The Look
Recent years have seen brides rush to recreate their version of a royal wedding or something straight off a Pinterest board. But as we greet 2016, it’s clear brides are much more interested in going down the aisle their own way. “Couples today want a wedding that showcases who they are, that’s a fun experience for their guests and that won’t look or feel dated — ever,” says event planner Alison Laesser-Keck, of VLD Events in southeast Michigan. Here, top wedding pros share some key elements to this personal spin on romance and fun.
Bright on.
Metallics are surprisingly versatile, says New York City event-planning guru Harriette Rose Katz. “Depending on how and where you bring them into your celebration,” she says, “they can be elegant, whimsical, ethereal or even very natural.” (Think glitzy golds to pop out room decor at a black-tie wedding, copper lanterns at an outdoor reception or on a rustic tablescape.) No matter the venue or theme, designers across the country say rose gold will show up on everything from rings to table linens. Even the food and drink get in on the trend, with shiny blush icings on desserts and rose-hued cocktails. One metallic that is on the wane, however, is silver.


Photo Credit: Allyson Magda Photography

Hometown heroes.
In a trend that Laesser-Keck calls “the new destination wedding,” couples are increasingly looking for ways to bring in elements of places that hold special memories — no matter where the actual wedding is being held. For example, a couple who got engaged in Paris might bring in vintage street lamps to light the reception, have Edith Piaf songs playing during dinner and use bistro signage for the bar. “The idea is that you can have guests feel like they’re in Nashville, New York, your alma mater — whatever spot is close to your heart — and enjoying little bits of those places that have brought you joy,” she says.

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Photo courtesy of VLD Events


Just dreamy. The key to setting a romantic mood? Ambience. “Every couple wants to create a more romantic and intimate environment,” says Los Angeles–based event designer Trish Stevens, of Classic Party Rentals. Wedding Lighting is the best — and simplest — way to establish both.” Event designers say they’re using more pendant lights with bare “Edison” bulbs, chandeliers (both vintage and modern) and candelabras to cast a soft glow.


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Photo courtesy of Creative Edge Parties

Be seated. Couples are moving away from a reception layout based on large round tables, which has a tendency to feel too much like a conference event, and are instead opting for either very long, rectangular tables or a mix of long tables surrounded by smaller square and round tables — all for a more intimate vibe. And lounge areas, complete with comfortable seating options, remain a crucial part of the cocktail and after-party hours.
Barns remain a strong venue trend. “The relaxed setting lets couples put their own spin on rustic chic,” says Stevens.

The Flowers
The right mix of style and simplicity will be the cornerstone of fabulous wedding floral arrangements in 2016.

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Photo Credit: Miki and Sonja Photography for Flower Duet
Just picked. Arrangements that feature both whatever is in season and whatever is local are gaining traction. Sometimes couples request a “wild” look, say Casey Schwartz and Kit Wertz of Flower Duet in Los Angeles. “What they’re after are freshly picked blooms.” These free-form bouquets and centerpieces often include a mix of big and small blossoms in more than one color, and might use spiky flowers or fruiting vines to serve as exclamation points.

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Photo courtesy of Flower Duet


Tone-on-tone explosion. A concentrated cluster of one color lends a graphic impact to centerpieces. Ask your florist to choose three to five different flowers in the same shade — the slight color variations create an ombré effect. For an uber-romantic feel, stick to the opposite ends of the color spectrum — either pale or deeply saturated. to set the table for fun, pick a hyper-vivid neon or a playful sorbet shade.
Look, don’t eat! Everyone’s a foodie these days, so it’s no surprise that savvy couples are asking florists to include elements like coffee beans and fragrant herbs (say, mint or basil) into centerpieces and garlands. Petite seasonal fruits and vegetables are another way to layer on color.

Flowers not necessary. Potted trees, succulents, ferns, lavender sprigs and decorative leaves (such as magnolia, begonia) are no longer reserved for anchoring flower arrangements — these days they can become the focal point of the décor. Flowering plants and blooming branches (think flowering quince, crab apple or cherry blossom) also work well as creative centerpieces. And a budget-friendly elegant idea is to adorn bare branches with crepe-paper flowers or sparkly jewels.

