Custom simchas From chuppah to desserts, couples seek personalized touches to weddings

While Jewish weddings are usually highly ritualized, today’s engaged couples are increasingly looking to personalize their
celebrations.

“In general, I see a lot of wedding branding going on, meaning people are really trying to personalize it,” said Shari Zatman, owner of Perfectly Planned by Shari, an event-planning business based in Pittsburgh.

Zatman said she has noticed more couples seeking ornate floral chuppah designs that will stand out in photos, personalized logos or monograms to be branded on the dance floor and customizable dessert options.

“I have a vendor that takes cocktails and turns them into frozen drinks,” Zatman said.

Sandi Hoffman, owner Sandi Hoffman Special Events in Washington, said her clients are also asking for nontraditional touches on their weddings.

“We don’t see a lot of young brides anymore. There are a lot of women who put their careers ahead of their married life so they’re exposed to much more and they’re more sophisticated,” Hoffman said. “Those kinds of clients are more willing to think outside of the box.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1950 the average age at marriage was 24 and 20.5 years old for men and women, respectively. In 2010 the average age at marriage was 28.2 for men and 26.1 for women, increasing by one year for women and 1.4 years for men since 2000 alone.

Hoffman described a wedding she recently organized that did not include any flowers, usually a staple in such celebrations.
“We had a bride that was a little bit older and a little more confident to do something a little bit different,” Hoffman said. “She went with it, and it was spectacular.”

Even wedding food is changing. Hoffman said couples today, perhaps because they are older, possess more discriminating wine and food palates.

“When we have tastings, the tastings are much more sophisticated now,” Hoffman said. “When we show a client a bar, we usually have a mixologist with us. We gather menus from all different kinds of new and exciting restaurants. We try to find out the bride and groom’s interests in food.… We study a lot. We use a lot of different people. We even use a food and wine consultant for our clients.”

Both Zatman and Hoffman said they try to create a more personalized wedding experience for their clients. While many couples might look to craft websites like Pinterest for wedding inspiration, Zatman and Hoffman described their efforts to work with their clients to better customize each celebration.

“We try to stay away from trend-setting; it gets old very quick,” Hoffman said. “We are always looking for new and exciting things, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’re driven by a trend.”

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