Each year brings a fresh crop of wedding trends to excite planners and couples alike—and with their arrival comes the exodus of those styles and fads that have definitely run their course. While some have been overused and could make your day look cookie-cutter, there are other trends that are no longer in play because of the events of the past year.
We asked some of our planners which trends should be left behind in the new year—and what couples can replace them with to still make their big day stand out.
Out: Large Weddings
In: Intimate Affairs
Even before the pandemic, couples were seeing the benefits of a smaller guest list. “Engaged couples now more than ever are seeing how cutting your guest list down to the essentials can help their wallets and improve their experience on the wedding day,” says Kay Northrup of Kay Northrup Events, who adds that couples are now able to call the shots because many are paying for their own vows. “They’ve basically bought the right to drop the archaic tradition that you must invite everyone you know. After all, money equals decision-making power, especially when it comes to planning your wedding.”
Out: Ballroom Weddings
In: Backyard Vows
There is something truly special about getting married in a backyard, says Suher Haidar of Forever Refined Events. After all, couples are able to take that blank slate and transform the space into their dream wedding venue, adding personal touches and bringing in vendors they really want to work with instead of being forced to hire someone by their catering hall. Backyards are also the perfect space for smaller events.
Out: Traditional First Dances
In: Unique Performances
Couples are having more fun with their first dances and turning the moment into a way to reflect their personalities and even celebrate their cultures. Carissa Corsi of Carissa Corsi Events explains how one of her clients has decided to showcase their Spanish heritage by performing a sexy salsa as their first dance in lieu of the usual slow dance.
Out: Zoom Weddings
In: Live Streaming
Sure, Zoom was fun for a while, but unless people are right in front of the computer at all times, it can be hard for people at home to really experience what is going on at the event. Corsi says that’s why one of her couples has hired a social media expert who will be live streaming their entire wedding day for guests who cannot make it.
Out: Flower Walls
In: Hanging Florals
We admit it, flower walls are beautiful, but they've been featured at so many weddings that they’ve lost their wow factor. Instead of focusing blooms into just one wall, spread them out or change the perspective by drawing guests’ eyes up with a hanging floral installation, suggests Michelle Garibay of Michelle Garibay Events.
Out: Wedding Formalities
In: Choosing What Works for You
All of those “must-do” wedding traditions—receiving lines, money dances, garter tosses, group dances, etc.—are now things of the past. “I think couples are realizing the fuss of these traditions just doesn't spark joy for them, so why do them? Next to go entirely will be bouquet tosses; give it a few years,” predicts Northrup.
Out: Cute Wedding Signs
In: Custom Signage
Those signs telling couples to “pick a seat, not a side” are cute, but they don’t really serve any real purpose. Garibay recommends working directly with your stationer to design custom signage that ties in with your invitation suite—and making sure those signs are actually useful, such as directing guests to the cocktail hour or letting them know where the restrooms are located. And when it comes to signage, less is definitely more.
Out: Table Numbers
In: Personalized Table Names
According to Corsi, couples are using their guest tables to share special moments from their relationship. In lieu of boring numbers, they are naming their tables after things that mean something to them, such as favorite songs, movies, or places they’ve visited together.
Out: Matching Bridesmaid Dresses
In: Same Color, Different Styles
Gone are the days where your bridesmaids wear matching shoes and gowns, says Simone Vega of Simone Vega Events. Instead, more bridesmaids will be wearing a gown in the color palette that the bride chooses, but in the style that they feel most comfortable in.
Out: Mason Jars
In: Other Repurposed Items
Wedding planners all agree: It’s time for mason jars to say farewell. “Mason jars have run their course, period,” says Holly Gray of Anything But Gray Events. “Try some mixed-metal galvanized tins, glass cylinders in different heights, or terracotta pots in different colors or sizes.”
Out: Wedding Favors
In: Extra Guest Experience
While the concept of wedding favors is a lovely sentiment, if guests had a choice between an additional tray passed appetizer option or a fun activity like a photo booth at a wedding, they would choose those over a favor any day, explains Gray.
Out: Catered Dinners
In: Creative Cocktail Receptions
Vega revealed that she has a few couples that are ditching the traditional sit-down dinner for a more flavorful cocktail reception, adding that couples are focusing on what they can offer their guests instead of just the usual beef, fish, and poultry choice.
Out: Champagne Toast
In: Artisan Cocktail
Instead of champagne glasses on a wall, consider crafting a unique cocktail and have servers greet guests with an artisan beverage that can then be used to toast the bride and groom, suggests Samantha Leenheer of Samantha Joy Events.
In: Unexpected Surprises
There’s always something magical about fireworks, but sadly, most fireworks are illegal. As for the commonly used sparklers, those can also be dangerous when you’re mixing fire and (often) inebriated guests. Instead, Garibay recommends showcasing smaller unexpected surprises as the event unfolds so all the guests can enjoy the experiences—not just those who stay until the end. Examples can be special entertainment, a balloon drop, or confetti cannons to kick off open dancing.
Out: Dessert Buffet
In: Wedding Cake
While couples opted for dessert buffets in an effort to be different, the wedding cake is definitely making a comeback—but not just a plain buttercream cake or small cutting cake. “A tiered cake that tastes as good as it looks with an intentional design in line with the aesthetic is the centerpiece of the reception,” explains Garibay. “It should complement the overall event design and tie in details from other aspects of the wedding.”
Want to take it a step further? Opt for individual cakes for each place setting, an interactive dessert, or a wall display of mini cakes.
Hero photo courtesy of By Julieta
View the full feature in Volume 1 of The Aisle magazine