Local Experts Dish on the Top Trends of 2016
Salvatore Cincotta Photography

Vintage meets modern this year, as styles collide. This year’s couples are creating a unique vintage style with historic mansion backgrounds, one-of-a-kind furniture, and heirloom fashions. Geometric cakes, miniaturized menus, and graphic stationery set the scene for a more modern tableau. Chicagoland experts weigh in on what’s new, what’s old, and what’s coming back around in the 2016 Trend Report.

A Vintage Setting Couples today are choosing to find unique venues for their ceremonies and receptions. Those interested in featuring a vintage style on their big day are commonly turning toward local mansions as their setting of choice.

“Mansions have great appeal because of their ability to offer so much more atmosphere, charm, and enjoyment for guests,” says Kris Zeile, a consultant at Barrington’s White House. For instance, at Barrington’s White House, “couples love that they can use the entire house for their wedding day, and that they have the opportunity to hold the ceremony and reception in one location.” Guests are encouraged to wander the property and enjoy the setting as they step back in history for a day.

Zeile warns that “historic properties tend to be all over the map in terms of what level of restoration” they’ve had. Be sure to ask any mansion properties that you are considering about their amenities, capacities, and rules during your tour. She says, “It’s really important to spend time at the property and pay attention to details.”

Dining and Décor The Palmer House’s Assistant Director of Catering, Becky Cieslowski, says that she’s seeing a lot of current catering trends stay strong through 2016. “Everything in miniature has been popular and continues to be a requested menu item.” In addition, she says, “late night snacks are still a huge hit! Everyone seems to really enjoy that option over an extra course at the table.”

Cieslowski says couples are utilizing soft hues like gold, champagne, and ivory. “Mercury glass, rose gold, and crystals are also very popular,” she explains. Her couples are also looking to get unique with their seating. They’re requesting “opera chairs, plush chairs, or a sofa or loveseat for the couple.”

Jarrett Northern, creator and president of Northern Décor and Logistics, creates custom, one-of-a-kind event furniture pieces. He explains that their latest designs for 2016 feature “mixed metals, leafing, and the addition of luxury fabrics where you wouldn’t expect to see them.”

Northern’s couples are looking for all different kinds of décor. “We love that aspect of it,” he says. “Every event has its own identity. Every décor piece is classic and versatile.”

Straight from the Runway The runways at Bridal Fashion Week this year were taken over by gorgeous, flowing tulle and striking details. Says Antonietta Cervantes, president and designer of Veiled by ChaCha, “The biggest trends we’re seeing are the dramatic necklines and backs, along with full and soft skirts.” She also believes lace trends will stay strong, but now brides are “asking for a broken up pattern, rather than the all-over lace gowns we have seen the past few years.” Cervantes saw a lot of sheerness and see-through fabrics on the runway, as well.

The current runway trends aside, “rare find” and vintage gowns are also becoming extremely popular. With the personalization craze, brides “want to be unique and want their individual style to reflect the person they are.” Cervantes explains that because vintage gowns have such timeless and feminine silhouettes, brides are able to get that unique look and still feel very bridal.

In personalizing their wedding day look, couples are finding ways to incorporate family heirlooms into their big day. Cervantes, a designer skilled in vintage restoration, encourages brides to “take elements from vintage gowns that belonged to a family member and incorporate it into a new heirloom piece…like a veil, a sash, a flower fascinator, a garter, or straps for the gown.” She says, “This is a great way to wear a piece of their history.”

Vintage or modern, the veil has to match the gown perfectly. Cervantes says, “When I select a veil for someone, it’s all about balance and how the veil compliments both the gown and the personality of the bride.” She also says she’s seeing a lot of really classic, long veils for 2016.

Bridal Glamour “For the past few years, the messy, effortless look has been popular” for bridal beauty, says Carrie Novak, owner of Appease Inc. “I think in 2016 we will see sleeker looks come back.” And indeed they will! The styles on the runway this year are sophisticated and timeless with a little more structure than we’ve seen in the recent past.

