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The wedding trends to know when you're getting hitched in the Hunter

Planning your dream destination wedding? Then you'll want to know what the biggest wedding trends in the Hunter are right now, so we asked three local wedding specialists what people are pumped about when tying the knot.

Chris Elfes also says the trend is for more casual, informal weddings.

"Most couples want a carefree country vibe at their wedding," says the AIPP Master Photographer, who has been capturing the most special moments of a couples' lives for 20 years.

"They're looking for a spectacular natural setting outdoors and you can't ask for a more beautiful place than the Hunter Valley," says Chris. With brilliant blue skies, majestic mountains and oodles of vines there are romantic locations aplenty.

"Everyone wants photos walking in the lush green vineyards in summer and sunset shots are also big," he says. "But what couples might not think about is that spectacular sunset shots are better in winter than summer. That's because in winter sunset happens around 5pm whereas in summer it can be as late as 8pm – and that's usually in the middle of the reception/speeches etc."

So will Chris let us in on his favourite locations for sunset snaps?

"Mistletoe Lane, just off Hermitage Road, is spectacular when the sun is setting over the Brokenback Range, and Ekerts Road is another secret spot where I take wedding parties. And then there's Lindeman's Ben Ean on McDonalds Road. There's a big fig tree on top of a hill that is one of my favourite locations. It has mountain views, vineyards and that beautiful tree."

Apart from natural settings, Chris says today's couples also want natural, unposed wedding photos too.

"Most couples want to keep the day super-relaxed and as simple as possible, and they want their wedding photos to reflect that," he says. "Some are so relaxed about it they even have the family pet come along. I once had a horse that ate the bride's bouquet and a dog that walked up the aisle as a ringbearer," he laughs.

Chris won the 2019 NSW Portrait of the Year and is shortlisted in the top five for the 2019 Australian Photography Awards in the portraiture section. So, does he have any tips for capturing the perfect wedding portrait?

"Choosing the right photographer is key – of course – but a camera-friendly location is important too. Some of my favourite shots have been taken in the rustic sandstone buildings at Peppers Creek and Peterson House (which has a brand-new chapel) and Hunter Valley Gardens has so many eye-catching photo options in any season." 

Short ceremonies, mid-week weddings and one-stop ceremony/reception spots are trending according to Jason.

"The big trend is for couples to hire a property or large house with accommodation where they can do everything in one location," says Jason. "Instead of having separate accommodation the night before, a different ceremony location to the reception venue, which means transport needs to be factored in, couples are considering the ease and benefits of a "one-stop shop" approach by having everyone come to them, and potentially stay on site if that option is available.

He's also seeing more mid-week weddings than ever before.

"While this isn't a majorly new trend, it does highlight that people are looking closely at the cost and looking for any savings they (and their guests) can get. Most venues offer discounts for mid-week weddings, and also a lot of accommodation venues relax on the minimum two-night-stay policy mid-week, so there can be considerable overall savings, or allow more funds to be put towards a higher end food and wine provider/package."

And when couples sit down to chat about the type of wedding they want, the buzzword seems to be "relaxed".

"Couples are more mature in their approach to their wedding, and maybe that's because there's been a rise in the age couples marry and more second marriages, so people don't want a repeat of their more traditional previous wedding. Most couples today simply want to have a relaxed, good time with their family and friends, without the stress of a more elaborate wedding.

"The longer, drawn-out ceremony is a thing of the past. Couples want a laid-back ceremony, done in a professional and simple manner. My average ceremony is 15-20 minutes – in the past it could be 30-45 minutes or more."

So, it seems a memorable wedding is all about the KISS principle nowadays (keep it short and simple). 

Brides have also abandoned the stiff, structured floral arrangements of years gone by, opting for a more natural look today.

"While not everyone follows trends, most of our brides are going for a natural, hand-cut look for their bouquets," says Louise. "It's all about natural florals with a wild feel to it – like a bunch of flowers taken from the garden. And this informal style carries over to the centrepieces on tables," she adds.

Foliage focused arrangements with lots of soft, flowing natural-looking greenery is bang on trend with the rustic style that is all the rage for country weddings.

"It's all about the look. Brides are moving away from just roses and lillies, with Australian natives making a resurgence," says Louise. "Choosing flowers that are seasonal is also fashionable, but if a bride has a favourite flower we can usually source it as most are grown around Australia in hothouses all-year-round.

"That said, there's a small window of opportunity if you want a native-style bouquet featuring waratahs as they are only available mid-September to mid-October. Local Australian peonies are another popular choice and they're usually available in October and November, but we can get imported peonies at other times. Dahlias are also crowd-pleasers but they're not available year-round."

There's also a huge trend in overhead flowers.

"Ever since the wedding scene in the Twilight movie a few years back hanging arrangements and floral canopies are all the rage. Floral arches have always been popular but there's been a big surge in weddings at country properties where couples tie the knot outdoors, rather than inside a chapel, so the demand for arches and arbours has increased.

"Basically it's all about textures and style," Louise says. "We're using lots of dried flowers, palm leaves and grasses along with the fresh blooms."

And what about the blokes? "They've gone away from the big single flower for wedding buttonholes. They're also more textural with a mix of flowers and foliage to complement the bride's look."

And if you want to celebrate your special day in the Hunter Valley Louise has some good news for you.

"There's no wedding season anymore. We do weddings all-year-round. While March, April, September and October are our most popular months we've had weddings every month of the year with mid-week weddings sky-rocketing." 

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