5 cool yet cost-conscious ideas for your low-key luxe wedding

The biggest wedding trends of 2019 are actually affordable.

The biggest wedding trends of 2019 are actually affordable

(Left, photography: Renee Rodenkirchen; Right: Courtesy The Wild Bunch)

The most extra generation in history may also be the most practical when it comes to tying the knot. In fact, soon-to-be-married millennials are gravitating more toward elopements and low-key backyard weddings than ever before, according to Pinterest. The social scrapbooking platform's most recent wedding report has revealed that searches for small budget-friendly wedding ideas, natural wedding beauty looks and city hall ceremonies are also surging.

This shift toward more chill celebrations means that time-honoured wedding traditions are being turned on their heads, and these days, you're likely to see dried arrangements, minimalist dresses and doughnuts picking up where peonies, jewel-encrusted princess gowns and towering wedding cakes left off.

We chatted with a collection of Canadian wedding industry gurus about five of the hottest new trends, how nuptial expectations are shifting, and how this can help cut costs when it comes to one of life's most expensive events.

Sapphire engagement rings

(Courtesy Turnsmith)

The idea that all engagement rings should feature a diamond centre stone officially fell out of favour the moment Kate Middleton stepped out sporting the world's most iconic sapphire.

"Many of our clients are unimpressed by the ostentatious nature of status-quo diamonds," says Mercedes Smith, co-founder and CEO of Turnsmith, a Toronto-based fine jewellery brand. "Millennials are excited to define engagement rings for themselves. By far, the most important consideration for our clients is representing their partner's unique personality. They want to create a ring that perfectly reflects their partner's taste, style and life values."

Smith says sapphires remain the most popular diamond alternative among her clientele. "Our clients love the colour variety and unique quality that sapphires offer. They are also a nine on the hardness scale, making them suitable for everyday wear. Durability is super important for an engagement ring. You can also find a really interesting peach or teal sapphire for more than 50 per cent less than a traditional mined diamond."

Dried grasses

(Courtesy The Wild Bunch)

Mandy Moore's intimate backyard wedding officially ushered in pampas grass as a décor must-have for the year ahead.

These feather-like plumes, which Moore used as aisle décor, are popping up in everything from bouquets to centrepieces and Alexandra Schulze, co-founder of The Wild Bunch, a Vancouver-based floral studio, says the low-maintenance nature of dried grasses are part of the reason they've become so popular.

"Grasses add such a beautiful touch of whimsy to arrangements," says Schulze. "They are light and airy and offer interesting lines and movement. For weddings, we usually encourage our clients to use fresh and dried items together for a more balanced look." Schulze says miscanthus, bear grass and monkey grass are popular wedding picks for west coast brides.

Where cost is concerned, working with a mix of seasonal blooms and dried grasses rather than solely roses and peonies can cut costs significantly. For example, The Wild Bunch's single variety floral bouquets start at $100 while similar arrangements that mix fresh and dried foliage start at $50.

Understated dresses

(Photography: Renee Rodenkirchen)

Carolyn Bessette epitomized low-key luxe bridal style. Outfitted in a Narciso Rodriguez slip dress for her 1996 nuptials to John F. Kennedy Jr., she would set the tone for all minimalist marriages to follow. Even Meghan Markle emulated the style icon when she stepped out in a sleek gown for her royal wedding reception.

Danielle Gulic, co-owner of Toronto bridal boutique LoversLand, built her business around catering to minimalist brides and says that when it comes to dress shopping, millennials tend to gravitate toward styles that are more relatable. "Roughly 70 per cent of our styles are minimalist," she explains. Compared to elaborate bejewelled ball gowns, some of which come with five-figure price tags, sleek sheath dresses can represent a significant cost savings. LoversLand's namesake style, pictured here, starts at $1995.


(Courtesy Hoopla Donuts)

An increasing number of couples are opting out of elaborate multi-tiered cakes and gravitating toward wedding desserts that are decidedly more fun.

"Doughnuts offer a world of possibilities in terms of flavours, design, and creativity," says Sebastian Sztabzyb, co-owner of Calgary-based Hoopla Donuts. And with flavours like root beer float, churro, and London fog, all displayed on an ultra-Instagrammable doughnut wall, few guests will miss the ceremonial cake cutting.

The Canadian coffee shop staple can also be a great option for anyone on a budget. "The cost of 150 donuts starts at $450, then goes up from there depending on the needs of the couple," says Sztabzyb. "From what I have seen, the cost of a nice wedding cake ranges from $4.50 to $7.00 per slice, so for 150 slices, it could be more than $1000."

Natural hairstyles

(Photography: 5ive15ifteen Photo Company)

Less is more when it comes to bridal styling for modern celebrations.

"Brides are moving toward more natural, unfussy looks because they want to look like themselves," says Chris Wood, senior hairstylist and bridal specialist at Medulla & Co. in Toronto. "If a bride comes in wanting an updo but doesn't wear her hair up on a daily basis I always think down is the best way to go, and vice versa. Wedding gowns are also less ostentatious these days so really structured and ornate hair competes with that look."

When it comes to cost, brides who opt for a killer blowout rather than extensions and elaborate styling could stand to save hundreds of dollars on their wedding looks. However, in most cases a bit more effort is required. "Sometimes looking natural and wearing your natural hair aren't the same thing," says Wood. "Many times maintaining a natural look requires a bit of technical back up to look 'naturally perfect' from an early morning start until the last dance."

Jen O'Brien is an award-winning editor and freelance writer based in Toronto. Follow her @thejenobrien.


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