by Vicki Ikeogu
For anyone planning a wedding, there are a lot of decisions – and money – involved in tying the knot.
In a Feb. 2, 2017 report by online wedding resource and marketplace website The Knot, the average American couple dropped $35,329 on their wedding in 2015 with the majority of the cost coming from the venue (about 46 percent) with the engagement ring and reception entertainment a distant second and third.
That is up 8 percent from the 2015 average wedding cost of $32,641.
Closer to home, The Knot estimates Minnesota brides and grooms can anticipate spending roughly $27,000 on their big day. For central Minnesota brides, that cost is slightly less, at $26,720, according to research company The Wedding Report.
Costs aside – and yes, it is hard to ignore the staggering price tag – 2018 is set to usher in familiar blasts from the past (think 1980s) but with a rustic chic feel.
And local vendors are ready to oblige.
Location. Location. Location.
Whether the guest list is a few dozen to a few hundred, finding the perfect place to host the reception – and often the ceremony along with it – is critical for couples.
“People are looking for a facility to host the entire day of events,” said Randy Schmitz, owner of St. Joseph’s Rolling Ridge Wedding & Event Center. “They want to show up and not have to leave the property until the day is over.”
A one-stop-shop mentality is what keeps venues such as The Grands at Mulligans in Sartell busy.
“The biggest trend changes we have seen in the last couple of years has been couples moving away from wanting to plan every single detail of their wedding,” said owner Jason Becker. “Venues get one shot to help these couples put on the wedding they deserve, so having a venue with experience means everything.”
And having the flexibility to customize the space to each couple is important.
“People kind of like a little more of a blank slate,” said Jessica Reiter, director of events and catering at the Gorecki Center on the College of St. Benedict campus. “They want to be able to come in and transform the space to make it look the way they want. We do make some recommendations, but they have a vision of what they want and we try to accommodate it.”
Friday weddings have been growing in popularity. But Saturday weddings, at least for the Gorecki Center, remain king.
So that makes booking a location early a must.
“Booking your venue should be your first priority when it comes to planning a wedding,” Reiter said. “Get your venue and ceremony location secured early.”
The Wedding Report’s average venue, food, beverage and reception rentals cost in central Minnesota: $10,251.
The “I dos” are done. Let’s eat.
“There will always be three things people remember about weddings,” Becker said. “The ceremony, the food and the dance.”
For caterers such as Byron Bjorklund, owner of St. Cloud’s Custom Catering by Short Stop, the food is what can really bring out the personality of the couple.
“It’s about the whole presentation,” he said.
Custom Catering Event Planner Tracy Zwilling said being plain is just not an option.
“We want to make sure the food is delicious,” she said. “That it’s not standard. We don’t want to serve plain salads and entrees.”
Unique items such as imported sausages, figs, pickles, jellies, cheeses and crackers have become more common hors d’oeuvres.
But locally sourced and organic food choices are also quite popular.
“We like to use a lot of edible flowers and unique greens,” Bjorklund said. “Our plates really mimic that fresh-to-table look.”
Bjorklund said most clients opt for a modified buffet – the salad is served family style at the table and guests use a buffet line for their meal.
“We take our inspiration (for catering) from the bride and groom,” he said. “And we can put together a unique palate for your wedding.”
Bjorklund recommends booking the caterer early. Tastings should be scheduled about three to six months in advance of the wedding.
The Knot’s average catering cost per person across the nation: $71. Central Minnesota numbers were not provided.
Wedding cakes: They aren’t gone, but it’s definitely not the main option for brides.
Lynn Schurman, owner of Cold Spring Bakery, said couples mix it up when it comes to desserts.
“More people are looking at mini desserts and cheesecakes,” she said. “We’ve done a ton of weddings with doughnuts and doughnut balls, pies and brownies. Pretty much everything we sell.”
Cake smashing used to be the only real interaction people – OK, the bride and groom – had with desserts. Today, Schurman said, desserts – both the display and the eating – are taking on a more social flair.
“It used to be you just had the cake sit there until it was plated,” she said. “Now, you have fun things like skewers for doughnuts, a coffee area filled with different flavors to get people up and interacting with each other.”
As for the cake, fondant is being overtaken by buttercream frosting, carrot and red velvet are gaining in popularity and fruit fillings are becoming more mainstream.
“Some are still wanting the vintage designs on their cakes, but many more are looking for a sleek, minimalist(ically)-decorated look,” Schurman said. “Typically that involves one big splash of a decorative element like a flower.”
