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Doughnuts instead of wedding cake? It's just one of several new wedding trends.


Rahmie Santoso and Zack Baumel wanted a wedding that showcased their personality. That meant incorporating their love of gemstones and rocks.

Their September wedding reception featured tables where guests could paint rocks and create necklaces made from gemstones. Their cake was decorated with edible crystals and a gigantic candy amethyst.

“The guests loved that,” said Baumel, a Baltimore native who co-owns a Washington, D.C., software start-up with his wife. The couple hands out crystals instead of business cards. “It just felt like us. The whole party was a celebration of the love that we have together. The first thing that people said was, ‘That is so you.’ Everything was hand-crafted — other than the cake. It was the most fun wedding they had because it was interactive.”

Including natural, outdoor elements like stones, foliage and fresh-picked flowers are just some of the fun, new wedding trends. Couples are ditching traditional elements while incorporating new aspects such as having indoor fireworks; carrying a wreath instead of bouquet or serving doughnuts as opposed to a traditional tiered cake.

At the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore in Harbor East, a number of weddings there reflect the newer trends.

“I can’t even tell you the last time I saw someone throw a bouquet or cut a cake,” said Melinda Redling, director of catering and conferences for the hotel. “I’m kind of seeing more of that casual approach with how they are decorating the room.”

Couples are taking a less traditional approach to weddings and receptions — even when it comes to bigger-budget nuptials, according to Elizabeth Bailey, owner of the Cockeysville-based Elizabeth Bailey Weddings.

“So many of our couples are going to so many weddings that they have a desire to just make the wedding different than all the others that they have attended,” said Bailey, who is known throughout the region for opulent weddings where budgets most often exceed six figures.

The next wedding you attend will likely feature at least one of these trending options.

360 photos

Genevieve Grossmann wanted a wow factor for her wedding last October in Philadelphia.

She knew a 360 photo booth would accomplish that.

“I’m pretty sure I saw it on the Oscars, and there were probably some celebrities doing this technology,” she recalled. “I Googled around and [OrcaVue] were the first people I was able to find. It was amazing. Our guests still talk about it, and every once in a while they’ll post it on social media.”

Daniel and Jonathan Rosenberry are the founders of Silver Spring-based OrcaVue (it stands for Orbiting Camera Vue) and inventors of the patented technology that allows for those sleek slow-motion photos that were popularized on the red carpet and have popped up at sporting events and now wedding receptions.

A camera is set up on a long metal arm — think a selfie stick that you don’t have to hold — that spins around a foot-high platform where the photo subjects stand. The camera, pointing inward, takes a series of photos that creates a slowed-image finished product that shows every angle of the subject.

“People are really awestruck. It’s like they haven’t laughed before in life,” said Daniel Rosenberry. “Seeing themselves in that shot — in slow motion holding a pink flamingo or wearing a funny hat — people lose their minds.”

The 360 photo booth ranges from $2,500 to $3,000 if it’s rented in Maryland. Rosenberry estimates that it has been used 500 times since its invention in 2014.

Tater tot bars

Christina Eichenmuller, owner of Annapolis-based Creative Cuisine Catering, has been offering a popular mashed potato bar for seven years. But she’s upped the ante with tater tot bars.

“I think it’s one of those things that as an adult — you may or may not want to admit you want it,” she said with a laugh. “And it meets some dietary needs because it is gluten-free.”

Eichenmuller serves up an array of toppings including cheese sauces, gravy, chives, bacon crumbles and sour cream for about $6 a person. More elaborate toppings, including sauteed crab or shrimp, can range up to $10.

Tater tots are also a major draw at Sticky Rice Baltimore in Fells Point. The restaurant has provided specially ordered tater tot bars at wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners.

“They are a great, classic American comfort food and a simple decadence,” said Ginny Lawhorn, managing partner at Sticky Rice Baltimore.

What sets their tot bar apart is the offerings of kimchi, broccoli, vegan spicy mayo, buttermilk ranch and house-made tot sauce, a spicy Sriracha-based concoction. Prices for 100 people range from $350 to $600.

Indoor fireworks

Indoor fireworks mimic the look of a sparkler, are non-combustible and produce no odor and little smoke.

“This is ground-breaking in the industry,” said Nick Pignetti, founder and president of Event Pro, a design, production and entertainment company in Glen Burnie. “They don’t fall under the pyrotechnic law because they are not combustible.”

