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What Dreams May Come
Local experts dish on creating a fantasy wedding that highlights the most exclusive bridal trends of 2014

Photography by Artist Group Photography

February 2014

Dress: LZ3307 by Lazaro, Gigi of Mequon;
Necklace: vintage, stylist’s own;
Earrings: Anthropologie

The perfect wedding: an unattainable dream or a realistic goal? While no wedding day is ever without its hiccups, local experts say careful planning and thinking outside the box are the keys to making a couple’s wedding one fine day.

“I love that 2014 includes design trends that feature over-the-top, fantasy-like wedding experiences complete with gorgeous personal details that, when crafted correctly, will make each couple’s special day unique,” says David Caruso, owner of Dynamic Events in Milwaukee.

So, which trends can take your wedding day from average to stellar? Read on for the inside scoop on bridal fashion, catering, photography, flowers and all the sweet somethings in between.

Vest, pants, shirt, belt: BANANA REPUBLIC;
Tie: ZARA; Watch: SHINOLA; Hat: Fur Felt Fedora,

Modern Love

Many brides already know what kind of gown they are looking for when they walk into a bridal shop.

“It’s often in conjunction with the type of wedding they are having,” says Bev Berson, owner of Gigi of Mequon. “If it’s a hotel wedding, outdoor wedding or a destination wedding, that all factors in when helping them select a dress.”

Cynthia Apfelbach, owner of Zita Bridal in Milwaukee, says brides have more options than ever. “Several of our designers allow customization of their gowns when they are ordered. For example, a gown may be sampled with a keyhole back, but it can also be ordered strapless,” she says. “This level of customization allows brides to truly personalize their gowns.”

This year, Apfelbach says designers are continuing to introduce soft colors into their lines, such as buttercream, latte and soft coral. Even ombre gowns made an appearance on the Spring 2014 runways. Vintage lace dresses with plunging backs are also popular, notes Kate Iggens, owner of Stone Manor Bridal in Grafton. “The silhouettes are varied from ball gown to fit and flare to column — but lace is the dominant fabric.

And this season, the back detail of the dress is as important as the front.” Berson agrees. “We are seeing very beautiful backs on dresses that are sheer to the waist and embroidered.”

Venue Envy

Cocktails for dinner? No, not exactly. But cocktail party-style receptions are replacing sit-down dinners and buffets as the most popular wedding reception formats for 2014.

“Couples are looking for a reception style that fits their personality, one that is a bit more laid back and gives them time to mingle with all of their guests,” says Amanda Felsman, a wedding stylist and director of coordination at Tailored Engagements in Milwaukee. “This can be a tricky style of reception to plan correctly, but it is also one that guests really enjoy. I love that the cocktail reception allows guests to try different foods, mingle with everyone and nosh at their desire without a set mealtime. These receptions have a chic yet casual feel that is really unique.”

Table Design by EVENEMENT PLANNING, Milwaukee

To keep the party going after the initial cocktail party dinner reception, Caruso suggests creating a nightclub within the reception space. “Use lounge furniture, club DJs, moving lights and specialty cocktails to create the ultimate ‘night out on the town’ that your guests will never forget,” he urges. Caruso also notes traditional head tables have been “out for a decade” and this year is all about creating head tables that make a big statement. “Think outside of the box,” he says. “They can be round, oval, rectangular, raised, highlighted with specialty lighting or dressed with special linens and accessories. Whatever you choose, make sure the head table is fabulous.”

Looking for a timely theme? Cheri Davis of Cheri Denise Events in Mequon is over the moon for Old World opulence in 2014. “It’s appropriate for couples that like lots of glitz with a vintage and antique motif,” she says. “Designing the space for a wedding brunch, tea party or garden party can be absolutely gorgeous.”

Food by SHULLY'S CUISINE, Thiensville

Culinary Creations

While weddings have traditionally been afternoon and evening affairs, Janelle Meyer-Brown, owner and planner at evenement planning/lounge in Wauwatosa, says it’s morning ceremonies that are on the rise in 2014.

“I am excited for morning ceremonies with brunches serving up some mimosas,” she says. For couples who aren’t morning people, Meyer-Brown says walking food is another popular trend, any time of day. “Walking tacos, fish and chips, barbecue in a basket. I am seeing this more and more in my outdoor weddings,” she says. For health- and eco-conscious couples, “green” celebrations are a must: farm-to-table cuisine (reducing the wedding’s carbon footprint) and utilizing organic food and local produce are simple — and tasty — ways to keep a couple’s wedding day Earth friendly.

Looking for personalization? Meyer-Brown suggests asking your caterer to re-create a family- favorite recipe.

Well Groomed

All eyes may be on the bride on her wedding day, but gentlemen are stepping up their game in order to create a perfectly coordinated wedding-day pair with their betrothed. Joe Roush, merchandising director at Squire Fine Men’s Apparel in Brookfield, says modern grooms are no longer seeking to match their ties to the bridesmaids’ dresses or bridal flowers; instead, they are creating their own unique looks that complement — not compete with — the bride and bridal party.

