Money can't buy you love, but that never stops giddy well-heeled brides-to-be from shelling out millions of dollars to make their nuptials an event to remember.
At the top of it all is the world of A-List wedding planning — where ultra-wealthy couples ante up a small fortune to industry pros like Preston Bailey, owner of Preston Bailey Designs, who was commissioned by Donald Trump and Melania Knauss to plan their nuptials at Trump's Palm Beach resort Maralago. "The folks that we work for have seen it all, so you have to start from there," says Bailey.
So, what's hot? Vividly colored and textured prints for invitations and custom-made table linens so chic they can be worn are both big hits with A-listers, say the top planners in the business. Also in big demand: huge hanging floral designs and ethnically inspired cuisine. Top it off with a $5,000 sugar-flowered cake and an impromptu performance from one of the top acts in the recording industry (Billy Joel performed at the Trump wedding.)
Defining the decor for upscale weddings this season is color — it's everywhere, and the bolder the better says invitation specialist Ellen Weldon of Ellen Weldon Designs. "People are not doing plain, white invitations as often," she says. Weldon, who created the invites for Oprah Winfrey's star-studded 50th birthday bash, says brides are looking to make a statement by announcing their wedding on not-so-traditional bright reds and intense blue.
Roberta Karsch, owner of premiere linen and accessories company Resource One agrees the well-off brides that she's designing custom-made linens for are interested in seeing their receptions beautified with color. "You can't have enough green," says Karsch, who is using fabrics such as Dutchess satin and silk with hand-dyed flower overlays to accent her fall creations.
With the departure from a white reception also comes a shake-up in high-end wedding day menus. Affluent brides are showing off their culinary sophistication with ethnic dishes that could be served in fine restaurants. "You can have some kind of a theme,"says New York's celebrated caterer Serena Bass, who's been serving Moroccan, Mexican and Indian foods recently.
Bass says an emerging trend in catering is the cocktail-style reception. Heavy on hors d'oeuvres, these receptions feature music, mingling and fun libations, and they're cheaper--starting at about $150 per guest for food, staff, bar and rentals compared to sit-down dinners that can easily run $300 per person.
One thing that's always en vogue at celebrity weddings: a sweet-tooth-satisfying sugar-flowered cake from Tribeca's famed cake maker Sylvia Weinstock. Weinstock, who has baked delectable confections for the nuptials of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, says the look has changed tremendously in recent years. "The girls want something tall, but they don't want columns," says Weinstock, who says stake cakes are an alternative.
Sylvia's decadent cakes, which are crafted by her team of bakers, cake icers, artists, flower makers and even a carpenter, can cost several thousand dollars — far from the $647 that the average bride is expected to spend on her cake next year.
Grace Ormonde, the editor in chief of acclaimed Wedding Style Magazine, would say that money isn't all you need. "It's about your personal style," says Ormonde.