Maximalist Weddings are Back
EDITORIAL & CONTENT
It was all a bit too earnest; too self-gratifyingly humble to be any craic. A bit like Portland (who took its own hip far too seriously and ended up one of America’s most depressed cities), we all thought we were keeping it so real with our twine-tied eucalyptus bouquets. But now that we’ve stepped away from the stack of the Kinfolks, we can see that there’s not much about eating off a table resembling a 1930s tenement floor strewn with bits of old hedge, that particularly exudes celebration. I’m referring, of course, in that ramble, to the spate of earthy, minimalist weddings, to which we’ve been subject over the past few years.
Maybe all the humility was a necessary reset, after the crassness of the Tiger, and subsequent sea of ditsy bunting - and don’t get me wrong, I was just as into the crumpled beige linen, as the next stylist - but I think we can all pretend we’ve learned our lesson, now, and allow ourselves to have nice things again. Starting with weddings that look as big as they feel.
So while last year I had my nose in Wabi Sabi Welcome (Artisan), a dull guide to hempy entertaining, this year, I’m all about Sig Bergamin’s Maximalism (Assouline), a new collection of imagery and quotes that illustrate the iconic designer’s luscious style. Disclaimer: I’m only slagging Wabi Sabi, for effect. It’s actually a beautiful book. Maximalism on the inside, I might say, if I were from Portland. But for the purposes of this train of thought, all I’m saying is: yes, welcome your guests with a warm hug and engaged conversation, but for goodness sake, do it lit only by three hundred hand-poured tapers in shimmering gold antique candlesticks.
Because the best events, internationally, are now embracing the idea of indulgence in a thoughtful way, creating experiences that are not just glamour for glamour’s sake. The elements are meaningful and personalised, celebrating the craft of the maker and the value of the guest, but with more fun and sparkle than before. And the queen of this movement is Irish girl done good, Fiona Leahy, who’s now based in London, but creates the most warmly lavish events around the world for clients like Aerin Lauder and Goop. Her signature “matchimalism” (a phrase she coined to describe the layering up of matching chintz patterns on seat pads, tablecloths, crockery, napkins and even cake icing) creates an eccentric sort of tablescape that’s much more rock roll, than afternoon tea. Though it’s not for the tight of budget.
So, when I’m working with Irish wedding clients, I like to bring key aspects of this vibe into a wedding table concept, by using, say, a bespoke napkin tied in plush velvet ribbon, or great quality candles, or clever placements. What you want to aim for is luxury that cuddles your senses and makes art of your wedding photos. Start with a remarkable ceremony backdrop to set the tone, end with guest favours that send your friends and family home feeling important, and everywhere in between, sprinkle magic dust where you can.
Bridal fashion, too, is taking a much-needed leap into the realm of the glamourpuss. It was basically either a silk nighty or a communion dress, there, for a while. But the last few seasons have seen a solid move away from the shapeless sheath to voluptuous silhouettes, bolshy embellishments and decadent vibes.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you spend like a maximalist (unless you can, in which case, call me). This new chapter in wedding aesthetics is all about having fun with elements you need anyway; dipping into colour, not sticking with the safe option; taking the time to research and consider your event as a whole. Because, all going well, your wedding day should feel like sequins and gold and velvet inside your heart. Makes sense that it should look that way, too.