Wedding Guide

What’s In, What’s OUT

  • The most in-style wedding dresses sit in the window of Country Bridals and Formal Wear in Jaffrey.
  • The most in-style wedding dresses sit in the window of Country Bridals and Formal Wear in Jaffrey.
  • The most in-style wedding dresses sit in the window of Country Bridals and Formal Wear in Jaffrey.
  • Vintage-inspired and lace wedding dresses sit in the window at Country Bridals and Formal Wear in Jaffrey. Though each bride has her own vision for her dress, Gatsby-style dresses have become more popular this wedding season.
  • Temple residents Aly Bowman and Paul Leonard smile for the camera at their August wedding in Harrisville. The couple had only eight months to plan their wedding and used online websites like and to plan, organize and budget their wedding more easily.
  • Couples have been using technology to make their weddings more personalized and fun. Temple couple Aly Bowman, 30, and Paul Leonard, 31, used an iPad photobooth app to set up a do-it-yourself photobooth at their August wedding at Cobb Hill Estate in Harrisville.
  • The birch bark cake made by Tastefully Wright Wedding Cakes in Wilton is a popular choice for its New Hampshire feel.

The dress. The cake. The food. The flowers. The place. The centerpieces, favors and decor. So much goes into that one, special wedding day. So why not have it be just the way you want it?

These days engaged couples are taking charge of their weddings to make it their own, unique experience. More weddings are losing their formality in favor of fun and are exchanging tradition for personalized, fresh ideas. And though creativity seldom comes in the same form twice, there are some wedding trends that have grown prominent in the Monadnock region.

From Oreo wedding favors to popular planning websites, here are the emerging wedding patterns that local vendors and one couple say they have seen in recent years.

The dress

For the bride, nothing is more important than the dress — well, perhaps aside from the person she’s marrying. Getting just the right one is a priority, and for Cathy Furze, owner of Country Bridals and Formal Wear in Jaffrey, most brides she sees know just what they want.

“Most brides have in the back of their mind what they want in a dress,” Furze said, pointing to all the wedding magazines and websites brides can look at for inspiration. Furze added that weddings taking place in winter and summer, in churches and on Mount Monadnock, all have something in common. “It honestly is in the vision that the bride is looking for,” she said.

Though each bride has her own ideas, Furze noted several trends she’s been noticing this year. “We’re seeing somewhat of a comeback in straps,” Furze said. She also mentioned that lace and vintage design are growing popular again, perhaps because of the film “The Great Gatsby.”

“They’re a classic dress,” Furze said.

And like the rainbow of shirts Jay Gatsby throws down for Daisy Buchanan, color is trending now, too. “There are a lot of white-golds and champagnes, as opposed to ivory,” Furze said.

Another pattern Furze has seen in bridal wear lately is beaded belts for dresses.

To see one or all of these trends realized, visit

How high-tech will we go?

All the wedding planning information on the Internet can be overwhelming, but it can also be helpful. Engaged couples have been choosing to use web tools more and more to help them plan, budget, and find ideas.

Aly Bowman, 30, was married at Cobb Hill Estate in Harrisville in August to Paul Leonard, 31. The Temple couple got engaged in December 2012, leaving them just eight months to plan a wedding. Bowman turned to, a wedding planning site that organized all the things the couple needed to do to get ready.

“It does everything,” Bowman said, from budgeting right down to choosing wedding theme colors.

Bowman also used, an increasingly popular site that brides-to-be have been using. “I used it a lot,” she said, adding that it helped her gather ideas. Pinterest was the first website Bowman turned to after finding it on Facebook.

The couple had a website on to keep guests in the know about the couple’s history, the planning information and just what the wedding day would entail. They also sent out electronic invitations to their wedding, saving paper, postage and time.

As for the wedding day, Bowman and Leonard also used technology to capture the day with photos. They had an iPad photo booth, setting up a large picture frame on a tree and an iPad on a ladder, which allowed anyone who wanted to to take photos. “That was really cool,” Bowman said.

The couple also set up an Instagram, or online iPhone photo, account where people could send the iPhone photos they took at the wedding.

In general, the Internet is being used more and more to turn tradition into innovation.

Allison Grappone of Concord recently held a workshop at Hannah Grimes Marketplace in Keene, where she talked about her website, a New Hampshire-wide service for couples who want to create gift registries with local shops. The service launched in July, after Grappone and her fiance created an alternative gift registry, using a Google Doc, for their own wedding.

“We’re really driving people to think outside the box,” Grappone said. She added that the more people she talks to, the more she hears that people are no longer gravitating to box-store registries and/or the desire is for gifts that are more unique.

