Planning the Big Day

By Michelle Venus

Your wedding is a reflection of your love for each other. The day should be special. Unique. Perfect. But what may look beautiful on Pinterest or in bridal magazines may or may not hit the right note. Local wedding planners, who are in the know and on top of trends, have plenty to say about what’s hot for 2018.


Color palettes are sophisticated and tempered to the season. Jewel-tone or deep, pastel or neutral and pearlescent, they play a big role in the overall theme and drive just about every design decision for the wedding. Think amethyst, tangerine, mossy green and delicate blush rose to pay homage to spring and summer blossoms. Or glam it up with glimmering gold, navy and mauve when the temperatures take a dive. Consider going with a moody blues combination of burgundy, magenta and indigo.

“I’m seeing more gold and silver accents,” says Christine Kovacs Forster, president and event manager of Loveland-based My Big Day. “Brides are going back to classic metallic. It’s very elegant.” Forster recommends going with classic and timeless palettes that don’t date themselves.

Bridal flowers carry color themes throughout the wedding and into the reception. “Last year we saw clean, crisp arrangements,” says Forster. “Lots of white with greenery, but not a lot of bright florals.” According to leading trend forecasters International Floral Distributors Inc., vibrant combinations such as Orange Crush roses, green alstroemerias, and blue delphinium will be trending strongly in the coming year.

Wedding Market News, a trade publication catering to wedding professionals, predicts that floral arrangements will continue to embrace the bride’s individuality and “revamp traditional conventions.” Think floral arches, chandeliers and hanging arrangements, and free-form bouquets juxtaposed with the unexpected: vines, citrus and even olives.


After planning the nuptials, the reception site is perhaps the most important part of the wedding day, setting the stage for the rest of the party. Popular venues are often booked out years in advance, necessitating quick action and decisiveness when it comes to planning that all-important day. Here in Colorado, the glorious weather offers up many outdoor options, even into late fall and winter. Many wedding venues provide an outdoor site for ceremonies with the reception moving indoors afterward.

Couples tend to veer toward one end of the spectrum or the other when it comes to their receptions. They are either going for smaller, simpler receptions that are very intimate or they are pulling out the stops and partying like it’s 1999. Either way, creating a memorable and very personalized event is paramount.

More and more couples are looking at alternative spaces for their weddings and receptions. Lisa Emmerman Lahue, owner of White Bird Events, helped to plan a campground wedding last summer. The guest list was small, topping out at about 50 people. “This wedding was all about nature and having a good time together,” says Lisa. Guests pitched their tents, parked their RVs or rented rooms at a nearby lodge, and spent the weekend celebrating with the newlyweds.

One couple Lahue worked with rented their favorite bar for their reception. They hired three different bands and a DJ for nonstop music and dancing. It was a big bash, marking a big day. “They went all out,” Lisa says. “It was a super-fun party that nobody will ever forget.”

A vintage red pickup at Craig and Catherine’s reception site complemented the wedding’s western theme. Craig and Catherine Harrison built a barn on their ranch near Timnath to hold their reception in.


Then there are the couples who take creating a memorable venue to a whole new level. Craig and Catherine Harrison built a barn on their ranch near Timnath, where they held their reception. The western theme paired “high sophistication and rustic flare.” Décor included antique furniture, floral arrangements in heirloom vases, wine barrel high tops, swaths of lace and tulle, and romantic candlelight. Horse-drawn carriages and a vintage red pickup transported the happy couple (and provided great backdrops for smooching pictures). The barn now houses the couples’ longhorn cattle herd, along with special memories.


While multi-course sit-down dinners presided over by professional wait staff still reign supreme, help-yourself food stations continue to grow in popularity. “Baked potato bars, where guests can choose from all sorts of toppings, taco bars, ice cream bars…this is where you can get really creative,” says Forster, though she does offer words of warning about messier foods like tacos when everyone is dressed in their best.

Dramatic centerpieces graced the tables at a reception site at Della Terra in Estes Park.

Often the bride will hand over the food choices to the groom, giving him a more significant role in the planning phase. “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve planned barbecue weddings,” laughs Forster. Typically, barbecue is served at outdoor receptions where attire is more casual, and spills may not be such an issue. But, Forster warns future grooms, remember your bride is still wearing a white dress.

Local farm-to-table fare is looking to be a big trend for 2018 weddings. Couples are opting for quality over quantity and working with caterers who source their ingredients from local, sustainable farms and businesses.

Food trucks are also showing up at less-than-traditional wedding receptions. With the growing food truck fleet in Northern Colorado, it’s easy to hire one or a few trucks to show up and offer your guests fun and unexpected feasting options.


Once upon a time, there were few options for the groom. They wore a traditional black tuxedo with a white shirt and rented shoes. Now, they are donning tuxedos in other colors like navy. Or they are foregoing the tux altogether and opting for two- or three-piece suits. Keep an eye out for checkered patterns, textured fabrics like velvet, brocade, linen and even seersucker. Expect unexpected colors that coordinate with the rest of the wedding party. And don’t be surprised by bold statement ties and funky socks. Grooms are also sporting their own footwear and leaving the rented shoes on the shelf.

Non-traditional boutonnieres are garnering more attention. Gone is the single rose bud. Berries, wild flowers, fragrant herbs such as rosemary (for remembrance) and even succulents are showing up on the most fashionable lapels.


Countless hours are spent scouring magazines, perusing Pinterest and trying on one gown after another until the perfect one is found.

Designers offer up so many choices: silhouettes, fabric, embellishments and even color. Bell sleeves, having made a comeback from their 1970s heyday, provide a retro feel and are showing up on boho-inspired gowns as well as sophisticated sheaths.

Bride Ali Gilinger (daughter of former STYLE publisher Lydia Dody) had her heart set on an outdoor Colorado wedding. Her bridal party was the height of fashion in their rich burgundy gowns. For complete story and additional pictures of Ali’s wedding, go to


Although white is still the go-to color for wedding gowns, more brides are opting for color, with pink and blue gowns headlining. Bold brides will be marching down the aisle clad in black or red wedding gowns. Singers Tina Turner and Avril Lavigne and actress Shenae Grimes donned black gowns for their special days. For brides who like the idea but can’t take it that far, black details like a ribbon belt or trim carry the trend forward.

Bows are showing up everywhere. You’ll find them embellishing sleeves, waists and even cascading down the backs of gowns. Large and dramatic or dainty and delicate, bows add flair.

Capes and capelets have been gracing the shoulders of brides for the past few seasons, but will make a big impression in 2018, especially for fall and winter weddings. You’ll find them long and flowing or short and sassy in interesting textured fabrics and contrasting colors.

Christine notes that brides are paying a lot of attention to the upcoming royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which is certain to drive trends throughout the year and into 2019. Worldwide press is speculating that the Hollywood star will add a modern and dramatic twist to her nuptials to England’s former most-eligible-bachelor. Celebrity gowns continue to offer up inspiration. Carolyn Bessette Kennedy’s iconic and timeless modern sheath is a perennial favorite, still showing up on brides’ vision boards.


As you plan your wedding, remember that what makes it special is you and your partner. The biggest and most important part of your marriage is your love for each other. So, go ahead and let trends help you design a spectacular wedding, but at the end of the day, it’s the rest of your life that really matters.

Michelle Venus is a freelance writer living and working in an Old Town bungalow. Her website is To comment on this story, send an email to