Today’s brides and grooms are creating celebrations that don’t follow anyone’s rules but their own: The schedule, formality, bridal party, even the location are becoming a matter of personal, sometimes out-of-the-box choice.
More Daytime Ceremonies: Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events, author of A Great Party (Rizzoli New York), says he’s seeing a resurgence in popularity of daytime weddings, specifically those taking place in the morning or early afternoon. “This places focus on the ceremony, emphasizing that it’s of real importance and not just part of whole experience,” says Rafanelli. “An then there can be a more relaxed experience for the meal to follow.”
Black Tie Formality: Still, some couples don’t want casual or relaxed celebrations and would rather go all out, planning formal events and asking guests to dress in black tie attire, says Rafanelli, who expects to see more black tie in 2020. “Everyone looks beautiful in black tie attire,” says Rafanelli. “When you look back at photos, you see how stunningly timeless they are.”
Blended Bridal Parties: Couples aren’t worrying about traditional “rules” for who can play which role in their bridal party any more, says Lauren Grech, CEO of LLG Events in New York City. Instead, they’re simply choosing the best person for the job, regardless of gender or relationship. For example, there have been many “man of honors,” “man’s maids,” “best women” and “grooms-women.” Even parents and grandparents can be included in a couple’s wedding party.
Surprise Destinations: Grech says destination weddings are always popular but she’s seen more requests for them in the past few months than she has in the past five years combined. “People are exploring places that weren’t typical for destination weddings in the past,” she says. “I have requests for Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Bora Bora, Bali, New Zealand and Australia... The wedding world has become so global through digital media.”
“A canopy of greenery looks lush during the day and dramatic at night.”— Benjamin Newbold, creative director, floral & events at Winston Flowers in Boston and New York City.
Today’s couples want to make guests feel at home, and so everything from furniture to tableware — even the flooring — is taking inspiration from interior design as brides and grooms make careful, super-stylish decor selections.
Bringing the Indoors Out: “Companies like West Elm and Restoration Hardware have inspired people to bring wood furniture and even hardwood floors outside,” says Grech. “They really want to create a living-room type of environment outdoors.”
Creative Scenery: “It’s all about making memories that last, especially with the advent of social media where photos go on to live indefinitely,” says Benjamin Newbold, creative director of floral and events at Winston Flowers. “We’re seeing a major shift to playful vignettes that add color and whimsy to the big day.”
Bold Colors: Say goodbye to the white and pale blush weddings of 2019. 2020 is bringing colors such as deep and hot pinks, salmon and violet. “We predict saturated blooms: brightly colored peonies and ranunculus during warm spring months and dahlias in dramatic hues come fall,” Newbold says.
Ferns and Potted Plants: Grech says couples are requesting potted plants to use as décor elements, alongside traditional cut flowers. Rafanelli agrees, saying lush ferns are making a splash, both in low containers and as tall, textured centerpieces. “Cascading textures of green intricately woven throughout the ceiling of a tent complemented by hanging lanterns offer a dreamy ambience similar to that of dining under the stars,” Newbold enthuses.
Creative Stationery: Grech says couples are leaning toward the classic with their invitation designs, but that they also might find one impactful way to make theirs unique. They are, however, getting playful with their save-the-dates, says Rafanelli, as painterly, creative motifs, such as watercolor, continue to gain in popularity.
Mirrors & Reflections: Expect to see reflective surfaces make a big comeback in 2020. “We’ve started having mirrored tabletops and bars, and even disco balls, at weddings,” says Sarah Banasiak, chief creative officer of Revel Global Events in Chicago, Illinois. “Mirrors make a room feel bigger, and they create an interesting glow, especially when candlelight is reflected off of them.”
Daring Patterns: Wedding décor is getting a splash of personality with patterns, says Banasiak and her team at Revel. Not only can tablecloths and curtains carry bold pattern, but dance floors can be done in a checkerboard or another motif as an anchor point in the middle of the reception room. One couple even replicated the tile pattern from their own home remodel on their dance floor.
Food & Drink
There’s no question today’s brides and grooms are putting emphasis on serving guests a meal they’ll savor and remember long after the wedding day. Fresh, local ingredients continue to take center stage at the table. Couples are skipping the seated meal, opting for passed mini bites instead. Serving hearty fare like mini croque monsieurs allows guests to mingle freely and still feel satiated.
Restaurant-Style Meals: “Couples want more of a restaurant vibe for their wedding dinner, giving guests a culinary journey,” says Bryn Dyar, Senior Wedding Producer for Limelight Catering in Chicago, Illinois. “For example, in lieu of salad, we might serve a steak tartare with potato chips, fois gras bites, and a raw fish dish like a sashimi.”
