Making a Big Splash on Your Wedding Day

If you are heading for the altar, you might want to consider these new splashy trends for your special day and for your guests.

Despite the sluggish economy, the wedding industry is booming, with couples spending more and more on their special day each year, according to The Wedding Report, a research company that tracks and forecasts numbers of weddings, spending, and consumer trends for the wedding industry.

Weddings were a $53 billion industry in 2011 and that number is expected to reach $59 billion by 2017, according to The Wedding Report.

The “Wedding Index”, which collects data from wedding professionals, showed in the last half of 2011 that spending was up from previous years, a sign the economy is improving.  Most significantly, regardless of whether the bride was going big or DIY, the spending on average was up for all the vendors surveyed.

While the most money goes towards the venue, catering and rentals, couples are splurging on expensive linens, favors and much more to make it a day to remember for their guests.La Tavola Linen, a company specializing in formal linens for events, says its business has grown in the last few years despite the sluggish economy.

“People still want nice stuff,” said Emarie Vangolio, saleswoman at La Tavola, “and the easiest way to transform a room is linen.”

The tablecloth company boasts linens that range from formal to flashy, outrageous to rustic, and insists it can find the perfect color, fabric, print, or texture that you’re looking for your table.

Their most extravagant table cloth called the “Beverly” is covered in individually hand stitched silk petals and costs a cool $150 per table. Of course, one would need a $40 runner with sequins to go with that table cloth according to the sales person. The table cloth comes in peach.

Another special touch that is gaining popularity is giving guests high-end chocolates as wedding favors. Chocolate Moderne, a high-end confectioner, has seen business boom in the last 2-3 years.

“It’s an affordable luxury,” says Joan Coukos Todd, founder of Chocolate Moderne. For $8 you get two pieces of delicious custom made chocolate for each guest. And if that’s not enough, you can get the chocolate to be the same flavor as your cake. According to Coukos Todd, a chocolate artisan, high-end chocolate is the fastest growing area in confectionary today.   She only uses dark chocolate and the finest French chocolate in her mix and the pieces can be hand decorated for the happy couple’s special day.

The average amount couples spend on their wedding is just under $30,000 nationally, according to The Wedding Report. But almost 20% of couples are willing to spend big when it comes to giving their guests a unique experience.

When it comes to picking the location, couples these days are looking to stretch out the festivities. Weddings are no longer one-day affairs but instead last 2-3 days with family and friends. Many wedding locations will rent out a package deal for the weekend where guests can stay, relax, catch-up with everyone and even shop!

Falkirk Estate and Country Club located in upstate New York boasts an 18-hole golf course, an equestrian center and a central pub for guests to relax around the wedding activities and shopping mall Woodbury Commons is nearby. The location can do events for up to 600 guests, and the medium range price is $180 per person, which ends up being between $30,000-50,000.

“Over the years it’s been evolving, people aren’t going on expensive vacations so weddings are longer and become three-day weekends,” said Matthew Fichera at Falkirk Estate. On the high end it's $100,000-$250,000 to rent the estate.

“Thursdays and Mondays are also becoming more popular and it's half price,” said Fichera. “And you can get the vendors you want and then you have the rest of the weekend to do a BBQ, brunches, after-parties, whatever you like with your family and friends.”

More and more couples are shelling out major cash to record their big day. Videographers now offer packages that cover the entire nuptials as well as the ensuing party with a photo-montage chaser. The high price tag is not a deterrent in these tough economic times. New York-based Reaching Roots Studios says its most popular packages range from two and three camera packages that cost from $4,000 to $5,500.

“People who end up booking us love movies and love television,” said Nate Armstrong, owner of Reaching Roots. “They appreciate the art.”

Armstrong started his business in the middle of the recession in July 2008. He has doubled his prices since then because of demand and last year his business tripled.

“People value being able maintain those memories,” said Armstrong. “How people sound the day they get married, people are beginning to value that over photos.”

Armstrong says he has no regrets about starting his business.

“I get to go to a party every other weekend. Overhead is huge, profit margin is small, but the people that I work with might be nervous but are very happy.”

The popular add-ons include a post-wedding interview with the bride and groom to record wedded-bliss, a 30-picture montage of the wedding and honeymoon with 3-D animation as well as DVDs for everyone in your wedding party.

For the shy brides who want a low-key bachelorette party you can bring the party to you by hiring a Butler to serve you and your friends at home. Butlers of the Big Apple, founded by McKenzie Fisk, work in the New York area and hire out shirtless Butlers for lucky bachelorette (and divorce parties).

“All our guys are wholesome, good-looking guys,” said Fisk.

Butlers can be hired for $150/hour for a minimum of two hours. The Butlers serve guests, bartend and even cook for the guests and if you ask them, they will do the dishes. To take it up a notch, these guys are also available in the buff.

“We aim to make the events classy,” said Fisk. To make sure that happens, each event has spotters to keep an eye on the Butlers.

Many brides want their wedding parties to look good for their big day. One trend emerging is offering the wedding party Botox and fillers. Dr Gordon Kaplan, owner of Kaplan Center for Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, based in New Jersey, explains because surgical procedures are so expensive, these non-surgical procedures are becoming very popular.

“We see mothers, fathers and sisters of the bride come in to get something done before the big day,” said Kaplan. The Kaplan Center offers “Wedding Packages” that include Botox injections, fillers that range from $600-800 per syringe (each person requires 2 syringes) and lip plumping, ranging from $400-600.

“If people want this, they will put money aside for this regardless of the economy,” said Dr Kaplan.