After 15 months of living in a world where it was verboten to see loved ones—let alone hug, kiss, or dance with them—the final pandemic restrictions are finally being lifted across the United States, and just in time for the summer wedding season. While the ability to gather is a relief to couples who have scheduled (and rescheduled) their celebrations multiple times, now they must grapple with the bum’s rush that is wedding planning in 2021. Amidst an abundance of other metaphors, New York City’s top wedding planners and leaders in wedding trends have recently been known to throw around the word “pandemonium.”
Jove Meyer of Jove Meyer Events puts some color to the times: “Everyone has their foot on the gas, full speed ahead. It’s like everyone is speeding on the highway trying to get to the same place at the same time.” In speaking to the best vendors, venues, and dates, Meyer adds: “Now that it feels like we can celebrate as we want to more freely, more safely, people are all in. It’s like everyone woke up from a slumber.”
So, today’s engaged couples may still have a bit of scheduling anxiety ahead of them, but this time with the promise of actual ecstatic relief (and cake, and champagne). Here are a few of the other wedding trends and concerns that the city’s planning elite have noticed this year that could be an inspiration for your wedding day.
Many of 2020’s weddings played out on Zoom, but now folks can return to ballrooms, beach resorts, vineyards, tents, restaurants—whatever floats their nuptial boat. “A couple months ago when it was more quiet, people were very focused on outdoor space because of COVID, and because it felt like there was more flexibility and less restrictions being outside than inside,” says Meyer. “People were looking for the North Fork, the Hamptons, upstate—anywhere that was less populated became the most popular in terms of destination.”
But, surprisingly, plenty of couples have fallen for the intimate, cozy aesthetic wedding trends many were forced into last year. “A lot of people are still leaning into, ‘Let’s do it at the house, let’s do it at my parents’ home, let’s build a tent,’” says Fallon Carter of Fallon Carter Events.
If there’s one advantage to getting married at home, it’s that couples won’t have to compete with two years’ worth of engaged folks clamoring for a finite number of dedicated event spaces. “Vendors are swamped, dates are filling up, venues are getting booked. So it’s pandemonium because it’s like, ‘I want that venue, I need it first,” says Carter. There’s also always getting married on a Thursday, as at least one of Meyer’s clients is doing.
Hope you’re ready for lush, vivid color. “Right now I’m seeing a lot of color,” Carter says. “A lot of our weddings have been like, ‘I just want a lot of color. I want bright! I want colorful flowers. I want eclectic flowers,’ more geometric in the styling of them. I think people are trying to be a little bit more adventurous, because it used to be like just 50 shades of white.”
The super stuffy, all-white-everything look is taking a year off, says Meyer. “I think couples are focused for sure on an emphasis on joy, celebration, and fun. That’s taking shape in so many sizes,” he says. “I think they’re taking risks that are more celebratory and less stiff.”
Marcy Blum, of Marcy Blum Events, has been planning weddings in New York for 35 years, and she holds another theory about why white seems so unappealing these days. “White, it was maybe subliminally reminiscent of COVID in some way,” she says. “People are really just doing punchy colors.”
In keeping with the theme of rule-breaking and exuberance, many brides are forgoing the big, white ballgown. “Shorter!” says Carter. We’re seeing a lot more pants. Everyone’s wearing something that really fits them, and they’re comfortable. I’m not seeing anyone that’s too uptight.” She’s also working with many brides who are wearing ensembles that can be transformed over the course of the evening. “Some of our couples have been wearing capes, or some type of ‘over’ moment and then going relaxed for reception—so no trains, no heavy veils.”
WEDDING DIAMOND JEWELRY
That’s also true when it comes to their nuptial accessories, says Meyer. Couples are now preparing entire “suites” of jewelry combinations for their wedding weekends. “We’re definitely seeing couples get creative in their accessories and in their jewels, wearing multiple looks. So you have the welcome dinner, the welcome party, the wedding, the after-party, and the brunch, and you want to be dressed for all of those occasions,” Meyer says. “Along with outfit changes, there are accessory changes as well, which include jewelry much of the time.”
As with some of the other trends, Blum says, it’s all about excess on the post-pandemic wedding scene. “Really big diamond rings,” she notes. “Everything has sort of scaled up, instead of down.”
And after so much time separated from loved ones, many couples are looking to honor family pieces, particularly in the case of resetting passed-down diamond jewelry. “We are seeing a lot of heirlooms being transformed, people being more mindful of family and lineage,” says Carter. “So, seeing those kinds of concepts transform into kind of updated models.” And just like with flowers, ring wearers are more excited to throw some color alongside their white diamonds. “I am seeing a lot of color bling, to be honest with you. People are being a lot more adventurous with engagement rings at this point…. Everything’s being customized specifically to the recipient,” Carter says. “It’s not just a piece of bling.”
New York City couples tend to be a bit older when they marry, so bridesmaids and groomsmen aren’t always chosen–but that hesitation is set aside after a year without socializing. “Just the opposite! People are really including everyone. Most have gotten a little sentimental, a little nostalgic—less brutal about, ‘I don’t like her hair color’ or ‘She yelled at me in second grade,’” Blum says. “Every wedding we’re working on, even with slightly older people, have a very large amount, at least 6, 7, 10 [in their wedding parties].”
“We have a wedding party this summer that has 16 on each side,” agrees Meyer, “and I literally thought I would never see that again.” What he is still seeing, though, is the pre-pandemic vibe of letting a group of bridesmaids choose their own dresses after seeing a palette.
ADVICE TO COUPLES PLANNING A WEDDING
Regulations about masks, distancing, and the size of events are still changing every day, so this year’s couples (who likely include last year’s couples, too) need to take a breath and stay flexible, say these planners. “A lot of our couples are panicking because they’re like, ‘The florist I really, really wanted isn’t available.” And I say, ‘Okay, we wouldn’t have had her anyway. She was booked since 2019,” Carter says. “Don’t stress yourself out thinking that you’re missing the mark. Just know that the perfect vendor is out there for you.”
And please be nice to the vendors you do get to work with. “Know that everyone is working in overdrive,” Meyer says. “Have patience—we’re not machines, we’re humans. We’re processing grief and COVID, and business loss, and all the things that everyone else went through. But we are excited and eager to be back at it, and to bring your wedding to life.” Be nice, and let the joy and celebration commence.