The co-star of TLC's 'Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta,' will be the celebrity guest at the Columbus Weddings Show presented by Worthington Jewelers.

This story first appeared in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Columbus Weddings, published December 2018.

On Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, Monte Durham helps brides-to-be find the gown of their dreams. But thanks to his background as a wedding planner, Durham has plenty of other advice to offer engaged couples. Read on for just a few of the topics he touched on during a recent chat, and be sure to attend the Columbus Weddings Show presented by Worthington Jewelers, Jan. 12-13 at the Ohio Expo Center’s Cardinal Hall, to see Durham live. Don’t miss your chance to purchase a VIP meet-and-greet ticket to chat with Durham before his stage presentation at the show; visit cbusweddings.com for details and ticket sales.

Here Comes the Bride

We spoke with Durham shortly after New York Bridal Fashion Week in October, and he was full of feedback on the fashion forecast for bridal.

“A lot of people attribute it to Meghan Markle, the new Duchess of Sussex, but we saw a lot of simple gowns,” he says. “Coverage, not necessarily in long sleeves, but in higher necklines, cap sleeves. And embellishment, meaning embroidery and sewing techniques as opposed to a lot of beading or bling.” Veils are becoming a key accessory again, “and we are seeing jewelry come back,” he says. “Very simple, no chandelier earrings until the reception.”

To that end, Durham has some specific tips on a simple way to change your look from bridal at the ceremony to party hostess at the reception.

“Put three things in your purse: a smoky eye pencil, a red lipstick and chandelier earrings,” he says. “You take off your studs or drop earrings, put on the chandeliers. Roll your bottom lip with red and blot it. … And then you take that smoky eye pencil, [line the] corners, bottom and top, of your eyelids and smudge it. And you’ve got a totally different look with three simple things.”

Make Room for the Groom

“I’m predicting the men are going to have a stronger seat in [planning]. I’m seeing it already. It’s amazing—these guys are stepping up to the plate about this. It’s great,” Durham says. “They’re really [planning their wedding] as a joint effort. I think we’re going to see that trend continue.”

When it comes to what they’re actually wearing, Durham says current trends—navy blue suiting with brown shoes and belts—will continue. “And a lot of guys aren’t wearing tuxedos, unless it’s a very formal affair,” he says, adding that the addition of vests to a standard suit is rising in popularity as well.

Mum’s the Word

“The most important thing, after you’ve gotten your dress and your attendees’—your maids’—is your mother,” Durham says. “Everybody wants their mom to look good.” His biggest tip for mothers of the bride and groom is to focus on color, not silhouette. “I tell them to look at the colors that are going to be in the wedding party and try to find a deeper shade or a shade in that family.”

Women with blue eyes look great in cool colors, Durham says, and brown eyes pair well with warm tones. If your mother has green eyes, burgundies and reds look wonderful. And if she’s blonde? “Don’t wear taupe or beige,” he cautions. “It washes you out all the way.”

And while the old rule about the mother of the bride choosing her gown before the mother of the groom can largely be ignored, the two should at least coordinate on their hem lengths. “You don’t want a cocktail length and a formal, because that would look like somebody didn’t get the message,” Durham says.

Please Be Seated

“You’ve got to remember, your guests are going to be seated, for the most part, anywhere from 65 to 75 percent of the night or day,” Durham says. From predinner toasts to dessert and resting in between dance numbers, the tables are natural gathering places for guests. “So the table really needs to be a focus point.” To that end, flower arrangements are moving lower, sometimes even taking the form of a long cascade down the center in lieu of a table runner, Durham says, which facilitates easy conversation across the seats.

“I always say, give them something to read,” Durham adds. Whether it’s the story of how you met, how the proposal took place or even the meaning behind your somethings old, new, borrowed and blue, an anecdote printed on the back of the menu or on its own piece of card stock gives your guests “an idea of the importance of the day and the special attention to detail you gave it,” Durham says. “And it’s easy to do.”

Stay on Track

The most important thing to keep in mind as you plan your wedding is your theme—stick to it or risk lacking cohesion in your carefully planned event.

“I tell brides to take out a business card and on the back of it, write three things that are important to you and your wedding,” Durham says. It could be sophisticated, elegant and understated; casual, energetic and interactive; or even romantic, soft and beautiful. Whatever those three key ideas are, they should be the impetus behind all your planning decisions. Keep the card in your purse or wallet, and pull it out when you’re choosing flowers, stationery fonts or even menu options. “It is so easy to get distracted,” Durham says, “and this just kind of brings it back home to you a little bit.”