Describing wedding ice sculptures as "traditional" may be putting it gently—we recently heard someone describe them as "so unbelievably '80s that they only belong on a yacht with Goldie Hawn on the set of the move Overboard." But is that description of these classic big-day décor elements really fair? While it's true that your grandmother or mother may have chosen ice sculptures for their own wedding receptions, modern-day ice installations often feel much cooler (pun intended). In fact, like many other iconic wedding elements from years past, the pros tell us that ice sculptures are not quite as outdated as you might think, and that they firmly believe there's still a place for these details on your big day.
"Ice sculptures are going through somewhat of a renaissance," says Casey L. Connor, founder of modern ice sculpting company Ice Lab in Baltimore, Maryland. "The ice sculpture industry has seen nothing but an increase year over year since the early 2000s." New computer-based carving techniques give ice sculptors more room for innovative design than ever before, while the creativity and imagination of enthusiastic couples provides inspiration. "The increase in popularity surely comes from the increase in new possibilities," says Connor. "If the client has a vision then we are going to try to make it a reality."
The Ice Lab team takes care of all the how-tos involved with the sculpture, from transport to temperature, so the wedding season or venue isn't an issue. "We have set up ice for every imaginable scenario, location, and theme," Connor says. "It's on a rooftop in July with no access elevator? We will see you there." Which means couples who want to incorporate a monogram, thematic element, or art piece don't need move an outdoor wedding inside or give up their prime summer date; they just need to decide where to display the sculpture once it arrives.
If you're not sold on a large-scale sculptures of years past but like the look of ice carvings, you can incorporate a variety of other products into your décor: Try frozen flower arrangements, seafood stations displayed on ice towers, luges for perfectly-chilled drinks at the bar, or beverage dispensers for juice or sparkling water—ideal for upping the presentation factor at your alcohol-free wedding or your summer cocktail hour. "Generally we try to capture the couple's style and personality, and then we produce an ice display with a cohesive aesthetic that matches their wedding," says Connor. "If there is a theme, there is an ice sculpture that fits it. It's our job to worry about all the in-between."
And if you're hesitating due to the fleeting nature of an ice sculpture, that ephemeral feeling is often what makes it so perfectly suited to a wedding. "Ice is a romantic medium to work with," says Connor. "It is a bit sad to see it go, but that adds to the art form. I think folks enjoy it that much more because it's about that evening and you have to soak it in while you are in the moment."