For many people, the phrase "wedding ice sculpture" conjures up mental images of 1980s receptions complete with puffed sleeves, bridesmaid with permed hair, and endless amounts of taffeta. But like any other art form, the practice of ice sculpting has evolved: No longer limited to the same few designs, modern sculptors use computer technology and limitless creativity to come up with frozen products that fit any wedding style, says Casey Lee Connor, founder of Ice Lab in Baltimore, Maryland. "We try to consistently push the envelope and develop ideas that no one has ever seen before," he says. "Generally if someone has a new idea that may sound a little crazy at first, we try to figure it out rather than just push a menu of items we've done a million times back at them."
The Ice Lab team focuses on more modern sculpting, incorporating symmetry and clean lines as much as possible. "This is the field in which ice sculptures have really stepped up their game," says Connor. "We can now use computer technology to cut exact lines and then use our sculptor's artistic skill to then go in and add the little details by hand." The end result: Intricately detailed ice luges shaped like diamond rings or the couple's monogram; they're even able to cut the couple's custom logo or other design elements from the wedding's invitation suite and signage into ice. "We like to tie it all together and keep it classic and clean," says Connor.
If a large-scale ice sculpture doesn't feel like your style, incorporate the romantic, diamond-inspired shimmer of ice in a more unexpected way: with tall, multilevel votive candleholders; a backlit block of ice with flowers frozen inside it; an entire bar "built from the ground up" out of ice; or carved blocks of ice incorporated into centerpieces by raising the floral arrangements. Another option: Ice displays for presenting a seafood buffet or ice beverage dispensers that guests can use to help themselves to sparkling water or juice. For major impact, Ice Lab creates a curtain of suspended ice blocks that couples use as a photo backdrop or focal point. "It's basically an art install that changes as the event goes on," says Connor. "It has a slight waterfall affect and magically catches the light like a prism."
Another option: Take a modern, minimalist approach by opting for custom ice cubes. "We can do small monograms or logos that are literally engraved into the ice that sit inside of everyone's specialty cocktail at the reception," says Connor. "It's next level personalization that most folks have not seen yet." The ice cubes may melt even faster than a large-scale sculpture, but they'll be just as memorable.