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Express Yourself

Weddings have become a subculture all their own in today’s world of creativity and customization, lending many ceremonies to be as much an expression of self as an expression of love. Couples are now afforded an array of options ranging from trendy to traditional, extravagant to environmentally-concious.

“People are just doing a lot more lavish things,” Mustard Seed owner and wedding planner Suzanne Young says. “They are just a lot more extravagant now. People are doing photo booths at their weddings for their guests and themselves. People are giving out more wedding favors to their guests. A lot of people are hiring choreographers for their first dance. People are doing a lot more lavish things.”

Gone are the days when brides had only to decide upon cast, colors, location and dates. Now everything is customizable, from the music to the reception to what projectiles are hurled at the happy couple.

“Grooms cakes aren’t always chocolate with fruit like you would think,” Emily Yelverton of the Mustard Seed says. “They are themed.”

More than just cakes are themed in the modern wedding as many ceremonies are taking on motifs of their own. Among the increasingly popular trends is the green wedding, an eco-friendly ceremony with everything from the invitations to the rings made from recyclable materials.

Exactly what direction a ceremony goes is dependent upon the nature of the female lead, a fact Young says she knows well.

“It depends on what kind of bride it is,” Young says. “I’m a trendy person. My sister is more traditional. We had completely opposite weddings.”

But, Yelverton cautions, modern carries with it inherent expenses.

“You pay for trendy,” she says.

One trend growing in popularity with less traditional ceremonies is the wedding favor, a trinket given to wedding guests to commemorate the occasion. Wedding favors can be – and seemingly have been – just about anything. From candies to guitar picks to personalized bottles of Jones Soda, wedding favors span the spectrum of imagination.

Other increasingly popular trends include the use of nontraditional music, mismatched bridesmaid dresses and the utilization of videographers. Many are even getting married in simple, backyard ceremonies.

So with all that is changing in the world of weddings, how is it possible to know what is proper etiquette? A poignant question with a simple answer. Tradition.

As unusual as many things are when it comes to weddings, many of the old traditions still hold true. For instance, the time of day still dictates the attire.

“The later it gets, the dressier it gets,” Young says.

The time of the ceremony also communicates to the guests how the reception will be structured. The mid-afternoon wedding still implies a light reception.

“You don’t have to do lunch and you don’t have to do dinner, so the food is not as heavy,” Yelverton says of such ceremonies. “I think 12 p.m., you are kind of required to do a lunch too.”

By the same token, ceremonies later in the day carry with them the expectation that larger, more dinner-like portions will be served at the reception.

The modern wedding can, and often does, include just about anything. But, according to the staff at the Mustard Seed, the most reliable communicator of expectation is still the invitation.

“The invitation to your wedding is the first thing that people see,” Amanda Hall says. “It sets the tone for your event.”

“Your invitation should reflect (the ceremony’s formality) so people who are coming will know what to wear,” Yelverton adds.

For those who would rather not wade through all of the options of wedding planning, there are professionals like Young and her staff available for just that occasion. And for those who can’t afford such a service? Young highly recommends theknot.com, a wedding-themed site that acts as a kind of cyber wedding planner. •