In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples who had planned to tie the knot in 2020 are now postponing their weddings or scaling back on their original vision for their dream wedding ceremonies and receptions. However, some couples are still planning to get married this fall. According to the results of a recent survey by the wedding planning resource Hitched, 18% of couples will be sticking with their original wedding date if it's due to take place before the end of the year. They simply can't wait any longer to commit to forever!
For eager couples who will be getting married in 2020, how will they be celebrating? What will weddings look like in the fall and winter? In this article, we'll explore some of the top fall wedding trends that may even influence how couples plan weddings in 2021 and beyond.
Technology will bring people together
Many people would agree that 2020 was the year of video conferencing. If you didn't feel comfortable with Zoom or Facetime before, then you likely feel comfortable using these platforms now. Even though some cities and states have loosened their social distancing restrictions, many people throughout the country are still staying at home - and at least six feet away from others. As a result, traditional wedding ceremonies and receptions are practically impossible to execute.
To mimic the wedding experience, many couples are using Zoom and other livestreaming platforms instead. Does a Zoom wedding sound too futuristic and outlandish? According to a recent article from Vogue, "Zoom has become one of the go-to streaming services for work and social functions, and it has also pulled ahead in weddings. Zoom is user-friendly, and its burgeoning popularity means that plenty of people are familiar with how it works, making it a low-stress solution for many attendees." Not only will you save your friends and family members the headache (and expense) of traveling, but you'll also create a relaxed and low-pressure atmosphere - something everyone will appreciate during these stressful and uncertain times.
Besides Zoom, what else will you need to host a digital wedding? For more intimate ceremonies, you can recruit a "cameraperson" to livestream the event with one smartphone. You can try supplementing the iPhone with bluetooth speakers, a laptop, and an iPad. Couples who want to offer their guests a more immersive "Hollywood" experience may want to try a professional three-camera setup, which involves different views, close-ups, wide shots, and even picture-in-picture formats.
To accomodate couples, some wedding planners are even offering services to assist with the planning and execution of a virtual wedding. For example, the online wedding planner Wedfuly matches couples with real, professional planners who can walk them through the process of hosting a Zoom wedding. A virtual wedding can be simple and even fun, thanks to all the new resources available.
Donations in lieu of traditional favors or gifts
Nearly everyone in this country has somehow been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, either directly or indirectly. As a result, Americans are feeling more altruistic than ever before because they see their neighbors and even strangers suffering from illness, job loss, grief, isolation, and other difficult situations. This year has definitely been a year of altruism and charitable giving, and most people are eager to help in whatever way they can.
The sentiment is being carried over to weddings. In lieu of traditional gifts, many couples are asking their guests to donate to one or more of their favorite charities. Instead of a registry, couples are simply sharing links to sites like JustGive or GoFundMe Charity. Or they can ask guests to buy gifts from specific types of small, independent businesses - like businesses that support philanthropic efforts or businesses owned by minority entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, some couples are even skipping wedding favors and making donations instead. Lena Koropey, etiquette expert and founder of Gramercy Protocol, says, "Donations in lieu of wedding favors is a growing trend that speaks to a general desire to make a difference in the world by giving back to the community...It is a meaningful way to thank your guests for their presence, and to share the spirit of kindness and helping others with them." Your guests will probably appreciate this gesture more than a mini bottle of champagne or pouch filled with Jordan almonds.
Weddings are smaller in scale
Have you heard of the Small Wedding Society? The founders of this organization wanted to simplify the wedding planning process and help couples maintain social distancing guidelines on their big day. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many couples were already choosing to have smaller, intimate weddings with fewer than 100 - or even fewer than 50 - guests because they wanted the opportunity to have meaningful interactions with those guests. Now the small wedding has become a standard rather than a choice.
Did you know there are even specific terms to describe various types of small weddings? Gretchen Culver, one of the founders of Small Wedding Society, says there are four different types of small weddings: a mini-wedding, a micro-wedding, an elopement, and a minimony. A mini-wedding looks the most like a traditional wedding, but the guest count is usually fewer than 50, while a micro-wedding has fewer than 30 guests and may only last an hour or two. In an elopement situation, the couple doesn't have any guests, only an officiant. A minimony is one step up from an elopement, with a few people attending the ceremony but not a party afterward.
In addition, couples are opting for smaller bridal parties or even non-traditional bridal parties involving their pets (cats and dogs are walking down the aisle too!). Coordinating a large bridal party can take a lot of time and effort, especially when you're trying to keep everyone six feet apart. As a result, couples are instead selecting only one maid of honor and one best man. One advantage of keeping a bridal party small is that the couple can spend more money on thoughtful and impressive bridal party gifts; for example, a bride can give her maid of honor a meaningful piece of jewelry like a cultured pearl necklace from Add-A-Pearl.
Planning a micro-wedding or minimony is not necessarily as involved as planning a full-blown wedding, and it can also be more personal. In an article about micro-weddings for Martha Stewart magazine, one couple says, "one special element we plan to include in our mini ceremony is a time capsule that our guests will help us fill with small mementos to remember the day, this season, and the start of our marriage." When the wedding is small, then minor details become more important and memorable. For example, if a couple decides to incorporate pearls into their wedding theme, then guests will be more likely to notice them.
Focus on health and safety
Most importantly, couples are prioritizing the health and safety of their guests at weddings. In the past, guests may have enjoyed buffets and passed appetizer platters, especially during cocktail hour. However, plated dinners are making a comeback, since they're perceived as more sanitary. Hand sanitizer will definitely be available in welcome bags and throughout the venue, and wait staff may even carry it with them.
Martha Stewart magazine asserts, "To keep everyone safe, our experts suggest choosing a menu peppered with single-serve options. Mini bottles of sparkling water or wine, complete with paper straws, work nicely for cocktail hour - a waiter can hand one out to each guest, which means no one has to line up at a bar or pour drinks from communal bottles."
In addition, there's now a market for wedding masks and face coverings. David's Bridal has even capitalized on the need for masks by manufacturing face coverings that match their bridesmaid dresses exactly. A quick search on Etsy yields white lace masks, custom Mr. and Mrs. masks, masks bedazzled with rhinestones and faux pearls, monogram masks, and matching wedding party masks. To see couples that wore their masks in a stylish way, check out this article from Brides.
No one is quite certain when weddings will be "normal" again, but these trends promise to keep weddings fun and memorable, even if they deviate from the norm. Brides who still want to incorporate traditions into their nontraditional weddings may want to opt for a perennial classic, like the Add-A-Pearl necklace, which endures the test of time - and is made to last for generations.
Are you planning on getting married this year? How are you adjusting and shifting your plans to keep you and your guests safe? Do you feel like the COVID-19 pandemic has squashed your wedding dreams, or has it made you think more creatively about what's possible?