The rule for 2012 weddings is there are no rules

Joe Jumper with The Clay Pot in Riverview created this table seating guest station for a fall wedding last year using an old distressed wheelbarrow. (Photo: The Clay Pot)

Authored By Mary Barnett

When it comes to weddings this year, tastemakers and service providers in the industry say anything goes.

From barn weddings and mobile food trucks to video invitations and pockets in bridal gowns, all trends indicate a celebration of individual style and a break from tradition. Even pets are getting into the act this year, according to online wedding registry

“The trend now is that brides are personalizing more than ever to reflect the couple. People are doing whatever they want to do. There are no rules anymore,” local florist and owner of The Clay Pot, Joe Jumper, said.

Jumper said he is seeing plenty of vintage and rustic styles being incorporated into table centerpieces and reception accents. Galvanized tins, mason jars, burlap, sliced tree logs and bark, old wooden doors and windows are just a few of the “new” materials Jumper has used lately for wedding clients.

Local entrepreneurs Ayesha Reynolds and Kelly Brown are on the forefront of the wave in nontraditional weddings. The two created This Ain’t Your Mama’s Wedding + Party Expo last year and will be returning in March with their bridal show that showcases the area’s “best uncommon wedding and event professionals.”

Reynolds said they have seen everything from illustrated invitations to save-the-date videos. Casual candid photography and photo booths are replacing traditional portraits. And reception halls and banquet facilities are being passed over for raw alternative spaces, according to Reynolds.

“People are seeing cool spaces that are empty or abandoned and asking to have an event there. It is sort of the ‘anti-venue’ and more custom to what the couple is about,” she said. offers several simple tips to keep in mind when selecting a location for the ceremony and reception, regardless of whether it is in a traditional or offbeat space.

Jan Weaver’s daughter, Lindsay, found a barn in High Point, Ga., that was in full operation a year before her October 2011 wedding. When she booked her wedding there, sawdust, hay, a dirt floor and a lingering “barn smell” were all part of the aesthetics. To soften the scene, Weaver brought in elegant accent items like crystal chandeliers, silver water pitchers and antique glass.

The families continued to stray from tradition, with the menu offering guests four different kinds of cheesecake as wedding cake. For the groom’s cake, the family decided on something totally unique.

“We had Monkey Town Donuts. Everyone kept saying ‘Well, this is different,'” she said. The doughnuts are locally made and served out of a 6-by-12 enclosed trailer. The family discovered the doughnut company at the Sunday Chattanooga Market last summer, where owner Kris Spengler has been selling his doughnuts to the public since launching the food truck enterprise last year.

“The young people went with the flow, and it didn’t seem odd to them. People my age and our friends just thought it was wonderful,” Weaver said.

Kimberly Beattie of Couture Cakes and Confections has seen many trends come and go since starting her business in 2001. The bakeshop does everything custom, from scratch and organic. Beattie said the groom’s cake is an area of wedding food that is starting to not only taste better but look unique to be “all about the groom.”

Themes with NASCAR, hunting, tools and gaming systems are a few of the designs Beattie has created for recent weddings.

“Some of these [cakes] are having two and three tiers, rivaling the wedding cake. Many are pulled off as a surprise for the groom from the bride,” Beattie said.

While some couples are searching the Internet for ways to be creative and unique with their wedding, regardless of cost, many are looking for opportunities to do things less expensively, as cost sharing has become another trend in weddings, according to Pink Bridal Show producer, Fred Jacob.

“The tradition of the bride’s parents paying for everything is no longer the case. In many cases, it is now split between all four [parents], with sometimes half the money coming from the bride and groom,” Jacob said.

Cost-saving ideas on include everything from downsizing the bar and menu to using in-season fruits and flowers for centerpieces and bouquets. And although couples are having to figure out new ways to do things themselves as they realize they can’t get everything they want for their dream wedding, Jacob said eliminating reliable professionals isn’t always going to make a better event.

“There are no do-overs on your wedding day. Brides should not shorts themselves on their wedding day and leave out all the professionals you can depend on to take care of things as they come up,” he said. “Remember, you want your family members to enjoy the wedding and not have to work at the wedding.”