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Top Wedding Trends For 2021

By Alice Bradford

2021 is shaping up to be a big year for weddings. We may not be in the clear yet, but the hope is that by the summer or fall, it will (finally!) be safer for people to gather in public and host events. Whenever that point comes, we’re looking at what will effectively be a double wedding season (there's a 50% chance this will eventually be the title of a straight-to-Hulu rom-com). Many who have planned their weddings for 2021 already will be tying the knot, naturally. But so too will countless couples that had to delay their weddings amidst the pandemic!

This will make for an interesting year, but one for which it's tough to identify trends. By late summer we’ll have gone about 18 months without many large or public weddings, and how people resume the tradition is really anybody’s guess. There are a few trends we can predict — primarily based on people’s needs to socialize, budget, and let loose a little bit.

Open Bars Are More Essential Than Ever

We’ll start with what we do best, and talk about the bars! Generally speaking, providing an open bar is the favored option at all but the smallest weddings. So this isn’t really anything new. But we’d suggest that in 2021, this is going to be all the more essential, simply because people are eager to socialize, enjoy nights out, and unwind. An open bar incentivizes all of this, not necessarily by ensuring everyone has a few drinks, but by establishing an atmosphere. An open bar communicates the message, welcome, have a good time like nothing else at a wedding, and a little nudge in that direction will be that much easier to appreciate following 18 months of isolation.

That said, if you want to take the idea a little further, you can infuse a bit of a DIY element also. That might mean wine or beer taps guests can simply help themselves to, a create-your-own cocktail station, or any other fun concept you might dream up.

Photo Booths Will Be Popular

It’s extremely common these days, particularly with younger crowds, for weddings to have photo areas set up, perhaps with a backdrop and some props. The idea is generally that guests can take selfies or photos of each other, and instantly share them, post them, and so on. Slightly more official photo booths are on the rise as well. According to one article on starting a photo booth business, this is an industry that is actually expected to double from 2019 to 2026 (to an impressive $730 million in size!). This indicates that there’s still a lot of demand for photo booths at events, including weddings, and we’re betting they’re highly valued in 2021. People have gone more than a year without creating memories with friends, and a lot of couples will love the idea of providing booths where friends and family can have photos taken to commemorate the event. At the very least, it's a better option than a selfie stick (which is somehow still a thing at weddings).

Lots of Weddings Will Be Outside

To some extent these trends are all predictions. Again, we don’t have much of an active wedding industry to base actual trend observations on. One virtual certainty for 2021 however is that weddings will be more expensive — beginning (sad face) with venue bookings. Venue owners and managers missed out on a great deal of revenue in 2020, and are well aware that bookings are going to be competitive for the year ahead. They have every incentive, therefore, to raise prices, or possibly in some cases even lend a booking to the highest bidder! And really, who can blame them?

Venues will fill up anyway, to be sure, but we’re betting a lot of couples will also find outdoor places to hold their ceremonies and in some cases even receptions. That’s not to suggest these options are always free, but whether we’re talking about city parks, backyards, rented out restaurant patios, or anything similar, our guess is that people will be getting married wherever they can manage it!

Registry Remixes Abound

To say that traditional wedding registries are getting a bit stale is an understatement. Here's the thing: They're based on an antiquated notion of homebuilding that starts from the moment of marriage. And yet, many if not most couples today have already lived together (and thus bought plenty of flatware and decorations and Keurig machines) by the time they tie the knot. The traditional goodies on ordinary registries just aren't as necessary as often.

That's not to say some of the traditional stuff can't come in handy. Today, a lot of couples are looking to "remix" their registries, looking instead for things that will help them to have experiences together. Given the yearning for experience we've already touched on, this should continue in 2021 and '22. Often enough, an experience-based registry will provide guests with ways to help fund vacation ideas, or even the honeymoon. Then again, couples can also identify more traditional gifts that will bring about fun experiences in the long run — such as a few picks from ThirstyNest, The First Wine and Spirit Wedding Registry that can help them to set up a home bar at which to host their friends!

Destination Weddings Will Surge

We’ll end our list with another fun one, which is that we expect to see a lot of destination weddings! We actually learned last year that couples were still planning destination weddings, even if this was (and remains) somewhat aspirational. Of course, it’s getting a little bit late to start planning a wedding like this now. But even so, we’re betting a lot of couples have set up destination nuptials for the latter half of 2021, and that the same trend will continue into 2022. Simply put, just as people have been waiting to get married for a year, many have been waiting to take vacations! A destination wedding will be looked at as a way to blend the two ideas and celebrate the chance to get out in the world again — whether that means setting up a reception at a nearby beach house, or having friends and family ship off to a luxury resort half way around the world.

Article written by Alice Bradford —for the exclusive use of thirstynest.com

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