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In today’s episode, I’m forecasting some really fun and different 2021 wedding trends for what we can expect in 2021 in weddings. 2020 was kind of a dumpster fire, and I think we’re all ready for something different.
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The Highlights for 2021 Wedding Trends
2020 has been a crazy year and many of you are probably ready to put it behind you for many reasons.
I tend to agree because it was such an odd and challenging year. However, I also like to look at the silver lining of things and think about what we can learn from 2020 as a wedding industry.
In today's episode, I'm examining what happened in 2020 and forecasting what trends we can expect in 2021.
- Trend #1: Color – Bright, happy, and cheerful hues [04:04]
- #2 – More Couples Will Hire Wedding Planners [07:10]
- Trend #3 – Tents are the New Ballrooms[10:23]
- #4 – Sunday is the New Saturday [11:52]
- Trend #5 – Unexpected and Mismatched Seating Arrangements [13:55]
- #6 – More Comfortable Seating [17:00]
- Trend #7 – More Small Bites and Individual Servings [18:10]
- #8 – Smaller Guest Counts [21:08]
- Trend #9 – Bigger Budgets for the Little Things [23:25]
- #10 – Live entertainment that’s not a band or DJ [26:00]
Links Mentioned in Episode
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Disclosure: one or two of the links in this post might contain affiliate links, but they're links to the actual products we used and would use again. These links are at no cost to you and I may receive a small commission if you purchase from my link.
#1: Color for 2021 Wedding Trends
The 2020 Color of the Year according to Pantone was Classic blue. If you’re not familiar with Pantone, they’re best known for the Pantone Color Matching System. This is a crazy comprehensive proprietary color guide used in a variety of industries, like graphic design, fashion design, product design, printing and manufacturing and supporting the management of color from design to production, in physical and digital formats.
Basically, they helped us all speak the same language when it came to color. When I say forest green to a stationer and give them a PMS color, they know what I mean. They’re not going to give me Hunter green instead.
The Pantone Color Institute also comes out with a “Color of the Year” right about now. My favorite part? They say why they picked it.
When the Pantone Institute named Classic Blue the color of the year for 2020, they said it instilled “calm, confidence, and connection. This enduring blue highlights our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”
Based on this, I’m pretty confident that the 2021 color of the year will be a surprising and bright pastel hue, like a canary yellow, or bright pink (not to be confused with the 2019 Color of year Living Coral), or even something like aqua – think Caribbean.
Edited: On the day after I recorded the episode, Pantone designated Illuminating Yellow and Ultimate Gray as the colors of the year. So I was pretty spot on with my prediction of Canary Yellow!! Check out their announcement here. Can't wait to see how this pops up in 2021 weddings!
Love The Yellow? This Wolf Kahn Inspired Day Featured a Lot of Yellow. Or, check out my Pinterest board filled with wedding color trend inspiration.
What does this mean for weddings? For many, 2020 was a challenging and dark time. I think couples will embrace happy, light colors in their wedding to celebrate.
I also think this past year will encourage couples to add dimension in their wedding aesthetic, opting for color instead of whites, creams and neutrals. I’m super excited for this as I’m not a white-and-green wedding planner. I love layering colors and textures to make the day feel rich and full. Plus, white and green has been done SO MUCH. It’s had it’s time. Now it’s time to move on.
#2 – More Couples Will Hire Wedding Planners
This is one of my favorite 2021 wedding trends predictions. Because of the pandemic, many couples had to postpone, reschedule multiple times, or cancel their weddings. It was a very stressful and scary time because of the many unknowns.
Those who were already working with planners were saved the brunt of the stress as they had an ally to help them work through the many postponements and contract renegotiations.
Those who didn’t have a planner, even a person for wedding management or month-of, were left to figure it out on their own.
As a planner, I worried about them I was afraid they would be taken advantage of or have a more difficult time dealing with the changes with their vendors because they didn’t have an advocate like a planner who could help them navigate this novel time in our industry.
Seriously, no one has ever had work through a pandemic. We were all trying to figure it out for ourselves. And different businesses handled things differently.
Because of this, I think more couples will lean on wedding planners and their expertise in order to be able to enjoy their wedding planning experience and the wedding day more. Whether they’re having to reschedule for a 3rd time or if they’re planning their first wedding, I think this past year has made couples be more intentional with how they spend their time and they will look to an expert who can help them deal with the details so they can spend time doing what they enjoy and love.
