NEW YORK — With 2020 coming to a close, The Knot, a leading wedding planning and registry resource, reveals 12 wedding details that to-be-weds will lean into in the new year. Weddings in 2021 will look different than in years prior due to COVID-19, but they’ll be no less personalized, as couples create new, safer ways to celebrate their love. Couples, vendors and guests will continue to prioritize health and safety, and the global pandemic has resulted in many new wedding trends sprouting out of necessity, like smaller guest lists in the meantime while gathering restrictions remain in place and individual personalized food service. However, the new year also ushers in a plethora of new design elements and guest experiences that will offer engaged couples, and the wedding industry as a whole, a new approach to celebratory and safe events. Plus, to-be-weds in 2021 will focus on intentionality as they plan—or replan—their wedding days.
“Throughout the past year, we’ve seen couples rely on their incredibly resilient and solution-oriented wedding vendor teams to curate new hyper-personalized, unique and intimate wedding celebrations with a focus on health and safety protocols, which we’ll continue to see in the new year,” shared Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor-in-chief of The Knot. “With many couples having postponed larger wedding receptions, we anticipate seeing couples opt for smaller wedding events while large gathering restrictions remain in place across the country, like minimonies, to honor original wedding dates, or elopements in advance of their larger rescheduled festivities. Regardless of how they’re celebrating, engaged couples will need to work with their vendors to understand and abide by COVID-19 event restrictions set by their local governments.”
12 Wedding Planning Details The Knot Anticipates In 2021
Prioritizing Health & Safety — Nearly all couples with upcoming wedding dates report making adjustments to their future events to accommodate current pandemic conditions, abide by local event restrictions, and prioritize health and safety1 . Whether engaged couples are replanning their postponed celebrations or moving forward with their original 2021 wedding date, health and safety will remain top of mind for all those planning weddings in the new year. Together with their vendor teams, to-be-weds will implement creative event formats and unique guest experiences to abide by local gathering restrictions and ensure the safety of all. Plus, hand-sanitizing stations, masks as wedding favors, individual personalized food offerings and smaller guest counts will continue to be the norm until large events are permitted and safe to take place.
Mindful Vendor Curation — Millennials and Gen Zers are increasingly mindful of their purchasing power throughout all aspects of their lives, including planning their weddings. Engaged couples in 2021 will seek allyship when selecting vendors who not only can offer products and services that will help bring their unique wedding visions to life, but who align with the values and causes they stand for. From selecting invitations designed by Black artists or choosing LGBTQ-owned vendors, to opting for sustainable decor or hiring a company to compost all leftover food and florals, expect to-be-weds to be extremely intentional throughout their wedding planning journeys in 2021 and beyond.
Wedding Welcome Boxes — Receiving lines are stepping aside to make way for new and unique guest experience touchpoints, including welcome boxes that will make loved ones feel celebrated and taken care of. In 2021, personalized welcome boxes, including nods to a couple’s unique love story, interests and backgrounds, are expected to make their way to wedding guests. They can even be delivered to guests who may be joining the wedding celebrations virtually. With more intimate wedding events, custom-curated welcome boxes are just one of many guest-centered wedding details The Knot anticipates couples to incorporate into their upcoming celebrations.
Elevated Outdoor Experiences — With the majority of wedding guests (64%) preferring outdoor celebrations right now2, couples will honor their guests’ wishes by bringing the coziness of their indoor wedding receptions outside. To-be-weds will increasingly opt for transparent tents to account for potential inclement weather, while still highlighting the beauty of the outdoors. They’ll also utilize mood lighting installations to bring their visions to life, from twinkly lights and unique lanterns to candelabras and even chandeliers hanging from trees. Additionally, vignettes of living room furniture for seating will give outdoor celebrations a warm and cozy aesthetic. Pro tip: When planning an outdoor wedding, couples should work directly with their vendors to ensure they obtain all necessary permits and abide by local regulations (like sound ordinances and guest count restrictions). Venue coordinators and wedding planners will also be able to ensure couples plan for proper heating or air conditioning so all attendees will be comfortable throughout the festivities.
Single-Tier and Mini Wedding Cakes — Smaller plates and individualized portions for appetizers, main courses and even wedding cakes will be a big trend in 2021. Couples will work with caterers and cake bakers to create inventive food offerings that ensure safe and unique food service. And while wedding cakes may be smaller in size, they’ll be more dynamic in detail.
