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Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
When it comes to flowers, such as this arrangement by Tracy Barlow of The Window Box, brides are leaning toward a monochromatic color scheme, which provides a high-end look.

Editor's note: This is the first of a two-part feature on Utah weddings in spring 2008. On April 21, FamilyLife will look at weddings on a budget.

It's about more than wearing flip-flops or decorating your gown with a brightly-colored sash.

Brides are being encouraged this spring to tune into their personality and be unique — even a little extravagantly so. Forget the all-white wedding gown and think champagne or ivory-colored with a vintage twist. Instead of a traditional reception hall, consider the lobby of a favorite office building or another architecturally beautiful place.

"We always tell brides to not be afraid to design their event around their personality," said Kate Burton with Utah-based BrideAccess.com. "You don't have to do what your parents did. You can do something that represents your personality."

Need help? Here's a mix of trendy and unique ideas for this spring and summer:

Nontraditional spaces — and food

Couples are thinking beyond the traditional church or reception hall and hosting their weddings at places as dramatic as Union Central in Los Angeles or Grand Central Station in New York, said Christa Vagnozzi, a senior editor at WeddingChannel.com.

"It's a great art deco backdrop and adds a sense of grandeur," she said. But if cost — or lack of a train station — is a consideration, other odd spaces may have the same effect.

Lorna Reid, owner of Design Elite in Layton, has seen weddings in the lobby of an office building or spacious loft. In the spring and summer, couples will get married at various outdoor locations, which is often a cost-saving move, she said.

"There's a million things you can choose to do," according to Reid. "Brides are taking something really inappropriate and doing something very cool."

As for food, Burton said she has seen couples ask a favorite restaurant to provide food for smaller sit-down gatherings. One Utah bride served burritos, salsa and salad from Cafe Rio at her reception. A couple could even go to a place such as Applebees and serve the restaurant's oriental chicken salad in a custom box or packaging, according to Burton.

If all else fails, consider traveling. Planners are seeing more and more couples that opt for so-called "destination weddings" that can offer a more intimate atmosphere to celebrate with family and friends. Las Vegas, San Diego and even Hawaii are some popular destinations for Utah brides.

Mermaid gowns with color

Scan the pages of a bridal magazine, and you'll see few examples of Cinderella-style ball gowns. Dresses are more fitted and emphasize curves, with one trendy option designed to skim the hips and then flare like a mermaid tail.

Vagnozzi described the trend as sexy and feminine. Dresses are now being designed with sophisticated tiers, cathedral trains and feminine lace flowers, she said.

And while white is still the most popular bridal color, look for gowns in shades such as champagne, taupe, light gold and ivory, said Robyn Dunn, owner of The Perfect Dress in Salt Lake City. Many of these dresses are adorned with lace instead of heavy beading, and the overall style is more vintage and timeless, she said.

"It's more refined and subdued and more of a couture look," she said.

Even brides who marry in a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can try color, according to Utah retailers. While the faith requires couples to wear all-white during a temple wedding ceremony, brides are allowed to wear a modest dress of any hue outside the buildings.

Small jackets made with lace or taffeta are now a popular option to cover bare shoulders, according to Dunn. As for accessories, look for small veils known as blushers that contribute to the overall vintage look, she said. Big earrings paired with a bracelet are also in style.

Considering an out-of-state wedding? Try a "destination" gown. They're usually shorter, more flirty and casual. LatterDayBride showcased a short gown with cap sleeves during a recent bridal exhibit.

Grungy cityscapes and hot bridals

Mom and Dad may not like it, but couples want images with a little more sass, where the bride and groom stand in places such as a TRAX station, near a graffiti-covered wall or lipstick-red fire hydrant, said Brody Dezember with Brody Dezember Photography in Salt Lake City.

"It's more about the couple and their style," said Dezember. "I think they're sick of the norm and the traditional style."

One of his images features a bride against a brick wall tagged by graffiti. Another photograph is of a bride walking through a windswept field, her hair loose and features relaxed.

Miyo Strong, a photographer with Busath Studio & Gardens, said while formal images are a mainstay, couples are opting for more personalized photographs to reflect their character. A bride will flash cherry-red stiletto shoes, or ask for images to be shot at her home.

Another hot trend is for pre-wedding pictures of both the bride and groom in their formal attire, according to Strong. It's a style known as "bridals" and "groomals," and can take the pressure off a couple on their wedding day if the weather or other elements aren't perfect, she said.

As for the artistic bride with no sentimental attachment to her gown, consider a style known as "trashing the dress." It's a nationwide trend, and happens after the wedding. A photographer will shoot a bride in her dress, posed in a grungy cityscape, or doing things as extreme as floating in a water fountain or posing with her gown lit on fire.

Flowers, cake, color and decor

It's spring, so colors such as lime green and hot pink are returning to style, but instead of decorating with multiple hues, brides are going monochromatic with just a hint of an accent color. It's a style that looks both trendy and high-end, even for the bride on a budget, according to Reid.

Add a unique floral design, and a couple can make an even stronger style statement, said Tracy Barlow, owner of The Window Box in Layton and a certified florist with the American Institute of Floral Designers. Instead of loose flower arrangements, couples want styles that are distinctive and reflect their personality, he said.

For Reid, unique style is a must-have for most brides, although many of her reception arrangements feature a mix of classic and contemporary design. That's to ensure both moms and daughters are happy," she said.

"The moms have a hard time with that," Reid said of the desire to be edgy and different.

But cakes are trending towards the classic, according to Janna Ellis, sales manager at the Granite Bakery and Bridal Showcase in Salt Lake City. Like wedding gowns, girls are choosing a vintage look, with buttercream frosting in shades of ivory or champagne. Some girls have even offered samples of their dress so the cake design can mimic their beadwork, she said.

Above all, the key to a great wedding is for a couple to make their event as personal as possible, but still remember why they're planning the activity, according to Vagnozzi.

"In the end, it's all about family and friends being able to celebrate this day with you," she said.

Nationwide wedding statistics:

Number of marriages in 2006: 2.2 million

Percentage of destination weddings: 15 percent

Biggest wedding months: June and September

Average age of bride: 27

Average age of groom: 28

Average cost of wedding: $27,882*

Average number of guests invited: 215

Average number of guest attending: 161

Average cost of a wedding gift: $85

* includes engagement ring, but not honeymoon

Sources: The Knot Inc., National Vital Statistics Report, WeddingChannel.com

Advice from the experts:

"The most important thing is the success of the marriage and not the wedding day. That day comes and goes, but you're with that person the rest of your life. What are you doing to make that relationship successful?"

— Robin Saville, owner of " TARGET="_blank">BrideAccess.com

"You need to shop for your dress immediately. The minute you have a ring, or one is on order, come and look."

— Robyn Dunn, owner of The Perfect Dress

"Think about the scheduling of the day and the day before (your wedding). It's surprising how if the day before is not just completely empty, how much you have to do that day."

— Lorna Reid, owner of Design Elite in Layton

"Plan as much in advance as you can ... but the day you get married, forget it all. Let the schedule happen as it does."

— Miyo Strong, Busath Studio & Gardens

"I'm done hundreds of weddings where couples are spending 90 percent of their time planning and 10 percent of their timing planning the rest of their lives. Spend 10 percent of your time planning the wedding day and the other 90 percent planning what happens after the wedding day."

— Kate Burton, BrideAccess.com

"Remember it is your wedding day and the start of something much bigger."

— Christa Vagnozzi, senior editor at WeddingChannel.com

"Prioritize what you want, then go from there."

— Brody Dezember, owner of Brody Dezember Photography

E-MAIL: nwarburton@desnews.com