Novak believes that whether you’re going for a trendy look or not, it’s still important to look like yourself. “Brides want to look like the most beautiful version of themselves on their wedding day, not like a completely different person. If you typically wear your hair in a pony or a bun, then choose an updo. If you wear your hair down, choose a down style or a glammed-up side pony so you’ll be comfortable.”

In the world of makeup, Novak recommends a neutral tone smokey eye. “It transfers well from day to night and gives a natural, yet enhanced look.” She also recommends blush for a bride! “A touch of blush just gives a bride that fresh-faced look and a perfect glow in photos!”

Patterned Perfection In this graphic age, couples are marrying the classic with the contemporary as they dabble into “hand-calligraphy inspired fonts,” according to Colin Falco, owner of Pulp & Ink. He adds that “mixed patterns and mixed metals” are having a big moment, as well.

Fonts and colors aside, don’t forget about that first glimpse into your design – the envelope. “Custom liners are very trendy right now,” says Falco. He recommends using unique paper or patterns to give life to a simplistic envelope.

Falco says couples should start meeting with a stationer approximately nine months prior to the wedding date – especially if you’re looking for a highly customized order. “Once an overall vision, a venue, and the date have been selected, the process can begin.” To prepare, do some research on what you like before your meeting. “We like inspiration – a fabric, a color, a pattern, a flower.”

The most important factor when deciding on a look for your stationery is the paper. While searching online for various designs can be easy, Falco warns that paper can look very different in real life. Weight and texture make a huge difference in design. “It’s important to see and feel the different paper options in person.”

Savored Sweets When it comes to dessert, more is always better. Emily Wheeler, owner of Emily Wheeler Custom Cakes, believes the insanely popular sweets table trend is here to stay. “Couples are opting to give their guests more options while still offering the tradition of wedding cake,” she says. “Sweets tables are a great addition as a late night treat for guests to enjoy while celebrating.”

For the cake itself, “modern designs have really become popular in the last year, and will definitely follow through into 2016,” explains Wheeler. “Clean lines, shapes, or silver and gold accents on a solid-colored cake achieve the look of a traditional cake with a modern twist.” She’s also seeing a lot of geometric patterns.

Though modern is the craze, texture is also dominating the sweet scene. “Taking a traditional flower, such as a rose, peony, or hydrangea, and adding colored ruffles or gold-tipped petals really makes a cake stand out.”

Once your cake is designed, you need to be sure the taste is top notch. This year’s trendiest flavor for all sweets is Nutella. “Nutella buttercream has been my most popular flavor this year,” says Wheeler. “Adding the chocolate hazelnut to almost any flavor gives it that extra wow when biting into it.” You can add Nutella to your wedding in many ways, like a crepe station, Nutella s’mores bars, Nutella-stuffed churros, or Nutella-filled macarons. Anyone else drooling yet?

Simple and Cinematic “As crazy as it might sound, simple is the new trend,” says Rush Darwish, president of Rush Productions Photography & Video. “Couples are looking for great candid-style photography and videography, and are staying away from the stressful ‘Let’s go to ten locations before the reception’ type of situations.” Darwish believes his couples are much more apt to just have fun instead of getting caught up in pictures and missing their whole event.

When it comes to taking photos, select one or two locations that have the perfect setting for your personalities. Darwish says his company is seeing a big spike in urban-style photography. “This style is the alternative to your typical shots by the Chicago skyline or river.” One of his favorite spots to feature in this type of photography is in the Pilsen area. It’s “a great location with colored bricks, incredible graffiti-style artwork, and a rustic train.”

For videography, couples are still excited about the trendy cinematic highlight film. It’s a highly professional-looking trailer of your big day that’s often cut much faster than a traditional edit. But if you’re really serious about creating a movie-like touch, Darwish says drone shooting is a “game changer. It can make your wedding look like a $50,000 production, but you pay much less.”

A True Classic The trends for 2016 are stunning – and are here to stay. From opera chairs to flowing tulle to urban-style photography and everything in between, the top trends all revolve around creating a modern take on a beautifully classic wedding.

For more trends and tips from local wedding professionals, check out chicagostyleweddings.com!
Article originally published in ChicagoStyle Weddings Magazine Spring 2016 Supplement Edition.