grooms are passing up the plated dinner in favor of buffets and station-style meals. “Couples are more concerned about guests having fun and hitting the dance floor,” says Mandarin Oriental catering manager Hillary Hamm. The added benefit? More options! “Having a larger variety of menu items offers greater opportunity for couples to infuse the event with their personalities.”

Dessert, Reimagined
Fondant’s days are numbered: Naked cakes are all the rage, says Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner pastry chef Heidi Kabath. “Brides are skipping slathering icing all over the cake, and are decorating instead with edible items such as berries or flowers. Or they’re keeping it simple with just the cake and icing between layers.” And to give your guests a true destination experience, choose locally sourced produce. “Our pastry team is incorporating Virginia apples and pears into desserts. We love not only that these fruits are local but that their caramelized warmth pairs perfectly with the season.” Delish!

Sitting Pretty
A major component of this fall’s comfortable, welcoming environments is soft, oversize lounge seating. “More people are using rental items to create a relaxing atmosphere for their attendees,” says Mandarin Oriental catering and event management director Mari Steffany. “It’s amazing how some sofas, lighting, oversize chairs, and elegant finishings can change the entire look of our spaces.”

Don't Forget the Accessories

Bridal-Guide-3.jpg

Crepe satin ruffled sandal, Christian Louboutin ($1,095). Saks Fifth Avenue, Tysons Galleria, 703-761-0700. Pearl-bud collar necklace, Tory Burch ($250). 1211 Wisconsin Avenue NW, 202-337-1410. White enameled Rockstud frame clutch, Valentino ($3,045). Saks Fifth Avenue, see above

When deciding on your accent color, don’t disregard soft shades of ivory, cream, and everything in between. Pearl, eggshell, bone, linen—designers have almost as many words for white as Eskimos do for snow, and this season, brides are getting familiar with all of them as they embrace quiet patterns, rich textures, and beautiful layers in neutral hues. From your personal clutch to your bridesmaids’ bouquets, shades of white create a fresh take on the clean and modern wedding.

Bridal: The Guide

Bridal-Guide-5.jpg

The Fairmont
Newly renovated guest rooms complement this charming Georgetown courtyard garden and grand ballroom. 2401 M St. NW, 202-429-2400

The Hay-Adams
The historic DC hotel is equipped with luxury spaces for guest lists large and small. 800 16th St. NW, 202-638-6600

Mandarin Oriental
this elegant retreat in the heart of the city offers wedding planning, catering, and spa services. 1330 Maryland ave. SW, 202-554-8588

Newseum
Customized wedding services and award-winning Wolfgang Puck Catering distinguish this beloved locale. 555 Pennsylvania ave. NW, 202-292-6100

The Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner
The much sought-after venue is a conveniently located one-stop shop for a traditional or modern celebration. 1700 Tysons Blvd., Mclean, 703-506-4300

Trump International Hotel
This luxurious, European-inspired escape is just minutes from the National Mall. 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202-695-1100

The Watergate
The completely revamped iconic DC spot is luxuriously appointed, with no design detail overlooked. 2650 Virginia Ave. NW, 202-827-1600

JEWELRY

Adeler Jewelers
Refashion vintage pieces or bring your unique vision to life with custom creations by Virginia-based Jorge Adeler. 772 Walker Road, Great Falls, 703-759-4076

Boone & Sons
The intimate, family-owned jewelry boutique offers personalized diamond engagement rings and wedding bands. 1025 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-785-4653

Charles Schwartz & Son
DC’s oldest jeweler takes pride in its collection of wedding-ready designer and vintage baubles. 5300 Wisconsin Ave. NW, 202-363-5432

David Yurman
the modern brand offers artistic engagement and wedding rings at its boutique in luxe CityCenterDC. 924 Palmer Ave. NW, 202-682-0260

I. Gorman
A downtown gem: This warm, inviting jeweler stocks customizable rings to commemorate your special day. 1133 20th St. NW, 202-775-8544

Liljenquist & Beckstead
The elite boutique carries engagement rings, timepieces, and wedding-day jewels. Tysons Galleria, 703-448-6731

Tiny Jewel Box
The four-floor premier jeweler boasts DC’s largest collection of vintage engagement rings. 1155 Connecticut Ave. NW, 202-393-2747

CATERING & DESSERT

Design Cuisine
Washington’s preeminent catering company offers curated menus for any special event. 2659 S. Shirlington Road, Arlington, 703-979-940

District Desserts
The Maryland-based dessert kitchen is famous for made-to-order decorated cookies. 11244 Triangle Lane, Silver Spring, 202-417-8251

Paperwhite Events
A taste of France: This DC-based pâtisserie creates gourmet desserts guaranteed to impress any guest. 301-461-1637

Relish Catering
This personalized catering experience uses only local and seasonal ingredients. 301-448-5315

FLOWERS

Goodness Gracious Florals
This boutique floral design studio has 25 years of wedding experience. 301-775-9637

Greenworks
One of Washington’s premier florists creates personalized arrangements for every occasion. 1145 23rd St. NW, 202-223-8021

MultiFlor
This top local florist is dedicated to the details of your ceremony and reception. 8300 Merrifield Ave., Ste. F, Fairfax, 703-645-0090

EVENT PLANNING

Syzygy Events
The event-planning hegemon is focused on uniquely intricate décor and next-level customer service. 7895 Cessna Ave., Ste. K-L, Gaithersburg, 301-987- 0095

LUXE TOUCHES

Frost Lighting
The company can customize its creative lighting designs to illuminate any wedding venue. 703-866-5133

Ice Lab
These custom ice sculptures add a cool yet elegant edge to your nuptials. 6414 Landay Ave., Baltimore, 410-746-1595

John Farr Lighting
Whether your venue is intimate or grand, amplify its ambiance with John Farr’s luminous lighting designs. 501B Commerce Dr., Upper Marlboro, 301-390-2728

MJ Valet
Treat every guest like a VIP with door-to-door valet service. 1606 17th St. NW, 202-587-2745

Reston Limousine
DC’s top transportation provider offers reliable limo service before, during, and after the wedding day. 45685 Elmwood Ct., Sterling, 703-478-0500

Stage Right Entertainment
A leader in DMV entertainment, Stage Right provides characters and crafts to make your celebration come alive. 240-401-3071

Tony J Photography
This photo and video studio is a go-to for capturing DC metro couples’ special days. 1801 West St., Ste. 200, Annapolis, 410-972-5894

Typecase Industries
This paper goods design and print shop is devoted to one-of-a-kind invites and reception materials. 2122 Eighth St. NW, 202-827-5834

PhotograPhy by Kelsey thomPson of K. thomPson PhotograPhy (mandarin oriental); Jaredq eygabroad/eyeem (caKe); PhotograPhy by KEIth CEPhUS PhotograPhy (kissing corner); ProP Styling by Sharon ryan for halley reSourceS inc., photography by Jeff Crawford (Accessories)

Around the Web