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#3 – Tents are the New Ballrooms
Even with the possibility of a vaccine in the coming months, I think guests will still feel nervous about celebrating indoors, especially older guests and those at high risk. Couples are going to take this into consideration and will plan for this – opting for venues with tents or flexible outdoor options.
Because of this, I highly encourage couples to book their venue and rental equipment far in advance. In New York, tents and tent heaters are everywhere.
Some vendors have dubbed 2021 as the “Summer of Love” because there will be so many more weddings than usual. This will cause a shortage in supply for items that are already in high demand during peak wedding season. Like tents! (See what I did there? Peak and tents. No? Okay . . . moving on.)
#4 – Sunday is the New Saturday
We are already seeing this 2021 wedding trend start to unfold. Going along with trend number 3 and the exceptionally busy wedding season, more weddings will occur on non-traditional dates, such as Thursday in addition to Friday and Sunday. More couples will just want a place to celebrate. And with prime dates already taken, they’ll have to choose. They can wait until 2022 or have their wedding on a day like Sunday, Thursday, or even Monday.
A long time ago, lots of couples got married during the week. My mother actually told me she got married on a Thursday.
I have one wedding scheduled for Sunday so far in 2021. It has not only helped the couple save some money because some vendors charge a lower rate on Sunday because there’s less demand. But it also helped them keep their entire 15-person vendor team intact. Rather than having to find new service providers and starting the vendor search all over again, we just shifted to the following weekend a year later and are on Sunday instead of Saturday.
#5 – Unexpected and Mismatched Seating Arrangements
You’ve probably already seen this crop up in restaurants and outdoor dining, but due to the need for increased social distancing and odd groupings of guests needing to stay with their little pods, I think couples will incorporate more lounge-style seating and mismatched chairs at the ceremony, cocktail hour, and dinner.
Instead of having seats or pews arranged in neat rows upon rows at the ceremony, seating will be set up in spaced-out and small groupings to allow family units to be together while maintaining a distance between other guests.
The same will be said for dinner seating. Instead of having all 5-ft rounds of 8 guests each or long rows of rectangular tables, couples will have smaller groupings at squares, rounds, and rectangles to mix it up. I’ve always preferred the look of arranging tables in a mosaic pattern because it adds dimension and texture to the room. This will just take it to the next level.
#6 – More Comfortable Seating
Going along with the trend of more lounge seating arrangements, I think couples will opt to have more lounge-style groupings with couches, sofas, club chairs, and ottomans instead of the traditional cocktail tables with highs and lows during cocktail hour.
Guests will be less mobile and will spend more time seated. So, couples will want to make it more comfortable for them and give them places to visit.
Afraid of awkward gaps in your day? Read How to Put Together a Smooth Wedding Day Timeline
#7 – More Small Bites and Individual Servings
Long before 2020, food that was served in mini form was always popular during cocktail hour.
I always tell caterers that if I have to take multiple bites of something that’s served at cocktail hour, it’s too big. I also hate anything that’s served on a stick, bone, or fork that leaves with me trash because I hate being left with something in my hand that I have to throw away. It’s not elegant and annoying for guests.
But I digress.
With the increased need for cleanliness and hygiene, couples will opt to replace large displays of cheese and charcuterie with individual servings, like mini charcuterie boards for each guest or a sampling of all the appetizers on one plate like a cake stand or served by the wait staff.
At one of my weddings this past fall, we personalized mini charcuterie boards with the couple’s initials and their date. We served the charcuterie boards to the guests during cocktail hour. Then the venue cleaned them all during dinner, and then they gave them out as favors at the end of the evening. We tied little tags with ribbon on them and they were a big hit and looked so cute.
You could also do this with your dessert. Instead of having a large wedding cake, you can opt for mini desserts served on custom coasters that guests can then take home. I always love the look of mini desserts anyway because the colors and textures always look so pretty when it all comes together.
#8 – Smaller Guest Counts
If 2020 has taught us nothing else, it’s that we want to spend more time with the people that we love and less time with the people that aren’t as meaningful for us.
I’m not trying to be crass or negative, but during quarantine, we were forced to limit who we saw and interacted with. That made us grow close to certain people and kind of lose touch with others.
I don’t think that says anything about the people we saw less, but it does remind us that sometimes we’re just friends or acquaintances with people out of habit or because circumstances require it.
When it comes down to it, it might be more meaningful to spend quality time with the people that matter the most.
Do I think that means you’re going to slash your 250 guest list to 100? Not necessarily. But are you going to feel pressure to invite that co-worker and her spouse that you were already on the fence about? Probably not.
By the way, if this is resonating with you, make sure to check out my post with my top 7 intimate wedding planning tips.
