Cindy P, one of our food bloggers, discusses the latest trends for hosting a bridal shower as we head into the Spring wedding season. 

It’s wedding season which means lots of celebrations and events surrounding the actual ceremony from engagement parties to bridal showers and bridesmaid’s luncheons to rehearsal dinners, wedding day breakfasts, and the “morning-after” brunch for out of town guests. I recently gave a bridal shower for one of my dearest friend’s only daughter. I wanted this event to be special and I wasn’t sure that I was up to speed on what brides want these days as the last wedding in our family was 5 years ago. Hope that what I learned is helpful to others.

There is no single standard for each of these events anymore and couples are having a lot of fun mixing things up! What’s different that is driving this desire for creativity and the unexpected?  A few key factors  are that wedding events have migrated from being a celebration of those tying the knot, to providing an “experience“ for the guests as well. Yes, destination weddings are still big, but even at home the search for interesting venues and backdrops to wedding related celebrations has become a dominant part of the event planning.

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I picked a venue that is a recently renovated historic site downtown. The building now houses the Neidhammer Coffee Company and a cider house called Ash & Elm.  Both of these are new on the Indy beverage scene, both are local, family owned and operated stories, and both sell fantastic products.  At the top of this building is an event space. It features tall, tall ceilings, large arched windows with a gorgeous view of the downtown skyscape, beautiful exposed brick walls and the original wood floors. There is a charming stage which we converted to a sitting area for opening gifts after the brunch. The beverages included coffees from the Neidhammer Coffee Company and cider–mosas from Ash & Elm. All of these elements created a fun experience for guests who were excited to celebrate the bride and experience something absolutely new.

The highly individualistic nature of our society is also driving some of our wedding event trends. The events reflect the couple rather than the couple conforming to traditional standards. I tapped into this trend with the party favors for guests. A “small plate” with the first initial of the guest’s name was at each place, serving as the place card and also the dessert plate if the guest chose to use a plate for the macaroons and fruit tartlets. The plate said something inspirational about the person whose name began with that letter.

The florist with whom I worked, David of the Empty Vase here in Indianapolis, says that girls are returning to some of the most old-fashioned flowers and an almost Victorian look. He chalks it up to the fact childhoods are so compressed and kids are pushed by our culture to grow up so quickly that when it comes to planning a wedding, brides to be are choosing sweet, old fashioned flowers like cabbage roses, peonies, stock, sweet peas and even carnations.

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Another trend that reflects the increasingly casual nature of our culture is the new shape of things – no more tightly mounded, highly composed bouquets – instead the look is slightly asymmetrical and looser, dripping and draping without appearing messy. Some other key trends in flowers are the use of daisies – sort of a 70’s throwback look and the use of greenery only bouquets and decorations.

According to David, the hot new wedding color for linens, chairs, vases and other accessories is black. Surprising? It is surprisingly beautiful and creates a great canvas for all those girlie sweet flowers. The bride I was celebrating described the look she wanted for her wedding as “unconventional aspects but traditional overall.” Working with her colors of mint, gray and wisteria, black was a great accent. It gave these very traditional colors a fresh look. The result was very feminine and yet strong, not sugary.

Finally the food – something familiar yet some new ingredients, presentation or flavor sensations augment the “experience” factor. Millennials want it healthy and indulgent at the same time. This is where my Rubschlager open faced finger sandwiches saved the day. I served a trio of healthy open faced sandwiches alongside a salad and Sheet Pan Chicken and Mushrooms (from Food and Wine, February 2017 – Eat Smarter. Live Longer issue.) The chicken was well received as was the salad, but the Rubschlager sandwiches flew off the plates. The most common exclamation was, “these sandwiches are great. What is this bread? Where did you get your bread?”

This trio of delights was built on Rubschlager Sunflower Rye-Ola and Danish Pumpernickel breads. Offering one seafood, one beef and one vegetarian option to satisfy a wide array of palates, the sandwiches featured fun extras such as nasturtium leaves, pickled cucumbers and micro greens. Find the recipes in this month’s cookbook!