Wedding trends have been shifting steadily over the last decade, but the appearance of COVID-19 certainly accelerated some changes—and introduced some new ones that were totally unexpected. The big question now is what trends have been a temporary pandemic phase, and what’s here to stay? And are there any fads that are now gone forever?
If there’s one overall trend that came out of the pandemic, it’s this: couples are prioritizing their joint values and loved ones more than ever, and in 2022 they’re designing their weddings as an unapologetic expression of those values. Here’s what that means for the biggest trends this coming year.
1. Couples are designing guest-centric celebrations
Despite ongoing caution around large events, most friends and family don’t want to miss your big day! With this in mind, couples are putting the safety and comfort of their loved ones first through personal touches. This looks like:
Family and friends want guaranteed seating around people they know, and some guests prefer to sit in quarantine-like bubbles. The free seating that has been semi-popular over the last few years is likely to be a thing of the past.
Seated catering and mini wedding cakes
Buffet catering has traditionally been a popular (and oftentimes budget-friendly) option, but due to health concerns many couples are opting for seated dinner service instead. Additionally, instead of having a cake station where guests are served slices of wedding cake, mini cakes for each guest have been growing in popularity. These can also be packaged up and taken home as party favors.
Bachelor and bachelorette parties in Airbnbs
Vegas benders and club crawls are on the decline! With health and safety top of mind, many brides and grooms are choosing to host intimate wedding party gatherings at vacation rentals instead of packed public spaces. This is in line with the recent overall trend of taking life at a slower pace and focusing on self-care.
With guests still conscious of who they come into contact with, couples are splitting up their celebrations over multiple days according to friend groups and age groups. For your older generation guests, consider a refined afternoon tea or dinner; for your peers, maybe a champagne brunch or cocktail party. Across the country, weddings are taking the shape of laidback, mini-festivals as couples savour an extended time with loved ones.
About that focus on self care–marriage celebrations are placing an increased emphasis on tending to partners’ and guests’ wellness. Marriages are a significant celebration in any society, and as a ritual, they can represent a reset or new beginnings. Some treats include facials, spa experiences, or even vitamin-rich IV treatments.
Obstacles to travel are still a part of our world, and some friends and family are still wary of venturing too far afield, whether for financial or health reasons. In the states, couples aching for a destination wedding are leaving their passports at home, seeking out beautiful destinations on domestic soil instead.
2. Intimate ceremonies, elopements, and sequel weddings
You’ve probably heard about couples spending an average of $30,000 on their weddings and gathering 100+ guests. If you experienced a pang of panic at the thought, good news! Big, lavish weddings are getting traded in for smaller celebrations. Now more than ever, couples are shrugging off bank-busting trends and guestlist politics to celebrate in a way that stays true to them.
Couples are embracing small ceremonies more than ever, and with more manageable guestlists, nontraditional wedding venue options are abundant! Why not rent a boat out on the open water, or do up your home for a backyard wedding?
The traditional stigma around elopement has faded fast. For many to-be-weds during the pandemic, a gathering of five is all they were permitted; two partners, two witnesses, and an officiant. While larger gatherings are possible now, many couples are still opting to elope, as they feel like it’s an authentic, intimate way to begin their married partnership, free of external pressures. If you’re not thrilled with the idea of a courthouse marriage, don’t worry! Plenty of photographers offer adventure elopement packages, and you and your partner can still have a special, memorable day.
During the pandemic, many couples didn’t want to wait to get married, but they didn’t want to give up their big day celebration dreams either. This has started a trend of sequel weddings, where couples have an intimate or casual legal ceremony first, then plan a larger celebration for later, when friends and family are all able to attend. So if you want to tie the knot now and still want to drop $30,000 on your party later, you totally can!
3. Supporting local businesses and prioritizing sustainability
Remember, these upcoming wedding trends are all about couples planning around their values. The pandemic has been hard on the economy, and small, local businesses have suffered the most. Brides and grooms across the country are prioritizing building into their communities by working with local vendors. For many BIPOC couples, this also means supporting vendors with shared backgrounds in order to represent their culture and beliefs on their big day.
Hand in hand with this trend, and the larger movement of social consciousness, sustainability is on the rise in wedding planning. Like many industries, the wedding industry produces a certain amount of excess and waste; conscious couples are trying to make better choices for people and planet. This means digital invitation processes, seasonal food and flowers, and decor that can be reused.
4. Expect a Color Revolution
The white and green floral arrangements that have reigned supreme over the last number of years are decreasing in popularity. Instead, brighter, bolder color palettes are coming in to take their place–think magentas, burnt oranges, and purples. Many couples are choosing seasonal floral arrangements due to sustainability awareness and supply chain issues due to the pandemic, but this shift in color choices is more than just a choice borne of necessity.
Grooms’ suits and other decor are getting the color treatment too–color is becoming a symbol of celebration, after returning from the gloom of the pandemic years. This is yet another sign that couples are making their wedding an event that reflects their personalities and values, rather than an event that conforms to tradition.
Speaking of tradition, the white diamonds and gold that have been the recent pinnacle of wedding jewelry are getting swapped out. Yellow gold is coming back in, and brides are increasingly opting for colorful, alternative stones, like emeralds, sapphires, and more.
5. Wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses
One major value that has appeared worldwide over the past two years is undeniable: adaptability. Wedding attire is no exception, and for brides planning sequel weddings or multi-day events, a dress or outfit that can be worn in multiple ways is highly desirable.
Want to get style-specific? One-shoulder gowns are the style of choice for the 2022 wedding season, and dresses are getting some serious lace and sparkle treatment. Experts have been predicting the return of the roaring twenties–and after all, sparkles bring the party.
The mix-and-match bridesmaid dress trend of the mid-2000s is officially on the decline. What we’re seeing instead? A lot of lace, just like we’re seeing on the wedding gowns–but also a lot of all-white bridesmaid dresses! A refreshing, monochromatic take, and a great contrast to the pops of color that are on the rise in floral arrangements and wedding decor.
At the end of the day, whatever your preferences are the bottom line is this: there’s no better time to plan a wedding that authentically represents you and your partner. Whether you want to go big or elope, sit down with your significant other, and dream up what your perfect day looks like! The options are truly endless.