Make the moment

And design the wedding that is your own

photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography
photography by Kelly Benton Photography

There used to be a quietly understood formula for a proper wedding. Full of shoulds and should-nots, there was a time when couples wouldn’t have even dreamed of straying from the custom of the day.

Today’s couples are happy to eschew the cookie-cutter formula followed by so many for so long.

The modern wedding is all about breaking the mold by creating a unique and personalized vibe, from the first save-the-date card put in the mailbox to the send-off at the end of the reception. Even if you have a traditional sense of style, there are many ways to add a personalized, unique touch to your nuptials. With stylish inspiration from the past, along with polished, of-the-moment details, and with eyes lovingly set to the future, your wedding can be as rare as you can imagine.


The save-the-dates and invitations set the tone for the whole affair, from the colors, shape and style down to the language and given details. This mailing is the first impression of the event to come, and making a lasting statement helps establish the mood. Instead of boilerplate wording that tends to read as stiff and bland traditional paper sets, have fun with every aspect of your wedding’s paper goods. Geometric shapes and bold colors are so striking, especially when accented with rich metallics. Just because you opt for a non-traditional invite doesn’t mean you should skimp on the quality. High-end papers and inks, even hand-lettering or calligraphy, express an air of chicness, as do eco-friendly materials.

Imaginative couples are drawn to intriguing and unconventional venues. An historic, as well as storied, movie palace is a hauntingly beautiful choice – one filled with distinct details like pops of color, interesting textures and an outstanding, dramatic airiness. Inject a more intimate mood by adding dimension and warmth by way of textiles and small mid-century modern accent furniture for a stylishly layered décor that will make pictures pop. Layer with light for an ethereal vibe, using table votives, floor lamps and candelabras as well as overhead lighting on a dimmer. Elegant gold accents add polish and shine and mix well with warm wood tones, rosy-hued stemware and flickering candles. Even the cake gets the Midas touch but with a little restraint, so as not to interrupt with other bespoke accents, making a one-of-a-kind statement of its own. Mix up the tables with multiple shapes and sizes for a cozy, less corporate quality. Set up cozy vignettes with vintage mismatched furniture for lounging during the cocktail hour and for taking dance breaks later in the evening. Incorporate decorative elements and objets d’art from home to add that extra personal touch to the event.

Let the bouquet and centerpieces be wild with natural beauty, not tightly edited or rigid. Embrace different sizes, textures and hues for gorgeous, striking dimension. Opt for freshly picked, in-season blooms with a free-form look, but don’t feel like every bouquet or every centerpiece needs to match. Instead, weave one or two common botanicals throughout all flower arrangements, giving each table a signature look, while keeping colors and scale consistent, for a more intimate feel, rather than a cold uniformity. Include unexpected flowers, herbs, succulents and even soft grasses to come up with your floral direction. Centerpieces can be various potted plants, bunches of fresh herbs and air plants or even vignettes of single roses in small, gold vases, which can also double as favors for your guests. Lush botanical swags draped on backs of chairs, tables and a gilded bar cart add an unexpected touch of natural softness. Create personalized tablescapes with treasured books with covers in the colors of the decor or spines that feature titles that echo the vibe or theme of the wedding.


The goal for most brides, no matter her signature, daily style, is not only to look radiantly beautiful on this noteworthy day but to achieve a timeless beauty that will be enjoyed when looking back decades later. What you really want to see when you look back on this banner day is to recognize the bride staring back at you. That doesn’t mean your look won’t evolve over the years, for it most certainly will. What it means is that you’ll want to see a reflection of the woman you really were on that day, not an artificial, tightly edited version. Your wedding is not about shaping yourself to fit into a manufactured princess mold; your wedding, every little detail, is about shaping the day around who you, and your groom, are. Embrace your natural gifts and play them up for a look you’ll love on the big day and on all your anniversaries to come.

It used to be important, perhaps especially so for the mother and mother-in-law, for a bride to cover up any tattoos. This maxim has become a dwindling priority as wedding customs become more relaxed. If your tattoos are important to you, look for a gown that accentuates these unique, personal details. A gown with shimmer and sparkle can easily be subtle, not showy. Luminous, art deco-inspired beading is sophisticated, and a sensuous yet tasteful silhouette with gossamer cap sleeves seamlessly merge a few styles into one dazzling gown that’s easy to wear. A scalloped, generous hem, which echoes the shape of the beaded design, pools into a graceful train, which is much more modern than a cumbersome bustle style.

