DARCY MILLER JUST celebrated her 10th anniversary — not (yet) as a wife, but as editor of Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. Having studied a “trillion” weddings, she offers these insights to wedding planners:
SPECIAL EVENTS MAGAZINE: What is the big trend in weddings this year?
DARCY MILLER: I think that the general trend is more personalized weddings. You used to think that a wedding should be formal, it should have candelabras, and it should be white. Now people do great things with color and with alternative spaces. It's not so cookie-cutter. Instead of doing all round tables, people do long tables. Instead of doing the centerpieces as one big arrangement, they do mixed arrangements of different heights and levels and sizes of flowers. So it's a feeling more like you are entertaining at home, even if it's elaborate. People are looking for special ways to tie the napkin and to do the place card and the menu. They are looking for these wonderful details.
Q: Is the bride more influenced by local traditions or by mass media?
A: Certain things are regional. Maybe more people in the San Francisco area have vineyard weddings. Some Texan weddings are bigger. If you're near a beach, weddings are more often outdoors, while if you're in a city, they are more indoor.
But there are also so many more materials — books, magazines, television — available to brides today than there were before. We just produced shows for the Style Network — destination wedding shows, wedding cake shows. If you turn on the TV, at any point you can find something about a wedding! Once you put the ideas out there, brides get inspired to include these details. Also, the thing about the bride that hasn't changed is that she wants it to be the most special day. So whatever it is that will make that happen, she's up for doing.
Q: With today's older, more sophisticated bride, how does the wedding planner go on providing an essential service?
A: I think part of it is making yourself the most expert that you can be, in terms of having interesting locations, working with the best vendors and having interesting ideas for the brides. Whether it's a photo booth or a mariachi band or a Good Humor truck, the bride feels that with that planner, she will get the best and most interesting wedding.
Then, it's staying as focused and enthusiastic about each and every bride as if she were the first bride you've ever met. I think that maybe what happens is that after you've done so many weddings, you forget that for this bride, it's her first wedding!
Another thing that I see people looking for is planners who have — and not all planners want to enter this business — a different kind of system or options of how they work. A lot of brides say to me, “I don't really need a planner for the whole time, but I do want one on the day of.” And the truth is, no one wants to go in there just the day of. Because if you are not up to speed and something goes wrong, there is no such thing as “day of”!
[New York wedding planner] Claudia Hanlin has The Wedding Library, which offers different packages. You can get the planner for the whole time or for a day, as well as an hourly thing, where they will come with you to visits here and there. So if all of a sudden you really feel you need them to scout with you, they will come. But if you don't want them to help you with the dress or invitations, you don't feel as though you are paying all this money and not using them.
[High-end New York planner] Elizabeth Allen just started Fête, which is a little bit less expensive. If you can't afford Elizabeth Allen, it allows you to still get a quote-unquote Elizabeth Allen wedding.
Q: What prompted you to create your new book, “Our Wedding Scrapbook”? This is my seventh wedding anniversary, and my photos are in a shoebox … somewhere …
A: What you just told me is exactly why I did it. I work with so many brides, and they all tell me, “I never ordered my pictures,” or “I have all my stuff in a box.” I made a huge scrapbook from my wedding, and everyone who sees it says, “I will pay you anything to do this for me.” And it dawned on me, I should just make a book from my expertise from doing these trillion weddings that would help all brides finally edit their stuff to put into a book.
Darcy Miller's Web site is www.darcymiller.net.