The Ultimate Wedding Guide

What should you wear to a wedding described as Hamptons Chic? How long should your maid-of-honor speech be? What’s the best centerpiece right now? How should a bride start shopping for a dress? With wedding season here, these are all questions we thought relevant to ask Brides Magazine Editor-in-Chief Keija Minor, who is what we like to call ‘The Wedding Whisperer’ (and who we photographed at her current favorite location for a New York City wedding, The High Line Hotel Refectory). Everything you need as a bride, participant in a wedding, or guest is mapped out below in this Thursday must-read interview…

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From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day? 

My ideal food day would be an iced coffee and fresh, picked-on-the-spot fruit for breakfast. Then for lunch (calories be damned), a lobster roll from the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard and, for dinner, seafood paella at 7 Portes in Barcelona or squid-ink pasta with truffles from Ristorante Zeppelin in Orvieto, Italy. When I’m home, for an ideal dinner I head to my favorite neighborhood restaurant, Prospect, in Brooklyn. Everything is delicious. I love the fresh Gulf Coast shrimp with green curry, jasmine rice, and scallions.

What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give a bride starting to plan a wedding?

Enjoy the planning process. Don’t focus on only the Big Event; enjoy all that happens in the year leading up to it. Take photos of every outing, from your first dress-shopping trip to the cake tasting.

The first thing you notice upon walking into a wedding… 

The flowers. However, candles are a less expensive way to create the same impact.

Advice to a bride starting to shop for a dress? Any insider secrets? 

Bring only one person with you. Too many opinions drowns out your voice. Plus, when you bring your BFF and your mother, your BFF may be afraid to contradict your mom. Bring one person with you, and if you’re not sure about a dress, bring the other person back for a second opinion. As for insider secrets, don’t wear your ring. Some sales assistants will size up your budget based on what your ring looks like. Only you know what you can afford and what you want to spend.

What about a guest deciding what to wear? Festive versus black tie…

These are the most common wedding dress codes. If an invite doesn’t state what you should wear or refers to something you’ve never heard of, like uptown flair or Hamptons chic, it really means festive, which really means cocktail, taking into account the location of course. If the invite says black tie, you should honor the request. Sure, you have to put more thought into your outfit, but isn’t the lovely couple worth the effort? Underdressing would say they’re not, which would be très rude. Keep in mind that in many circles, black tie doesn’t mean ladies absolutely have to wear a full-length gown. A sparkly tea or knee-length could work. However, if you’d wear said dress to an after-work cocktail party, it isn’t dressy enough.

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Outdoor versus indoor… 

I love an outdoor wedding followed by a reception under a sailcloth tent, but you must check the Farmers’ Almanac to assess the chance of rain, and you must have a backup plan that you love—not a Plan B but a Plan A. Also, choose decor that will work indoors if you have to go with Plan A.

What’s your personal favorite elements about a wedding?

The vows. Whether they’re standard or completely original, I always love the vows.

Advice on picking the cake…

Choose a smaller cake that’s gorgeous to show, and keep a sheet cake of the same flavor in the back. It’s more cost-effective than serving everyone from one massive, highly decorated, customized confection. Think about when you go to a wedding: The couple cuts the cake and feeds each other a piece, and then the cake is wheeled into the kitchen to be plated. No one sees it being sliced beyond that first piece, and no one will know the difference but you—because you’ll save a ton of money.

Advice on catering a wedding so the food is actually good…

There are a few things you can do to avoid serving rubber chicken. Ask your favorite neighborhood restaurant to cater, or think of the last large event you went to where the food was delicious and find out who did the catering. If you go with your local restaurant, just make sure the chef has experience serving dinner to 150 people at the same time. Also, ask where the food is sourced to assess how fresh it will be. And, especially if you’re having a destination wedding, incorporate local ingredients and flavors to personalize your menu and to capitalize on your caterer’s area of expertise. Lastly, no matter where you’re having your wedding, have a full-on tasting before signing a contract and ask to sample the chef’s specialties.

How long should a best man/maid of honor speech be?

No speech should be longer than three minutes. Ever.

Your idea of the perfect shower gift… 

A three-to-five-pack of manicures at the bride’s go-to spot. She’ll want to keep her nails on point for all those ring selfies. Lingerie is way too personal to pick out for someone else unless she specifically asks that her shower be lingerie themed.

Your idea of the perfect engagement gift…

A couples massage or gift certificate to a romantic restaurant to be used midway through the planning process, with instructions that no talk of the big day is allowed! Wedding planning can be stressful, and it’s important to take some time off.

What are three unusual centerpieces you’re loving right now?

I love candles in every shape and size. Clusters of black-and-white photos of friends and family are a a great way to personalize your tables. I’m also a fan of working fruit into table arrangements, especially if it goes with your venue and color palette.

In the same vein as ‘what is the new black’ what’s ‘the new potato’ when it comes to weddings? 

We’ve been moving away from the tradition of having all of the bridesmaids wear the same dress. Now we’re seeing guys ditch the matching suit or tux in favor of each wearing a different suit but the same or a similar tie.

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*Keija Minor, photographed at The High Line Hotel Refectory in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann. Keija wears a Roland Mouret top, J.Crew jeans, and Givenchy shoes.

The High Line Hotel Refectory is an amazing space. Book it for your next wedding or event

Read these wedding tips from Stone Fox Bride founder Molly Guy.