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Wedding Belles

Nobody wants a bare hall in a country club any more,” says Sylvia Weinstock, the cake-maker of choice for three presidential clans (the Trumps, Kennedys and Clintons). No, rather than standard décor, staid group photos, cookie-cutter sponges and restrained bouquets of roses, she says today her clients want to make a “standout visual statement” with unusual touches that capture the imagination and provide guests with that all-important “wow” factor. All four wedding tastemakers Beyond talked to agreed that modern couples want a personalized occasion that takes into account their style, quirks, dreams and tastes to create something truly unique.

 

If it all feels less formal, stiff and regimented than in previous eras, there’s a reason. “Most brides are not 18 years old any more,” says Weinstock. “They are career women and some are paying their way.” Which means greater bridal autonomy? “Yes,” says Sydney-based super-florist Saskia Havekes, adding that directives “rarely come from the family any more”.

 

Which may also be why weddings have become smaller and more intimate, offering the few guests who are invited a higher-quality experience. “I’m from Texas,” laughs Rebecca Gardner, go-to wedding planner for Hollywood and fashion royalty, “so I know all about huge blow-out receptions, but it definitely feels like they’re on their way out of style.” Yet some things remain the same. “The bride wants to look beautiful,” says Christian Oth, the No 1 lensman for the style cognoscenti. “The guests need a drink!” adds Rebecca. “And the cake needs to taste delicious!” laughs Sylvia. No change there, then.

 

The Next Gen Photographer

 

“So much has changed in wedding photography,” says Christian Oth. The globetrotting lensman, who started photographing brides 15 years ago and counts Sean Parker and Alexandra Lenas and Amanda Peet and David Benioff as clients, laughs when he says, “It used to be so bad. It was full of formal, staged line-ups that felt stiff and self-conscious.”

 

Oth was at the forefront of a new style of nuptials photography, more candid pictures with a photojournalism feel. But there was a problem. “The bride still wanted to look beautiful,” smiles Oth, “and lots of photographers doing this new style didn’t know how to photograph a woman so she’d look good. How she should cross her legs, how to get a bride into a pose without her looking stiff.”

 

So his style was born. Authentic, but still flattering, softer without being syrupy. And Oth sees it as his mission to “add to the energy of the wedding, not disrupt it”. So what are his tried-and-tested tricks for loosening up a nervous bride? “I’ll always ask her to twirl around once or twice.”

 

What’s changed? In the past few years, says Oth, “brides have become much more visually savvy; they’re really into the photos.” To that end, “they’re all in search of the next beautiful venue. Now I’m doing a lot more destination weddings.”

 

And with that, Oth heads off to catch his flight to the Maldives…

 

christianothstudio.com

 

The Coveted Cake Maker

 

Sylvia Weinstock’s cakes have a fairytale quality that elicits an involuntary intake of breath from even the most hardened wedding-goers. All her creations showcase impeccable taste and artistry, which is surely what attracts her star-studded clientele (she counts heavyweights Oprah, Robert De Niro, Ralph Lauren and Jennifer Lopez among them).

 

What’s her trademark? Spellbinding sugar flowers, from blowsy roses to whimsical lilacs to heart-stoppingly gorgeous peonies. Perhaps the ultimate example of her talent was the 10ft-tall, 13-layer cake (it had different-flavored sponges and fillings) for Ivanka Trump’s marriage to Jared Kushner, which had cascades of handcrafted lisianthus, roses, lily of the valley and baby’s breath in beautiful creams and white.

 

Sylvia doesn’t just decorate with flowers, though; she can create galloping horses, dogs, shoes and houses from her ingredients, adapting her cakes to suit each culture: “In Japan they want more fruit, in the Middle East they like sugar. The English like fruit cake, Americans prefer sponges, often chocolate.” So popular are her cakes that Sylvia has been traveling the world, teaching cooks how to recreate her masterpieces. Her brand is now licensed in countries like Japan and Kuwait, with more collaborations planned. Which means soon brides all over the world will be able to enjoy a slice of heaven.

 

sylviaweinstock.com

 

The Star Scene Setter

 

“All brides I know want a non-wedding,” laughs Rebecca Gardner, the go-to event/wedding planner for ultra-chic It Girls like Margherita Missoni and Lauren Santo Domingo. “They all want a great party with a jolt of whimsy and delight.”

 

And providing this is Gardner’s specialty. “Brides have seen everything now,” she smiles, so she goes the extra mile to conjure up breathtaking “visual installations” that create a memorable talking point. Examples? She has suspended hand-painted butterflies over tables, constructed magical woodland scenes under centuries-old oak trees and delivered Bacchanalian tablescapes with an excess of sugared fruits (“so outdated, they’re funky”).