Suit: Zara;
Shirt and Tie: Banana Republic

He says tailored, well-cut tuxedos with narrow lapels and fitted, flat-front pants are both classic and on-trend. And while black is still the most requested color of tuxedo, charcoal gray is a close second, and navy is a sophisticated alternative. “Everything is very Cary Grant, very Old Hollywood,” he says. “Bow ties are also becoming increasingly popular and add a very simple elegance.” John McLaughlin, owner of The Brass Rooster in Bay View, is excited about the return to classic, dapper men’s style. “A white shirt and standard black tux never looks dated. Men look as good now in a traditional tux and hat as we did 100 years ago,” he says, adding that men’s hats are hotter than ever. “Guys are realizing it is all right to dress well again. No one wants to be like Dad — everyone wants to be cool like Grandpa was, though.”

Matthew Mackai, creative director at Scottfree Salon in Milwaukee, says men also need to consider their grooming for the big day. “It’s nice for the guys to get a little pampering,” he says. Plus, the high-end grooming can continue after the wedding with a thoughtful groomsmen’s gift, such as safety razors, brushes and shaving soap. “Flasks are out; good razors are in,” McLaughlin says.


Gatsby Ring: A TRIO JEWELERY, Milwaukee

Pastries: ROCKET BABY BAKERY, Wauwatosa

Ring It In

Matching wedding rings? Not in 2014, says Mary Seramur, designer/owner of East Towne Jewelers in Mequon.

“The ‘matchy-matchy’ look is dead,” she says. So what is hot for modern brides and grooms? “Sapphires have been the most popular alternative for center stones — especially with second marriages,” she says. David Liska, owner of David Liska Custom Jewelers in Milwaukee, agrees: “Blue sapphires — as well as other exotic sapphire colors, such as champagne or peach — are increasing in popularity as people are making more bold statements with their engagement jewelry,” he says. “It gives couples the opportunity to afford a much larger center stone, and those shapes are usually cushion cut.”

Bling it on? Not so much. According to Amy Shallow, owner of A Trio in Milwaukee, many brides are moving away from flashy rings and instead opting for simple and elegant rings that transition well from day to night. “These rings are easy to accessorize,” Shallow says.

Party Perfect

The fashionable lace trend is not exclusive to bridal gowns, says Erin Thull, owner of Miss Ruby Bridal Boutique in Milwaukee.

“Lace used to be a traditionally bridal gown fabric, but the sheer lace ready-to-wear trends from the runway have carried over and many brides are choosing lace bridesmaids’ gowns,” she says. “Wedding parties love that they truly can wear these dresses again after the wedding.” Another bridal fashion movement finds brides shying away from matching bridesmaids’ dresses. “Instead, we are seeing a lot of brides choosing a unifying shade of colors, such as shades of gold, blush or gray, so their bridesmaids can coordinate in a whole range of colors.”

Thull notes only a few years ago bridesmaids’ dresses were almost exclusively cocktail length. However, as the maxi dress has gained popularity, she is seeing more brides opt for floor-length dresses for their bridal parties. “We love seeing the long skirts come back in style, as they give everyone an effortless look,” she says.

Camera Ready

Is the key to a picture-perfect wedding fewer photographs? According to photographer Matt Haas, owner of Haas & Haas Photography with his wife, Sarah, when it comes to weddings, less is more.

“Brides and grooms are asking wedding guests to put away their cameras and cell phones for the ceremony,” he says. “Even for our own wedding ceremony, we had a sign asking guests to be present with us during our ceremony. Of course, the guests can go wild at the reception and snap away.” While he stays on the cutting edge of photography trends, Haas admits his favorite trend of all is simply remaining timeless. “Clients won’t have any regrets if they stay timeless. Other photography trends die fast. Pinterest is loaded with them — it’s like a graveyard of the same photograph done again and again,” he says. “Bad trends can make brides and grooms say, ‘Why did we wear fake mustaches at our wedding?’”

Dress: 519, Martina Liana, STONE MANOR BRIDAL,

To ensure wedding photography is everything the bride and groom hope for, photographers welcome inspiration photos and frank discussion about expectations, likes and dislikes.

“It is not that we copy (an inspiration) shot but we can get into their head and see what they are looking for,” says Katy Rowe of Artist Group Photography. “Sometimes a bride will be getting married in an urban setting and she shows us a picture of a couple in a field. We would have never guessed that she was dreaming of this look. Then we find a field in the city and make her photography dream come true. Some couples will make storyboards to share with venders with inspiration for the wedding. Color palettes, vintage posters, fashion pictures, table decor ideas, etc. ... We love to see their creative vision and then capture it with the camera.”

