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Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. This familiar phrase, derived from a Victorian-era tradition, was put into place to ensure good luck for the bride in her married life.

Nowadays, the rhyme is indicative of the constant change in wedding trends. Something old becomes relevant again when fashions of the past are revived by the current generation of brides and grooms. Something new is always on the horizon with contemporary ideas in wedding decor, dresses and engagement rings. Each year brings some unexpected twists on traditional wedding customs, along with unique concepts for modern celebrations.

Kelcey Keith, wedding planner at Walker’s Bluff in Carterville for the past seven years, has seen it all when it comes to weddings. Working with brides to ensure every detail is covered, while making each individual wedding dream come true, she has the inside scoop on current wedding trends as well as the departure from some traditions of the past. Her passion for planning has put her front and center for many of the big and small changes in wedding styles.

Time of year and themed weddings

One aspect Keith has seen a major shift is the time of year in which couples are choosing to get married. As was the custom for many generations, and even when Keith started her career at Walker’s Bluff, late spring and early summer weddings were a longtime favorite choice. June weddings have been popular for many decades and are thought to have gained popularity due in part to the availability of fresh flowers for the bride. With flowers of all species being readily available year-round these days, the month of choice is wide open. Fall weddings have become an extraordinarily popular time for nuptials and Keith has witnessed the shift towards autumn ceremonies.

“Right now, this year and last year and maybe the year before, it has been a very big trend to get married in the fall. We’re seeing it go even more into November when that used to be a very big offseason. When I first started seven years ago it was June and springtime. Now it’s migrated into fall,” remarked Keith.

Many of the wedding themes that have recently gained popularity fit perfectly into the fall atmosphere. Woodland and bohemian weddings have taken over as the top wedding themes and the dramatic vibes, with deep colors and rich textures, are a rustically romantic take on wedding decor. Darker hues are a shift from the pastel palettes of years past and an enchanting, relaxed feel is more prevalent in the chosen details.

“Woodland is kind of country mixed with chic so it’s very outdoorsy. Tons of greenery, tons of vines and sticks and maybe some sheer fabric to make it more of a goddess feel. It’s really beautiful,” said Keith.

Keith describes the bohemian theme as being slightly different from the woodland theme, with flower crowns for the ladies, stringed lights and fabric on hoops, and even moon gates instead of the traditional arches used at the altar. Floral arrangements in both categories have evolved from the tight bouquets of the past, with just one or two kinds of flowers, to a more whimsical approach with flowing vines, greenery and a larger variety of flowers in each bouquet.

Katie Steinmetz, who had an October woodland-themed wedding at Walker’s Bluff, said her education and career in botany, as well as the natural surroundings at the venue, led her to choose the woodland motif.

“I’m a botanist and I like spending lots of time outside in the woods. We wanted to be able to have the perfect mix of having the woods there but not having our guests feel uncomfortable. So that’s why we went with Walker’s Bluff, because we could have the great venue that people felt was really nice and fancy but also be out near the woods. So it was a good mix,” remembered Steinmetz.

The bride chose ivory, floral patterned dresses for her bridesmaids, and bouquets with lots of greenery, ferns and chestnut brown accents. Steinmetz said the color scheme is what she thinks of when she pictures the woods and that the time of year was perfect for capturing the vibrant green of the forest with hints of the emerging oranges and yellows soon to come.

The one (perfect gown that is)

Maybe one of the most exciting parts of planning a wedding is shopping for the perfect bridal gown. While every woman has her own vision of the ideal dress, there are countless options to choose from and styles have certainly changed in the last several years. The puffy sleeves, satin gloves, lacy tiered skirts and dramatic trains that were popular in decades past, have been replaced by more understated fashions without losing any of the glamour.

Leslie Lowry, co-owner of A Special Occasion in West Frankfort along with her mother-in-law, Kay Lowry, has seen many changes in wedding attire over the past twelve years of being in the formal wear business. As a full-service retailer of wedding gowns, tuxedos and prom dresses, both women assist brides and grooms throughout the entire process of finding the perfect apparel for their nuptials — from the excitement of trying on and selecting a gown, to making any alterations necessary and steaming the dress right before the big day. Lowry noted the recent migration to a more understated, elegant look for brides.

