Weddings in 2018 are starkly different from weddings even two years ago—compared to 2016, more couples are now opting for mixed-gender wedding parties, dressing bridesmaids in different styles, creating a wedding hashtag, and forgoing tuxedos altogether.
Instead of creating a traditional wedding experience, soon-to-be-weds have begun to incorporate their own personalities into their special days, which means that whimsical trends that embrace individuality have popped up at wedding after wedding this year.
While rustic and country-style weddings may have been all the rage last year, 2018 weddings have embraced a bohemian style. Mason jars have been retired in favor of macrame decor, burlap has been swapped for wood, and brides have donned dresses with bell sleeves reminiscent of the 1970s in lieu of lace.
American actress Meghan Markle’s royal marriage to Prince Harry in London also inspired dozens of trends that brides and grooms all over the world have included in their own weddings. People reacted warmly to Markle’s simple, sleek choice of dress as well as her understated hair and makeup, and instead chose to focus on how Markle and Prince Harry made their ceremony stand out. The royal couple notably included a gospel choir in their nuptials.
After evaluating expert analysis and industry insight into the world of weddings, Stacker has compiled a list of some of the most popular wedding trends that have defined 2018, and will likely continue to inspire ceremonies and receptions in 2019.
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Walls of floral arrangements have become incredibly popular in pop culture, thanks in part to Kim Kardashian making the trend bloom in 2014 when she married beau Kanye West in front of a cream-colored flower wall in France. Flower walls are in fact regular appearances at Kardashian events—the idea blossomed even more at Kylie Jenner’s baby shower this year, which had a notable pink floral wall that the star posed in front of with friends. According to the Kardashian’s florist, the next trend to look out for is flowers draping from the ceiling. Look out for these novel arrangements at summer weddings.
Brides began donning capes with their wedding dresses early in 2018, shortly after tennis champion Serena Williams wore an Alexander McQueen dress with a bedazzled cape to marry Alexis Ohanian. Williams appeared on the February/March cover of Brides magazine with her dress and cape, which inspired the trend to take over bridal shops across the country.
More and more millennial couples are opting to say “I do” in industrial spaces, like old factories or sparse lofts, in order to personalize their wedding. The blank spaces and high ceilings that these venues offer allow couples to get creative and carry out any vision they desire, whether that includes string lights or floral structures.
After this year’s Royal Wedding, people took note of several of the former actress’ design choices. One that stuck: Meghan Markle’s small, modest bouquet. Prince Harry hand-picked several of the flowers in the bouquet from the couple’s garden at Kensington Palace, making the bouquet—though minimal—even more meaningful.
The blush and gold color palette is one of the season’s most popular wedding color choices, no matter the season. Because the tones are muted, couples can incorporate the colors even more into their wedding party and venue while still appearing tasteful.
Getting ordained online is easier than ever, which means more people are opting to have a friend or loved one perform the ceremony rather than a religious figure or professional officiant. Friends and family members can add personal stories and anecdotes that add an original touch to a ceremony that the bride and groom are sure to remember for years to come.
Formal sit-down dinners are slowly becoming a thing of the past, with many people choosing instead to save money and create food stations to allow guests to serve themselves and customize their own food. From a make-your-own taco stand to a s’mores station, the elimination of a complete dinner allows more time for other activities, and helps to reduce uneaten food on guests’ plates.
Doughnuts are another wedding trend that sharply rose in popularity thanks to Pinterest. Couples report that serving doughnuts instead of cake saves money, and is just more fun. Brides and grooms have gotten creative, assembling doughnuts in the shape of a tower or requesting an extra-long doughnut that can be cut like a wedding cake.
Photo booths have long been a wedding staple, but the idea of an open-air photo booth has become more commonplace in 2018. In lieu of a traditional booth, this trend consists of a camera on a tripod set up against a backdrop. Couples are also embracing the digital age: Now people can choose to enter their email addresses to receive their pictures digitally.
More and more newlyweds are taking part in a popular reception game that involves the bride and groom sitting back-to-back on the dance floor, each holding one of their own shoes in one hand and one of the shoes of their betrothed in the other. The leader of the game asks questions, like, “Who said I love you first?” and the bride and groom raise the shoe of the person who matches the answer. Other questions include, “Who is the better cook?” and “Who takes the longest to get ready?”
Succulents—thick desert plants known for retaining water—are becoming more popular in bouquets and decorations at wedding receptions. Part of their rise is because of their easy maintenance: They can go an entire day or more without water, unlike many kinds of flowers.
While a wedding party of bridesmaids and groomsmen was once considered a wedding staple, people now view it merely as a suggestion, and some are choosing to go the solo route. Because more people are getting married at an older age, their friends have more responsibilities, such as children and families, and may not have time to fulfill the obligations that come with being a member of a wedding party. Some couples also cite not having a wedding party as a way to avoid drama on their special day.
