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While serving Italian food in a barn may seem an unlikely pairing, for Sara and Joey Police’s wedding last May it was the perfect combination. Married on her family’s Waynesburg farm in a barn constructed just for the occasion—a site that embraced her country upbringing—they served pasta to their guests in tribute to Joey’s Italian lineage, Sara says.

Guests to Emilie Morris’ May wedding reception were greeted by lighted fleurs-de-lis and wedding favors made from coffee bean scoops—emblems of Morris’ new Louisville café, Café Emilie. It was her way of putting her own special mark on the day, a way to make her wedding unique.

More and more today, that’s what brides and grooms are after—ceremonies that are truly distinctive.

“I’m amazed at how much more brides are striving for uniqueness,” says Elisa MacKenzie, a bridal consultant in Taylor Mill. “For years it was about copying whatever was in the latest Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, but now it’s about finding the details that can bring their personalities in.”

Here are just a few of the ways brides and grooms across the state have been making their “I do’s” stand out in creative ways.

Let your romance set the theme
When Melissa McGuffin of Louisville and Owensboro native Robert Kaelin began planning their August 2003 wedding, a second marriage for both, they knew they wanted “something different, something that was personal to us and not what everyone else had done,” Kaelin says.

So when McGuffin fell in love with a Renaissance-style wedding gown, they decided to play off that theme to create a ceremony that would be “classic and romantic,” she says. Robert and the others in their wedding party wore period, Renaissance-style costumes to complete the theme.

Themed weddings—everything from Renaissance to Southern to musicals—are one specialty of Maple Hill Manor Bed and Breakfast in Springfield, where the Kaelins wed. Innkeepers Todd Allen and Tyler Horton launched a Web site with themed wedding information and were “overwhelmed with interest,” Allen says.

“Themed weddings are new, fresh, and different from the norm, so everyone—from the wedding party to the guests—gets in the spirit of the theme and has a lot of fun,” he says.

Even if a fully themed wedding isn’t for you, it’s easy to incorporate small themes from your relationship into your wedding day, says Lexington wedding planner Jacki Allen.

“One couple I worked with last summer had a hot air balloon groom’s cake, since they’d gotten engaged in a balloon, and another incorporated images of the Eiffel Tower on their napkins and invitations, since they’d gotten engaged there,” she explains.

Celebrate your differences
Candice Ethington, born in Shelbyville, and Fernando Isa, a Dominican Republic native, fell in love while students at the University of Louisville, though they’d come from different worlds. She was Methodist; he was Catholic. His parents, who still lived in the Dominican Republic, spoke only Spanish. But rather than seeing the differences as stumbling blocks when it came time to plan their August 2003 wedding, they embraced them. The result: a unique ceremony that blended the two cultures seamlessly.

“We were married at a Catholic church with both a priest and a Methodist minister, and the ceremony readings were in both English and Spanish,” Candice Isa explains. “And because it’s Dominican tradition, Fernando was walked down the aisle by both of his parents.” Both cultures were showcased at the reception, too: when their live American band took breaks, guests danced to CDs of salsa and merengue music.

Play up your heritage
When Elizabethtown native Jason Love marries Ellen Peterson in August, he’ll forego a traditional tux in favor of the red and black plaid of the Scottish Wallace tartan.

“My mother was a Wallace, and both Ellen and I also have Irish heritage,” Love says. “Wearing the tartan and having my groomsmen wear kilts as well is a way of incorporating our Celtic heritage, which is really important to both Ellen and me, into our wedding.”

In addition to incorporating cultural traditions, Torstrick says brides and grooms are also working to tie in special aspects of their family heritage as a way to make their wedding day unique.

“Heirlooms are very in—everything from incorporating parts of the mother’s wedding gown into the bride’s dress to using parents’ heirloom cake toppers or cake cutters at the reception,” she says.

Morris’ mother, Nancy Morris, had sleeves from her wedding gown adapted into garters for Emilie as a surprise gift. “Since my gown had been damaged in a tornado and was no longer wearable, I thought this was a way to still pass a piece on to Emilie and perhaps, one day, her daughter as well,” Nancy Morris says.

Choose a special setting
Selecting just the right spot to say “I do” is one of the biggest parts of planning any wedding. Often it’s the decision that can help set all the other plans in motion.

“When people see our chapel, they know then and there that they have to get married here,” says Sharon Daily, owner of Misty Valley Wedding Chapel in Shelby County. “People just fall in love with the beautiful country setting.”

The outdoor gardens and wedding gazebo at Maple Hill Manor are also a big draw, says owner Todd Allen.

Outdoor ceremonies are a growing trend, wedding consultants say, as many couples feel the available indoor venues in their hometowns have already been used often by their friends or relatives.

And today, the weather doesn’t have to be a concern. “With the types of tents available now, you can have a beautiful outdoor wedding, even if the weather’s bad,” says Jacki Allen.