Try this trend: Mix up your centerpieces. “All tables need not look the same,” say Amber Karson and Emily Butler of Karson Butler Events in Washington, D.C. and California.

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Photo courtesy of Flower Duet


The Invitations
Stationery suites set the stage for your big day. These trends will steal the show.

Putting on the glitz. “Shimmer, sparkle, glitter — across the board everyone loves high shine,” says Amber Harrison, style expert for Wedding Paper Divas. Warm tones like rose gold and copper are the most requested metallic shades for 2016. And the trend is showing up on stamped and foil-pressed lettering and in shimmery papers.

A fondness for fonts. There’s such a strong cultural interest in words and graphics that it couldn’t help but spill over into the world of wedding invitations. “Using multiple fonts on an all-type invitation adds fresh personality,” says Tifany Wunschl of Gourmet Invitations.

Custom monograms. Monograms will always be in high demand, says Minted’s CEO Mariam Naficy. What’s new for 2016 is that couples are now working with designers to create a truly unique stamp that will appear on everything from the save-the-dates to photo and website backdrops to recipe cards for the signature cocktail.

Hands-on approach. Illustration, painting, lettering — anything done by hand is in demand, says Laesser- Keck. “In the digital age, people love to see that special hand touch,” says Taryn Sutherland, founder of Twinkle and Toast custom paper goods.

Location, location. Cityescapes and other location-inspired imagery is on the rise, says Harrison. Many places have a specific look and feel, she says, so couples increasingly want that to translate to their stationery suite.

The Drink Report
A toast to the creative cocktail hour!

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Photo courtesy of VLD Events


His and hers cocktails. What better way to give your guests a glimpse of who you are than by serving them your favorite libations? Laesserkeck points out that this trend is not only easier on the budget (no more guesstimating for an open bar) but it’s an instant conversation starter.


Photo courtesy of Bash Events


Pink. Rosé wine is fast becoming a mainstay at weddings, says Andrea Correale of Elegant Affairs in NYC. Couples are including it in the wine selection at dinner, serving rosé champagne for toasts or offering a variety of rosés from different regions as a sampling during the cocktail hour.

Gardens galore. Beer gardens that offer a selection of craft beers are a growing trend, but why stop there? “You could do a tequila or champagne garden, a martini bar with fresh juices, even a water bar with a variety of favors in fat and sparkling,” says Correale.

Grown-up popsicles. For summer weddings or as a mid-dance refresher, try turning your signature cocktail into a frozen treat. Laesser-Keck says the best-looking cocktail popsicles are made with a fresh fruit juice and an edible flower.

The Taste
Personality is on the menu for cutting-edge weddings. Take a bite of these delicious trends.

On a roll. Food stations that were all the rage even up to last year have conceded to the classic sit-down dinner. “But that doesn’t mean guests are stuck in their seats,” says Carla Ruben, founder of New York City’s Creative Edge Parties. To keep things interesting, caterers are bringing back gueridon service, where servers arrive at the dinner table with a cart filled with all the makings for customizable appetizers and desserts — everything from caesar salads, pastas and tartares to gelato, doughnuts and milk-and-cookies.

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Photo courtesy of Creative Edge Parties


Heritage dishes. Serving favorite family dishes or food from your ethnic background is another way to make your wedding more personal, says Correale. Couples also like to surprise guests with a local favorite — bite-size cheesesteaks in Philadelphia, for example — or a specialty item from their hometown — beignets flown in from New Orleans.

Perfect pairings. It’s common to pair wine with food, “Why not cocktails with food?” says Ruben. Some ideas for your cocktail hour: one-bite tacos with margarita shooters; pretzel bites with a local craft beer; caviar spoons and vodka shots; or Italian meatballs with a mini glass of chianti. And for dessert try apple pie with Moscato d’Asti or brownie bites with frozen espresso shooters.

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Photos courtesy of Elegant Affairs


Something for everyone. With the rise in dietary restrictions — gluten free, vegan, no dairy, etc. — couples are circling back to giving guests a choice of main courses, served family style or pre-plated.

Try this trend: Passed hors d’oeuvres and desserts are gaining ground over fixed stations. “This style of service lets guests mingle, and no one will miss out on the great food,” says Ruben.

