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Wedding Trends: The 2018 Edition

You’ve probably heard this phrase during a dozen (or hundred) wedding consultations: “I’d like my wedding to reflect my unique individuality.” Then, the bride pulls up her Pinterest board, declaring, “I want exactly this.” Oh, the irony. Balancing personalization with the directive to copy a picture while respecting budgetary limitations requires the soul of an artist, the pragmatism of an accountant, and the patience of a saint.

One way to help clients achieve a look that’s stylish but not totally overdone is to share with them the latest trends. Unlike fads, which have a short shelf life and tend to look dated quickly, trends morph over time in relation to happenings and reactions in the world.

We tapped some wedding specialists across Canada to learn the latest shifts in bridal trends.

The Male Perspective

What’s Out:

Boutonnières seem to be less popular as grooms explore other forms of adornment and self-expression. Today’s couples are older and more established prior to marriage than their counterparts from previous decades, so a wedding is less about being the “bride’s day” and more about celebrating the couple. The big, fat, 500-guest wedding is a thing of the past, as couples whittle the guest list to provide a more elegant experience for a smaller group. Additionally, a smaller guest list tends to present fewer logistical curve balls that stress the couple.

What’s In:

Grooms continue to take a more active role in the wedding planning. This trend has been emerging for a few years now as gender roles evolve within relationships.

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Katherine Langford, owner of Picture Perfect Event Design in Moncton, New Brunswick, has many grooms who request a touch of whimsy and personalization connected to their attire. “One groom wanted his boutonnière to include a vintage pocket watch that was dear to him,” said Langford. Another couple included checkered flags and victory wreaths in their pictures as a nod to the groom’s passion for racecar driving. Men also seem to be very opinionated regarding the menu.

With each passing season, grooms seem to become more involved in the planning process, says Meagan Eagles, lead planner, designer, and florist of Weddings Tied With Lace in Niagara, Ontario. “I often see grooms stepping up to handle a lot of the administrative duties when the bride is too busy with work,” Eagles said, adding that the shift seems to bode well for marriages based on equal sharing of the workload.

Dresses

What’s Out:

Mermaid dresses, sweetheart necklines, and blush-coloured dresses are having their last fifteen minutes of fame. Snow-white dresses are being passed over in favour of candlelight and champagne shades. Floral crowns and other head dresses are waning in favour of loosely gathered up-dos accented by hair combs, pearl pins, and small silk flowers.

What’s In:

Most brides in 2018 will walk down the aisle having already accumulated some significant life experiences. The archetype of the chaste maiden being given away by her father has been merely symbolic for a long time; now, many brides are selecting more provocative gowns, Langford said. Among the latest styles are body-hugging silhouettes, sheer sections, lacy backs, and deep v necklines. “There’s lots of texture on the dresses,” she said. Wedding Wire links this trend to the bohemian style that incorporates dream catcher elements into the garment such as covered crochet patterns, feathers, and tassels. The upcoming nuptials of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will no doubt spark a few trends for the latter part of 2018. The question on everyone’s mind: what will the royal wedding look like? “They’re both edgy people who are in their thirties, so I expect their wedding will reflect their personalities,” Langford said.

Décor

What’s In:

Woodland locations and accents are very popular, although many couples choose to have the service indoors to eliminate the stress over inclement weather. Some of the most sought-after venues include historical buildings, such as train stations, as well as distilleries, lofts, and other industrial spaces.

Couples want their décor to have a bespoke, authentic quality. Table dressings tend to be linen with metallic touches, such as silver and chrome. Flower arrangements that hang over the table are big. This style frames the dining experience instead of intersecting it. Langford suggests clients eager to make a statement consider a floral chandelier to drape over the dance floor or hanging hoops adorned with flowers. Potted trees can recreate a woodland setting indoors. Eagles also sees terrariums on the rise as a botanical accent for wedding venues.

What’s Out:

The “rustic” (read: barn) wedding is yesterday’s news, as are the handmade signs with cutesy phrases, which today’s brides regard as pure kitsch. Once the hottest fabric, burlap is out. Mason jars are too—causing wedding planners to breathe a sigh of relief, as most would be quite happy to never see another one again. Tall floral arrangements that impede guests’ line of vision are out of favour too. Big banquet halls or hotel ballrooms are no longer prime choices, as they lack the personality that destination-focused venues do. Warm-coloured metals, such as rose gold and copper, are starting to lose their lustre with discerning clients.

Bouquets

What’s In:

Flowing cascades with lots of movement are all the rage, just don’t use that terminology with your clients. “Most brides today don’t relate to the term ‘cascade.’ They just want flow and movement to the bouquet,” Eagles said. (She uses the term “untamed”.) The greenery-centric bouquet, so popular last year, is giving way to more colour.

What’s Out:

The all white bouquet is fading fast and traditional wearable flowers are not popular with millennial couples. “When corsages or boutonnières are included, it’s usually at the request of a parent who feels it’s necessary,” Eagles said.

Customization

What’s In:

Research shows that people will choose an inexpensive Ikea table they assemble themselves over a more expensive table that’s already in one piece. The reasoning? People have strong bonds to things they create. (Readers who attended last year’s Canadian Florist Business Forum may recognize this adage from Laura Daluga’s presentation.) Why not tap into the “customer co-creation” trend? Some smart florists offer workshops for the bridal party to have the day before the wedding. During these “flower parties,” the ladies wind up making their own bouquets—with expert instruction from the florist. It’s a great way to develop a rapport with the bride and to meet her bridal party, many of whom may be preparing to tie the knot in the near future.

What’s Out:

Themed weddings with elaborate dress codes (think: “The Great Gatsby” or “Harry Potter”) are getting a bit tired. Likewise, dancing down the aisle (as in “The Office”) was cute for the first 562 YouTube videos, but not so much anymore.

Cakes and Invitations

What’s In:

Elegant tiered cakes with buttercream frosting are rising in popularity. According to Wedding Wire, drip icing that cascades over the side of the cake is an emerging trend. Flowers make fabulous adornments for these cakes.

Emily Post will appreciate that paper invitations sent through the mail remain the most popular way for couples to announce their nuptials. However, guests’ RSVPs increasingly come in digitally. “It’s easier for couples to track responses online rather than keeping track of them manually,” Eagles said. Invitations at the latest National Stationery Show sported funky calligraphy. Wedding Wire reports that dark, matte paper with metallic lettering is quite avant-garde, as is
clear, acrylic paper with gold print. Couples love this for invitations, menus, and signage. The type seems to float in mid air.

What’s Out:

Naked cakes—those without icing—have been around for a while, so look for this to go away in a year or two, our sources say.

You will inevitably see hundreds of Pinterest pictures at consultations this year, as well as that request for something personal. Use your knowledge of what’s emerging in the marketplace and educate clients. Let them know that, to have a creative, one-of-a-kind affair, they should be early adapters of trends rather than fad followers.

Michelle Brisebois
Michelle Brisebois specializes in retail strategies with experience in luxury goods, restaurants, financial services, and ecommerce. She currently manages Trius Winery and Direct to Consumer for Andrew Peller Limited in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.
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