Hot Wedding Trends for 2017

From dangling décor to portrait booths and gifting lounges, here are the trends we’ve spotted for the year ahead.
by Lauren Kay
photo by Clockwise from left: Pen/Carlson; Brandon Kidd; Wendy Laurel; The Nichols

Trends are getting bigger and badder than ever before (in the best way possible!). Some are totally over the top and others are just perfect for adding a personal touch to your celebration. When it comes to couples who are ballin’ on a budget, you may be thinking some of these are out of your financial comfort zone but there are infinite ways to pull inspiration from this year’s trend report and spin it to match your celebration style (and wallet). You have our full permission to steal these ideas for your wedding day.

Unique Invitations

invitation

Get your guests excited to celebrate from the very beginning—today’s wedding correspondence really stands out. Plexiglas invites, foil stamping and glow-in-the-dark ink are a few of the stationery trends catching our eye for 2017. Bespoke illustrations and bold envelopes (think: shocking fuchsia with white ink) are other ways to get noticed.   

The Gift Lounge

gifting lounge

This deconstructed welcome bag is perfect for destination weddings. Instead of stuffing and delivering a gift for your guests, let them do the work (they’ll be glad you did). Set up a room full of swag (snacks, drinks, local sweet treats) and guests can choose their favorite things. Best of all, you (or your family or wedding party) can greet guests in person when they arrive. If your friends and family are split between a couple of hotels, set up a table of goodies at the exit of your welcome party for a truly memorable party favor.

Asking for What You Really Want

"I do" forks

From cash to mountain bikes and even museum memberships, we love that couples can ask for just about anything under the sun these days—including nothing at all. Charity registries are on the rise along with experiences, like a pottery class or a private cocktail session with an expert mixologist. Don’t worry, you can still register for classic wedding gifts like fine china, upgraded cookware and that fancy espresso machine you’ve had your eye on for years. Or do both!   

Metallic Dresses and Breezy Silhouettes

metallic bridesmaid dresses

Sparkly gowns—gold, silver and metallic beading—flooded the bridal runways. The ball gown is making a comeback too, perfect for a formal evening wedding. Also hot? Breezy silhouettes and airy skirts. These effortless dresses (think: flowing fabrics like tulle and organza) have an ethereal vibe and are well suited for a destination affair or even a second look. Detachable skirts, floral embellishments and off-the-shoulder looks will also be making their way down aisles this year.

Color Comeback

greenery

Neutrals and pastels have paved the way for a total return to color. Expect to see pops of bold shades and bright color pairings. Pantone named greenery the Color of the Year—it’s vibrant and earthy, making it perfect for all seasons. This fresh hue is symbolic of “the reconnection we seek with nature, one another and a larger purpose,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. We expect to see this shade of green in everything from floral arrangements to colored linens.

Going Green

reception table

Décor trends are going au naturel. If you can’t celebrate under the stars, bring the outside in. Add some oversize potted trees to a ballroom for an instant forest effect. Or incorporate natural elements like wood and stone into your table settings. Greenery (not just the color) continues to trend—it’s easy to manipulate and can give your décor an undone but beautiful look. Bouquets are getting bigger too and some old-school styles, like cascade and pageant, are making a serious comeback.  

Grand Getaways

motorcycle getaway

Think of this exit as a fresh take on the classic sparkler send-off. Surprise your guests with an unexpected getaway on the back of a motorcycle, in a horse-drawn carriage or by helicopter. For a twist on the trend, have a really memorable entrance instead. Anything goes—and just think of the photo ops!  

A Movable Feast

In-N-Out food truck

With food trucks and passed multicourse meals, the sit-down dinner is being replaced with more interactive options. Set up stations that feature your favorite eats, like a raw bar with a waiter live-shucking oysters or wine and cheese pairings with an on-site sommelier. If you don’t want to forgo a plated dinner, host a cool cocktail hour and serve the main meal family style for a twist on the expected.

