Life in the Party

It’s the phrase that many a bride-to-be has uttered: I will do it differently.

Yes, you will be a rare bride. You’ll simplify. You won’t stress. You will abandon tradition and shower awesomeness upon your guests in an unrivaled display of wedding originality.

However, that can all change once you realize how steeped in tradition weddings can be. Your mother will say, “But you must have a wedding cake.” You’ll begin worrying about cost: the mercury glass vases, the one-of-a-kind lighting display and those fire dancers. And you’ll realize you actually hate Pinterest, and wedding blogs will begin to stress you out.

It can be difficult to keep up your “I will do it differently” mantra, but we believe in you. You just need to think about your reception as a blank slate.

It’s not necessarily about bucking tradition,” says Wendy Jacobs Hampton of Soiree Telluride, a destination-wedding planner in the cozy mountain town. “It’s about changing your perspective: Think about it as starting from scratch.”

And when all else fails, remember that your reception is an expression of who you are.

It should reflect you,” she says. “When your guests leave, they should think, ‘That was so them.’”

To help you out, we’ve culled some of the brightest minds in the Colorado wedding industry to help you do it your way:

Food/Cocktail Hour

There’s certainly nothing wrong with a buffet or a plated dinner, but if you are looking to change things up, start with food. Create an eating experience that is more interactive—with food stations and a cocktail-party vibe. “Lots of couples are opting for more of a roaming cocktail reception versus a sit-down dinner,” McTaggart says. “Avoiding the traditional plated/buffet dinner, couples save some money when it comes to signage and escort cards and the headache of assigning guests to tables.”

Another way to change up your food is go local, go organic and go healthy. “One of the trends we are super passionate about is the farm-to-table movement, which incorporates local Colorado produce, meats and cheeses into the guests’ food experience,” says Heather Dwight of Calluna Events in Boulder. “There are a handful of chefs, like Blackbelly Catering and EAT Catering, who are focusing on this style of food for weddings.”

And when it comes to drinking, think quality over quantity. “The signature cocktail has become standard,” McTaggart says. Instead, she says, couples can add a theme to their drinks. A Colorado-theme would have all beer and wine from Centennial State breweries and wineries, and a Hollywood-inspired bar would serve up Shirley Temples, Roy Rogers, Mae Wests and Charlie Chaplins.


If recent wedding trends have proven anything it’s that the sky is the limit when it comes to sweetness. Pie bars, dessert buffets, ice cream sundaes and on and on and on. Have your caterer make a batch of bread pudding or apple cobbler if that’s your favorite.

If you want to go with the classic tiered cake, you can still be original. “More than any tangible trend, I think clients are realizing that truly anything goes!” says Rachael Teufel, owner and cake designer at Intricate Icings Cake Design. “We are seeing more and more clients stray away from the norm and really choosing designs that represent who they are as a couple. Whether they are embracing a theme in every aspect of the wedding or mixing and matching the details they love, even if they don’t seem to pair well at all.” She predicts techy couples will even start requesting digital graphics being projected onto their cakes.


The round table is the turkey sandwich of wedding seating. It’s standard, and it gets the job done. But if you are looking to change up the seating, there are plenty of options. Jacobs Hampton suggests using non-uniform tables and creating lounge areas to change up the dynamic. Add in couches and comfy chairs to create an eclectic, living room style. Dwight even suggests going as far as mixing up the types chairs: benches, ottomans, poufs and more modern or mid-century modern styles.


Whether you’re a slave to trends or a traditionalist, find inspiration from your life. “Couples should pull inspiration from their down-time together, their hobbies, the restaurants they like to frequent to really personalize their celebration,” McTaggart says. “I’m working with a couple who enjoys hiking and hunting. Instead of floral centerpieces, we’re using feathers and antlers, with some hanging moss. I worked with a couple recently that loved bowties. Their napkins were folded to look like a bowtie. As long as the couple focuses on the relationship and what is important to them, they’ll find themselves bucking tradition without really thinking about it!”

Think beyond the floral centerpiece: books, old jars or containers and flea market finds. “Eclectic mixes of flowers and centerpieces of ‘found objects’ where every guest table is slightly different has been a trend in lieu of the more traditional look,” Dwight says.

So, you ask, is there anything that’s sacred?

There are plenty of wedding traditions that aren’t going away, Jacobs Hampton says. Brides are still wearing their white gowns, the Colorado rusticity is still ever present and the first dance is still a must.

Pretty much everyone does a first dance,” she says. “But beyond that, nothing is off limits.”


Forecasting the Reception Trends of 2015

What can we expect for this season’s parties?

More blush and neutral colors. “We are seeing a return to the traditional, elegant wedding with blush and ivory tones for florals and a neutral, blush and gray palette for bridesmaids,” says Heather Dwight of Calluna Events.

Fewer seated dinners, and more cocktail party-style receptions.

Colorado rusticity on a whole new level. “The use of antlers, feathers, different textures and patterns is coming to the forefront,” says JessicaMcTaggart of Pink Champagne Events.

Lots of food trucks.

Fewer traditional toasts by the maid of honor and best man. “Instead they are having group toasts where allof the bridesmaids or all of the groomsmen prepare something together,” McTaggart says. “Or they’re offering up an open mic for allguests to say something.”

The return of the big cake. “Our 2015 clients are certainly moving back to having one main wedding cake as the focal point of the reception—as opposed to having several different cakes and desserts available,” says Rachael Teufel, owner and cake designer at Intricate Icings Cake Design. She says vintage themes will stay in vogue. “But we’re seeing more modern styles with bolder patterns and colors making an appearance,” she says. “Texture, ruffles and gold metallics are probably the biggest trends currently and will continue into 2015, but we’ll see metallics being mixed together more in 2015 with silver and gold being combined together on one cake.”

A wilder look for centerpieces and bouquets—“with flowers having a more organic, less stylized look,” Dwight says.

The bohemian trend will continue: eclectic décor, bohemian dresses, eclectic bridesmaids dresses and, of course, flowers in the hair, Dwight says.

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