The Top Wedding Trends of 2021
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(Courtesy of The Knot / https://www.theknot.com/content/new-wedding-trends)
Every year, The Knot Editors compile a list of wedding trends they forecast for the year ahead. Traditionally, this has encompassed color palettes, cake trends, floral inspiration and the excitement that comes with weddings. Over time, couples have leaned into experiences over aesthetics, creating hyper-personalized affairs and curated guest "moments." The onset of the coronavirus, however, cannot be overlooked as it relates back to weddings in 2021, and from the flames of a pandemic has arisen a need for the nouveau: new wedding trends, new experiences, new design elements, all to capture couples' new beginnings.
"Weddings aren't stopping," notes New York-based planner Amy Shey Jacobs of Chandelier Events. "And trends are born of necessity. For example: When I got married, save-the-dates weren't a thing. Now, we're seeing the need for change-the-dates too." As couples increasingly marry the necessity with the new, we welcome 2021 wedding trends as it's coupled with the Year of Intentionality.
While it's now standard to have hand sanitizer and social distancing signs available at events, the guest entry touch point is another way to make your loved ones feel that they're cared for on your wedding day. "With some weddings being downsized to more intimate numbers, you will see more guest-centered details, starting from welcome to send-off kits," predicts Georgia-based planner Terrica Skaggs of Cocktails & Details.
Already, couples have started to work with their pros to design welcome boxes, the experiential alternative to the welcome bag.
(After all, who doesn't like an unboxing?) The concept behind these boxes is to safely house all event necessities in one place, including personalized hand sanitizers, masks, programs and details, and even take-home favors, allowing guests to experience the warmth of being welcomed into the wedding weekend—a gift for all involved.
Tents and Twinkly Lights
Courtesy of Weekapaug Inn
As more outdoor weddings are taking place around the world, there's a surge in interest in wedding tents and mood lighting to bring a romantic and airy ambiance to every occasion. "Couples are leaning into nature and fresh air in ways they did not in the past," notes planner and designer Jove Meyer of his namesake firm. "In 2021 and moving forward, outdoor weddings will be on trend as they're also safer for guests and vendors. Tented weddings are the new ballroom."
Turn to your planners and venues for options to help with elegant and whimsical tented options, as well potential lighting technicians who can help create the exact ambiance you'd like. In all, the visual enhancement of pulling together drapery from tents with proper lighting provides an altogether different, fairy tale-like environment on your wedding day. Let the breeze and the brightness in.
A charcuterie board for one? Please and thank you. Smaller plates and individualized portions are on the upswing with examples including single-serve grazing boards, mason jars supplemented by dips and dressings and, even, picnic baskets (to stay or to go). Couples are finding safe and sweet ways to celebrate their unions with inventive cocktail hour themes. For example, one planner's cocktail hour for a Southern-themed wedding featured individualized bite-size portions of fried chicken, shrimp and grits and oysters Rockefeller all displayed on a single plate. Guests will be thrilled by its convenience and wowed by the presentation.
While a good best man and maid of honor toast is much appreciated, weddings will be innately more intimate in 2021, meaning most guests will have a rather close relationship to the couple. Multiple top planners and vendors predict the rise of "tiny toasts" at weddings, where loved ones are asked to share a fond memory of the couple, dinner party style.
"Speeches have become more casual," notes photographer Yumi Matsuo. "Since it feels more like a dinner party, the formality of speeches and toasts is gone. I had two weddings in a row where every guest had a speech prepared. In reverse, couples are also proposing tiny toasts to their loved ones for making it to their weddings by thanking them throughout the event in small ways.
You've seen mismatched bridesmaid dresses, but suddenly, coordinators and planners are going crazy for mismatched seating and tables. "This includes how your table is set against unique floor plans," notes Jacobs. "In the same way bridesmaids went from being matchy-matchy to mismatched, wedding tables are now being adjusted."
In the past, ceremony spaces and reception venues had standardized options for seating (square, rectangular, circular, the options are endless), often without mixing and matching layouts. With unconventional reception designs on the rise, mismatched tables (some for four and others for six) not only safely reflect this time, but they photograph magnificently.
Relaxed-but-formal environments are conducive to a similar style of entertainment, which planners are now referring to as cafe or bistro-style performances. We forecast an uptick in acoustic performances, dance tributes and a variety of musical options as a 2021 wedding trend. "As a planner being forced to think outside-the-box, it's created a new excitement for ideas," says Jacobs. "We're rife with inspiration."
If you really want to lean into the cafe aesthetic at your reception, consider hiring an acoustic group or have your DJ play coffee shop songs during a "coffee hour," and completing the concept with baristas serving lattes—with alcohol or simple decaf.
The Big Reveal
Couples are now waiting to share their first photos with an editorialized "moment" across social media. Suddenly, more couples are searching for "epic" announcement photos or unique aerial shots with their guests. The concept is to go big or go home.
"The microwedding trend persists and though, as a result, the guest count has reduced, the couple's desire for epic photos of the day has increased," explains Meyer. "I've been working with clients to create very styled shoots for their weddings, making the wedding day feel like part editorial shoot. Clients are spending more on a photographer and fashion than they would have in the past."
In total, 2021 wedding trends—reflective of more intimate affairs—are all about going deep on the details and accompanying experiences. Why not include an element of surprise or spontaneity? Whether it's having a mentalist perform or asking a celeb to sing your first dance song over Zoom, the options to delight your guests are endless.
"When you have a smaller wedding, you're reducing the way you would a sauce. It becomes tastier," says Masson. "When you reduce the guests you have, you can afford to enjoy more and focus on the smaller details… by incorporating components of couples' personalities that might be completely untraditional, but in the same vein seen and enjoyed as spontaneous. Guests love spontaneity. With smaller weddings, you take the time to actually figure out what you want and with less production. You're able to create something so incredibly delicious that's effortless and magical for everyone involved."
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