While 2020 introduced a new set of wedding planning obstacles, from delayed weddings to technical issues while live-streaming, we’re seeing a silver lining in 2021: couples playfully embracing their nuptials with a strong focus on their unique bond. “Couples have more time now than before and are using it to get personal with the wedding details!” Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events explains.
If nothing else, the challenges of 2020 put a spotlight on the important things in life. With soulful inflection driving decision making in the wedding industry, there is now less focus on who, when, and where and more on the substance of the event and the two people joining their lives together.
These elements culminate to create intimate, meaningful weddings centered around personal details rather than mass-produced events of the past. Industry professionals like Meyer, and Amy Shack Egan of Modern Rebel, weigh in on the top wedding trends for couples tying the knot in 2021.
1. Virtual and hybrid weddings
Virtual weddings were a natural reaction to the social distancing regulations of 2020. While the vaccine is being distributed, couples are shifting to a hybrid approach, inviting select guests in person and others to view the ceremony online to keep everyone safe. Streaming your nuptials has never been easier, but making them special for you and your guests can present an obstacle. Try a drive-by reception line after you finish your “I dos” for that celebratory touch.
2. Environmentally-minded couples
With guest lists shrinking, paper save the dates and invitations are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Virtual save the dates are not only greener than paper alternatives, but they will also reserve the date via a calendar invite for a streamlined process (and a less cluttered refrigerator door). An added bonus, guests also have easy access to the couple’s registry!
3. Supporting diverse vendors
Mindful community support has become paramount to couples when planning a wedding. “We’re seeing our couples pay closer attention to which vendors they support, as putting their dollars towards female-, POC-, Black- and LGBTQ+-owned businesses is more important than ever. We’re hoping this isn’t a trend and that it continues forever and ever,” Egan says.
A light was shined on social justice last year, and the wedding industry is upping its collective game in continuing to patronize businesses representing minority groups. Black wedding pros like San Antonio-based wedding planner Jordan Maney have played a significant role in leading this charge.
“In 2021, it’s not just about a vendor’s product, it’s about what they stand for, and couples are seeking out vendors who stand up for social justice and make beautiful work,” Meyer says. “As a company, we work primarily with women, people of color, and queer people and are launching an Ally Pledge this month to really show where we stand and what we believe in—love above hate!”
4. Bespoke weddings
The wedding factory method is a thing of the past in 2021. Couples are saying goodbye to reception halls with set menus, centerpieces, and more and leaning into venues where they can control all aspects of their big day. “Given that the average time couples spend together has gone way up in the pandemic, we’re seeing couples be more intentional about how their wedding reflects them as a couple rather than a manufactured wedding experience,” Egan explains.
As smaller weddings are now the name of the game, attention to detail is becoming more important as everything in sight carries meaning to the soon-to-be newlyweds. “From a rise in handwritten notes to couples pouring their personalities into the design via stationery, menus, florals, and food, weddings are getting more personal, and I love it!” Meyer says.
5. Color is the new white
Keeping with the bespoke wedding vibe, colorful accents are taking over the industry, and it’s about time. “Couples are leaning into bold, colorful weddings and shying away from whites and creams!” Meyer explains. “More and more couples are pushing the typical ideas of wedding decor and moving in the direction of fun, bright and happy!”
Intimate ceremonies have been creeping back into view even before COVID-19 struck, but 2020 made them a necessity. The upside to a small wedding? Couples have been able to spend more of their budget on aspects of their big day that mean the most to them, whether that’s a carefully curated multicourse meal or the outfit of their dreams. Paring down attendees also allows couples to interact with every person individually instead of getting in your five minutes with each table of ten.
7. Bye to black tie
As people have embraced that work-from-home style, the laidback trend has pulled through to reception attire. No, sweatpants are not on the docket, but stylish comfort is. “Couples are leaning into more approachable, fun-forward celebrations and saying goodbye to stuffy tuxedos and gowns,” Meyer says. This shift in fashion not only keeps guests relaxed, but it alleviates the stress of finding an over-the-top outfit befitting traditional nuptials.
8. Party on
Everyone is missing family and friends as shelter in place orders extend into the new year. As a result, spouses-to-be are eager to make every moment with their guests special.
“Couples are moving away from a one-day wedding and leaning into multi-day celebrations including full weekends away with those they love most,” Meyer says. “Sometimes these weddings even add an additional night of festivities on a Thursday, so guests can arrive, settle in, hang out, and spend time together ahead of the wedding. This extra time makes the wedding even more amazing, as there is a bond between guests that would not have been there otherwise.”
9. Daytime and weekend weddings
As the canceled wedding dates of 2020 begin to find their footing in 2021, weekends are booking up quickly, forcing couples wanting to tie the knot this year to get creative. Expect to see invites for weekday or even Sunday morning weddings. Don’t be surprised if you see a rise in garden parties or brunch-themed weddings that leverage the sunshine.
10. Embracing the great outdoors
Keeping celebrations outside not only allows for a few additional guests, but it’s also safer for attendees while COVID-19 surges into 2021.
“More and more couples want an outdoor element to their wedding, be it their ceremony, cocktail hour, reception, or all of the above!” Meyer explains. “Couples are leaning into nature and fresh air in ways they haven’t in the past! In 2021 and moving forward, outdoor weddings will be on-trend as they are also safer for guests and vendors. Tented weddings are the new ballroom!”