For today's bride, 'something new' comes from an unconventional approach to the cake, decor and more

If you are planning a wedding, know this: There is one rule for 2010, and it's that there are no rules. Tradition is on its way out of the stained-glass window. More and more, weddings are becoming highly personalized, going far beyond simply embossing the bride's and groom's names on every surface.

"People want to be really personal now," says Catherine Ruehle, owner of Sublime Bakery in Fort Worth. "When you go trendy, you might hate it in five years. But it's going to have more meaning if you make it your own. Every couple that walks in our door wants something different, and even the bride who wants to make Mom happy finds a way to do it with a twist."

Here are five ways to do just that.

Dress to impress

While many wedding dresses in recent years have been simple and straight, vintage looks are coming back. Look for fuller frocks with tulle, stylish ruching, textures, beading and floral embellishments.

Chandelier earrings also are popular, says Barbara Ocone of Fort Worth's oldest bridal shop, Ocone's.

The embellishment trend is coming through in more detailed bridesmaids' dresses, too, with accents such as ruching and imperial waists, says Loree Ridgley of the Bridal Salon at Stanley Korshak in Dallas.

And although ivory and shades of white still reign supreme for the dress, shoes are being requested in all kinds of bold colors, including red, purple and green. Some brides even wear boots. "We've had brides order custom boots with their name on the back and everything," Ocone says. "This is Texas, after all."

Lifestyle-friendly luxury

Thanks to busy schedules and spread-out families, save-the-date mail-outs are becoming more popular than ever, says Linda Motley, owner of Fort Worth's P.S. The Letter. Whether they're engraved cards or fun reminder-note refrigerator magnets, more and more brides are sending them out. They're especially helpful for brides planning a destination wedding, Motley says.

Cakes get creative

Ruehle says that at Sublime Bakery, where all-natural ingredients are used and gluten-free vegan options are available, she is getting more requests for sculpted figures of the bride and groom and other 3-D embellishments on cakes, rather than the typical toppers. Sometimes, especially when it's a remarriage, the couple's children and even pets are part of the picture. They're also opting for anything that is not traditional in color or flavor. Ruehle says that a few weekends ago, she had three brides ordering cakes in shades of green, between avocado and green apple.

Even chocolate is becoming more popular for the main cake. "Brides have noticed that when the groom's cake is chocolate, it goes first, and then there's all this leftover white cake," says Donna Nino of Opulent Cakes in Colleyville. "When the wedding cake is chocolate, there's more of that to go around."

Of course, if the wedding cake is not standard, then the groom's cakes are often really out-there. Don't be surprised if you go to a wedding and enjoy a piña colada- or a Grand Marnier orange-flavored groom's cake. Or no cake at all. Reuhle says that at one wedding, the groom's table was all about little tartlets of Key lime and other flavors.

More memorable meals

Individuality is also reaching the tabletop. Melinda Massie, owner of Melinda Massie Events and Consulting in Fort Worth, says that she is seeing more interest in small bites and micro-food stations, especially if the bride and groom come from different ethnic backgrounds or have different favorite cuisines. Even upscale comfort food is finding its way into this concept.

"Quite a bit of detail goes into presenting small bites," she says. "This detail instantly adds more style and an easy elegance to cocktail party-style receptions. Micro-stations also offer the luxury of a full meal while allowing for more overall variety in the menu."

Even table settings are getting more attention. Fran Hinkle, a sales associate at Fort Worth's Dishes From the Past, says that clients are asking to have the chargers on their table settings monogrammed, and that pattern-mixing, which adds texture and dimension to tables, is becoming more commonplace.

Receptions with personality

To personalize a reception or other wedding event, Ed Barrett of Colleyville's Signature Productions likes adding photos around the venue, from the traditional engagement picture to family photos, even incorporating them into table centerpieces.

Here's a great idea that comes from Julie Eastman of Extraordinary Events & Design in Fort Worth, who added an extra surprise to one couple's wedding at the Van Cliburn Recital Hall at Bass Hall. She had movie posters created of the couple, with graphics with the title, the stars (so-and-so as "The Bride," so-and-so as "The Groom") and a clever critic's quote, all over a stylish photo of the couple.

"Everyone was talking about them," Eastman says. "I don't think I could have done anything that would have surprised and pleased [the bride] more."

Barrett says he recently saw another interesting, creative idea, from a bride whose mother wanted her to wear her wedding dress. The bride didn't fancy that suggestion, so in the lobby of the wedding venue, he created a display of not only the bride's mother's wedding dress, but also the wedding dress worn by the groom's mother. They were on mannequins, with photos from both weddings surrounding them. "It was very popular with guests," he says.