MEDITERRANEAN FLAVORS AND COMFORT FOODS: When the weather cools down, people crave comfort foods. Giuseppe Ciuffa, founder of Giuseppe Restaurants & Fine Catering, said lamb tagine stew, butternut squash, polenta and dishes infused with truffle oil are currently in demand. Mediterranean and Moroccan flavors in general are on the fall and winter hot list.
FOOD KIOSKS: Food stations are still popular, but they're now being presented a bit differently. Instead of having unmanned stations with many options at each one, couples are opting for what are known as "food kiosks." This setup is similar to a tasting menu at a restaurant. A chef stands behind each kiosk and serves a small portion of one entree. Ciuffa, who also owns the museum cafe at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, said the beauty of this arrangement is that it allows for quality and quantity control, and is more attractive because no food is displayed on top of the kiosk.
THE CHEESE COURSE: This is also known as the sixth course. After a decadent dessert course, couples are serving artisan cheeses alongside rich port wines.
FEASTING TABLES: Think of Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper." That 15th century mural illustrates one heck of a feasting table. Imagine your guests sitting around something similar: a long rectangular table that seats approximately 12. Line several of these tables down the room and you've got yourself an impressive work of art.
TRANSFORMATION OF SPACES: If the walls at the reception venue are an atrocious color, drape them with fabrics. If the lighting resembles that of a school cafeteria, shut it off and bring in your own. There's no reason to dislike something about your venue - it can be transformed, said Kristin Garuba of Pink Papaya Creative Events in San Diego.
VINTAGE DECOR: From groups of black-and-white photos acting as centerpieces to shabby chic tables holding the dessert bars and coffee displays, weddings are throwing back to the good 'ol days. Tip: Hit thrift stores and antique shops to see what kinds of treasures might make for the perfect decorative accents at your reception.
CHAIRS THAT MAKE A STATEMENT OR DISAPPEAR: Garuba has a rule when it comes to chairs: Either find incredible chairs that add to the decor, or make them disappear. If you want to make them disappear, she recommends going with clear, Lucite chairs known as "ghost chairs." If you want them to enhance the decor, look for costume furniture at your local chair rental shop.
PRIORITIES OF THE BRIDE AND GROOM: They've changed. "Brides and grooms are switching from only caring about their photographs to caring about other things," Garuba said. Those other things: decor, attire and live music. Many couples are opting for a variety of live music throughout their event - a string quartet for the ceremony, an acoustic guitarist for the cocktail hour and dinner, and a five-piece soul band for the dance hour.
THE NOT LIST
You've heard what the industry folks think is hot for fall and winter weddings. Now it's time to hear what's not.
In its latest issue, The Knot Weddings Magazine puts these 11 things on the "not" list (no pun intended). "Wedding Portrait" writer Nicole Reino elaborates.
Overstuffed Envelopes: Invitations that require 11 stamps are a thing of the past. Brides are becoming more eco-aware by putting directions, guest accommodations and any additional information on their wedding Web sites.
Cookie Cutter Decor: Three red roses in a clear vase surrounded by six tea light candles on all 12 tables? Boring. Create centerpieces that are as diverse as your guest list.
One Signature Cocktail: It's limited and bland. Variety, on the other hand, is the spice of life. And nothing says variety quite like open bar.
Skipping Dessert: As if you would ever! But when you're talking sugar, say more than just "wedding cake." Three or four sweet options would wow guests while satisfying their after-dinner cravings.
The "Club Like" After Party: You can be a rock star without making your elderly guests feel like they were just cast in a music video. Brunch the day after the wedding would be a better after-the-fact choice for all ages.
Fairy-Tale Princess: Not only is this look uncomfortable, it's costume-like. Save the fairy-tale princess dress for Halloween or your next trip to the Magic Kingdom.
Oversized Bridal Parties: Having nine or more bridesmaids is exhausting and expensive. Besides, do you really want that many guests in matching dresses?
The Bridezilla: Was high maintenance ever in?
Taking Two Years to Plan Your Wedding: "It's a dinner party with a vow exchange prelude." Repeat that to yourself every time you think you need another year to plan. Then tell yourself this: "Weddings are only as time-consuming and stressful as you want to make them."
One-Sided Honeymoon: A honeymoon is about two people. Make sure your significant other is going to love this vacation as much as you.
The Pack Rat Bride: If your mother saved her wedding gown, veil, tiara and underpinnings from 1962, pull them out and look at them. They're outdated and yellow, right? Fast-forward to your daughter doing the same exercise in 2038, right before her wedding. Do you really want to make her go through this? Didn't think so. Sell the stuff on eBay or have it made into curtains (that you'll also sell on eBay) after the wedding.