This product allows you to control the height of the burst — max 15 feet — and the length of time — each stream can last for 90 seconds. Plus, there’s no need for a pyrotechnic license for this, according to Pignetti. The service costs about $2,000, which allows for up to six units — 10-inch by 10-inch boxes — plus a controller.

“It’s basically a small box,” he said.


First cupcakes, then macaroons. Now doughnuts are the latest dessert to dethrone the classic wedding cake.

In addition to doughnut walls, where doughnuts are hung on hooks, hot doughnut stations are a new craze, according to Bailey.

When Ada Mahoney got married at the Annapolis Maritime Museum in August, “We didn’t want a fancy cake — we’re just not big on cake,” she said.

Instead, she sent out her groom to pick up 14 dozen assorted doughnuts in “all of the fun flavors.”

“The guests loved it,” Mahoney said. “They thought it was fun and different. People just wanted to eat them right away. It was a fun kind of conversation piece.”

According to Bailey, “There is probably no other dessert station more popular than a doughnut station.” There, a chef grills doughnuts and serves them with all the toppings of an ice cream sundae bar — and that includes sprinkles, whipped cream and caramel sauce.

Other desserts

Doughnuts aren’t the only dessert getting special treatment at weddings.

Gelato stations, ice cream carts and elaborate milkshake stations are growing in popularity.

“A lot of people chose specialty desserts other than wedding cakes,” said Stephanie Bradshaw, a Baltimore-based wedding planner who does a number of upscale weddings. “People’s palates are more refined. They’re having wedding cakes, but they are having other things. Everybody likes options.”

Redling said she first started seeing elaborate milkshakes at weddings at her hotel a year ago.

“We’re doing everything with more of a culinary twist,” she said, adding that some of the most popular milkshakes are topped with colorful cotton candy or cupcakes.

The tradition of cake cutting also seems to be outdated.

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“We don’t even announce the cake cutting anymore,” Bailey said. “There is this awkward pause when the bride and groom cut the cake. We just decided to let the band keep playing. Almost all our couples do a photo op cake cutting away from the guests. Yes, it’s something they want to look at 20 years from now, but they don’t necessarily want the tradition.”

Bold pops of color in flowers

Floral ideas haven’t changed much over the past years, which makes bold color choices unique, according to April Lichtenberg, director of business development for Owings Mills-based Flowers & Fancies.

“Pops of color are huge,” she said. “People are getting away from the monochromatics of creams and ivory. People are getting bolder. That means no more blush.”

Go-to colors are now hot pink, yellows, orange and lime green.

“It’s more tropical,” she said. “It’s very bohemian. You still have that feeling of the wedding, but you still get that pop of color in there.”

Wreaths instead of bouquets

Bouquets appear to be losing popularity — especially with the introduction of wedding wreaths.

Centuries of Jewish wedding traditions on display in Jewish Museum of Maryland exhibit

“We started seeing this more in the last couple months,” Lichtenberg said. “Not everyone else is using it. But everyone is looking to be the next trend setter.”

These wreaths, which are mostly made of twigs and branches, can be decorated with leaves, blooms of pampas grass, ribbons and a sparse amount of flowers.

Wreaths ($65 to $125) are considerably cheaper than traditional bouquets, which range from $125 to $300.

The tradition of the bouquet toss is even a thing of the past.

“We haven’t had a tossed bouquet in 18 months,” Bailey said.

Casual weddings

Wedding across the board are taking a more casual approach, according to our wedding industry experts.

That means: no boutonnières — or tuxedos — for men; casual seating at dinners; and no served dinners at all.

Navy blue and electric blue suits — sans bow ties — are becoming the norm among grooms, according to Bailey.

Ceremonies and receptions are also heading in a casual direction.

“I’m kind of seeing more of that casual approach with how they are decorating the room,” Redling said. “It all threads itself together — the dress, the flowers, the table setting and the types of food they are serving. It’s a lot more casual and interactive for the guests.”

That means fewer stuffy seated dinners.

“We have brides that want to do something a little bit different,” Bailey said. “We have our Baltimore country club brides that still want crab cakes and filet. But, we have more brides having cocktail parties for weddings. These aren’t full sit-down dinners but stations with random seating. It’s grab and go food with small plates that are pre-done. It’s casual but up a notch.”

The new casual approach isn’t any cheaper than the traditional dinners, according to Bailey, who added: “A cocktail reception has more food. A traditional dinner has more staff. The cost is about the same.”


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