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Trend Alert: Looking Ahead at 2021

There’s no question about it: the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced the wedding and event industry more than any single factor in recent history. While the biggest trends are typically design elements or color palettes, this year’s go-to wedding trend has unfortunately been postponements. For months, the industry stood still as we collectively worked through one of the largest crises society has faced. 

In 2021, however, there is much hope that the industry will rebound and we’ll experience a resurgence of business. In other words, people will be looking to make up for lost time. 

Yet, moving past COVID isn’t as simple as turning a page to the future—even after there’s a vaccine available. Instead, many pandemic-inspired trends will linger around in 2021 and beyond as couples grapple with the reality of a post-Coronavirus world. 

Here are a few trends that we’re expecting to emerge out of the pandemic and influence the wedding industry for the foreseeable future. 

A new take on weddings

With group gatherings severely limited by size, we’ve seen guest lists get shorter as micro-weddings have filled in the gaps left behind by the pandemic. Now, small weddings are nothing new—in fact, they’ve been on the rise in recent years. However, today’s micro weddings are designed to accommodate 10-30 people whereas, in years past, any wedding with less than 75 guests was considered small. These mini celebrations will stick around throughout 2021, especially as couples embrace the cherished beauty of intimate celebrations.

Photo courtesy Arden Photography

Weddings aren’t just smaller, though. Many couples are opting to keep their nuptials close to home and, in some cases, are even hosting them at home. With destination weddings on the outs, engaged couples are inviting their closest friends and family to join them for backyard celebrations—whether that’s at their shared home, a parent’s, or a local Airbnb that can accommodate the guest list. 

Just the two of us 

For couples looking to downsize even more, we’re seeing elopements on the rise as it’s the safest option to tie the knot without putting any guests at risk. Since traveling is tentative, these elopements are mainly taking place within driving distance from a couple’s home. This isn’t to say they won’t celebrate their marriage with loved ones; in fact, most elopements are part of a “marry now, party later” plan with couples intending to host a larger reception once it’s safe to do so.

On the bright side, the cost-effectiveness of an elopement is allowing couples to go all out for their celebration, whether that means upgrading their accommodations to a luxury suite or taking a few extra days off to turn the wedding weekend into a full-blown honeymoon. With everything that’s going on, it’s a nice opportunity for couples to splurge a bit on their wedding experience and indulge in newlywed bliss.

Where chic meets safe

A socially distanced wedding doesn’t mean couples need to sacrifice their design ideas. In fact, many are embracing the challenge of COVID guidelines by finding creative ways to turn their venue into a safe-but-stylish space. For example, with outdoor celebrations, we’re seeing picnic-style receptions becoming a real hit with couples. It’s as simple as spreading out some luxurious blankets and rugs, adding some funky throw pillows, and strategically placing lounge furniture for a comfortable, risk-free environment.

On that note, many couples are using the savings from their shorter guest lists to splurge on top-notch rental furniture, floral arrangements, food selections, and entertainment. They’ve recognized that their wedding can still be the day they envisioned and, in fact, they are now allocating their budget toward elements that they hadn’t considered prior.

While it’s natural to wish for a simple return to ‘normal,’ the hard truth is that the world—and, as a result, the wedding industry—will not see any semblance of pre-pandemic life for some time. Therefore, it’s essential for wedding pros to face reality and lean into the modifications being made to weddings so we can continue helping our clients achieve their true goal: to get married and start a life together. This is your opportunity to get creative and try new things because this can ultimately grow your business and secure your place in the market for the long-term. 


Kylie Carlson

Founder / CEO, The Wedding and Event Institute
Kylie Carlson is the owner of ...