 

There’s always something magical, ethereal and irreverent underpinning her work. And all her weddings are highly personalized. “You want to reflect the bride’s style,” she says. Gardner is adamant that guests’ enjoyment should be key. Hence, she’s a stickler for maintaining a free flow of drink, and for flattering lighting (often provided by hundreds of twinkling candles) because “that way everyone feels pretty”.

 

So what’s the secret to her success? “For me, it’s about making the whole process joyous.” she laughs. “After all, it’s often a year-long relationship with the bride.” Anything else? “I never say no,” she adds with pride. “My job is to create a dream!”

 

rebecca-gardner.com

 

The Fantasy Florist

 

“Luxurious blooms in large quantities,” says Grandiflora’s Saskia Havekes when asked to describe her company’s signature wedding style. The Sydney-based florist, who works for clients such as Elle Macpherson, Cate Blanchett and Miranda Kerr, adds that her arrangements are “less structured, more as if they were just picked from the garden”.

 

Her flowers are luscious, sensuously full and gloriously real. And often her arrangements are given “an elegant twist with fresh greens, berries and herbs” to create a “rustic earthy feel”.

 

After years of minimalist white, Saskia’s love of riotous colors feels modern and refreshing. “Color is huge,” she says, adding that “jewel-toned” blooms create a “lovely party atmosphere”. And for the ceremony and bride’s bouquet, where white or pale is often a requirement, Saskia introduces a sophisticated “dusty nude tone”.

 

Riotous colors? Loose, thrown-together arrangements? Do such looks rattle family members who might be footing the bill? “Traditionally, the groom’s family would pay for the flowers,” says Saskia, “but now most bride and grooms pay the bill together. This means there’s a much stronger sense of style and personality coming from the bride.”

 

What’s the bride’s No 1 request? “There’s a strong desire for the flowers to be a conversation piece,” she says. And in this Instagram age, who would expect less?

 

grandiflora.net

 

 

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Snappy days

Leading lensman Christian Oth has introduced a more candid, spontaneous feel to wedding photography

 

 

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Immaculate confections

Sylvia Weinstock (top) is a cake designer to the stars, including Robert De Niro and J-Lo. She adapts her extravagant creations to suit each culture; some cakes are 10ft tall

 

 

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Dream big

The wedding planner Rebecca Gardner is a stickler for free-flowing drink and flattering lighting. “That way everyone feels pretty,” she says

 

 

 

 

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The Embellished Heel

It’s 30 years since Paul Simon released his iconic album Graceland, which featured the song Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes. And while this surreal footwear concept is yet to be fully realized (to our knowledge), this season has seen something similar on the catwalks: the embellished heel. To accommodate dramatic decorations, the styles have been quite substantial (like the block-heel Aquazzura Cleopatra sandals pictured), but this trend is less about the heel shape and more about what’s on them – from Miu Miu’s bejewelled stilettos to Charlotte Olympia’s wedges with metallic cogs and wheels, and Sophia Webster’s rainbow-hued collections with pom-poms and raffia fringes. Dolce & Gabbana have trumped them all, though, with Mary Janes boasting doors on the heel that open to reveal a beaded heart: shoes that even Liberace might have deemed “a little on the flamboyant side”. Generally speaking, though, this trend has been most successful when it has focused on clear gems. Proof, perhaps, that like the heroine of Simon’s song, you can be bling from your head to your feet. aquazzura.com

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The E-bike

For anyone concerned about the environment, electric-assisted bicycles are the future of urban transportation. Combining pedal-power and electric drive, they are emissions-free and require minimal exertion. We’re now seeing a new breed of curvaceous creations such as the Vintage Electric “Tracker”, pictured. Based in California, Vintage Electric began making e-bikes inspired by 1920s racing motorcycles three years ago. “I built the first one in my parents’ garage, started riding it around and everybody wanted one,” founder Andrew Davidge says, “so I decided to give it a shot. My second design, the Cruz, was inspired by California beach cruisers.” Davidge’s creations, with a top speed of 36 mph and a range of 35 miles, have been snapped up by everyone from Silicon Valley CEOs to the Prince of Monaco. And the sector received a further boost in January when Californian legislation came in distinguishing e-bikes from mopeds, so they no longer require a license and insurance. “With an e-bike, you can often get to places quicker than in a car,” says Davidge. “They will radically change how people get from A to B.” vintageelectricbikes.com, fullycharged.com