Tiny Toasts & Cocktails To-Go — With more intimate affairs occurring while COVID-19 continues to impact celebrations nationwide, guests outside the wedding party may also opt to toast the newlyweds. The Knot anticipates friends and family will prepare speeches to celebrate the special occasion. To keep their celebrations going, couples will offer guests to-go cocktail kits as a popular favor, a trend anticipated to continue even after weddings return to their normal guest sizes in a post-COVID world.
Wedding Registries Complete With All Newlywed Needs — To-be-weds rely on their wedding registries to kick off their newlywed lives, and in 2021, they may look different as a result of COVID-19. Cash-funds and retail products will continue to be a staple on wedding registries in the coming year, though they’ll likely reflect how the couples’ lives were impacted by the pandemic. From at-home essentials they realized they needed while stay-at-home measures were in place, to cash funds for a new hobby picked up in 2020, couples can add any and all newlywed needs to their gift wish lists on The Knot Registry. For inspiration, couples can turn to The Knot Registry Awards, available as a collection on The Knot Registry Store, for the most popular products among past to-be-weds, along with recommendations from The Knot editors. Couples can also browse registry picks from noteworthy celebrity couples, including ABC’s The Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher and fiancé Jordan Rodgers.
Bistro-Style Entertainment — In the new year, The Knot anticipates to-be-weds to embrace formal, yet relaxed wedding environments, complete with alternative entertainment to replace crowded dance floors, like acoustic performances, dance tributes and a variety of musical options. What’s now being referred to as cafe or bistro-style entertainment offers new and unique ways to keep guests entertained from their socially distanced seats, helping avoid crowding throughout the reception.
Fresh Color Palettes & Prints — Expect to see lots of color at wedding festivities in the coming year—specifically nature-inspired color palettes and prints (think sky blue or marigold hues and petal pink or leafy green prints) will be surging in popularity, as couples stray from whites and creams. Fresh hues and prints will help couples elevate everything from their invitations to their reception decor. Plus, couples will turn to voluminous floral arrangements to add romantic wow-worthy detailing to their intimate affairs.
Coordinated Guest Dress Codes — The intimacy of minimonies and microweddings allows to-be-weds more control over the overall aesthetic of their wedding celebrations. With that, to-be-weds will be hyper-focused on the details of their big day, potentially opting for coordinated guest dress codes or event themes to make for a picture-perfect celebration. Engaged couples in 2021 will need to communicate with guests more than ever before to relay important details about their big day—health protocols and dress codes included. To keep guests in the know, to-be-weds can add all information to their wedding websites on The Knot.
Alternative Wedding Dates & Times — As the global pandemic has resulted in millions of couples shifting their 2020 wedding dates to 2021, many couples had to resort to a new day of the week or a different time of day to accommodate their vendor team’s availability. In fact, 15% of couples with upcoming weddings report that they’ve moved their postponed wedding reception to a different day of the week1. As a result, weekday weddings and brunch weddings will be popular options for celebrations in the coming year. Pro tip: For those looking to create an elevated brunch wedding reception, keep in mind that a morning affair will lend itself to a more mellow environment, so add festive elements (think bright florals and pre-poured mimosas) or formal details (like fine china and elevated twists on traditional brunch foods) based on your ideal aesthetic.
Though wedding celebrations in 2021—like minimonies and microweddings—will embrace smaller guest counts while event restrictions and social distancing recommendations remain in place, The Knot anticipates big ceremonies and receptions to return in full force when it’s safe to gather in larger groups once again.
Rise of the Nanomoon — Newlyweds will turn to local exploration for “nanomoons,” a close-to-home honeymoon experience focused on exploring local regions in advance of larger plans, while travel restrictions may prevent them from getting away to their far-flung dream honeymoon destinations. From weekend winery trips to camping out at a national park, these localized experiences are ideal for couples looking for an adventure to kick off newlywed life in advance of postponed honeymoon plans.
Source1 The Global COVID-19 Weddings Report; conducted in September 2020 and fielded among users of the The Knot Worldwide family of brands: US, Canada, UK, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, India, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru and Chile with weddings originally planned September 2020 through January 2021.
Source2 The Knot 2020 Wedding Guest Study; conducted in August-September 2020 among over 750 adults recruited from a third-party research firm.