Style Setter

Finding the perfect hair and makeup look for her wedding day can be a difficult and time-consuming process for a bride. That’s why Gina Barrington and business partner Maggie Kerr founded Wide Eyed Beauty, an agency that represents hair and makeup artists that provide on-location services throughout Wisconsin for weddings and special events.

“It’s important for a bride to work with a stylist on her wedding day because the stylist can make recommendations to suit the bride’s desired look and be able to maintain the look all day based on the bride’s skin type, facial features, bone structure, and texture and length of hair,” says Barrington. “The stylist can also use ‘smoke and mirrors’ tricks to enhance and add drama to her look, such as hair extensions, false lashes and highlighting shimmer powers in just the right places.”

Here are some of Barrington’s top bridal beauty and hair trends for 2014:

A bright, or deep-colored lip, against a lightly defined face

Wavy, textured, tousled and loosely pinned hair

Matte skin and lips with a hint of gloss

White eyeliner on top and inner lids for a real pop

“Very voluminous hair may also come into play this year, with the hair being very brushed out instead of defined — which is complimentary to some of the slim silhouettes we have seen in wedding dresses for 2014.” Mackai, of Scottfree Salon, notes that “simple with a twist” is the best way to describe 2014 bridal styling.

“Classic buns with a braid, great blowouts pinned all to one side, soft waves with a center part, half back with a fuzzier texture — all of these are simple yet modern looks.” In the end, it’s all about letting the experts help brides-to-be achieve their best look. “Weddings are a bit whimsy and fantasy; a stylist is able to view the bride objectively,” says Barrington. “The client’s usual look may suit her just fine, but the stylist is able to envision the bride in a way that she has never thought of herself before.”

Dress: Little Pretties

Budding Romance

When it comes to bridal blooms, lush, round and romantic are buzzwords for 2014. Think peonies, garden roses, hydrangea and china mums as fast favorites, with the inclusion of succulents for an edgy pop. And these gorgeous blooms are no longer only relegated to table tops.

“Modern venues and reclaimed urban spaces are giving us the opportunity to hang flowers from exposed ceiling beams, or define warehouse spaces with rows of candles and vases of flowers to create smaller intimate spaces within a large room,” says Emily Neubauer, owner of Belle Fiori in Milwaukee. Neubauer says flowers are showing a strong trend to all white or white mixed with very soft pastels, thanks to the casual nature of many modern weddings. “The attire for the bridal party is a little more casual, with bridesmaids wearing assorted dresses and gentlemen in suits, not tuxes,” she says. Because of this, the flowers are being used to unite and reinforce the style of the event. Blush pink and nude bridesmaids dresses look great with a simple all-white bouquet.”

Stylist: LAUREL Z
evenement planning, Milwaukee
Flowers: IMPRESSIONS by Esther Fleming, Milwaukee
Food: SHULLY'S CUISINE, Thiensville
Hair and Makeup: GINA BARRINGTON, Wide Eyed Beauty
Models: EVA, Agency Galatea; STEVEN VETTER;
Mia Scarlato
Location: RAM HORN FARM, Saukville

However, notes Neubauer, the brave bride can still choose a pop of color for flowers and know that the photographs will be fabulous.

Eat Cake!

A coral cake? If you want your dessert to be delicious, stunning — and on-trend for 2014 — The Cake Lady owner Karen Smith says the light and ethereal orange-pink hybrid tone is a must, along with the year’s most popular fabric: lace.

“Whether it’s a piping detail or a fondant appliqué, lace is happening.” According to Smith, the popularity of lace and coral may be an extension of a larger trend of using details of the wedding, from colors to fabrics to a theme, as decoration for the cake. “If a bride is wearing a lace gown, use lace on the cake. Beautiful fresh flowers in her bouquet? Place them on the cake. A heart-shaped monogram on the invitations? Replicate it on the cake. These details will make the cake uniquely yours.”

Cake by THE CAKE LADY, St. Francis

When in doubt, Smith advises, go white: The stunning simplicity of a white wedding cake never goes out of style. And while cupcakes, pies and dessert stations are still popular, Felsman of Tailored Engagements is finding more and more brides are making their way back to the cake.

“There are so many options for cake design now, and brides are having a lot of fun creating something that is uniquely theirs; something that shows off their style. I have to admit, I do love a beautifully done cake!” Rocket Baby Bakery in Wauwatosa even has an order on file for French-style entremet cakes, a multilayer mousse-based cake, says owner Geoff Trenholme.

Looking for a sweet favor? French macaroons, available in at least 12 flavors and varying by season at Rocket Baby Bakery, are a delicious and cost-effective choice at $1 per treat.

ON HER: Dress, Annie by Modern Trousseau, ZITA BRIDAL SALON, Milwaukee; Necklace: BHLDN; Shoes: stylist’s own
ON HIM: Suit, shirt and bowtie: ZARA; Shoes: model’s own


For more photos and to view behind-the-scenes video of Artist Group Photography’s wedding photo shoot,
go to M Magazine’s Wedding Webpage at


This story ran in the February 2014 issue of: