They Marry Ambiance with the Big Day

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Most retail businesses see the number of shoppers entering their storefronts slow as the holiday season ends, but for those involved in the wedding industry, their busy season has just begun.

In its “2018 Newlywed Report,” WeddingWire reports 40% of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day, and most couples begin planning for their wedding right away.

And more brides and grooms are spending money on the details of their day to entertain and provide guests a wedding unlike any other.

The Knot reports the national average cost of a wedding in 2017 was $33,391, excluding the honeymoon, with the average cost per guest reaching an all-time high of $268.

From the wedding invitations to the flowers and décor, the bride’s appearance, the music, dancing and food served at the reception – numerous businesses are involved in creating the ambiance of the big day.

Once a couple is engaged and chooses the venue and the date of their wedding, Janet Maffei, customer service and sales at Boardman Printing, says they should send out their save-the-date cards.

“Anywhere from six months to a year before the date,” she says. “If you’re in that six-month time frame it really isn’t worth it to send it out.”

Magnets in lieu of traditional save-the-date cards are becoming more popular because guests can easily place them on their refrigerator without worrying about them getting lost.

The wedding season at Boardman Printing begins in January and doesn’t slow until May. Overall, 75% of its business is made up of providing services for a wedding, Maffei says.

The store designs and prints the wedding shower invitations, save-the-date cards and invitations, as well as the ceremony programs, seating charts, printed napkins, favor tags, accessories, banners and canvas prints.

Boardman Printing offers hundreds of invitations to choose from with 75 signature design cards printed on its laser printer or digital press in-store and more that can be ordered from Carlson Craft in Minnesota.

Wedding invitations should be sent out three months before the wedding and the cost of an invitation varies, “as much as the cost of a sweater,” Maffei says.

“We have invitations for every bride’s budget,” she says. “Whether they want to keep it on the low end or they really want to make a statement.”

Among the more popular invitations are one-sided, 5-by-7-inch cards and seal-and-send cards, where all the information is on one piece of paper that, when folded, creates the envelope itself.

“There’s a perforated piece of paper at the bottom that is the RSVP card and it sends as a postcard, so all you put on there is the return postcard postage,” Maffei says. “The seal-and-sends save you money.”

Some newer requests Boardman Printing has received include printing signs for a bride and groom’s hashtag of their last name for social media purposes and signs asking guests to stay off their phones.

No matter what a couple is ordering to be printed, Boardman Printing always sends a proof to the couple beforehand.

“We want the customer to have peace of mind in what they’re ordering,” Maffei says. “It’s once in a lifetime.”

For 2019, Jeffrey Chrystal, chef at Jeffrey Chrystal Catering in Youngstown, says he has a record number of weddings booked and is already booking into 2020.

The type of menu served at a wedding has changed over the years, he says, as more couples want to customize what they’re serving.

“When I first started in the industry 38 years ago, it was pretty cookie-cutter at that time,” he says. “Now we have a meeting with the bride and groom and find out their likes and dislikes.”

The menus Chrystal prepares are “as unique as the couples who are using us.

“We can do pasta but the pasta can vary 12 ways, from the sauce we use to the noodles,” he says. “Everything is so custom that we don’t do a lot of the same items.”

Recent wedding menus Chrystal prepared were for a seafood bar and a wedding with both an Indian-food buffet and a Western-food buffet. Beyond preparing and serving the food, Chrystal Catering can provide tents, tables, chairs, linens and plate rentals. And the company works with other businesses involved in the day, such as the florist.

When it comes to choosing the flowers a couple wants to have on their wedding day, Janet Dunn of Blooming Crazy Flowers and Gifts in Boardman says many women will bring in a picture of an idea they saw on Pinterest and ask her to make it for them.

“Girls will choose their whole wedding from Pinterest,” says Dunn, the general manager. “And we work with them on that.”

Janet Dunn and Ann Marie Velchek work with brides at Blooming Crazy Flowers.

Beyond offering flowers for the ceremony and reception, Blooming Crazy also provides help on the day of the wedding by decorating, pinning all the flowers and corsages on the groomsmen and the family, and helping the bride walk down the aisle by fluffing her dress as needed.

