Wedding trends from the past year: which are short-term, and which are here to stay?

Wedding trends from the past year: which are short-term, and which are here to stay?

Wedding trends from the past year: which are short-term, and which are here to stay? Crystal Plaza

Given how rocky the past 18 months have been, it would be foolhardy for anyone to make any hard and fast predictions for the future, particularly in the wedding industry. However, as we start to see some normalcy creep back into our lives, we wanted to take a brief moment to consider some of the wedding trends we witnessed in 2020 + 2021 – which ones we believe were short-term fixes, and those we think may be here to stay. 


Let’s give ourselves a pat on the back


If there’s one big takeaway from the past year or so it’s this: people are incredibly resourceful. Brides, grooms, wedding venues and wedding vendors came together to figure out nuptial contingencies as restrictions and mandates upended dreams. The Crystal Plaza, for example, moved quickly to maximize its beautiful 5-acre footprint, continuing to create one-of-a-kind wedding experiences while adhering to the latest CDC guidelines. And then, when full-lockdown was imposed, the premier New Jersey wedding venue shifted gears to undertake its first wholesale renovation in 25 years. 


A beautiful table setting in the center of a natural lit Atrium at The Crystal Plaza wedding venue

Bathed in natural light, The Crystal Plaza’s new Atrium offers another stunning location for the bride and groom’s dream wedding.


As brides and grooms navigated the stormy waters of where, how many, who can stand how close to whom, we saw a number of interesting wedding trends emerge. Some are seasonal and to be expected (bold colors are in!); some are short-term (wedding masks embroidered with the bride and groom’s initials); and some are long-term (outdoor weddings are going to be popular for a while yet). 


Here is our review of what we believe are the short-term contingency fads vs. the long-term wedding trends:


Short-term wedding fads:




Many couples simply didn’t want to wait any longer to tie the knot. Taking their marital cues from the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio, some brides and grooms opted for a simple, no frills marriage, followed by a bigger party to be held on a future, unknown date. The idea being that the formalities of the wedding should continue (albeit in a courthouse) so the couple could start to build their lives together as husband + wife / husband + husband / wife + wife.


Although still an option for many couples who would rather not host their friends and family in a bigger celebration, we believe we will see a distinct decline in the number of elopements as wedding venues are able to accommodate more people and COVID restrictions dissipate. 


A newlywed couple sharing their first dance in The Crystal Plaza’s grand ballroom while guests look on.

A first dance is much more special when it’s in front for friends and family!


Teeny-weeny Receptions


Quite a few weddings over the past year were almost all ceremony and no reception. This made sense as social distancing requirements made it impossible for groups to hang out together for extended periods of time. In fact, many of the receptions had to be Zoom calls – which pales in comparison to the real thing, as we learned in our post Wedding Experiences that are SO much better in-person


However, with restrictions eased, we are going to see wedding receptions and cocktail hours ramped up as wedding guests relish seeing one another in the flesh again. In fact, we believe weddings will take on EVEN MORE importance as friends and family capitalize on this wonderful day to get together, with more guests traveling even farther to join the party. 


And so, teeny-weeny receptions won’t cut it. In fact, Brides and grooms should plan for longer cocktail hours to make sure all the friends, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandmas (and everyone else!) get lots of quality time together.


Remote Weddings


Not destination weddings, which we think will probably be super-charged as people look to combine vacations, weddings and honeymoons now that we’re able to travel again. 


The remote weddings we mean are those that have been taking place over Zoom, Skype and FaceTime – where little framed faces peer at the couple (and one another) through computer screens, fingers firmly crossed that the WiFi doesn’t give up halfway through the ceremony.


These technologies have performed a great service to many brides and grooms this past year – enabling them to include friends and family as best they could; however, it’s safe to say that most of us would much rather be celebrating in-person, as opposed to through the internet. 


A great takeaway from the live streamed weddings is that we now have another option for sharing the special day with people who won’t be able to make it. For example, if your Uncle Jerry simply cannot leave his New Zealand farm during lambing season, then he will still be able to participate in the wedding via Facebook live. Of course it will be the middle of the night for him, but it’s better than not joining at all!


Getting Married at Home


For some, getting married at home has always been the dream. An idyllic day with the happy couple tying the knot in the backyard underneath the old family oak tree. 


For others, getting married at home was a stopgap measure because COVID had caused all other wedding locations to be stricken off the list. There were even tales of couples in New York leaning out of their living room windows to be married by an officiant standing in the street! Let’s be honest, this almost counts as an elopement. 


Weddings at home tend to be fairly makeshift. Rooms and spaces are totally reimagined – bedrooms become cloakrooms, the living room morphs from altar to cocktail space to dance floor and the dining room is wherever the guests can park their plates…


With the right creative mind and lots of time, it can prove successful; although the stress of trying to organise it all often has many brides and grooms wishing they’d just hired a venue, and left it to the experts.


