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Lift the veil on tradition

Date

Kristie Lau

Modern weddings break with convention, writes Kristie Lau.

Love is in the air ... modern couples arrive in style.

Love is in the air ... modern couples arrive in style.

In the wonderful world of weddings, bridal trends come and go as quickly as the seasons roll by. Essentially, we're still exchanging vows in front of family and friends but the look of a couple's wedding day is rarely mirrored by another's. There will be a shift towards creative freedom in 2010 as brides steer away from plain old white and experiment with splashes of colour in everything from their invitations to the gown itself. There's never been a better occasion to truly express yourself.

VENUES

It's all about location, location, location. Like Nicola Higgins, older sister of singer and bridesmaid Missy Higgins, brides are looking outside Sydney for venues that complement their personal taste. Nicola, a fashion buyer who owns clothing boutiques in Sydney, and her husband, Oliver Taylor, were married in Berry, on the NSW South Coast, in February. She said she had always hoped to travel out of Sydney for her special day.

"Every single person I know has had weddings outside the city," Nicola says.

"For the photos, everything, I didn't want it to be in the city. Berry was just beautiful."

Berry is fast becoming a popular venue choice for couples, as are Gerringong and Gerroa for their picturesque beaches. In the north, Hamilton Island in Queensaland is still awash with bookings all year round.

Once you've found your fairytale spot, don't be afraid to have a play with the finer details.

Many brides are shunning the traditional straight aisle walk, instead opting to enter the ceremony from various points and meeting in the centre of their crowd.

In terms of transportation, unusual means are gaining momentum, including water taxis and even helicopters. Clearly, the sky's the limit.

PLANNING

Although it's still safe to say you need to give all your wedding suppliers as much as one year's notice - that's venue, gown, flowers, band, just about everything, really - a good way to stay organised is by employing a wedding co-ordinator. But as

co-ordinators are costly, brides are looking to a bunch of great online tools that help keep planning time to a minimum. Google has recently unveiled more than 20 document templates, including seating charts, catering menus, guest lists and even budget trackers. All you need to do is fill in your own information. See docs.google.com/wedding for the complete range as well as valuable tips on how to keep the budget down.

TIMING

Nowadays, don't be surprised to see midweek weddings as couples are keen to avoid the hustle and bustle of a weekend celebration. Several S brides have said that, with enough notice, their guests are able to plan a midweek break. One bride was married in Broome in September and her invitations included a list of things to do in the town so her guests could also have a holiday. We suggest you give at least two months' notice to ensure your loved ones have enough time to plan a break.

ATTIRE

Old-Hollywood glamour swept the bridal scene in 2009 but the look applies to grooms more than brides this year. As brides turn towards a whole range of materials, including frothy tulle, which is making a comeback, men are opting for bow ties and wide ties over the skinny variety and open collar. Think George Clooney channelling Marlon Brando at any given awards ceremony - the hair is slicked back and the colours are kept to a minimum. But it is a different story for the ladies. Brides are opting for dusty pinks and soft lavenders over stark whites and ivories in their gown selection. If colour is a little out there for your liking, try pairing a neutral gown with a narrow, coloured belt. It will add personality to any look.

THEMES

The vintage theme remains highly desirable but couples are starting to play around with traditional rules on their wedding day. Taking a page out of Julia Roberts and her cameraman hubby Danny Moder's book, couples are warming to the idea of throwing a surprise wedding for their guests. Roberts and Moder gave their guests 72 hours' notice, telling their 60 friends and family that the planned ceremony was simply an Independence Day party at Roberts's ranch in Mexico. It was a very fashion-forward move at the time but Roberts was way ahead of the trends in more ways than one that year - she also opted for a pale-pink halter dress over traditional white. Surprise weddings are now more popular than ever.

EMOTIONAL PREPARATION

It's undoubtedly one of the happiest days of your life but brides are now looking for emotional support before they tie the knot. As outlined in self-help books such as The Conscious Bride's Wedding Planner by US counsellor and writer Sheryl Paul, brides are being urged to address their shifting emotions - and mixed feelings about leaving single life behind - during the months of planning. The books explore the natural problems that may arise when families combine, as well as the issues brides face when they're no longer single. Paul has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and she knows her stuff but other popular titles include I Do but I Don't by Kamy Wicoff and Just Engaged: Prepare for Your Marriage before You Say "I Do" by Christine E. Murray.

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