Cold Spring Bakery has also seen an increase in requests for gluten-free and vegan cakes, items the bakery can accommodate.
“We can handle a lot,” Schurman said.
The Knot’s average wedding cake cost across the nation: $582. Central Minnesota numbers were not provided.
Forget white. Brides in 2018 are wanting some color in their gowns.
Jennifer Morrison, owner of Wedding & Tuxedo Connection in Richmond, said brides are opting for various shades of light gold and champagne for their dresses.
“And we are seeing a lot more intricate details on dresses too,” she said, “detailed embroidery and beadwork – something to capture the uniqueness of the gown.”
Illusion necklines and backs – which involve a sheer panel of fabric, often detailed with lace and/or beadwork that’s attached to the body of the dress – have been popular choices as well.
“And we are starting to see little pops of the ‘80s,” Morrison said. “We are seeing trains with lace inlays and bows.”
The average cost for a bridal dress at Wedding & Tuxedo Connection runs between $1,200 and $1,800.
For bridesmaids’ dresses, Morrison has found more and more brides shying away from the “matchy-matchy” days of old.
“Brides are wanting to find dresses for their girls that are complementary and flattering,” she said. “So what’s been popular is the girls will have the same color or hue and then find different styles of dresses.”
And with the guys, navy is clearly the favorite color when it comes to menswear.
“Navy is still super hot and popular,” Morrison said, “but other colors like burgundy, your teals, your wines and your charcoals are also popular.”
Morrison’s advice to brides in the market for a gown is to order early.
“Ordering takes time,” she said. “On average it can take about six to eight months for a bridal gown and three to four months for bridesmaids’ dresses.”
The Wedding Report’s average bridal gown and dress accessories cost in central Minnesota: $1,411.
The Wedding Report’s average tuxedo and tuxedo accessories cost in central Minnesota: $304.
You can’t get rid of the 1980s that fast.
St. Cloud-based Mantra Salon and Spa’s Wedding Coordinator Katie Hennen said brides are channeling the super high updos, a flashback to the decade of big hair.
“Brides are looking for a very clean, yet modern take on the ’80s,” she said. “We joked they wanted their hair to look like they did it themselves very quickly. But it takes us about an hour to do.”
Hennen said brides are finding a lot of their inspiration on social media sites such as Pinterest.
“We ask brides start working with a stylist at least six months in advance of their wedding,” Hennen said. “That way we can do consultations and advise them on proper products to use on their hair. Because after all, you will be looking at those wedding photos for the rest of your life.”
The Wedding Report’s average bride beauty and spa – which includes hair, make-up, manicure and pedicure – cost in central Minnesota: $151.
Glitter. Sparkle. Pockets for added information.
These are the common requests LeRae Rengel, wedding specialist and owner of St. Cloud’s Rengel Printing Co., said she receives when couples come in searching for wedding invitations.
“Shabby chic is what’s in right now,” Rengel said. “Lots of browns, neutrals and lace.”
Rengel said brides are looking for that added bling, but are often getting that sparkle with paper options instead of embellishments.
“Less is really more when it comes to invitations,” she said.
Rengel said brides and grooms are also spending more on envelopes to help their invitations stand out more in the mailbox.
“These envelopes tend to have something on them letting people know that it’s a wedding invitation,” she said. “People get a lot of junk mail, so you want to have it stand out.”
Rengel recommends couples send out their invitations about eight to 12 weeks in advance of the big day, six to eight weeks early if save-the-dates were sent out.
The Wedding Report’s average printing – which includes engagement announcements, save-the-date cards, invitations, reply cards, place cards, thank you cards, guest book, postage, ceremony programs and reception menus – cost in central Minnesota: $1,086.
Other trends to note
Think bold colors. The Knot anticipates bold shades and bright color pairings to become mainstream nationwide with greenery being named color of the year.
And it’s not just the color that’s entering the wedding scene. Greeneries incorporated into floral arrangements and décor are gaining in popularity.
Other wedding trends include pets being incorporated into the ceremony – after all, they are man’s (and even woman’s) best friend right?
But whatever the trends may be, one thing is for certain. There is a lot of work ahead for many engaged couples. So start early.
Vicki Ikeogu is a local freelance reporter from St. Cloud. Ikeogu is a 2015 mass communications graduate from St. Cloud State University. Ikeogu was previously the business reporter at the St. Cloud Times. She currently works as a transportation planner for the Saint Cloud Area Planning Organization.