And now that the venues are opening up again, we think people are going to be a little more hesitant about jerryrigging their homes into temporary wedding venues!


The ballroom at The Crystal Plaza in Livingston, New Jersey

Weddings at home require a lot of creativity. Often people just end up wishing they’d left it to the experts.


Dressing down


One of the great things about weddings is that it gives everyone the opportunity to dress up. Haircuts are booked, favorite dresses are dry cleaned and replacement cufflinks are bought, all in anticipation of a wonderful wedding day.


During the lockdown, there was a general easing of protocols as those that wanted to forge ahead with their weddings took a more relaxed approach to multiple aspects of their weddings, including the dress code.


But now it’s pretty much over, we’re all looking forward to a good reason to get out of our athleisure wear and into something a little more elegant. And what better occasion than a wedding?!


Wedding trends that are here to stay:


Outdoor weddings


Not only are outdoor weddings often in beautiful and bespoke locations, but for the past year they had the added benefit of not being inside – making social distancing infinitely easier. A few venues, including The Crystal Plaza, were able to offer outdoor spaces to their brides and grooms; although many could not. 


We suspect many couples may have had their heads turned by the option of getting married in the great outdoors, seeing it as a way of plowing ahead with their lives, despite the pandemic. Of course two of the major challenges with outdoor weddings are the weather and configuring logistics (how many extension cords does the DJ need?), which is why we believe the optimum venue will be able to offer both indoor and outdoor spots, with many of the infrastructural elements taken care of already.


Individualized food options


Something interesting that came out of the pandemic from a culinary perspective, was the need for food to be highly-individualized. This meant couples could no longer opt for family style meals, buffets and those canapés where everyone dips jumbo shrimp into a communal pot of cocktail sauce! 


Instead, servers brought out individual, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres to be enjoyed by one person at a time, while dinner guests were served single plated meals, instead of mega bowls of linguine for everyone to share. This led to two things: an inevitable increase in cost (limited efficiencies of scale) and some really fun gastronomic creativity as wedding chefs considered how to individualize foods – leading to cool ideas like incorporating mini portions of fried-chicken or single-serve spoons of gazpacho into the menu. 


The initial impetus for moving away from any kind of communal food was driven by a sensitivity to minimizing the potential spread of COVID-19; however, we believe the individualized approach to wedding catering will continue for a while yet, as guests react positively to the chefs’ creations. 


Further to this, we would recommend brides and grooms who are planning their wedding look for venues that are able to provide onsite catering. Locations that have their own kitchens often have increased creative latitude with more resources at their fingertips and no issues with food transportation.


Plates of food lined up in two rows, a chef pours sauce from a ladle over one plate.

Wedding venues that have their own kitchens are often able to offer more interesting and creative menus.


Weekday Weddings


As the pandemic lifted and couples were able to start planning their nuptials again, we witnessed an increase in demand for weekday weddings. No longer was it weekends or bust for the special day, suddenly we saw ceremonies happening Monday through Friday too. 


This is a trend we think will continue as the concept of work time and leisure time continues to blend in a post-pandemic world. 


Personalized Wedding Days


Similar to the individualization of the food, one of the major trends we saw in the wedding industry this past year has been the personalization of the overall wedding itself. 


Sometimes called a “Pintimate Wedding” (a combo of “personalized” and “intimate”), the idea was born out of couples needing to be ulta-resourceful to plan their special day. Generally, this was because spaces were being repurposed as wedding venues – so the bride and groom incorporated family photos and meaningful heirlooms, for example, to make the event feel more special to them. 


Another factor will be the focus on the guest experience. Many brides and grooms decided to keep their original, pre-pandemic wedding budgets despite having their guest numbers slashed, opting to significantly increase the amount spent on a per-person basis. This resulted in a lot more budget for catering, table décor and entertainment – making the day feel even more personal to the bride and groom.


For many of us, the pandemic has underscored the magic and beauty of a wedding. It is one of the few times in our lives when so many friends and family come together to celebrate as one. Many of the trends we have witnessed coming out of the past year were born out of necessity as couples elected not to let COVID-19 mess with their life plans (insofar as they could!). Some of these choices will be nothing more than flash-in-the-pan fads; however, we think some of the trends could have longer shelf lives, and which we at The Crystal Plaza are excited to help come to life!


An outdoor wedding setup in Livingston, New Jersey

The Crystal Plaza – New Jersey’s finest wedding venue


About The Crystal Plaza

The Crystal Plaza is widely regarded as one of the finest wedding and event venues in the US. Based in Livingston, NJ we offer impeccable white-glove service to meet the exacting needs of our guests. Our newly renovated garden can be rented for any function that you wish to host, while abiding to all proper social distancing protocols and procedures – including weddings, birthdays, graduation parties, photo shoots, corporate gatherings, reunions and family gatherings.

Please contact us on info@crystalplaza.com to learn more.