Watercolor invitations allow the bride and groom to create an abstract invitation without a floral or limited color scheme motif. The watercolor structure also enables couples to get creative, whether they decide to include a watercolor image of their wedding location or a watercolor map.
While weddings are traditionally held on Saturdays, more people have turned to Fridays as a wedding date. If couples wish to marry in a shorter time frame, Fridays are more likely to be available, and often cost less than a Saturday wedding. It also permits the celebration to continue into the weekend.
Meghan Markle’s simple bridal makeup took the wedding world by storm, with brides-to-be lauding her sheer foundation, neutral makeup and soft eyebrows. Women began embracing Markle’s au naturale style choosing to go the “less is more” route.
Marble is becoming more commonplace at weddings, with couples incorporating the stone into anything from cutlery to even the cake. The marble trend presents a modern feel, making it a classic choice for any wedding, and its neutral tones lend it to any kind of color scheme. People have even mimicked the marble design for invitations, table settings, name tags and menus.
The last thing a bride wants to see at her wedding as she walks down the aisle are cell phones outstretched and flashing lights instead of her family and soon-to-be-spouse. To combat this, many couples have decided to host an unplugged ceremony, so ringtones and buzzing vibrations won’t interrupt the wedding vows.
Perhaps inspired by Armie Hammer’s burgundy-colored suit at the 2018 Academy Awards, men have incorporated the rich color into suits for both the groom and the groomsmen. Couples in general have turned away from pastels in favor of rich colors.
By allowing bridesmaids to mix and match tops and skirts, and even pants, women get the chance to incorporate their own personal style and save money on alterations at the same time. The possibilities and color choices are endless, and the two-piece factor means she really can wear the outfit again.
Recognizing that almost everyone has a beer koozie or decorative cookies from a wedding, many couples have chosen to do gift lounges instead, particularly for destination weddings. A gift lounge is a small area in a hotel or reception where guests can fill tote bags with items that they actually want. Gift options might include trinkets representative of the destination, small plants, chocolates, or soaps.
Neon wedding signs first became popular on Pinterest in late 2017, and since then, they’ve been used at weddings as directory signs, ceremony backdrops, and photo booth backdrops. Couples are opting to use these instead of chalkboards or other signage because they can be used as home decor after the wedding to commemorate a special day.
Face-framing low, messy buns are casual enough to wear at a low-key wedding, but can also be elegant enough for a fancier affair, making them a popular and versatile choice for brides. The look also works with a veil, and can be dressed up with accessories, such as flowers or sparkly pins.
Though diamonds have long been a wedding staple, people are beginning to turn elsewhere for wedding and engagement rings. Searches for rings with moissanite gems, which look similar to diamonds, are up 294% on Pinterest. Moissanite gems are usually created in a lab, making them more eco-friendly and less expensive than their diamond counterparts.
Musician Sheku Kanneh-Mason played a 10-minute solo cello performance at the Royal Wedding in May, and sparked a huge boom in cellists at weddings. The cello is said to have a sound that closely imitates the sound of the human voice, making it an intimate and emotional instrument that couples and wedding guests alike are sure to remember for years to come.
Candlelight has long been a staple at weddings because of its romantic glow, but people have started incorporating colorful taper candles at wedding receptions to add a burst of color that is easy to match any theme. The candles can be both elegant and fun, making them versatile centerpieces. Plus, they’re thin enough that they won’t block anyone’s views at the table.
Drone photography is quickly rising in popularity, so it’s no surprise that photographers are getting creative and employing drones when couples say, “I do.” The photos shot from above provide a unique and encapsulating view of any venue, and can show off scenery that regular photography can’t capture. Drone cameras can also photograph all of your guests at once.
Brides are eschewing the classic all-white uniform in favor of introducing some color via their choice in shoes. Soft pink and blue as well as champagne are all popular shoe colors for 2018 weddings, with some brides even choosing shoes with a pattern or black accents for a hint of class with originality.
Balloons are having a moment in 2018, and can be seen at weddings in the form of balloon arches, backdrops or ceilings. Metallic balloons in the shape of letters, numbers, or symbols have also become popular wedding decor, especially when mixed with classic helium balloons as well.
As Pantone’s Color of the Year for 2018, ultra violet has been readily incorporated into weddings this year, popping up in floral choices, bridesmaid dresses, invitations, and cakes. The color also pairs well with millennial pink, another popular color choice, and its rich hue stands out amongst traditional pastel color palettes.
To bring a bit of fanfare to their wedding, many newlyweds are choosing to incorporate a dazzling fireworks display sure to wow guests. Fireworks create a spectacular landscape as couples exit a wedding while some choose to time the fireworks show to coincide with the end of the first dance. Either way, it’s a fun and opulent display that is sure to be memorable and produce unique photographs.