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Four Ways to a Wedding

By: Catalina Margulis

Your big day says everything about you. So whether it’s a beach, modern, scenic or classic experience, we’ve got you covered with expert tips on what’s trending right now and advice for planning the perfect party.


There’s a love for all things eco-friendly when it comes to 2013 beach weddings, according to Rafael Arjona, director of convention services at Fairmont Mayakoba. “People are looking for natural locations, authentically local experiences, and a minimum impact on the planet,” says Arjona.

Incorporating local cuisine, presented simply, is the number-one way to make it sustainable, not to mention memorable. Arjona recommends lounge seating and family-style dining, where guests can help themselves to servings at the center of the table. Work the beach theme into your décor, using pastels, tropical florals and shells. He also suggests offering fans or parasols, as well as a shoe valet, allowing guests to swap their footwear for flip flops or bare feet. And, he says, always have a backup plan in case of bad weather. Arjona likes to book a ballroom just in case.

Erica Sousa of The Fairmont Southampton in Bermuda recently planned her own dream wedding on the island. She recommends having a weekend-long celebration that includes a welcome reception, wedding festivities and a farewell brunch on the final day so you can spend more time with your guests. Also make sure to take time for yourselves – stay a few extra days after the guests depart for a private honeymoon.


Modern weddings might be all about breaking with tradition, but Diane Dillon and Kristie Kent, wedding professionals with Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver, still see a continuing trend toward vintage wedding dresses, including fascinator head pieces and beaded evening bags from the ’20s, with many brides opting for a wedding gown for the ceremony and a separate cocktail dress for the reception. Wayne Harth of Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park, also sees brides exploring statements of color in decor. “Orange, burgundy and green are the most popular,” he says.

To add a personal touch, Fatima Al Gizouli, wedding specialist at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi, recommends inviting a relative to sing or present a reading at the ceremony, and opting for a more casual style of service (family-style or buffet, as opposed to a set menu). As Harth puts it, “You want guests to feel they are part of the ceremony.”

Harth loves interactive buffet stations where guests can customize a dish while the chef is preparing it, as well as action stations such as portable ovens where guests can bake cookies and help themselves to milk shots. He also recommends adding a lounge space or comfortable seating area for guests in the reception area. “Intimacy is key,” says Harth.


Today’s couples are looking for venues with character, where the scenery and natural setting plays a part in the decor, says Kourtney McKercher of The Fairmont Chateau Whistler in Canada. She recommends incorporating the rustic beauty of the outdoors into your theme, using a natural color palette and accents such as mason jars, lanterns and burlap for a chalet-chic feel. “We recently had a wedding that used varying pieces of cedar to display table numbers, and a moss green color palette for linens,” says McKercher. “The end effect was fresh and youthful, yet classic.”

McKercher advises having a backup plan should the weather turn. “Have the necessary tenting and umbrellas in place,” she says. Include satin shoe bags for guests to make quick changes (they should bring Wellies just in case). For the bride, have two or three pairs of shoes on hand: formal for the ceremony, fun for reception and flats for the end of the evening.

Ellen Barrow and Kathy Robineau at The Fairmont Banff Springs, in Canada, also recommend including a map of the area with your guests’ invitations. A list of hikes, peaks and other sightseeing spots that are special to the couple will make the most of your unique setting.


When it comes to classic weddings, resident expert Bruce Russell Chiasson of The Savoy, A Fairmont Managed Hotel, in London recommends three rules. “Keep it simple, make it personal and embrace tradition,” he says.

Robert J. Mikolitch, director of catering at The Fairmont Washington, D.C., Georgetown, has coordinated more than 500 weddings. He always recommends treating your reception as you would a dinner party. “Create a sense of style, tradition and entertaining that you would reflect in your future home,” he says. Mikolitch suggests using different sizes of centerpieces around the room, and incorporating floor-length table linens, chiavari chairs, candelabras and lush floral arrangements for a regal feel. Be sure to also ask the chef what local ingredients are in season for the freshest meal.

As for the dress, flowy fabrics that show movement, such as tulle and organza, as well as interesting textures featuring embroidery, hand beading and lace, make for a stunning and timely showpiece. Larissa Gonzales of The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton, Canada, recommends a full veil for classic weddings, as well as a wrap for sleeveless dresses, adding: “For the men, nothing says classic like black tie."


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