A tented wedding or reception also gives the couple free rein to design their own unique look. “With a tent, you’re starting with a blank canvas, and you can create any mood you want—from the tropics to a medieval castle—through lighting and decoration,” Torstrick says.

Mind the details
But it doesn’t have to take a full design team to make your wedding unique. Many couples are finding ways to personalize the day through small, simple touches.

“Monogramming is huge right now—on everything from the invitations to the program to the cake,” says Lexington bridal consultant Michele Landers.

Other couples have created CDs of their favorite songs as wedding favors for their guests. “It’s a gift that’s much more from the heart, and it’s a great memento of the evening and of the couple,” says Andrea Loveless, a Louisville certified wedding consultant.

Along with these small details, it’s the unplanned moments that set every wedding apart, and many couples are hoping to capture them with a new trend in wedding photos: documentary or “photojournalistic” wedding photography.

Rather than doing traditional, posed photos, Danville photographer Clay Jackson tries to stay behind the scenes and “document the day by capturing each moment as it happens,” he says.

“His photos caught the spontaneous moments that made our day so unique,” says Sara Police. “There’s one neat shot where Joey picked me up and spun me in the back yard. We didn’t even know the photographer was there. It was a special memory, and now it’s one of our favorite photos.”

Set sight on the sun
And when it’s all said and done, most “just married” couples today are hitting the beach. Among the most popular spots, according to Frankfort travel agent Maureen Halsey, are the all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean. “Newlyweds love that they can be pampered there,” she says.

And why not? With months of planning and the big day behind them, they deserve it.


As anyone who’s done it knows, planning a wedding is a lot of work. And the average wedding across the state only seems to be getting larger and more elaborate.

Executive chef Sam Sears of Lexington’s South-Van Events says his clients are favoring larger, more formal events, spending 20% more per guest this year than last. And wedding planner Jacki Allen says she’s seen the guest list increase from 150 to nearly 200, and the number of attendants from 3-4 grow to 5-10, in just the last two seasons.

As weddings grow bigger, many brides and grooms are beginning to view having a bridal consultant—once deemed a luxury—a necessity today, says consultant Mackenzie Spalding of Bardstown.

“The average cost of a wedding today in the U.S. is $22,000– $25,000,” Spalding says. “People feel that if they’re going to spend that kind of money, they may as well have someone helping them who can take care of all the headaches so they can enjoy the day.”

Even couples planning to wed on a smaller budget are increasingly seeking outside help in planning their ceremonies.

Sharon Daily, owner of Shelby County’s Misty Valley Wedding Chapel, credits much of her chapel’s popularity to the fact that it offers all-inclusive wedding and reception packages, complete with consultant services, as well as on-site floral, catering, and videographer/photographer services.

“Many of my couples are marrying for the second time, and they want all the planning done for them,” Daily says. “They like the fact that everything’s all here and they can just deal with one person to ensure they get exactly the type of wedding day they want.”


Here are just a few of the latest trends for Kentucky weddings, as shared by consultants and wedding vendors across the state.

Lettering in bold colors like mocha on elaborate white or ivory papers.
Michele Landers
Bridal Potpourri, Lexington

Several smaller cakes in various flavors—coconut cream or banana cream, like Grandma used to make—instead of a single wedding cake.
Beth Penner Torstrick
Fairy Godmothers, Louisville

Almost exclusively strapless gowns for the brides; two-piece dresses for the bridesmaids in dusty corals or dusty lavender.
Judy Scifres
Abbingtons Bridal House, Owensboro

A touch of blue or pink in the bridal gowns, with pink, cornflower, yellow, and lilac popular colors for bridesmaids’ gowns.
Bobbie Crabtree
Bridal Warehouse, Elizabethtown

More color in the bridal bouquet; they’re not just white or ivory anymore.
E. Stephen Hein
E. Stephen Hein-Florist, Lexington

Calla lilies for the bridal party and nosegay bouquets rather than corsages for the mothers of the bride and groom.
Linn Eller
Rhew-Hendley Florists, Paducah

Bride and groom photos together before the wedding. This cuts down on guests’ wait at the reception and allows for a special moment together before the ceremony.
Mackenzie Spalding
One Fine Day, Bardstown

Shapes and sizes vary for seating; shape and height vary for food display.
Sandra Gugliotta
Dining Elegance Caterers, Crestwood

Family-style seating with food served in large platters at the table, rather than buffet lines.
Beth Penner Torstrick
Fairy Godmothers, Louisville

Extensive menu cards that detail what’s being served as well as an itinerary for the reception’s main events.
Elisa MacKenzie
Elegant Events by Elisa, Taylor Mill

Guests sign matting for a framed wedding photo, rather than a traditional guest book.
Andrea Loveless
Exquisite Weddings, Louisville

Sparklers rather than bubbles to send off the bride and groom.
Michele Landers
Bridal Potpourri, Lexington


For more information on the wedding contacts mentioned in this story and wedding Web sites, click here: weddings

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