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Short gowns, flowerless cakes and black accents: 2012's top wedding trends

June may be most associated with weddings, but January is the month for wedding shows, including the country's largest this weekend in Montreal

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ANTI-MATCHING That parade of bridesmaids in matching pink-taffeta gowns? So 2011. Today’s ceremonies make room for individual differences, including attendant dresses that flatter all body and skin types, even if they differ in colour and style. The anti-matching trend extends to engagement rings combining white and gold metals.

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BESPOKE SUITS AND RENTED GOWNS In the past, grooms rented their wedding outfits and brides purchased theirs. Today, though, the practices are being reversed: More and more men are buying custom-made suits for their special day, while thrifty brides are leasing them through salons like Montreal’s Oui, Je Le Voeux.

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DROPPING THE VEIL Bridal veils are disappearing this season, giving way to fresh-faced brides sporting natural-looking makeup. Hairstyles are consequently simple and unfussy, embellished with feathers or vintage clips.

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EMBRACING BLACK Often banned from weddings, black is turning up in more and more palettes, colouring everything from table linens to centrepieces and floral arrangements to bridesmaid dresses. Vera Wang even showed an inky goth wedding gown during Bridal Fashion Week in New York. Will black become the new chartreuse?

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POPS OF COLOUR White is still the (non)colour of choice for wedding gowns, but it’s being enlivened this year with hits of bold colour in the form of vibrant shoes and slippers, brilliantly bright sashes around the waist and eye-popping jewellery including bejeweled drop earrings and statement necklaces.

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COMMUNAL TABLES Forget head tables that distance couples from guests: Today’s weddings are intimate sit-down dinner parties with brides and grooms ensconced among the invited at long, communal tables. Meals, moreover, are increasingly consisting of locally sourced ingredients and regional wines. It’s about “community building,” experts say.

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ROMANCE vs. VAVA-VOOM Last year’s royal wedding spawned a two-pronged gown trend: the lacy, lady-like dress (Kate Middleton) and the sexier sheath (Pippa Middleton). Think demure neck lines and full sleeves (like those by Toronto designer Lea-Ann Belter) if leaning toward the former, thigh-high slits if going for the latter.

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SELLING SHORT Got great gams? This is the year to show them off, as shorter wedding gowns are also proving popular. Toronto designer Belter, who makes lacy minis, cites another reason for the new cropped hemlines: “[They] allow brides to flaunt their killer shoes.”

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FLOWER-LESS CAKE The sugary rosettes and other faux blooms that traditionally adorn wedding cakes are being plucked and replaced with more inventive embellishments, such as cascading ribbons of coloured fondant. At Cake Opera Co., Alexandria Pellegrino hand-paints her cakes in pale, romantic hues, creating a form of edible art.

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DIGITAL WEDDINGS While paper invitations remain the norm, social media is assuming a bigger role. Twitter and Facebook keep participants connected, while the proliferation of wedding blogs by industry experts such as The Wedding Co. provide up-to-date information on suppliers and trends. Tweeting during ceremonies, however, stretches good taste.

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