The bare wooden tables, the barn-turned-bridal venue, the Mason jar wineglasses. How do wedding planners feel about the wildly popular "rustic" weddings? One high-end planner said on Facebook she is so sick of them that "I'm going to start throwing Mason jars at brides!" Another planner quickly chimed in with the post, "And chalkboards, too!"
The rustic style has a more refined cousin—vintage. Here, lace may replace burlap table covers, while flowered china teacups take the place of those Mason jars. And though some wedding planners may have been enough of both looks, their clients decidedly have not.
According to a recent online poll from Special Events, nearly 60 percent of respondents say that the rustic/vintage style continues to be popular with couples, while only about 40 percent say it is beginning to fade away.
What makes a rustic and vintage weddings appealing today? In many ways, it's what these weddings are not—that is, the "big white wedding" in a hotel ballroom.
A prime example of this preference for relaxed instead of regal: The tightly bound, ball-shaped bouquet is "out, out, out," says Mary Baird-Wilcock, CSEP, owner of The Simplifiers in Austin, Texas. In its place, she says, are floral bouquets with a more "wild" look to them, "with textural greenery and vines, loose and organic, dripping with spiky blooms and berries."
Which Brides Go Rustic?
WHO GOES RUSTIC? Couples who choose rustic and vintage looks run the gamut, professional planners say, but share a desire for a wedding that feels warm and welcoming.
"It's more a mindset than a demographic," says Gwen Helbush, head of Newark, Calif.-based Where to Start, who explains that her clients who have asked for these looks are aged anywhere "from 22 to 56." What they have in common, she says, "is they wanted a wedding that reflected the past without being old, and that was comfortable—not stuffy or formal."
"I think the return to a natural look ties into the desire for an intimate affair," says designer Emily Tolve of Newberry Brothers, Denver. "Many brides and grooms now want a real intimate wedding to share with their closest family and friends. The vintage and rustic look helps create a more relaxed yet detailed look for guests to enjoy."
RUSTIC REVISITED Not all wedding planners see the rustic trend staying strong. Indeed, Gala Award-winning wedding planner Frank Andonoplas, MBC, says the rustic trend is "fading." However, the head of Frank Event Design in Chicago is at work on what he describes as a "Downton Abbey"-esque wedding. "I am calling it 'antique vintage chic,'" he explains.
Will the Rustic Trend Last?
And virtually all wedding planners interviewed by Special Events stress that no wedding style—no matter how popular it is—is some cookie-cutter template that can be used for all clients.
"I believe the word 'trend' should never be used in the context of wedding and event design, because the key to developing a 'trendy' design does not come from following the latest fads, but from capturing the couple’s unique personalities," says Joyce Scardina Becker, head of San Francisco-based Events of Distinction. "Following a 'trend' only results in creating a copycat look. That’s why I always focus on developing very personalized designs."
She adds, "Brides do have an insatiable appetite for what’s new, but they are also inspired by great ideas from wedding design professionals. It’s up to the designer to be the creative genius and convert the couple’s personal tastes into a workable design."
Teresa Day, partner in Atlanta-based A Divine Event, agrees. "Personalization is the key to keeping the rustic/vintage look alive," she says. "To be fabulous, it is not enough to be just well designed; it must also be one-of-a-kind. To do so takes telling the bride's story. For it is this individual tale that makes the event unique."
And After Rustic: What Next?
AND AFTER RUSTIC?
Of course, as soon as any trend shows up everywhere, a new look will start surging. And that could be …
"In Texas, the rustic wedding trend will always remain a constant; as long as there are barns to get married in, there are rustic weddings in Texas. However, I'm starting to notice a more Bohemian spin to the look with paper fringe, geometric shapes and unexpected design elements that feel hand-crafted--but made by a professional vendor." And on the vintage side, "We are also seeing a throwback to the midcentury modern style à la Frank Lloyd Wright and Bauhaus as a fresh spin on the vintage look."—Mary Baird-Wilcock
"The rustic and vintage trend is giving way to a steampunk-inspired look. We haven't had a large request for this look yet, but it's starting to become a 'thing'!" – Emily Tolve
"I'm seeing a mix of childhood nostalgia and '80s flashbacks. God help us all!"—Gwen Helbush