Even if we weren’t in a pandemic or coming out of one, it’s beneficial to give some thought to with whom you want to spend this big day. This past year has helped us re-focus how we spend our time and with whom. I think the more intentional you are about it, the happier you’ll be.
#9 – Bigger Budgets for the Little Things
Going along with smaller guest counts, I think couples will opt to spend more on the details that are most meaningful and exciting for them.
Now that they have fewer guests attending, whether it was a conscious choice or as a by-product of losing touch with some, they’ll have more budget to spend on the little things that they wouldn’t have been able to if they had more guests attending.
This includes handmade details like calligraphy, hand-torn paper, custom welcome gift boxes that include the itinerary, local sweets, and the favor all-in-one.
This also can take the form of more elaborate floral arrangements and decor, additional courses, and wine pairings during dinner. Basically – whatever’s exciting and adds to the guest experience.
I’m especially excited about this as I always have to have a conversation with my couples about the budget. And if they want certain things, that might mean uninviting 20 people to pay for that extra something they’re dying to have.
I promise I’m not a mean and horrible person. But it’s my job to create for my couples the most beautiful experience that they’ve been dreaming about. That might mean having to choose between having certain guests and or special details.
Everyone’s priorities are different, so I can’t make that choice for them.
And now for my last and final 2021 Wedding trend . . .
#10 – Live or Hybrid Entertainment that’s not a band or DJ
Depending on what state you’re getting married, crowded dance floors may not be allowed at your wedding.
Because of this, couples are looking for other ways to entertain their guests.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love an amazing band or DJ absolutely tearing it up so you can have a good time on the dance floor. But I also do love other entertainment to round out the experience.
In the event industry, we call these sight acts – entertainment that’s experienced live and in-person. I’ve always been an advocate for these types of expenditures because they round out the experience for your guests, especially ones that aren’t big dancers. It also gives them something else to do while they’re taking a break from dancing and gives you another opportunity to infuse your personalities into the day.
Examples of these acts would be:
- Magicians (check out RJ the Magician!)
- Hybrid or Virtual piano bar singers (check out Live Sounds!)
- A cappella singers
- Haiku writers (check out The Haiku Guys and Gals!)
- Live painters or artists (check out CAF Creations!)
- Strolling Electric violinists
- Caricature artists
- Aerial artists or other cirque or circus acts
- Improv or comedy groups
The list of entertainment alternatives goes on.
A note about a capella singers: I love the movie Pitch Perfect and worked with many talented a cappella groups when I was a special event producer. A capella music is fun and upbeat and would also be super romantic for a ceremony. Just be careful, because a lot of these groups perform during the school year but take time off during the summer months for internships, etc.
And the haiku writers might seem random, but I promise you, it’s fun. I was at an event where the Haiku Guys and Gals wrote a haiku for you on their vintage typewriter on any subject you wanted and you got to keep it as your souvenir from the event.
Live painters are becoming more mainstream and I love that. Some will paint the dinner scene throughout the night, letting guests watch the process and creating a keepsake for you to remember the day by. Email me if you want to know some names of really good ones!
Other artists will create fashion-inspired drawings of your guests, which I think is a fun memento for your guests to take home with them.
Just today I thought it would be fun to incorporate some kind of scavenger hunt or mini Escape room challenge into the day and the winner gets to order a secret drink or wins a special present at the end. I might have also gotten that idea because I just finished watching Schitt's Creek and loved that episode.
But I digress.
A Summary of the 2021 Wedding Trends
And that’s my forecast for 2021 wedding trends. To recap, here’s the entire list again.
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- #1: Color
- #2 – More Couples Will Hire Wedding Planners
- #3 – Tents are the New Ballrooms
- #4 – Sunday is the New Saturday
- #5 – Unexpected and Mismatched Seating Arrangements
- #6 – More Comfortable Seating
- #7 – More Small Bites and Individual Servings
- #8 – Smaller Guest Counts
- #9 – Bigger Budgets for the Little Things
- #10 – Live entertainment that’s not a band or DJ
2021 wedding trends are going to reflect a year filled with adjustment and change. I’m hopeful that we’ll start to be able to return to normal by late spring or summer, but it’s just so hard to know right now.
If you have questions about your planning, feel free to DM me on IG at @verveeventco. I respond to every one!
Also, I would love to hear what you think of these predictions and which ones you’re excited to incorporate the most. Send me a DM on Instagram at @VerveEventCo so we can chat. If you’re not following me already, I’d love for you to follow me so we can continue the conversation about 2021 weddings.
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