What we generally think of as the “holiday season” could also be called “engagement season.”’
One-third of all engagements happen between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to WeddingWire, an online wedding planning site.
So if you or someone you love is setting the date, here’s our holiday gift: A short course on today’s wedding trends.
“Unbuttoned elegance” and “perfectly imperfect” are the watchwords that define today’s weddings. The themes are rooted in a sense of warmth and familiarity that shirk formality yet still encompass the elevated experience of a traditional wedding celebration.
“The biggest shift we’re seeing is a move away from the DIY wedding of several years ago, which had a yard sale feel with mason jars and chalkboards,” says Cove, who plans roughly 10 weddings a year. “Now, a lot of brides are pinning old photos from Vogue magazine and fashion editorials from the 1950s. We’re seeing a lot of champagne coupes [as opposed to run of the mill flutes]. There is more glamour.”
This blend of glamour and ease is being executed through the use of farm tables covered with a muslin or delicate lace cloth; mismatched vintage place settings; over-flowing, loose floral arrangements; vignettes of eclectic objects scattered throughout the venue and activities that provide guests with moments of unexpected entertainment.
“People are doing things in a formal but fun way,” says Los Angeles-based event planner Amy Blessing. “Perfect is too boring.”
Nationally, the average cost of a wedding is hovering around $31,213, but it costs more — an average of $37,317 — in Los Angeles, which is the country’s 16th most expensive city to be married in, according to wedding website the Knot.
An increasing number of couples use digital resources to find inspiration and the experts to help execute their event. Instagram, Pinterest and wedding blogs have become go-to tools for gathering ideas.
“A lot of weddings today are inspired by interior design. It’s almost like you’re opening up your home and there’s a layer of warmth there that’s inviting,” says Laura Clausen, founder of Dish Wish, a boutique tabletop rental company and styling service based in El Segundo.
Clausen’s business specializes in renting out mismatched vintage china, flatware and barware for weddings and events.
“It’s cohesively mismatched, so everything still feels high end,” she says, noting that more people are mixing metals in their flatware and serving vessels, so silver, brass and copper all mingle among what looks like Grandma’s china.
The tables have also changed. Gone are the traditional rounds for 10, dressed with starched solid colored linens. In are rectangular farm tables, which are more conducive to conversation and interaction among guests who may be meeting for the first time.
“Instead of chairs all the way around the table, maybe there will be chairs on one side and a large tuft on the other or maybe a bench,” says event planner David E. Merrell,, chief executive and creative director of AOO Events, a Hollywood-based event design and production firm specializing in luxury weddings. “We’re seeing furniture incorporated into the table seating. It’s about making people comfortable.”
A photo booth and vintage couch set up with props, along with late night burger and doughnut food trucks, added to the interactive feel.
“It was a big party for everyone to come and enjoy themselves,” says Mumford, who worked with Cove to plan the event. “None of it has to be perfect, it just all has to tell the same story.”
The bride and groom’s attire also reflects a more “undone” look, shirking stiff formality but incorporating plenty of vintage vibe.
“I am finding brides are looking for less bridal-style gowns,” says Cove. Think chic gowns in blush, beige or off-white, with little to no pouf in the skirt. She adds that vintage beading and silhouettes such as the drapey sheaths British designer Jenny Packham creates are favored and often topped off with flowers in the hair.
As for the men, it’s no longer about the cookie-cutter rental tux that looks like dad’s old formalwear. The guys are opting for alternatives to black, such as navy, tan or midnight blue. And they want a silhouette that is noticeably slimmer.
“The tailored, slim look is definitely a big trend,” says Andrew Blackmon, co-founder of Santa Monica-based rental service the Black Tux. “We see a lot of people taking classic items like a gray or black suit and throwing in a plaid bow tie, brightly-colored socks or mixing it up with a small accessory like a pocket square. People used to be matchy-matchy, but now it’s much more understated. Grooms will make it more personal.”
“Tall flower arrangements are so out,” says Cove, “It’s more about loose, organic and natural arrangements with lots of greenery that stay under eye level or are done at different heights down a long table.”
Succulents, baby ferns and lamb’s ear are popular additions to the traditional peonies and garden roses many people still use in bouquets and décor.
“To create a very full and overflowing tablescape, we are using various sizes and shapes of vases — from antiqued mercury glass pedestal vase as the main centerpiece, with a couple of shorter votive-size cut crystal arrangements on either side, interspersed with tiny gold bud vases,” says Jessica Veyna, co-owner of Vave Studios.
The hottest trend is the naked cake, which is an unfrosted or half-frosted round layer cake dressed up with leaves, berries and flowers.
These cakes are so ubiquitous that Blessing insists, “Naked cakes are the new Mason jar.”
“Recently, we’ve seen a lot of cocktail attire,” says Cove. “People don’t want their guests to feel so dressed up.”
Merrell adds that some couples even welcome jeans and a jacket for guests. “People want to dress more casual, because today weddings are feeling more like a big party with a wedding attached to it.”
The finishing touches
From photo booths to food prepared tableside, unexpected forms of entertainment and interaction are popping up at wedding celebrations.
“The most common request I am currently seeing is couples looking for a unique experience for their guests that showcases the couple and their story,” says event producer Dillon Nauert of Small Wonders Event and Design in Huntington Beach.
Couples are weaving their interests into their receptions through interactive twists on tradition, such as having a Bourbon bar or Tequila tasting.
“We’ve worked with the caterer or chef to create an...exhibition section, such as preparing salads tableside,” says Merrell. “It brings guests into the experience of the food and creates something unexpected.”
Nauert says pie bars and s’mores bars sometimes replace traditional plated or passed desserts.
“The possibilities are endless,” he says.