Bread basket subscriptions, a year’s supply of eyebrow wax, and cross-country skiing passes were some of the items Grappone said are possible through her website. NearbyRegistry follows the trends of local brides-to-be, who Grappone says are the ones who decide what is included in the registry.

As of now, Grappone says NearbyRegistry offers over 100 services to pay for, shops to buy in, and non-profits to donate to in the wedding couple’s name, on its list. Grappone added that the website is looking to add more clients from the Monadnock area through its work with Monadnock region brides.

To see this new way of registering for wedding gifts, visit

The venue

Looking at wedding venues in the last few years, it seems there’s romance in the rustic.

“Barns are a big trend right now,” said Laurie Mantegari of Everyday Details in Hampton, a New Hampshire-based wedding planner who’s helped pull off numerous weddings in the Monadnock area.

People are using barns or big tents, choosing to have more outdoorsy weddings where they can bring a little more personality into the event.

“Rustic is really big,” Mantegari said, adding that a wine theme has been a popular choice in the last few years.

When asked what she thought was the most popular venue in the Monadnock region, Mantegari couldn’t pinpoint one exact location. “Each couple chooses a venue that’s unique and that fits them,” she said.

In general, though, Mantegari said the couples she works with like venues that aren’t too controlling or don’t have too many parameters, which is why farms are a popular choice for weddings. Places like Curtis Farm in Wilton or Cobb Hill Estate in Harrisville are places where couples often have a little more free reign.

“You can come up with your dream plan,” she said. “People want to be creative, want to do their thing, want vendors that are going to allow them to do that and not be so restrictive.”

The cake

New Hampshire, the Monadnock region being no exception, stands out for its many beautiful, outdoor places. So why shouldn’t weddings have beautiful, outdoorsy cakes?

Thanks to Denise Wright Fox, owner of Tastefully Wright Wedding Cakes in Wilton, they can, and her birch bark cakes have been very popular for the past few years. “My brides just love the birch bark cake,” Fox said. “It’s just New Hampshire.”

In general, Fox said she has seen wedding cakes trending toward more natural themes, matching more natural wedding venues. Fox said she often uses things like ferns, sunflowers, mushrooms and twigs to decorate cakes. “A lot of [wedding venues] are outdoorsy, if you think about it,” she said.

Lace-decorated cakes are making a comeback, too, she noted, and cupcakes are becoming less popular.

As for flavor, chocolate cake is always popular, but Fox said flavors like pumpkin and maple walnut are being requested more and more. “[Couples] seem to be getting away from the white and going for more flavors. They’re saying, ‘Hey, this is our wedding,’” Fox said, adding that couples are worrying less about which flavor will make all their guests happy.

Making the cake personal is a general trend Fox has seen. “I don’t think I’ve done one cake that’s the same,” she said, and a lot of couples nowadays are bringing in homemade clay toppers for their cakes.

To see a variety of Fox’s cakes, visit

The flowers and centerpieces

Out of all the arrangements made for weddings, flowers provide one of the biggest ranges of options for engaged couples to choose from.

Holly Macy of Boughs of Holly in Sharon has seen couples making use of that range, sometimes to a polarized extreme. “Either they want very high-end things or something very simple,” Macy said.

Macy added that she’s seen trends in the use of locally grown, in-season flowers, and that she’s also noticed couples’ desire for unique, exotic flowers as well. Common requests, Macy said, she receives include single stemmed daisies in vintage bottles or tall pillars with expensive and unusual flowers piling out.

The floral range is bigger due to the Internet, she noted, and all of the information that can be published there. “It opens up a variety of what people can do,” she said.

Some people have been even going outside the realm of flowers for centerpieces and floral decoration. Pine cones, moss and other natural items are some of the things Macy has worked with. “There are so many options,” Macy said.

To see the floral arrangements Macy does, visit

The wedding favors

According to Ava Marie Chocolates Manager Jackie Donovan, popular wedding favors nowadays are less fancy and more fun. At Ava Marie, a sweets shop in downtown Peterborough, couples to be wed are foregoing the formal chocolate heart and bell favors, and are choosing things like Oreo cookies and candy bars. Oreos wrapped in little chocolate tuxedos and wedding dresses have become hugely popular, Donovan said, indicating the cookie-favors the shop hand-makes.

Themed candy bars on tables filled with all sorts of color-coded candies that wedding guests can choose from are also a frequent choice. Donovan said couples often order foil-wrapped candies, colored rock candy and other hued treats in shades that match their wedding theme.

The trend in wedding favors is tending toward the more creative. “They’ve become less traditional and more fun and whimsical,” Donovan noted.

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