Mix-and-Match bridesmaid dresses in the same color family. Photo by Maria Olech.
Wedding Trends come and go, but one thing is always in style: gorgeous.
“I have brides coming in now saying, “I don’t want a Pinterest wedding,’” says Kathleen Mahan, events manager at Helwig Winery. “They’re starting to feel ‘less is more,’ and are using the backdrop of the venue or using the look of the season. It’s simpler and more elegant.”
Wedding planner Kate Whelan agrees, adding: “The ‘rustic’ trend is definitely moving toward ‘glamorous’ now. We’re still seeing a lot of all-white, or blush and gold, or white and gold, but more color vibrancy, especially a pop of color.”
Brides are wearing fewer long trains; “floating floral” arrangements for hair are pretty. Groomswear is also changing. “Men are choosing suits over tuxedos,” says wedding planner Lora Ward. “In more relaxed weddings, the jacket is eliminated for groomsmen.” And possibly the most fun trend of all: mix-and-match bridesmaid dresses. They might all be the same (vibrant) color, but different styles; or they might each be an entirely unique dress.
This eclectic look—with a shot of jewel tones—is also showing up in the flowers. “It’s very natural and beautiful—as though a bride runs through the forest and grabs some blooms, arranges them in her hands,” says Mark Fahey, head designer at Becky’s Flowers in Roseville. “There are still a lot of blush colors, but now the bride will say, ‘Let’s have a really bright color right here.’”
There is an “organic/botanical” trend in invitations, too. “It’s nothing like the olden days, with fine linen and tissue,” says Ward. “These have lots of flowers, are relaxed and on card stock.” In fact, she says, many websites can help you create a unique and beautiful design (minted.com, for example).
Weddings are definitely getting smaller and more intimate, say experts. “Most of our weddings are 120 to 150 people,” says Mahan, “whereas just a few years ago, it was more like 200 to 350. We even have weddings cutting way back to 80 to 130. Couples want to spend more time with their guests, not just throw a big party. They want to be able to walk around and talk to everyone.”
This intermingling can even happen before the ceremony, in what is being called a “pre-social.” On a practical level, these 30-to-45 minutes allow for both early birds (afraid of getting lost) and latecomers (who did get lost). But it can also set a friendly and welcoming tone. “I’ll have self-serve sangria or lemonade, or servers with champagne on silver trays,” says Ward. “It’s a gathering time, where people can talk and hug, catch up with each other, before walking in and sitting down quietly for the ceremony.” She says occasionally the bride and groom will even join this event, and greet their guests as they arrive.
Couples are also mixing up reception activities so it is more of an “experience,” less a tired tradition. These include lawn games—such as croquet and bocce ball—or vintage oversize furniture set up for lounging and talking. “People also like food stations, again for the interaction,” says Whelan. “Or I have couples asking for wine tastings, or small plate food pairings with wine or beer.”
Turning the reception into a food truck event is increasingly popular, too. “The standard beef or chicken dinner has been done a million times,” says Brian Stansberry, owner of The Flavor Face, which specializes in “international gourmet fusion” food. “And I have a 20-foot truck with a 55-inch LED TV on the side, so I can play the couple’s slideshow.”
Continuing this experience trend, couples are frequently opting for live music—both at the ceremony and reception—as well as professional lighting. “It used to be lighting was very expensive, but it’s much more accessible and affordable now,” says Laurie Schmalzel, sales manager for Classique Catering. “It makes a big difference in how things look— whether it’s the food or the people.” Uplighting can bring attention to the architectural details of the venue; also popular are market lights and vintage Edison bulbs.
Unlike the distant past, where marriages mostly joined two families, today’s wedding is increasingly seen as a romantic day for the bride and groom. Thus the upticks in elopements, which involve just the couple, or the couple and a very small wedding party. It is also reflected in the photography, even at a big event. “Brides and grooms want a lot fewer family portraits and a lot more romantic portraits,” says Beth Baugher of True Love Photography. More time is set aside to shoot just the newlyweds, she says, without their attendants or relatives, especially outdoors and at sunset (on the roof of the Citizen Hotel, for instance).
Some wedding professionals even make it a point to let the bride and groom slow down and savor their personal experience together. “Often I’ll just say to the couple, ‘Could you come with me for a minute?’” says Ward (whose business is in fact called A Day to Remember). She might take them to a vantage point, where they can oversee their event. “Take a breath,” she urges. “Look around at your party, look around at your guests.”