Your bridal shoes are one of the most vital components of your wedding day ensemble, and not necessarily because of their look. You might have your heart set on a sky-high pair of stiletto heels. If that’s for you, go for it. But since most bridal gowns reach the floor, effectively hiding your shoes, opt for a pair that you love but that also won’t put the kibosh on all the dancing and mingling throughout your party. The look is generally not worth the pain when more comfortable options and styles abound. An open-toe style offers more room and is available in all heel heights. A matte satin in a shade of white or cream that matches your dress will ensure a long, slimming, uninterrupted line when the shoes peek out from time to time while walking and dancing.

Modern bridal jewelry is less about over the top glitz and more about expressing your unique style. Instead of a more traditional piece like a pearl necklace, go for the unexpected with a long, swingy pendant that playfully dances off your gown. This is an especially meaningful piece when it’s a family heirloom. Contrast and a dose of color can come from dangling drop earrings, and a delicate bracelet, worn on the right arm, balances your jewelry suite.

The beauty look is just as important as the gown. For hair, choose a ‘do that is styled but loose, not stiff and unnatural. Aim for skin to have a romantic glow, thanks to dewy finish, a perfect middle ground between the extremes of shimmer and matte. Opt for an updated and subtle smoky eye, with flattering coppery shades which play off a hint of blush and soft, strawberry-hued, demi-matte lipstick. Matte finishes on lips are more durable than glosses and thus will last longer, through multiple kisses when guests prompt with their spoons and glasses. For nails, a natural tone and shape make a perfect backdrop for your freshly acquired piece of jewelry.


The sartorial choices of any given groom are quite often taken for granted or simply overlooked; you’re generally thought to be playing second fiddle to the blushing bride when it comes to attire. The modern couple knows this doesn’t have to be. Today’s groom strives for sophisticated flair, not flash.

Channel the elegant ease of famously stylish movie stars like Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra, who always wore their suits oh-so-well. Whether tuxedo or suit, the No. 1 priority should be perfect tailoring. Modern cuts are trim and slim and can be customized for every body type. Say no to ballooning pants or aggressive pleats; you want as clean a silhouette as possible. Don a classic tux, but accessorize with modern details like slick slip-on brogues and a slightly oversized bow tie. This typically formal look gets a decidedly more casual update thanks to the absence of a cummerbund, formerly a no-no. The demi-matte satin details on the pants and jacket add polish because of the slight sheen, which evokes a more high end look than a high-gloss material. Don’t be afraid to sport your style signatures, which will allow your personality to shine through. You can make a casually dapper statement with cheery polka dot socks that peek out from underneath your cuff from time to time or sport your trademark digital watch, if that’s your thing.

While the bride schedules a profusion of beauty services in the months, weeks, days and hours leading up to the ceremony, not much thought goes into the groom’s skin and hair care regimes. You might feel this is a bonus, but you can’t (or shouldn’t) just roll out of bed the morning of. Here’s how you can take a little extra care of yourself, without a ton of effort, before you walk down the aisle.

• Unless facial hair is your thing, a clean shave is a must. Splurge on an old-fashioned experience with a proper barber, who will steam, soften and moisturize you during your appointment. Start these appointments about six months prior to the wedding date.

• Start using a matte moisturizer and lip balm during the weeks leading up to the big day to ensure skin is well hydrated and your pucker is soft for that first kiss as man and wife.

• Have your hair trimmed about one week before the ceremony. This timing ensures the hair will look more natural, not overly groomed. It also allows for time to adjust if a mistake is made.

• A basic, no-polish manicure is a must. Nothing will ruin a close-up shot of the exchange of rings or cake cutting like ragged, unkempt nails.

As with all new additions to skin and haircare routines, no matter the gender, don’t add or try anything new within one week of the ceremony. Give yourself and your skin and hair time to react to new processes and products to cut down on beauty emergencies.

photography: Kelly Benton Photography
venue: The Clyde Theatre
props & styling: Maeve Vintage
flowers: Be Married Events
dress: One Fine Day Bridal and Gown Boutique
tux: Christopher James Menswear
hair & makeup: The Red Stiletto
cake: Sassie Cakes
invitations: Hedgehog Press
models: Mia Favela, Eric Frank
Want to see more photos from this styled shoot? Click here to see Kelly Benton’s full blog post.

First appeared in the 2017 issue of Fort Wayne Magazine’s Weddings.


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