Photo: Avery House

Pushcart Bakery
Okay, I admit it: I have never met a sweet I didn't like, especially when beautifully presented, pushcart style, on a moving vintage wooden cart that makes its way from one side of the ballroom to the other. You can feature all your favorite flavors (his and hers, of course) with items such as French macaroons, fleur de sel caramels, chocolate pyramids, lemon berry tarts and more.

Trend Tip
This is a great way to incorporate all the aunties who want to help bake! Have them all make a few dozen of your favorites and have the caterer display them for you on a makeshift pushcart or on an after-dinner tasting bar.
Comfort food

Photo: Avery House

Cute n' Comfort Food
Who doesn't love her favorite childhood comfort foods? Here are some ideas:
  • Mac 'n' cheese with the volume turned up, served in miniature Le Creuset cocottes and topped with Cowgirl Creamery handmade cheeses, organic herbs and lobster chunks
  • Chips and dip in parchment cones with hand cut russet potatoes, tossed in truffle oil and Parmesan, served with piping hot Gorgonzola cheese and artichoke dip
Trend Tip
These make wonderfully fun, interactive cocktail stations that guests can graze while mixing and mingling. I love to keep surprising guests as they arrive! Try playful specialty drinks like retro martinis and old-school cocktails at the bar or have chalkboard small frames in the photo booth for guests to write messages on.
Petite sweets

Photo: Avery House

Petite Sweets
Oooh la la...j'adore les desserts. The cake, served as dessert, is so last year. Instead, try a fun, interactive cake and cappuccino bar that opens during dancing. For summer, end the plated meal with a delicious, decadent trio of tiny sweets served on a long, rectangular plate. Try a trio of chocolates to end dinner on a high note, gooey and gorgeous s'moretinis, piping hot chocolate pot de crème or a sensual chocolate lavender cake truffle.

Trend Tip 
To help stretch the budget you can flip this rule and serve cake for dessert, with a fun chocolate dessert bar that opens after dinner. With a tasting bar, you don't need as much quantity as you do when you plate and serve the chocolate desserts. Some guests head home after dinner, so the count of guests for post-dinner stations is always less.

More small bite ideas
Photo sketch booth

Photo: Avery House

Photo Sketch Booth
This is such a hot trend—I honestly cannot get enough of it. Instead of the simple photo booth (been there, done that), we have an additional second step. First, the photo is taken with a Bluetooth color photo printer, combining state-of-the-art technology with a lovely glossy 4-by-6 print in less than four seconds. The photo is mounted on a soft, textured card, and a quick sketch artist draws each couple next to the photo in under a minute. Voil??!

Trend Tip
In addition to fun reception entertainment, this doubles as a great take-home favor.
Vintage romance

Photo: Goodshot/Thinkstock

Vintage Romance
Everything old is new again—and white hot! Think couture bridal gowns covered all over in vintage lace; florals wrapped with antique family heirloom broaches that take you back to your grandmother's favorite flowers; a bridal clutch handmade from your mom's own wedding dress.

Trend Tip
In a nod to "something old, something borrowed," share favorite bridal accessories between sisters, moms and grandmothers. It is so personal and thoughtful to share these special details with guests in your wedding program. For example, on the last page: "Brittany is the sixth bride in her family to carry her great grandmother's handkerchief down the aisle, tucked into her bridal bouquet. Robert is carrying his grandfather's pocket watch in his vest pocket, just as his father and grandfather did on their own wedding days."
Wedding colors

Photo: Avery House

Tone-on-Tone Color
This season, two-tone is the tone for every color palette. The soft, blended hues combine a single color palette with high drama and instantly add an updated, fresh ambiance. Here are some ideas:

  • Emerald green with chartreuse
  • Aqua with sapphire
  • Smoky lavender with eggplant
  • Pale pink with hot pink
  • Cherry red with crimson
Trend Tip
Pull the color palette throughout each and every wedding detail, from save the dates to invitations, linens to flowers, place cards to favors.
Modern decorations

Photo: Avery House

Mixed Up Mod
I love mixing the old with the new, like personal family collections mixed with wedding rentals. There are no rules! Here are some ideas:
  • A raw urban loft dressed with formal silk bengaline linens
  • Classic chiavari bamboo chairs done in clear acrylic a la the iconic Ghost Chair
  • Modern massed monofloral designs in reproduction period silver footed urns
Trend Tip
Rent or borrow unique centerpiece and tabletop accessories (custom linens, varied candlesticks, silver trays) to use as grouped visual collections on various tables—the focal point table and place card table, bars, guest dining tables, sweetheart table, petite sweets station and more. Not only does it make the beloved d??cor elements personal and meaningful, but it also helps stretch the d??cor budget.

Photo: Avery House

Monogram Madness
The perfect debut for your new married monogram is, of course, on the wedding stationery and wedding details. It is the ultimate custom design and personal touch on your printed menu cards, place cards, favors...everywhere. Favorite touches are monogrammed glasses for the cocktail hour, coasters, drink stirrers, dance floor gobo lights and linen napkins, just to name a few.

Trend Tip
Paper cocktail napkins are a low-budget custom monogram investment, and they make a big first impression as guests enter the reception for the cocktail hour. Typically costing less than $100, you can design them in your color palette and wedding font to make a high-end wedding detail on a dime.
Wedding details

Photo: Avery House

Details Are Divine
Ahhhh...the gorgeous, dripping designed details are one of the most memorable touches at your wedding celebration. Everyone will love each and every touch—and won't stop talking about it. Here are some ideas:
  • The tabletop, set with a soft, shimmering linen and topped with coordinated woven silk ribbons as a runner
  • The elegant calligraphy menu card recounting your favorite romantic poet.
  • The amuse course specially crafted from local farms within 50 miles of the wedding
  • Favors wrapped in matching ribbons, filled with your favorite late-night snack.
Trend Tip
So many beautiful details can be assembled at a fun, all-hands-on-deck bridal party DIY night. A couple of cocktails, a little nosh and lots of laughs abound when you get the girls together to craft, cheer and celebrate. This is a great budget saver—and a night full of memories as well.

Photo: Avery House

Flavorful Favors
It is the end of the night, and what better way to say goodnight than with a take-away favor table filled with perfectly set rows of adorable, bow-topped favors? To adorn the table, I love a hand calligraphy sign reading "Sweet Dreams...Sweets for the Sweet." The packaging is half the fun, so choose the box, tin, container, wrap and more in your wedding colors. Fill with any choice of sweets and savories. Some of my favorites: custom-colored chocolates, mini cupcakes, macaroons or handmade, infused brownies and truffles from Cocoa on

Trend Tip
To stretch your budget, have one favor per couple—each couple takes only one as they exit. You can even have an attendant on hand to help offer one to each couple so there is no confusion.

Find cost-cutting tips in our beginner's guide to wedding planning 

Off-the-rack wedding dresses for less than $1,000