I Do, My Way

Weddings are getting more personalized, more creative - and way more fun


February 13, 2005|By Elizabeth Large | Elizabeth Large,SUN STAFF

Something borrowed, something blue ... and something you.

Tomorrow, on Valentine's Day, 600,000 Americans will get engaged, or so Bride's magazine estimates. The weddings that result will be romantic, fun and very, very personal. These days many brides and grooms are rejecting traditional ways of getting married in favor of a wedding that reflects their personalities, interests and ethnic heritage. The emphasis is on creativity and personal style.

Jon'lethia Adams, 29, and her fiance, Lyle Roebuck, 30, both grew up at the beach - she on the shores of New Jersey, he on the shores of St. Thomas. They had their first date at the Baltimore harbor.

Because of where they're from and where they met, Adams says, "We're having a beach wedding July 1, 2006," although which beach hasn't been decided on yet. It's likely to be hot, so her bridesmaids will carry white parasols instead of bouquets, and bottles of water with the couple's names and the wedding date will be passed out with the programs. The bride and groom will probably jump the broom.

"It's not the parents' party anymore," says Cynthia Hornblower, executive editor of Bride's. "Couples are older" - the average age of the bride is 27, of the groom, 29 - "they may be living together, and they know each other. The weddings they create, they want to be personalized."

Because they have usually been working for a few years, many of them are picking up part or all of the tab, which can be considerable. (The average cost of an American wedding is now $26,327.) He who pays the piper calls the tune, and in the new millennium, the tune is as likely to be "Take My Breath Away" as Mendelssohn or Pachelbel.

It used to be that girls dreamed of a fairytale wedding like Princess Diana's royal nuptials. It was the sort of event their mothers could plan almost in its entirety. All the bride-to-be had to do was show up for the dress fitting.

Personal touches

Nowadays, the bride-to-be and her fiance want even the most formal ceremony to be original. They have definite ideas about everything from the save-the-date cards to the getaway transportation.

Kelly Zimmerman, who lives in Charles Village, is getting married in June. The ceremony will take place near her parents' home in Virginia.

"We're getting a friend ordained to personalize it," the 27-year-old says - like the Friends episode in which Joey gets ordained over the Internet so he can perform the ceremony for Monica and Chandler. "We wouldn't want someone we didn't know to marry us."

For years, couples have been individualizing the wedding ceremony by writing their own vows and having friends do readings. Now they're going even further. Some brides and grooms, for instance, are breaking with tradition and facing their guests during the ceremony.

Baltimore bridal consultant Elizabeth Bailey describes one wedding where the couple had guests pass the rings around as part of the ceremony before they were exchanged. At another, the groom stood outside the church and welcomed guests individually as they arrived.

"These are all touches that don't cost any money," but personalize the event, Bailey says.

In another break with tradition, one of the newest trends is the changing look of the bridal party, according to Liz Zack, senior online editor of The Knot, an Internet wedding site.

"Bridal parties are morphing into multi-gender groups," Zack explains. "The bride and groom each have gender neutral attendants." If one of the groom's best friends is a woman, she might wear a black cocktail dress instead of a bridesmaid's dress, and carry a bouquet of the flower in the groomsmen's boutonnieres. She would stand with the groomsmen.


Couples can be even more creative when it comes to the events that surround the ceremony. Colleen Dermady, 29, of Timonium, who with her fiance Bryan Lawlor, 30, is planning a traditional Irish wedding with the groomsmen in full Irish kilts, will have a surprise for the guests. "We're both Elvis fans," she says, "so an Elvis impersonator is coming to the reception."

The emphasis is on fun, and the bride and groom don't want to miss a minute of it. More and more, the wedding day is becoming the wedding weekend. Destination weddings, where the wedding blends into the honeymoon and everyone has a mini-vacation, are on the increase. Casual rehearsal dinners, like clambakes and barbecues, are popular now, says Bride's Cynthia Hornblower, even with very formal weddings. The day-after Sunday brunch, with the couple in attendance, is common these days.

Instead of brunch, Kristen Jancuk, 24, and her fiance Josh Beck, 26, both of whom live in Columbia, have another idea. "Since the Orioles are scheduled to play the Phillies that weekend," she says of their May wedding date, "we plan to invite some of our out-of-town guests from Philadelphia to a post-wedding trip to the ballpark the following day."

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