From flowers to honeymoon: everything you need for your wedding day

As wedding season kicks off, Tanya Sweeney looks at what the coolest couples are doing this year.

THE THUD of wedding invites landing on doormats is being heard across the land, people are flocking to Coast in their droves and Facebook status updates about the cost of wedding presents are clogging up social media.

It’s official; wedding season is officially here.

In the recent past, weddings had become a more chilled affair, but with couples still wanting to put their stamp on the day, there’s a renewed focus on the ‘wow’ factor post-recession.

And when it comes to putting on a wedding nobody will forget, the devil really is in the detail.

We asked folks at the matrimonial coalface for their top wedding predictions for this year; what trends are lasting the test of time and which new flourishes will ensure impressed guests:

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The theme

Wedding planner Joanne Rochford (Tel: 01-6788878; invoke.ie) has noted that colour is big news this summer: “Bright pops of colour are a big emerging trend for summer ’15 weddings,” she says. “Blush is one of the hottest wedding colours, and shades of blue, navy and aqua are popping up in flowers and tablecloths. Deep pink, bright orange, grass green and teal are popular choices sometimes in strikingly bold combinations.”

Naoise McNally from wedding planners One Fab Day (Tel:01-6708688; onefabday.com) also states that old-school luxe is a huge look. “We did the DIY thing, and went rustic or boho for a while, but now events will be more ‘black-tie’ and ostentatious. It won’t be blingy like the Celtic Tiger Era but people feel it’s a special occasion so they will go all out to glam it up.”

Elegance may be top of the Irish brides’ wish-list, but that doesn’t mean that fun need go by the wayside. “What I have noticed and enjoyed with some of my couples is their receptions have reflected on their hobbies, lifestyle and interests,” says wedding planner Judy Mullins (Tel: 086 381 9496; idoweddingsireland.com). “Music has played a huge part in both of their lives so the ideal vibe is laid back and enjoyable.”

The destinations

“Weddings to Italy, France, Greece and Spain have increased in popularity again,” advises destination wedding specialist Rosie Meleady (Tel: 085-7278526; theweddingplanner.ie)

“It was down to two to 20 guests and it’s now back up at 80-170… people are not afraid to ask guests to go to the expense, and the extra mile, and travel abroad to a wedding. I’m also seeing a lot of brides embracing their paleness! Orange tans are definitely gone and a lot of brides are not planning tanning or self tans before the big day, instead they are enjoying the skin they are in.”

The flowers

“This year we are sure to see the return of some of the more classic, elegant looks along with the re-emergence of soft pastel colour palettes,” notes Meath-based celebrity florist Joeanna Caffrey (Tel: 1890-989900; joeannacaffrey.ie). “For every bride who loves the wildflower look, there’s another who wants a much cleaner, classic look to their wedding flowers. The timeless combination of white and green is still preferred by many brides, who want a simple, elegant feel to their wedding flowers. The ‘just-picked-from-the-garden’ look has been popular with brides throughout the last few years and this gorgeous trend doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere for this year. For brides with a bigger budget, blooms like hydrangea and large garden roses such as the peony are big news.” (Joeanna Caffrey bouquet)

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The dress

“Gone are the days of a blushing bride in a crisp white dress,” says Marina O’Riordan from Myrtle Ivory boutique (Tel: 01 675 3519; myrtleivory.com).

“Colour is the latest addition to collections from Claire Pettibone and David Fielden. Detachable boleros give the style savvy bride two looks for one day, and are also a clever addition for unpredictable Irish weather. Sleeves are becoming more and more desirable, while statement accessories can change a dress dramatically, Enchanted Atelier of California brings a bohemian flavour, whilst Stephanie Browne of Australia gives off a Gatsby vibe.”

Kathy Sherry of Vintage wedding stylists/boutique Dirty Fabulous (Tel: 01-6111842; dirtyfabulous.com) adds: “A more confident bride is something we’re seeing more of. She’s not afraid to stick to her own sense of style and isn’t feeling pressured into following the traditional bridal styles. It’s fantastic to see brides standing up for themselves and not being swayed by others opinions. In fashion terms the cape is pretty big for this year. Dresses with attached capes are flying out the door as are our vintage capelets which are great for a touch of drama and give that much needed coverage for bare shoulders.”

The hen party

“The big trend we are seeing this year is for afternoon tea,” says Kate Hyde of henparty.ie (Tel: 051-390990).

“Everyone wants to do afternoon tea for their hen. Brides love vintage tea parties or vintage hair and makeup parties.