Games Galore

lawn games

In an effort to entertain guests, couples are turning to the tried and true: games. From interactive Mad Lib wedding programs to lawn games at outdoor cocktail hours, games are being used as a way to break the ice between guests. This playful trend is a great way to get your friends and family mingling.

Ceremony Remix

preceremony drinks

Classic aisles will always be popular, but couples are adding twists to the traditional ceremony. A circular or ceremony in the round gives guests a more intimate connection with your vows. Cocktails before your “I dos”? Why not! Couples are mixing up the timeline and kicking things off with a celebratory sip.  

Furry Friends

alpaca

Animal lovers take note: The hottest wedding guests have four legs and supersoft coats. From bunnies to donkeys, couples are incorporating more than just their pets into their wedding. This is a trend to try if you’re hosting a rustic soiree or celebrating in a picturesque barn.

Double-Duty Escorts

escort cards

Escort cards are like the save-the-dates of your wedding day—they don’t have to match your theme or wedding style. They’re the perfect place to be playful and infuse your celebration with your personalities or favorite things. Create a dramatic display that can double as a photo booth backdrop or cards that are also party favors, like splits of champagne or a boxed edible treat.

Fun Food Presentations

doughnuts

The new trend in food is equal parts yum and fun. Menus are being carefully curated with favorite eats and local specialties (think: deep-dish pizza for a Chicago after-party). But the presentation is almost upstaging the food. Self-serve bars and food installations, like a hanging acrylic shelf piled high with cheese and charcuterie, are instant wows. Set up a doughnut wall with gourmet selections or treat guests to a full-service sundae bar. These interactive stations will give your friends and family something to do and talk about, long after the wedding.

Image Mapping

image mapping

Turn your indoor reception space into an enchanted forest without uprooting a single tree. Image mapping is a projection technology that allows you to transform a space with lighting and moving pictures. You can change scenes too, giving your ceremony and reception each its own special vibe. On a budget? Use the technology on just your wedding cake instead.

Exceptional Entertainment

entertainment

Give your guests an evening they won’t soon forget with unparalleled entertainment. Think outside the box with an aerialist or a choir belting out your favorite Beyoncé song. Or go the more traditional route with music, but pair it with a performance, like a classical quartet and ballerinas in tutus. If you have a noise ordinance at your outdoor locale, host a silent disco: A DJ spins music, but instead of it blasting from speakers, your guests don a pair of headphones and dance (and sing along) in relative silence. We’re kinda obsessed with this trend.

Party Portraits

live painter

We’re loving the new twist on the traditional photo booth—portrait studios. Much like a photo booth, there’s a designated space and, in some cases, props. But instead of four rapid-fire shots, there’s a live photographer asking you to vogue for the camera. You get a stellar classic portrait perfect for your gallery wall. Your guests will be lining up, trust us. Vintage-loving duos might opt for an illustrator instead, who can sketch guests in their finest duds. Or you could even hire a live painter to commemorate your day. This doubles as fun entertainment for your guests and a keepsake for you. Meanwhile, Geofilters are joining hashtags as the hottest way to be social at weddings (#duh).  

Dangling Décor

hanging escort cards

Hanging accents are an instant wow factor, and they always get noticed. Suspend flowers from ceiling beams or string market lights from barn rafters for added ambience. Hanging décor will get guests looking up too, which is handy if you’re trying to downplay the venue’s color-clashing carpet. Towering candelabras and organic centerpieces will continue to be popular table décor.

Stylish Swings

swing

The latest in lounge seating is swings. This playground classic promises to be a big hit with wedding guests both young and old. And it’s the perfect way to stay in motion when your feet need a break from the dance floor. Seating in general is trending, with couples opting for “king” and “queen” chairs at a sweetheart table, or mix-and-match options for outdoor ceremonies.

Translucent Cakes

translucent cake

Not quite frosted, not quite bare, the almost-naked cake is a perfect blend of two styles, and ideal for a less formal celebration. These confections are usually lightly iced in buttercream and topped with fresh flowers or in-season fruits that hint at the flavors of the cake filling.

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