Main image: With Heart.
Here’s something surprising.
When we stopped and reflected on what the pandemic did to the wedding industry in 2020, we had mixed feelings.
On one hand, we want to slap that b*tch COVID down for all the stress and suffering it’s caused couples and businesses alike. More than 1 in 3 (36%) of couples postponed their weddings due to the pandemic. No matter what stage you were at on the wedding planning journey, there’s a good chance you were negatively affected in some way. You might’ve needed to cut guest numbers. Or come to terms with the prospect of no dancefloor. Maybe you accepted that overseas loved ones were a no-go on attendance. Or perhaps you’ve held off on planning until there’s more certainty about what the future holds. Whatever the situation, a bit of the sparkle of getting married was dimmed.
Then there’s the other hand. There’s nothing like a global pandemic to force you to stop and really assess what’s important here – why you’re getting married in the first place. And it’s this introspective thinking that has lead to many of the trends we strongly believe we’ll see in 2021.
COVID-19 has encouraged – and sometimes forced – couples to be very intentional about all the elements that are included in their big day. It’s provided a nudge to ensure that the weddings being planned right now are more meaningful than ever before, with much less ‘going-through-the-motions’.
There’s more scrutiny over traditional elements that might’ve been invested in just because it’s the “done thing”. And it brings us huge delight to say that the “done thing” is over. Moving into 2021, couples will book particular vendors and include things in their wedding because they want to, not because they think they have to.
So cheers for fast-tracking that for us, b*tch.
Here are the 2021 wedding trends we’re expecting to see.
1. Highly considered budget
It’s not that couples will spend less on weddings – though that may be the case, particularly if the average wedding size is smaller moving forward and if a couples’ financial circumstances were affected due to COVID. The difference is that couples will be more considerate about exactly what their budget is spent on.
Couples will invest in things that have meaning to them, versus things that weddings “should have” (allow us to really emphasise those inverted commas).
2. Rise in micro-weddings and elopements
Even with restrictions currently relaxing around the country, we expect to see an increase in small, intimate celebrations continue out of choice. COVID has created an environment for people to take stock of what really matters to them and for a contingent of couples, this will manifest in micro-weddings or elopements where the focus is very much on each other and the act of getting married, rather than a wedding itself.
3. Full-weekend experiences
The trend of making an entire weekend out of your wedding isn’t going anywhere, and in fact we expect it to intensify as couples make their wedding a reason to gather loved ones that they may have been unable to see during 2020 due to COVID.
With full weekend itineraries (pre-wedding, wedding day, recovery sessions), weddings are set to be an experience for guests in 2021.
4. Rise in midweek weddings
With more than a third of couples postponing their 2020 wedding due to COVID, there will be an unprecedented rise in midweek weddings in 2021, due to the limited number of weekend dates available at venues.
Friday was already becoming a popular day for weddings – in 2021 we expect to see more Mon-Thurs nuptials.
5. Creating a statement that says ‘this is us’
Weddings will increasingly be a reflection of the individual interests, passions and lifestyles of the couple hosting them.
In 2021 weddings are an opportunity for couples to say ‘hey, this is who we are – allow us to share it with you’. Couples’ personalities will be reflected in the style of event, the food and beverages served, the sequence of events, the styling, the venue, the location – just about every touchpoint of a wedding offers an opportunity to inject individualism.
6. Non ‘bridal’ fashion for brides
Long gone is the expectation that brides have a handful of dress styles to choose from (strapless, A-line, mermaid, ballgown…). Anything goes. Colour. Pantsuit. Mini-dress. Jumpsuit. Sequins. Crops. It’s about wearing something that’s a reflection of your personal style.
7. Social media is taken with a grain of salt
Social media will remain a major source of inspiration for weddings but we won’t be surprised if couples get ‘fatigued’ by extravagant things seen on Instagram and gravitate toward imagery and moments that feel real.
2020 has given us an opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture – for weddings, this means the reason why you’re getting married and this will be mirrored in more ‘human’ content being favoured and saved.
8. Surge of “wedding parties” after legally married
In a survey we conducted of almost 1,700 people getting married, 63% of couples that eloped or held a micro-wedding in 2020 said that they planned to hold a big party once COVID was over/restrictions permitted. We expect to see these celebrations take place in 2021, potentially with some fun creativity weaved in around the ‘ceremony’ side of the event, given that the legal process has technically already taken place.
The flip side of this is some of these couples may decide in time that their intimate celebration was all that they needed and forego their original party-planning with a sense of contentment at the small but love-filled day they had. Time will tell on this one.
9. A rise in wedding videography
Video makes up a huge part of lives, having boomed over social media in recent years. In 2021 we expect to see more couples decide to invest in wedding videography to capture moving memories of their day, alongside photography.
10. Non-traditional wedding parties
Couples will buck – or tweak – traditions surrounding their wedding party (bridesmaids/groomsmen) to suit their unique relationships. For example, this will mean more mixed gender wedding parties (bridesmen, groomsmaids) and mismatched number wedding parties.
11. Bonbonniere optional – and more considered
No longer an expected part of weddings, many couples may choose to forego organising bonbonniere for their wedding. For those that do want to arrange bonbonniere for their guests, the gift will be more considered – not bonbonniere for the sake of it.
Expect to see more thought gone into these small gifts to make them a reflection of the couple, something quirky, something edible/drinkable at the event or a donation to a charity/organisation in lieu of individual gifts.
12. Drive to support local businesses
First it was bushfires, followed by a pandemic. Small businesses and in particular, small regional businesses have suffered blow after blow. Couples (and consumers more widely) are aware of this and more willing to support them through their purchasing decisions.
For weddings, it makes double sense to support local businesses as it often means couples will save money on transport and logistics, plus benefit from local knowledge and relationships. So it’s a true win-win.
13. More sustainable practices
2021 will see an increased consideration for incorporating sustainable practices into weddings. Think single-use anything vetoed in favour of hired items. Biodegradable confetti tossed. Local and seasonal food served. Cleaner products in hair and makeup. Recycling of waste.
14. More “COVID babies” at weddings
What happens when you’re more or less stuck at home for a year? Well, for some… babymaking. We’re hearing from a considerable amount of couples (particularly those that postponed weddings) that they’ve opted to try for a family first and then wed later. Whether it’s the bride’s or bridesmaid’s/friend’s bubs, we reckon more infants will feature in the wedding pics we see over the coming 12-24 months.
15. “Localmoons” will boom
We’re coining the word. It’s pretty straight-forward – with overseas travel looking questionable for the foreseeable future, couples will be exploring their own backyard for a romantic honeymoon experience. Lucky it’s so awesome.
We’ve pulled together some rather spesh romantic getaways here.