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The Faberge Egg

This year marks 100 years since Peter Carl Fabergé, goldsmith to the Russian Imperial Court, delivered his last Fabergé Imperial Egg. The Russian Revolution brought an abrupt end to the House of Fabergé, with the artist-jeweler and his family forced to flee Russia. Founded in 1842, the House was famed for the series of Imperial Easter Eggs created for the Russian Imperial Family between 1885 and 1917. The first, the Hen Egg, was commissioned by Tsar Alexander III in 1885 as a surprise for his wife. Crafted from gold, it contained a golden hen and a tiny diamond replica of the Imperial Crown, its presentation inaugurating an annual event that continued for 31 years. In 2007 the company was reborn, crafting exquisite jewelry and watches. Of the 50 eggs Fabergé made for the Russian Imperial Court, 43 have survived, and now the company has revived the tradition, launching a series of Fabergé Four Seasons Eggs. The four-inch-high Winter Egg pictured comprises 6,676 diamonds and 44 aquamarines, and opens to reveal a bespoke jeweled surprise. Definitely a gift fit for an empress. faberge.com

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The Succulent

Houseplants were once considered woefully uncool among the young and hip. Anyone with a hectic social life would surely find it impossible to find time for plant-watering, and owning a yucca might hamper one’s ability to jet off to Berlin at the drop of a hat. But now hipsters from Williamsburg to The Mission have embraced the houseplant, with one proviso: it must thrive on neglect. Enter the succulent, a plant that positively demands not to be watered. Succulents come in a dizzying array of shapes and colors, and most evolved with water-storage tissues that allow them to survive in the dry environments with minimal sunlight found in most homes. The most popular are from the Crassulaceae family, like those pictured. And no Williamsburg windowsill is complete without a “terrarium”, a Victorian invention that creates a microclimate for houseplants. New Yorkers can visit Adore Floral to “custom-pair” succulents with stylish vessels, while San Francisco’s Flora Grubb Gardens organizes “potting parties”. The houseplant, it seems, is here to stay. adorenyc.com, floragrubb.com

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The Ski Poster

In January, a 1934 poster advertising alpine resort Gstaad sold at auction for nearly $108,814 – a world record. The sum paid came as a shock even to Christie’s, who had offered a guide price of $15,000. Christie’s holds sales of vintage ski posters twice a year, and the prices have been rising steadily. Originally printed in runs of 1,000 or 2,000, they provide a visual record of the development of resorts from Chamonix to Aspen. London antiquarian bookseller Henry Sotheran Ltd. began specializing in trading vintage ski posters (such as the 1951 poster by Edward Lancaster pictured) ten years ago, and now organizes an exhibition every November. According to Richard Shepherd of Sotheran’s, the posters are growing ever more popular: “They were often thrown away at the end of the season, so few survive in good condition.” The posters typically fetch around $1,000 – and while some buyers are drawn to them for their investment potential, Shepherd puts the posters’ popularity down more to their romantic quality: “They’re a wonderful reminder of a golden age of travel.” sotherans.co.uk

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The Black Noodle

Black food is one of the more unusual trends to hit the blogosphere this year. The seeds of this phenomenon were perhaps planted in 2015 with Burger King Japa’s Kuro Burger, tinted with bamboo charcoal. Since then, culinary mavericks have displayed their own take on the trend, from Melbourne bakery Lune’s squid ink and cumin croissants, to the black ice cream at Morgenstern Finest Ice Cream shop in New York. For most foods, the inky colour is achieved using coconut-shell ash, squid ink or food coloring. In some cases, however, it comes from charcoal powder; there’s even a restaurant in Indonesia, Black Pempek, a “pioneer of black charcoal”, offering several sooty-looking dishes. Of course, enjoying these requires a change of mindset, as our brains have been trained to view black as signifying burnt food. But in the case of one delicacy, the cool factor is matched by health benefits. These black King Soba noodles, pictured, are made from deep purple and black grain rice – rich in minerals and fiber, with a deliciously nutty flavor. Black food… coming soon to a plate near you.

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The Color

As Vogue reported this year: “No matter how many we encounter, there is just something about a sunset that ignites the imagination. And this has got designers thinking, too; from yellow to fiery orange and cinnamon, there isn’t one color this spring but an ombré of glowing sunset hues. ”After decades in the fashion wilderness, it seems orange is suddenly the color du jour. Sunset hues have been turning up in fashion and interiors features with a regularity not seen since the pop art-inspired days of the 1960s. With color specialist Pantone singling out shades of red as key colors for this year and next, expect to see plenty of bold fabrics. Already spotted on the catwalks of Fendi and Hermès, oranges and warm reds look set to reach their peak in 2017. And the teaming of burnt amber with deep blue – the ultimate sunset combination – was a highlight on the Céline runway and has been seen on prints by Victoria Beckham. This vibrant palette is all about projecting a sense of confidence, action and positive non-conformism. Our guess is, we’ll be seeing more of it. After all, who doesn’t love a sunset?