2020 hit the wedding industry hard, but many couples made the best of it by reinventing their events with virtual and micro-weddings. With the vaccine rollout offering a bit of hope in 2021, there’s a new wave of eager couples vying for venues. According to The Knot 2020 Real Weddings Study, COVID-19 Edition, nearly all couples (96 percent) who planned to wed in 2020 changed their original wedding plans, and 93 percent of weddings were not actually canceled.


“I feel like we’ve gone through the worst and I do see the light at the end of the tunnel now,” says Jung Lee, celeb wedding planner and co-founder of Fête, who says she has a lot of events in the pipeline for 2021.

“From my perspective, people are excited to be moving forward. COVID-19 is still going to be around but there’s a modification where it’s more of a hybrid right now.”

That hybrid means still testing, wearing masks and streaming in remote guests but also opening up the ceremony to outdoor venues, creating pod seating, and finding creative ways to eat, entertain, and celebrate. Here are 14 wedding trends for 2021 that will inspire your big day, even in the smallest setting.

Sequel Weddings

Sequel weddings is exactly what it sounds like: the part 2 and maybe 3 of your first ceremony. Maybe you eloped in 2020 or decided on a backyard affair with just family. This year, couples are looking to take it to the next level while still taking safety precautions. With a sequel wedding couples can express their creativity in multiple ways while ensuring their favorite people can be there for their big day(s).

Tapas-Style Eats

We talked about the COVID-safe charcuterie board for the holidays. Well, so long family-style meals and dessert buffets. Individual portions are a must this year. “We’ve always set it up just from a visual standpoint, not necessarily from a hygiene perspective,” says Lee. “Now people are doing it because they feel more safe. But I like the way that it looks nice and clean to serve people their own little tasting plates.”

Weekday Weddings

There’s been an uptick in weekday wedding celebrations too, which can save couples a little cha-ching for their honeymoon and offer more availability in terms of coveted locations. According to The Knot study, weddings outside of Saturdays already accounted for one in three nuptials and it’s a trend that is expected to rise in 2021.

Brunch Weddings

We are all about a tasty brunch (and not just for the mimosas), and that goes for a brunch wedding, too. From colorful garden parties to brunch boxes served under twinkly tents, this trend is on the rise as the great outdoors becomes the go-to spot. Why not start the “party” early, right?

Big, Bold & Hyper-Detailed Decor

It’s all about the details when it comes to smaller, more intimate weddings. “Expect decor to be bigger and bolder than ever before in 2021, including exaggerated florals and larger-than-life lighting to make big spaces seem cozier, or to highlight the unique decor even further,” says WeddingWire‘s senior creative director Jeffra Trumpower.

Nanomoons

Travel is such a big part of wedding planning and that has been off the books for close to a year now, leaving dream honeymoon destinations on lockdown. This isn’t keeping couples from celebrating their new life together with local trips, from a short jaunt to wine country to road trips to the U.S. National Parks.

Bucket-List Cash Gifts

Couples are instead saving up for their “massivemoon” with the help of guests. According to The Knot Registry, Post-COVID Bucket List Travels, New Family, and Moving/Relocation cash funds have been on the rise over the past year.

Cafe-Style Entertainment

With wild dance parties off the table, for now, more couples are choosing to entertain their guests with acoustic performances a la your local coffee-shop crooner and fun dance tributes.

Covid-Style Favors

Safety is a top priority for couples as they host the people they love most. The Knot reports that 9 in 10 couples are taking health protocols like offering hand sanitizer (90{409126f2c1f09c9e510a010c163a4bce2c3ccfc4019bdf864d6cb2d5d8752f38}), face masks (71{409126f2c1f09c9e510a010c163a4bce2c3ccfc4019bdf864d6cb2d5d8752f38}), appropriately distanced seats and tables (88{409126f2c1f09c9e510a010c163a4bce2c3ccfc4019bdf864d6cb2d5d8752f38}), taking guests’ temperatures upon entering the wedding (13{409126f2c1f09c9e510a010c163a4bce2c3ccfc4019bdf864d6cb2d5d8752f38}), and requiring guests to take COVID tests prior to the celebrations (4{409126f2c1f09c9e510a010c163a4bce2c3ccfc4019bdf864d6cb2d5d8752f38}).

Pod Seating

Living room furniture — velvet settees, rattan armchairs, and rustic coffee tables — allow for cozy pod seating outdoors. Guests can lounge and chat and drink and eat in comfort.

Drive-In Movie Weddings

Food trucks and outdoor movies keep it casual and nostalgic — plus extra safe — during these challenging times.

You Be You

One thing is for sure: this is still your wedding and if you want to go big while keeping the guest list small, that’s ok. “People are people, so the girl who wanted that big fancy dress, even though she only had 20 people in her backyard, guess what — she’s putting it on. And full-on hair and makeup, too,” says Lee. Whether you want to go with the dress of your dreams, bridesmaid jumpsuits, or a women’s tuxedo (we love the idea of the bridesmaid tuxedo!), you do you no matter what the location or guest list looks like.

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