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Photo courtesy of Harriet Rose Katz


The Cake
They look too pretty to eat, but that won’t stop us from slicing into these awe-inspiring cakes.

parkerwatches (10)Photo courtesy of Erica O’Brien Cakes
Back to buttercream. After taking a backseat to fondant-covered cakes, buttercream textures are in demand again, says Erica O’Brien of Erica O’Brien Cake Design in Hamden, Connecticut. “Brides are liking the more organic finish that you get from traditional buttercream,” she says. What keeps these cakes from being stuck in the ’80s are contemporary colors for the blooms and different textures.

Ooh, la la! Speaking of frosting, sometimes you just don’t need it. “Naked” cakes, which are unfrosted (or partially frosted) and simply adorned with berries or fresh flowers, are trending from coast to coast — and at both relaxed receptions and more formal affairs, says Nataly from the Great Dane Baking Company in Long Beach, California.

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Photo Credit: Natalie Schutte Photography


Brush strokes. Hand painting is another versatile trend, lending itself to a bohemian vibe or something more luxe and elegant. This is a great way to pick up the motif of your dress or your invitations (especially if they’re also hand painted). Or try it just for the wow factor.

Decadent flavors. No doubt couples have a more sophisticated palate these days. A vanilla cake just won’t do anymore, says O’Brien. One of her most requested flavors for 2016 is salted caramel. Others on the rise: white chocolate mousse, lemon, champagne, lavender-vanilla, apple spice, green tea and chai latte.

The Music Report
The songs and sounds for 2016.

The more the merrier. The days of picking between a DJ or a band are over. “Couples are viewing each aspect of their wedding celebration as an opportunity to bring in different entertainment options,” says Antonia Christianson, founder of Antonia Christianson Events in Virginia Beach. For example: a cabaret singer to serenade guests during the cocktail hour, a retro orchestra to add to the ambiance at dinner and a rocking dance band or DJ to keep people moving well into the night.

Mix things up. “Just a few years ago the trend was to do contemporary music only — Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry,” says Alex Donner, leader of New York City’s Alex Donner Orchestra and Alex Donner Entertainment. “But now I’m seeing more requests for a blend of retro to contemporary. Lately I’ve seen more interest in Elvis numbers — it’s fun and people haven’t heard it in awhile.”

Focus on your roots. Greek bands, bluegrass, Motown…whatever music matches your culture and heritage should become a part of your special day.

The Photography Report
These are the share-worthy photography and video trends you’ll want to focus on.
Epic action shots. Couples are requesting shots like doors slowly opening for a bride to walk down the aisle, a mom or dad wiping their tears or an aerial shot of the dance floor, say Joann and Mark Anthony of Nineteen Studios. “These are the images that really tell a story,” they say.

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Photo Credit: Womble Photography


Ready to share. Chances are you already have your wedding hashtag, now consider setting up a selfie station at your reception. And make sure your guests know when to click (ceremony, no; anywhere else, absolutely) and how to post.

Old and new. “We’re finding a rise in clients asking for a mix of film and digital,” say Los Angeles-based photographers Miki and Sonja Rakicevic. “Each offers their own look.”

Just the highlights. “Sharing has become such a hot commodity, so more couples are valuing the short highlight films that are easily shared online,” says Shannon Acevedo of Hoo Films. These are snippets that videographers turn around soon after the celebration, while everything’s still fresh in guests’ minds. The fully edited film comes later.

Try this trend: Drones and Google Jump virtual reality videos offer immersive viewer experiences.

More big-picture trends from Professional Photographers of America:

Photos for days. Couples are booking PPA photographers for more than just the big day itself, hiring pros to capture the entire wedding weekend — sometimes even an entire week — with family and friends, to ensure the full-on experience is forever on film.
On-site retouching. Driven by the “now” factor of social media, PPA photographers are adding a photo editor to the crew. This allows for a select batch of fully retouched images to be created on-site for instant social sharing.
Traditions be gone. Many brides and grooms not only want to see each other before the wedding, they also want to capture those private, connected moments in their photos. Nore and more, PPA photographers are being asked to include these special pre-wedding moments on the shot list.

Written by: Jessica Söderberg in cooperation with bridal guide.