Feast for the Senses: Couples continue to choose fresh, local ingredients to feature in their wedding menus, and many times, they’re having them cooked on full display for guests to see and smell, says Cheryl Stair, co-owner, Art of Eating Caterers & Event Planning in the Hamptons, New York. “Brides are after the simple, natural, ‘farmy’ menus, from hors d’oeuvres through dinner, dessert and even the after-party,” says Stair.
Interactive Food and Drink: Couples want their guests to feel involved in the process,” says Pamela Pimiento, senior catering sales manager, Wolfgang Puck Catering. She and her team have created build-your-own crepe, cobbler and salad stations. Her colleague, Emily Kraus, the company’s national beverage manager, says they’ve also taken the same approach to drinks. “The bar carts provide an opportunity for guests to get up close with the bartender and create a customized drink. The bride and groom choose one spirit and then we complement it with a variety of house-made syrups, fresh fruits and herbs, tonics, bitters and vintage ice cubes.”
New Twists on Drink Bars: Some guests want to enjoy non-alcoholic drinks, and to that end, other beverages will be getting more attention at 2020 weddings. Grech says having a fresh juice press, an infused tea bar, or a LaCroix water station are all gaining popularity. Specialty coffee bar stations with different coffee types and add-ins like chocolate, cinnamon and oat milk are a sure hit.
The Guest Experience
In 2020, couples will be doing everything they can to ensure guests feel welcome, engaged and valued, and that their time is important.
Thoughtful Shot List: Rafanelli is seeing couples ask for group photos of the whole wedding party or even all the wedding’s guests together. “It might be on a stage or a rambling porch,” he says. “It captures this moment in time and creates a sense of community at a wedding.” Plus, it’s a meaningful keepsake for everyone who’s sharing in the day. Grech says some brides and grooms aren’t doing a long couples’ photo session on the day of the wedding and rather are getting dressed again the next day for pictures. This way, they can spend more time with guests on the big day itself.
Unique Performances: Wedding entertainment will go way beyond band and DJs in 2020. Grech says she’s recently hired exciting performers for wed- dings, including The Rockettes, synchronized swimmers, stilt walkers, acrobats, fire twirlers and more, and she expects to see many more showstopping acts dazzle wedding guests this year.
In-House After Parties: Instead of moving elsewhere for an after-party, couples are opting to keep the bash going in the same venue. To get the party started, a DJ will start playing, and the lighting will switch to a more club-like look. “Some people think if they move, they’ll lose people,” says Banasiak. “Lighting can change a room in a heartbeat.”
Cakes & Sweets
Painted Buttercream: For an artistic twist on the traditional wedding cake, couples are asking for their buttercream frosting to be painted in both impressionistic and expressionistic styles, says Jay Muse, chef and partner of Lulu Cake Boutique in Scarsdale and New York City. The result is a dessert that almost looks too good to eat. Cake color trends fall into two different camps, with daring hues like red on call to complement like-minded vibrant wedding-color palettes, and quieter shades taking their place at receptions featuring softer shades. Muted shades like mauve, taupe and grey are emerging in popularity. Sage green is becoming more popular, too, says Muse, who notes that these hues echo the burgeoning popularity of greyish greens as seen in eucalyptus and lamb’s ear.
Asymmetrical Stacks: Instead of centering each cake tier, more couples are asking for theirs to be stacked, all to one side. “This gives a cake a very modern feel but also can lend itself to a more organic look,” Muse says. For example, the asymmetrical placement can create one tall wall on one side of the cake, for sugar flowers and vines to trail down, or another dramatic detail to be placed.
Wide Selection: Dessert tables full of different options are being offered, with special attention given to gluten-free options and sweets that are both gluten- and dairy-free, says Kristin Collins, founder and owner of Fluff Meringues & More, a bakery in Austin, Texas. So instead of one dessert for all guests, Collins says couples are placing greater emphasis on variety, not only to satisfy different tastes but also various dietary restrictions.
Dessert Bars: Collins is getting many requests for Fluff Meringue’s signature pavlova bar. Guests are provided with a meringue shell and can fill it with a pastry cream or mousse of their choice and top it with fruit, nuts and decadent drizzles. “The setup is gorgeous and making the desserts is a fun way for guests to interact.”
Muse is using local ingredients to create cakes with farm-to-table flavors, including bourbon caramel, lavender-infused ganache, and a richly spiced honey cake. The results are both delectable and a sweet nod to the wedding’s locale.