If there’s one thing for certain about weddings in 2018, it’s that individuality will reign supreme.
Whether couples want a traditional wedding at a hotel in formal attire, or a less traditional one at a barn with a bluegrass band, the couple’s ability to make their own choices will define weddings in the coming year.
“Long gone are the days when we did things because they were prescribed — this is what a wedding looks like. Everyone has to do this list of things,” says Jay Day, director of catering at Royal Sonesta Harbor Court. “Clients are much more empowered to make their own choices. They decide what traditions they want to keep, or maybe toss aside.”
Day helps plan and coordinate weddings at the hotel, and says his clients tend to want more formal weddings. While he has seen less formality at weddings over the past few years, he has begun to see the pendulum swing the other way very recently. Tuxes are coming back, as are wedding dresses with longer trains and a more Cinderella look.
When it comes to venue decorations, couples are also making more creative choices than ever before, Day says.
Flowers, for example, are being hung over the dance floor, rather than just being used as a centerpiece, which creates a more textured environment.
“It’s not just flowers, but all sorts of decor elements being used in ways we wouldn’t immediately think of,” he says.
When it comes to entertainment, couples are going with options that are more fun and original, says Entertainment Exchange co-owner Mike Ostrow. He points to a wedding he is helping organize where the couple wants mascots from the Washington Nationals as entertainment and another where a leather jacket-clad bride and her father did a lip-sync battle to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” as their father-daughter dance.
“It’s become a big barrel of fun, instead of stuffy,” says Ostrow, whose business is based in Silver Spring. “Instead of the parents presenting the bride at her wedding, it’s the bride and groom really taking over the lead in planning an unbelievable, fun time.”
Fewer weddings happen now at hotels, Ostrow says. Instead, they are happening at wineries, museums and private properties. These more creative venues establish a space for more creative entertainment. This might include horse-drawn carriages, a gospel choir or a fashion sketch artist.
“They’re doing exotic venues and theme weddings that are filled, top to bottom, with more super-fun events, and shying away from the more traditional, ceremonial wedding activities,” he says.
Interactivity is a trend that will continue, Day and Ostrow agree. The best example is the photo booth, which remains strongly popular, as well as wedding hashtags. Day says that this interactivity has even impacted the menu — more build-your-own s’mores bars or make-your-own taco stations.
Another aspect of weddings that epitomizes this trend of individuality is cake choice.
While cake alternatives, such as cupcakes and doughnuts, have been becoming more popular in recent years, wedding cakes still remain the most popular by far, says Andrea Zahner, wedding cake consultant at Yia Yia’s Bakery near White Marsh.
Yia Yia’s Bakery recommends couples order a wedding cake at least six months before the big day, so Zahner has concrete ideas about what wedding baked goods will look like this year. She estimates the breakdown in 2018 to be about 70 percent cakes, 25 percent cupcakes and 5 percent other choices, such as doughnuts or a dessert bar.
While those who choose less conventional choices are increasing, those who choose cake are taking to a traditional, rustic look: textured buttercream cakes with basic ornamentations like fresh flowers.
“It doesn’t need bling; it doesn’t need all the fancy colors,” Zahner says. “It’s just simple and charming.”