Welcome to what is going to be a super fun column all about the ins and outs of weddings. I’m Anne Churchill, Columbia’s seasoned and locally grown event and wedding planner. I’ve been planning meaningful moments and special days for 10 years, and now it’s time to spill the beans: the good, the bad, and the ugly of planning weddings. I’ll share tips and tricks, plus (I’m sure) some giggles as I pull from real-life stories.

The first thing to tackle is wedding trends: what’s hot and what’s not. Here in the Midwest, we tend to be about three years behind what we see on the coasts. Some may see this as a negative — not I. There’s two great benefits to this. As long as you’re on top of it, you can be the first to do something in Columbia while still having dozens of examples from the coast to refer to. And we only do the tested and proven trends — forget the trends that come and go in six months or, even worse, backfire. (Literally. Flames on your wedding day. Think the fire breathers under a tent were a good idea? No, they weren’t.)

Here are the two trends that I think are tired, done, and over with . . . even for good ol’ CoMO:

Doors (or some other entrance) to outdoor wedding ceremonies.

Here’s the hard truth. You’ve chosen to get married on uneven ground with the elements of wind and rain. So the beautiful idea of doors swinging open upon your entrance isn’t so easy, and it’s something to avoid when you consider the hassle. Even if you get those babies perfect . . . you know your guests are going to see you walk (or ride an ATV) up to them, right? Boom. Surprise gone. Just embrace the land you’re getting married on!

The super short wedding ceremony.

I’m talking five minutes total. I think this comes from the stretched out ceremonies we grew up with. And trust me, I get it: I was raised Catholic. But just because you don’t want mass and communion doesn’t mean we need to make your ceremony shorter than a Hulu ad break (insert spinning loading wheel here). Really, why are we all coming together? For a wedding! So let’s have one! Readings, songs, and all. It all goes so fast — relish in the moment.

I won’t ever leave you on a negative note, so here are two newer trends I love for weddings. Fingers crossed they’re here to stay.

The alternative dessert.

I’m not just talking cupcake towers. Dessert is a great time to be nontraditional without making your grandmother gasp. Think small bites and a variety of tastes. It’s a great place to introduce the trend of food stations using a dessert spread, or even pies (if you’re considering pies, call the gals at Peggy Jean’s — they love weddings!). Take the opportunity to hit everyone’s taste buds and get funky with it. This is a fun time to play up the theme or season of your wedding.

Live everything.

Live painting, live cooking, live performances. Considering live options are great if the couple is looking to be less traditional or add in a spark. One of my favorite new vendors is TooRooster Artistry. Cindy Scott paints live, right there, and it’s amazing. Your wedding guests will crowd around her and the final product is a true piece of art, unique from any gift you’ll receive. Live catering stations or food trucks add energy to the meal. Let your guests pick exactly what they want to eat and enjoy the satisfaction of freshly prepared food.

At the end of the day, here is my biggest piece of advice when it comes to tackling trends: learn from others. As you attend weddings, take note of what works, what you love, and what makes you say “oh no!”

Consider what your guests might need when experimenting with a trend. For example, if you’re having food stations, create signage if your guests typically attend buffet dinners. Or, if all of your family weddings have been at the country club, go rogue and pitch a tent in a field. Make sure they get the vibe of your wedding from the invitation, so they’re ready for the fun night.

Being trendy can be successful, as long as you give it thought.

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