“Things are a little more subtle these days. Things that girls are choosing right now are quite timeless. I could see them being in style in twenty years because there’s nothing so drastically different from them like the ruffles or big shoulders. Not so over the top,” said Lowry.

Lace gowns and straighter styles are more popular now over the ball gown styles of the past. Fit and flare gowns that are comfortable — while flattering any bride’s figure — are a popular style while bright white dresses have been replaced with ivory, champagne and even some very pale pinks.

“Ninety percent of our gowns are light ivory. It’s more subtle to the skin tone. Very seldom do I sell a bright white gown,” shared Lowry.

In keeping with some of the new, notable trends, Katie Baker of Herrin, who purchased her wedding gown at A Special Occasion, chose an elegant champagne and ivory dress for her big day. The fitted style with shimmering beads, a keyhole back and a plunging V-neckline was the timeless look Baker was striving for.

“I wanted it to be classy but a little sexy, too. I preferred the simple elegance the fitted dress offered while not being over-the-top with sparkles and skirt. I wanted to wear the dress, not the other way around,” shared Baker.

Baker and her husband, Ryan, also chose to stray from the traditional classic black tuxedo for the groom and instead went for a wool tweed three-piece suit paired with a plaid shirt and purple tie. The timeless, chic appeal of the dress along with the distinctive choice for the groom’s suit was perfect for the intimate backyard wedding the couple enjoyed and are a prime example of modern trends in wedding attire.

Diamonds really are a girl's best friend

As the phrase diamonds are forever implied, engagement rings are a part of weddings that are enjoyed long after the fete. While some styles have long been popular, such as solitaire diamonds with simple white gold or platinum bands, a shift towards vintage-inspired rings has occurred in recent years.

Liz McNeill, owner of Diamond Designs in Marion, says she sees brides choosing a wide variety of engagement ring styles. With bridal being a large part of the business, McNeill is privy to the changes in wedding ring trends as they occur. As with decor and dresses, the perfect wedding ring is different in the eyes of each bride.

“It depends on the individual. We see it all. A little bit older style with marquis and baguette diamonds. Then we still have people come in and want that simple, pretty solitaire. And then, of course, vintage-inspired pieces have become really popular,” said McNeill.

Diamond Designs creates custom jewelry and most of the bridal pieces sold are created at the store. The jewelers pick out the color of gold, the mounting, and the stone to create rings that are one of a kind and ready to purchase, but if a bride wants something specific, the store is happy to oblige.

“One thing that has changed is the internet has a lot to do with what people want, with Pinterest and people that search online. That has a lot of influence on what people decide. If people are searching vintage-inspired pieces that’s what they’re going to come in with. We work with it and do the best that we can,” said McNeill.

Anna Baczewski, of Carbondale, was interested in a vintage style long before her engagement to husband, Joe. Before Joe popped the question, Baczewski told her now-husband about her love of the beautiful shapes and elegant designs of rings like her great-great-grandmother’s ring from the late 1890s. Her ancestor, with the same name of Anna, had a beautiful, lace-like filigree setting for her sparkling diamond but due to time and wear, the original ring could not be used. Joe found a jeweler in New York to create a stunning replica and the pair have been happy with their choice to stay true to the classic design of the late nineteenth century.

“I have received numerous compliments over the years from people when it catches their eye. I think like me, people are drawn to the filigree, and even more so to the story, and history of it,” shared Baczewski.

The evolution of wedding trends is a compelling progression of varying tastes and always changing fashions. From the days of puffy sleeved ball gowns, bouquets of roses and carnations, and solitaire engagement rings has come a time of sleek and modern bridal gowns, flowing bunches of lush greenery and wildflowers, and vintage-inspired wedding rings. The aesthetic of a bride’s special day should be unique to her tastes and the many changes in wedding trends is a fascinating study in the recent shift to a casual yet sophisticated mindset among brides and grooms.


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