2020 was a year unlike any other and 2021 will follow in suit, but it will hopefully be from a place of recovery and revival. In the wake of the pandemic, many engaged couples have been left in the lurch and wondering when they will get to celebrate the wedding of their dreams.
As the wedding industry picks up steam in 2021, there’s no doubt that we will see some new trends emerging as a result of all that we’ve learned and experienced in 2020.
Here’s what the experts are predicting for weddings in the year to come.
Looking ahead, trending colors for the following year can almost always be projected to line up with the Pantone Color of the Year announcement, with Ultimate Gray and Illuminating being the dynamic duo for 2021.
“Along with a surge of gray hues and hopeful yellow shades, we can expect pastels and similarly bold colors paired with muted neutrals to follow suit. Both symbolic and on-trend in equal measure, this coupling of colors will pave the way for a new era of bright and unexpected complemented with dark and striking,” notes Kylie Carlson, owner of The Wedding Academy and creator of the annual International Wedding Trend Report, set to debut this weekend.
2020 feels like it has been the year of Zoom meetings, with everything from birthday parties and happy hours to work meetings and weddings (yes, weddings!) facilitated via video conferencing. As the industry navigates recovery, we’ll see hybrid celebrations arise to accommodate all guests.
Jamie Chang, owner and destination wedding planner for Mango Muse Events, elaborates: “2020 was the birth of the DIY Zoom wedding and 2021 is going to be about the elevated hybrid wedding. Part in person wedding, part virtual wedding, but all professionally done so that the audio and visual is top notch, there are special touches for both sets of guests, and a well thought out flow and plan so that it's fun for everyone.”
Destination weddings continue to be a popular choice, but with the tentative state of travel in 2021, expect to see these getaway celebrations held closer to home. Couples want the experience of heading out of town with loved ones, but they’ll keep it within a few hours for safety and simplicity’s sake.
“Destination weddings are super popular,” affirms Kimberly Morrill, wedding planner and owner of Your Perfect Bridesmaid. “While the destinations are only a few hours away, I am noticing that a lot of couples are choosing to invite their friends and family to join them for a wedding weekend. We have a lot of couples looking to travel a few hours away from their home base for their celebration, and I think that makes sense. We haven't been able to travel or gather all year. A mini destination wedding is the best way to do both with our favorite people.”
Shorter guest lists open up the possibilities for event spaces, as you don’t have to be quite as concerned about fire codes, seating capacity, and other parameters that come into play with larger events.
Shannon Tarrant, founder of WeddingVenueMap.com, elaborates: “With a surge in planning more intimate weddings, choosing unique wedding venues will be a big trend in 2021. Engaged couples will consider more outside-the-box ideas including local restaurants where they had their first date, gallery-type blank spaces, private residences with beautiful potential to build their own event, or even renting a vacation home where the celebration can continue for an entire week.”
Many couples have had to wait for their big day, so they want every element to be just right. As a result, expect to see a special focus on the little details that go a long way in creating a beautifully personal celebration.
“Because their guest counts are smaller, they really want every piece of the day to be special,” says founder of Bubbles & Bowties, Juls Sharpley. “We're seeing brides have custom linens made, picking really special tabletop elements, and even investing in some pieces they would love to keep and have in their new homes for future entertaining! Everything from embroidered napkins, to specialty candle holders and beyond. We're also seeing a focus on really beautiful florals with brides selecting florists who take a more artistic and almost architectural approach to their floral arrangements and bloom choices.”
The pandemic wasn’t the only thing that rocked the world in 2020. Countries across the globe faced social justice movements as diverse communities fought for equal rights for people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, body sizes, and beliefs. As a result, couples will demand inclusive vendor teams that represent the market as a whole.
Emily Loxtercamp, social media, marketing, and event specialist of The Renaissance, explains: “The past few years have played a significant role in bringing more well-deserved attention to social justice and human rights issues across the world, especially in 2020. In 2021 couples are predicted to be more mindful when deciding who to hire for their big day. Couples will be seeking out diverse vendors from different communities and backgrounds, and ones who stand up and use their voices, and provide five-star services as well.”
Sweetheart necklines and A-line silhouettes will always have their place, but brides are experimenting with fresh design ideas for their wedding gowns. In 2021, different is better!
“‘Non-Traditional’ bridal gowns have gone mainstream and Brides are loving it,” assures Jennifer Feldstein, chief bridal stylist for The Last Minute Bride. “We’re seeing an increase in requests for brides looking for alternative length dresses including tea-length and midi-length. Floor-length wedding dresses with no train, small sweep train, or detachable trains provide increased flexibility for small spaces, outdoor ceremonies, elopements, and courthouse weddings.”
2020 has been challenging for everyone, but many couples have found solace and support within their communities. In planning their weddings, to-be-weds will be more intentional about giving back to those in need.
“After a 2020 none of us soon will forget, 2021 looks to be one of gratitude and filled with a desire to give back,” shares Nora Sheils, co-founder of Rock Paper Coin and founder of Bridal Bliss. “Our couples have a desire to give back to the community in which they are getting married, many even asking where the flowers can be donated to following the celebration. This consciousness is even stretching into attire, as brides are looking to purchase ethically sourced gowns. Giving back are words we hear more and more (words we love), to both the community and to their loved ones choosing to celebrate with them.”
DIY projects were popular several years ago, but we saw them fade out a bit as the market shifted towards refined, luxury details. However, the pandemic has pushed many people to stay home and lean into their creativity, so expect to see DIY elements come back with a vengeance.
“DIY will be all the rage,” states Joan Wyndrum, founder of Blooms By The Box. “As couples have found themselves spending more time at home, they are honing their DIY skills to use during their weddings. From floral arranging, decor, seating charts to escort cards, creativity and the personal DIY touches will be ever popular.”
When we do return to “business as usual,” we’ll likely see large and extravagant festivities rise to the surface as people flock together to celebrate a new chapter in many regards.
“I anticipate many couples will want to throw a rager of a wedding,” predicts Gretchen Culver, owner and creative director for Rocket Science Events. “People have been alone for so long, cooped up in their homes with limited human interaction, that they are ready to bust some moves on a dance floor. Expect lavish affairs with large guest counts from couples who want to celebrate in a big way. The guest experience will be key for these couples. They will want to give their guests the time of their lives and will prioritize decor, food and drink, and entertainment.”
As 2021 rolls around, there will surely be an adjustment period as the pandemic is resolved and the industry sets its sights on rebuilding. These trends will help turn the page on a new chapter, with couples leaning into intentionality and meaningfulness that will drive their wedding plans.
More bespoke, beautiful trends are available in the Wedding Trend Report 2021 to help inspire you during your planning experience.