HILTON ORLANDO MULTICULTURAL WEDDING SHOWCASE OW: Editor Leigh Duncan and I recently attended a wedding professionals FAM this past weekend held at the Hilton Orlando to learn about what’s new with wedding trends, specifically pertaining to multi-cultural weddings, décor, food and more. We are fortunate to have so many venue options in the Central Florida area (visit our Wedding Resource Guide on our website at www.orlwedding.com <http://www.orlwedding.com> for options), however, our stay at the Hilton Orlando felt like a destination retreat without having to even leave the area. Beyond stately exterior and tropical pool lanscaped with a winding lazy river, inside bellies a contemporary resort with sophisticated and elegant décor to fit virtually any theme and customer service nothing short of spectacular, with every staff member sincerely interested in making our experiences the best it could be – and what bride doesn’t want that level of attention on her special day? The Hilton works over-time to make guest services a top priority, especially in the spa, where every bride and her party can be pampered in luxury before the big day.
      Brushed in reds and golds, the grand ballroom is fit for any style wedding and complements a wide variety of decors. Its elegant color scheme has drawn favor with multicultural weddings, especially Indian and Asian. While Hilton Orlando provides top-notch cuisine, they also allow outside catering, especially to meet the specific needs of multicultural weddings. It’s strong partnership with Occasions by Shangri-la, an event design and coordination company (www.occasionsbyshangrila.com <http://www.occasionsbyshangrila.com> ), has produced some of the most glamorous Indian-based weddings with handmade décor items by the mother-son team. Shangri-La took us that weekend on a journey of multicultural weddings décor and dining, starting with a cocktail party scene right out of Lawrence of Arabia with plush ottomans, chaise lounge-type sofas, brilliantly colored tents and handmade crystal and paisley encrusted linens, as well as delectable Indian style samplings. We were then transported into a room designed in partnership with Greenery Productions that was beautifully lit and garnished with lush greens and trees by Greenery Productions, and set up with dining arrangements that made us feel close to almost everyone and mingling, even with a larger crowd, as we dined on surf and turf. Brilliant centerpieces of all varieties adorned the tables giving wedding planners enough ideas to excite brides of any denomination or ethnicity. You could see minds spinning as they found creative new ways to apply cultural elements to a wide variety of affairs, especially after our last stop in the dessert room where there was an interactive cheesecake ice-pop stand and even more distinctly, a crystal mandap designed by Shangri-La. Editor Leigh Duncan said, “This is absolutely breathtaking and could be a modern alternative to traditional arches or alters for any bride.” She will be discussing multicultural weddings, themed weddings and how ethnic influences can be infused into any bride’s dream wedding in the next issue of Orlando Wedding hitting stands the end of December.
      With multicultural trends changing quite a bit over the last 10 years, brides have become more creative and modern with their decorations, specifically the mandap,. The pillar-like structure (see photo) is the centerpiece of an Indian wedding ceremonies. Occasions by Shangri-la works with a bride, in most cases, to custom make a mandap  and other reception room décor to meet their taste, personality, heritage and modern take on the traditional multicultural wedding.
     Décor trends are changing all the time, but several vendors, like Shangri-La, Greenery Productions and Orlando Hilton,  stay at the forefront of the industry to service brides and their every need. Greenery, a full-service floral design company (www.greeneryproductions.com), demonstrated the amazing difference just a little lighting can do to a reception venue. The drama it can create is just want today’s brides are looking for and is therefore becoming more and more popular. Greenery is also leading the charge with brooch bouquets – taking traditional bridal bouquets and adding in client-supplied brooches, which might be family heirlooms or borrowed from friends. It’s an elegant way to dress up an ordinary bouquet.  
     Be sure to check out these vendors website's photo galleries – they have done some of the  most beautiful and awe-inspiring weddings and events–and stay tuned for the next issue of Orlando Wedding.  I don’t want to spoil you now with everything we learned – you’ll just have to wait for the next issue to get the full details. We’ll be presenting lots of new ideas for weddings, including flowers, favors, welcome bags, wedding dresses for every bride, and a can’t-miss list on old and new trends. We enjoy working hard to give you all the current information needed to plan the wedding of your dreams.  Special thanks to Hilton Orlando, Greenery Productions and Occasions by Shangri-La. If they ever host a bridal showcase — be sure to attend. You won’t regret it!

SELECTING A FLORIST: Most of us tend to make our decisions based on the recommendations of friends and family (for wedding or even everyday needs), but I love to offer tips for those brides that might not have a recommendation for a vendor, in hopes that it will give them guidance for making the right decision. Whether you’re planning a wedding out of the area or have many recommendations to shuffle through, here are some suggestions to keep you on track, educated and informed.
     1. Visit our website’s Wedding Resource Guide at www.orlwedding.com <http://www.orlwedding.com> for local florists.   2. Start looking early if your floral needs are great and/or if your wedding will be held in a high flower demand month like February.   3. Save clippings of floral arrangements you like (centerpieces, bouquets, etc.) and bring them with you so the florist can get a feel for your style.   4. Have a list ready with your floral needs – do you just need bouquets and centerpieces or do you want decorations for the church too?   5. Price, quality and service are the three main factors you need to consider when selecting a florist.  6. Ask to see actual photos/examples of florals they have done in the past; let their portfolio be your guide as to whether or not they can meet your needs and expectations. 7. Take notice of the items in the display cases: Fresh, good quality items indicate a reputable vendor.  8. Come with a rough idea of budget so the florist knows roughly how much you want to spend. Be willing to compromise or move money from another category to increase your floral budget in order to get exactly what you want.  9. Be realistic: Flowers aren’t cheap, but your florist can work within your budget to help you mix a variety of flowers to maintain and elegance look on a budget