Dunn suggests couples order flowers at least six months in advance. Popular flowers in 2018 were garden roses and hydrangeas, she says.

Burgundy and pink flowers with a lot of greenery also were popular, adds office manager Ann Marie Velchek. The bouquets looked “more natural,” she says. “They look like you just went out and gathered the flowers.”

Dunn agrees, “A lot of texture and different types of greenery. Your berries, your pods, your succulents – all that has been popular lately.”

Similarly, stylists at Roots Salon & Wellness Spa in Boardman have seen the natural look trending in how the bride wants her hair, makeup and nails done for her wedding.

“The bohemian style of you looking how you do every day is very in,” says Bianca Heasley, owner of Roots Salon, which provides bridal packages that encompass hair, makeup, nail, massage and facial services for brides and wedding parties.

For hair, Heasley says she is seeing brides eschew veils in favor of headpieces, which often include vines in the hair and a lot of greenery for the natural look.

Roots Salon & Wellness Spa owner Bianca Heasley and esthetician Mallori DuVall say more brides are wearing a natural look on their wedding day.

When it comes to makeup, brides want that natural look as well, but esthetician Mallori DuVall suggests that brides still do something with their lashes. “It makes your eyes pop much more in photos,” she says.

For nail color, DuVall offers gel manicure and pedicures and notes that more brides are asking for muted, nude colors for their wedding day.

Heasley and DuVall suggest doing a hair and makeup test run to make sure the bride likes how it looks all together before the day of the wedding. Heasley tells her brides to get their test run day done on a day when they can wear it out, such as for their bridal shower or bachelorette party.

“If it’s not for your bridal shower or bachelorette and you know the day you’re having your dress fitting, get it done on that day so you can see it all together before the day of your wedding,” Heasley says. “Our job is to make you look like yourself, but the best version of it.”

Damon LaRiviere, owner of D and R Audio Professional Disc Jockeys in Girard, says he is in charge of making sure everything goes as planned throughout the day.

“You hire us as your DJ for us to play music, but we also emcee it,” he says. “We’re your wedding coordinator. We plan everything.”

D and R Audio provides the music, specialty lighting, photo booths, backdrops and ceremony services.

Before meeting with a couple, LaRiviere sends them a pre-planning sheet to help organize their music, so that when they meet they have a good idea of what music they want played at the ceremony and reception.

“Listening is the strongest aspect of what we do,” LaRiviere says. “Most people want to hear a good mix at their wedding for everybody. I call it my ‘family friendly’ and then we build to a crescendo to the end of the night.”

The newest amenity D and R Audio provides is a low-fog treatment on the dance floor that many brides and grooms use for their first dance.

“When the bride and groom are having their first dance, we can do this low-lying fog so it almost looks like they’re dancing on a cloud,” he says.

And when it comes to a couple’s first dance, Travis Manero, owner of Fred Astaire Warren, helps them to be comfortable and confident on the dance floor by offering couple’s lessons before the big day.

Instructors Kyrylo Myshakov and Oksana Sidak of Fred Astaire Warren help couples to feel confident and calm on the dance floor before their wedding.

“Dancing connects all ages and walks of life and it creates the atmosphere of the evening,” he says. “It’s something that is visual for the younger people at the reception, relatable to the middle-aged people and nostalgic or memorable to the elderly people there.”

Fred Astaire Dance Studios teaches everyone from first-time novices to competitive dancers. For weddings, the studio can teach the bride and groom for their first dance, the mother and son or father and daughter for their dance, or the bridal parties for a group dance.

The first dance at a wedding is usually a classic dance, such as a waltz, fox trot or rumba.

“Sometimes people want to do up-tempo stuff or do a mix of a slow dance that goes into a fast dance,” Manero says.

Most couples come to the studio with a special song in mind and Manero says he can choreograph a dance to any song they bring in.

The benefits of couples taking dance lessons together go beyond feeling confident for your wedding, Manero says. “It keeps a dynamic relationship. Most of the couples who are retired who come to us always say, ‘We wish we would of done this all through our entire marriage.’ ”

Pictured: Dana DePillo designs custom wedding signs at Boardman Printing.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.