You don’t have to be engaged to have noticed: wedding trends change. Every year, couples redefine the guest experience and set new records in terms of extreme event personalization. As 2018 unfolds, brides, grooms, and industry pros have an insatiable desire to know what’s next for ceremonies, parties, and make-or-break details – and there’s always something new to know.
Just ask catering/events director Randy Araiza at the Parker Palm Springs. As part of the talent behind the hotel’s 60 posh events each year, she follows trends like a high-flying desert hawk, sniffing out the latest ideas and keeping a keen eye on how to put a Parker-style twist on the expected.
Araiza has worked with most of the planners behind Hollywood’s A-list weddings and events. When they arrive at the Parker for their clients’ multi-day bashes, she acquaints them with the 13 acres of beautiful grounds and makes sure everything goes off like a Champagne cork.
Friday weddings at the Parker Palm Springs leave the rest of the weekend for casual fun together.
Here, her predictions for what couples will ask for in 2018, whether they’re bringing 600 for dinner on the great lawn or just a few friends and family to join them at an intimate evening party set under a canopy of lights and Palm Springs’ twinkling stars.
Cocktails Before Vows
“Cocktails first, then the ceremony,” says Araiza of what Parker couples have hit on as a more festive way to wed. “Many of our couples want to change it up. They’re really enjoying the cocktails and the hors d’oeuvres first, followed by their vows. Then they unveil where dinner is going to be served. I like it, too. It breaks the ice for guests.”
Getting married on a Friday leaves the rest of the weekend for fun without formality. “Instead of a welcome event, they start with the main event,” Araiza explains. “Saturday is the hangover recovery day by the pool. They might host a Parker margarita and taco bar in one of the garden areas. Then they still do the farewell brunch on Sunday. They make it more casual, and they make more of a weekend out of it. And it’s worked out beautifully.”
The entrance to the Parker remains a photo opp favorite.
Organic, Custom Menus
Wedding menus in 2018 will likely keep wellness at the top. Couples want to feel good all night long. “The Parker attracts a health-conscious crowd,” Araiza says of her guests who appreciate the organic fruits and vegetables that are part of the hotel’s menu offerings. “All menus are designed for the couple. Can we do an all-vegan custom menu? Yes! Executive chef Herve Glin and I work in partnership to create the perfect, customized menu for each couple.”
Organic custom offerings, from apps to the main course, are on the menu for 2018 at the Parker.
“When you pass food and break bread, it starts conversation,” Araiza says of the long, family-style tables that remain the most preferred way to seat guests for dinner. It’s a trend that shows no end in sight. “With family-style dining, people tend to talk more. I see it all the time. People like it because they’re more engaged with one another.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY JENNIFER YOUNG STUDIO
Family style seating is a Parker tradition, a trend that will continue through 2018.
Drink It Differently
For the coming year, Araiza envisions even more requests for cocktails with floral notes, frozen rosé popsicle stations, and a stunning woman who roams the party in a most unusual costume. “The Champagne Model wears a ballgown that incorporates glasses of fine French champagne,” she explains. “The glasses are held in the pockets of her gold Cinderella ballgown. Then she offers each guest a glass tableside as she walks through the room.”
Better Than Cake? Ice Cream and Donuts
Not every couple wants a wedding cake. Others want to have their cake and eat a little something extra, too. Trending at The Parker are ice cream carts (with custom flavors and sandwich options, all made in-house), gluten-free desserts by pastry chef Chantal Carter, and made-to-order donut stations. “Our Parker house-made Donut Wall is a sweet treat that also can be used as a backdrop for photos,” Araiza says. As an accompaniment, a coffee bar has become a given.
Gift to Guests: Entertainment or Experience
Tabletop favors at each place setting or a table stacked high with favors by the exit have become dated in the eyes of some brides and grooms. Instead, they opt to give guests something they’ll talk about for years to come. “Hot-air balloon rides, tea-cups rides, and Ferris wheels are becoming the new surprise wedding gift for guests,” Araiza says. “Couples are also investing their wedding budget on A-list entertainers. They are usually a surprise to guests and have traveled as far as London to get here. The surprise wedding-gift DJ is also on the rise for 2018.”