“Another popular choice is farmyard hen parties, where women are learning to bake bread, milk a cow, or even catch a piglet.”

The lingerie

“The hot trends for brides for 2015 are, funnily enough, the classics,” says lingerie designer Susan Hunter (Tel: 01-6791271; susanhunter.ie). “Very fashionable, in wedding styles, is the 1950s retro look. So that entails smooth busted corsetry, ones that nip in the waist preferably. Low back corsetry and of course strapless bustiers. The look is not so much bare shoulders, but lace covered, so there are no straps allowed. For the girls who wish to be true to the ’50s look, a suspender belt with classic nylon or silk stockings, have become more popular. The ultra smooth — can only wear an ‘invisible’ g/string look — is not as fashionable as it used to be.”

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The headgear

“Flowers still remain a popular theme for bridal headgear this year,” says headpiece designer Stacey Hannan (Tel: 087-7595837; staceyhannandesigns.com). “Floral garlands, floral headbands and pretty floral hair accessories, create a romantic, rustic feel to any bridal look. Colour is important too, with soft golds, silvers, mother of pearl tones and pale pink hues, as well some strong colours are a man feature.

The honeymoon

“South & Central America is proving popular,” notes Jonathan Bridge of Trailfinders (Tel: 021-4648800; trailfinders.ie). “Cuba is getting a lot of interest... the thawing of US/Cuban relations means there is huge demand to visit the country now. We’ve also seen some interest in Jamaica and especially the Montego Bay area — not necessarily as a stand alone destination but being combined with New York or Miami. Brazil and Argentina are the two countries which are standing out for honeymooners in South America, a popular route being to fly into Buenos Aires and out of Rio, visiting Iguassu Falls in between.”

Finishing touches

Forget chocolate fountains, cover chairs and drinks in jam jars; 2015 is all about grown-up elegance. “As we head into the summer, mint greens and dusty pinks are again really popular colour choices especially in our stationery design service,” says Betty Stuart of Dublin-based wedding designers Lulabelle (Tel: 083-107, lulabellevintage.com).

“When teamed with a gorgeous whimsical handwritten font this is a timeless recipe for pretty. We are also getting lots of enquiries for bespoke watercolour designs in muted ombre colours. Décor is of course, hugely important and there is a definite move towards pared back and considered elegance on table tops and venue decoration, with a focus on having really beautiful feature pieces, a beautiful table plan, and beautifully designed and printed menus.”

The food

“It’s always important to stay ahead of the food trends and adjust menus to our guests’ needs,” says Craig Cody, Executive Head Chef at Fota Island Resort in Cork (Tel: 021-4883700; fotaisland.ie).

“It’s exciting to hear that guests have finally moved away from typical beef or salmon and are now going for more exotic fish like halibut and turbot. Also very popular is our cannon of lamb with chickpea herb crust, Gruyere cheese Dauphinoise, braised red cabbage tart and garden vegetables wrapped in pancetta.”

Rustic, ‘naked’ cakes are out, and smooth fondant icing is back in. For real ‘wow’ factor, get a chalkboard cake, which is black fondant ice bearing a personalized message on top.

The groom

“It’s all about the blues,” says Declan Mahon of the award-winning menswear outfit Collar & Cuff (Tel: 01-5388110; collarandcuff.ie). “If we get 10 couples in, nine go for a navy blue suit with a nice tailored slim fit. The boxy tail numbers and morning coats are gone. Instead, they’re keeping it simple; a crisp white shirt, perhaps a tweed waistcoat, and colour neckwear to match the bridesmaids.”

The venues

According to our experts, here is the only wedding venue little black book you will ever need:

Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Military Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8 (Tel: 01-6129900; capacity: 300)

Ballyvolane House, Castlelyons, Fermoy, Co Cork. (Tel: 025-36349; ballyvolanehouse.ie; capacity: 140

Ballynatray, Youghal, Co Cork (Tel: 024-97460; ballynatray.com; capacity: 110)

Blackwater Castle, Castletownroche, Co Cork (Tel: 022-26333; blackwatercastle.com; capacity 130)

Clonwilliam House, Woodenbridge, Arklow, Co Wicklow (Tel: 087-2346742; clonwilliamhouse.com; capacity: 220)

Trudder Lodge, Newcastle, Co Wicklow (Tel: 087-6429237; trudder-lodge.com; capacity: 160)

Borris House, Borris, Co. Carlow (Tel: 059-9771884; borrishouse.com; capacity, 180)

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