Rustic or modern, formal or laid back, monochromatic or multicolored - today's wedding trends are less about following the crowd than putting a personal stamp on the event.
On May 26, Katie and Troy Tucker tied the knot on her parents' farm in Waterford then welcomed guests to a carnival-themed reception, where guests could munch on popcorn, sno cones and candy and play cornhole. After the sun went down, the celebration continued with a fireworks display.
"It was our personality and ... I guess classy or elegant wasn't really us, so we went more for the fun," said Katie Tucker, 37.
The venue also had sentimental value.
"I used to pretend that I would get married (on the front lawn) when I was a little girl," Tucker said.
In addition, the choice saved money. That was a factor for Victoria Booth, 23, of Newport, when she married husband Barney in October on her family's farm in St. Marys, W.Va.
On the farm
As couples increasingly exchange vows outside the walls of churches, farm weddings have grown in popularity. The settings can create a laid-back, comfortable ambiance and mesh well with another trend of country chic, combining down-home elements with a sense of elegance.
Technology is making it possible for couples to include loved ones in their ceremony even if they're in a different time zone or country. Streaming weddings live online or using apps like Facetime can bridge the gap on the big day.
Setting up a photo booth simultaneously provides an activity for guests during lulls in the reception and creates keepsakes for the bride and groom. Vendors often bring along props and can enhance the backgrounds with green-screen technology and add other touches. Some even offer video for people to record messages to the couple.
Mint is projected to be the most popular wedding color for 2013, but couples aren't limited to one or two particular shades. Having each bridesmaid wear a different color is being seen more often.
A lounge area - whether one designated spot or a couple themed areas for men, women and children - in addition to the tables and chairs at the reception gives guests a place to socialize and relax away from the dance floor and main area of activity.
Fun, fun, fun
Some folks want their weddings a little more laid back. Games like cornhole and horseshoes and the aforementioned photo booths can keep guests entertained, and some couples are even adding post-reception after parties to keep the celebration going.
An elegant affair
Others still want that elegant wedding, expressed in decorations, dress designs and more. The budget-conscious may consider a smaller, more intimate affair to help make that happen.
Source: Times research.
"I wanted it to be as cheap as possible, but I wanted it to look good at the same time," she said. "Everybody wanted to help, so we put them to work."
Family and friends prepared and served the food for the reception and made favors. Her uncle transported guests to the top of the hill by tractor.
Saving money doesn't mean a bride can't have the wedding she wants, said Marcia Stewart, wedding planner and owner of Ash-Hanson Flowers and Wedding Innovations in Marietta.
"Brides are more budget-minded than ever but they'll always make wise choices to make sure they have the weddings of their dreams," she said.
Sometimes that may mean paring down the guest list for an intimate but elegant event.
"They don't care if they're big; they just want them to be super-nice," Stewart said.
Country or country chic is a style that's growing in popularity, Stewart said. She's seen more and more brides like Tucker and Booth wanting to take things outside.
"They're really upscale," Stewart said of some outdoor weddings. "They're hanging chandeliers in barns."
That's the plan for Dresden resident Audrey Watson, 23. She and fiance Kyle Cordray plan to get married at a farm in her hometown of Caldwell and have their reception in the barn. She wants to go for a rustic, simple look.
"I've just always liked the outdoors," she said.
Watson also said she wants her guests to relax and enjoy the day. Comfort was big for Booth as well.
"We wanted it really casual, just kind of like a get-together," she said. "I've been to weddings. You're never comfortable. I wanted them to be comfortable, stay a while and have a good time."
One way some couples are adding activities for their guests is by having a photo booth at the reception.
"It gives the guests something to do instead of sitting there eating," said Chris Fouss, owner of Fouss Photo Booth and DJ Associates in Devola. "It gives the guests something to take home that's personal."
Fouss said photo booths have come a long way from the two-person space that spits out a strip of black-and-white pictures. His booth allows a variety of options, including adding a monogram or wedding logo to the pictures, a green screen so the subjects can appear in front of various backgrounds, the ability to expand so a large number of people can participate and even video, so folks can record greetings and well-wishes. The company also brings along two trunks full of props, including glasses, hats, mustaches and more.
The booth can also produce multiple strips so the people getting their picture taken can have one and the couple can keep one as well.
As photo booths become more popular, the price is going down, Fouss said. Five years ago, the going rate to rent a photo booth for three hours was about $1,300. Now it's $800 to $1,000 for four hours.
"This is a fad that's not going to leave," Fouss said.
Another way technology is adding to the wedding experience is by allowing people who can't be at the ceremony to still witness it in real time.
When Tanya and David Painter got married in December, they had a small ceremony at Parr Hill Church in Beavertown, with the groom's close family members in attendance. Tanya Painter's family was back in her native Belize, but her two younger sisters viewed the ceremony via the app Facetime, thanks to an iPhone held by her husband's stepmother.
"It was pretty kind of surreal, I guess," said Tanya Painter, 25, who lives in the Bronx, N.Y., where she and her husband are in the Army. "They got emotional and everything. it was so different from watching a video and knowing this happened in the past."
When it comes to wedding attire, some trends include adding colorful accents to the traditional white wedding dress or not having a white dress at all, according to Canadian wedding planning company Eventadore Inc. In some cases, bridesmaids dresses are different colors, instead of being uniform.
At Booth's wedding, bridesmaids wore different fall colors that were coordinated with the groomsmen's vests and ties and the collars of the family dogs who accompanied them down the aisle.