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Special Events State of the Industry 2022: Part 8

2023 wedding trends


This year was a revival for weddings, and it’s easy to see how the pandemic has impacted the industry. To start, the years of waiting that couples experienced during COVID seems to have clarified what matters most to them: people are either pulling out all the stops to celebrate their big day in exuberance with multi-day over-the-top affairs and destination weddings, or scaling completely back, ditching the extravagance in favor of simplicity with micro-weddings, pop-ups, and elopements.

Either way, the wedding industry is seeing a favorable increase in spend: a report from Rare Carat says that “Americans will spend a record $68.7 billion on weddings this year, a $16.4 billion increase over pre-pandemic levels in 2019.” The report also did a deep dive into where being in the wedding industry pays off: “New York is the best state to be in the wedding industry, followed by Washington, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Hawaii. On the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia is the worst state for the wedding industry, with Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and New Mexico rounding out the bottom five.”

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Draping florals and intriguing light fixtures have become popular décor trends this year.
Design by Pearl Events. Photo courtesy Caroline's Collective

Tim Chi, CEO of The Knot Worldwide, addressed the effect of inflation and the anticipated recession in a session at Wedding MBA 2022. He noted that couples are feeling the impact of inflation, and for 44% of couples this has already impacted their wedding planning. Research by The Knot shows that while the budget for two-thirds of couples is so far remaining flat, there are more couples reaching out to wedding pros. Catering, says Chi, is expected to take the hardest hit from adjusted wedding budgets.

In the meantime, weddings remain jubilant. Ceremony styles aren’t the only thing that got rejuvenated from the pandemic pause: wedding trends are reflecting renewed creativity and a “sky’s the limit” attitude. Houseplants and statement florals are in, dripping from ceilings, covering entire walls, adorning massive art pieces, styling outfits, and lining the aisles. 2023 will see some bold color schemes, as well as personalized elements of design, like custom-wrapped dance floors. Be on the lookout for mirrored aisles à la Crazy Rich Asians. One more thing: as we move forward, we’re also going back in time, with new takes on retro ‘60s and ‘70s styles bringing timeless looks into the spotlight.

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Mirrored and reflective aisles are in vogue, like this watery walkway at The Loft by Bridgeview.
Photo courtesy @thelongislandeventista on Instagram

Wedding parties and their fashions are taking creative liberties too: gone are the days of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Couples are choosing their friends of any gender to stand by their sides, and the outfits are equally expressive: mismatched wedding party clothing is on the rise. Patterned tuxes and dresses are in, and we’re seeing more mini-dresses, gloves, and pearls. Sustainability is also front of mind, and many couples are investing in high-end products and accessories that can be passed down as heirlooms.

Likewise, DEI conversations continue to expand. Inclusivity has a long way to go in the wedding industry, and while it’s becoming the norm to use gender-neutral terminology, we still need to be mindful of our language. For example, no need to say, “gay wedding” when you can just say “wedding.” Planners are continuing to learn and make weddings safe for queer, trans, non-binary, and all other individuals who don’t identify as cis-heteronormative.

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Food trucks and self-serve beverage trucks are becoming widespread
at weddings. Photo courtesy Wildly Connected Photography

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Interactive food stations, such as the Cocktail Claw Machine, engage
guests with immersive experiences in high demand. Photo courtesy Cocktail Claw

Finally, wedding food trends are fun and simple: the tired donut wall is getting creative redesigns, like upright donut stacks; food and beverage trucks are gaining popularity; and midnight snacks are the latest way to wrap up the end of the night. Treat walls that provide individual portions of drinks and snacks are inspiring a new take on seating arrangements; instead of looking for their name and number on a simple poster, many planners are creating elaborate gift walls that give guests their seat and table number as well as a fun party favor.

Stay tuned for the rest of our State of the Industry 2022!
To view part 7, click here.

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