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6 Wedding Trends We Love For 2021

Published Monday, Feb. 8th, 2021

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

2020 brought dramatic changes to the wedding industry, shaking things up from top to bottom. Here are 6 trends that will stay strong as we head into 2021 and beyond. 


1. Smaller, cozier, more intimate ceremonies 


A year of pandemic precautions and creative thinking brought a wild variety of microweddings, minimonies, virtual and hybrid weddings, drive-thru and drive-up ceremonies, and more. Elopements and private ceremonies are now the most popular choice for couples everywhere as a romantic, low-stress, and lower-cost alternative to the big box wedding. 


Even with vaccines on the horizon, the allure of cozy, pared-down weddings is here to stay.


Painting of two people dancing outdoors at an eco-friendly celebration wedding ceremony in front of green trees


2. Going green with low environmental impact weddings


Many couples are renewing their efforts to safeguard and restore the environment in 2021, following a record breaking number of climate-related crises and environmental hardships. One way they’re doing this? Eco-friendly and reduced-waste wedding ceremonies! 


The wedding industry is notorious for creating more than its fair share of pollution and waste. In fact, the average wedding creates an estimated 400 pounds of garbage, and 63 tons of carbon dioxide! (According to Kate Harrison, author of The Green Bride Guide.)


But the good news is that 2021’s smaller, simplified weddings are shrinking guest lists and environmental impacts. Upcycled decor, tree-planting unity rituals, and reduced gift giving and packaging will all make a difference. And booking ceremonies closer to home, while encouraging virtual attendance to avoid fuel waste from driving and flying, allows couples to intentionally lower their eco impact.


(Read Attn Couples: Have You Considered an Eco-Friendly Wedding?)


image of friend or relative officiating an outdoor wedding in front of colorful purples and pinks at ceremony

3. Friends and relatives officiating! 

(And photographing, DJing, baking, catering, and more)


Couples are actively looking for ways to make their ceremonies more meaningful. They’re tired of the unnecessary expense of oversized weddings, that don’t always leave them with time to connect with guests or each other. In addition to smaller ceremonies, couples are asking loved ones to marry them, pitch in with planning, and even host, document, or DJ the event -- making the day more personalized! 


Restrictions over gatherings will linger well into the new year (perhaps following us into fall or winter). Couples want as many of their nearest and dearest at their wedding as possible, so expect friends and family to continue doubling as officiants, hosts, caterers, photographers, emcees, and more. 


image of couple at wedding outdoor venue in front of table and chairs with blue sky and green field


4. The Great Outdoors is the most popular venue around


This is one of our favorite continuing trends -- outdoor weddings! Backyards, gazebos, patios, beaches, forests, parking areas, and parks… all of these creative locations are being ‘dressed up’ with twinkle lights and candles, widely-spaced tables and chairs, tents, and colorful tarps. Fresh air and ingenuity create safer spaces for gathering together in all weather conditions and seasons! 


Even wedding attire is taking its cue from Mother Nature this year. Wedding suits and dresses (and decor!) are all getting brighter, bolder, and more colorful -- drenched in sunset hues, earthy pigments, and gem tones. 


We’ve been to a lot of venues, but The Great Outdoors is tough to beat.  


(Read What to wear as weddings trend toward the bold, bright & colorful in 2021.)


a family member presents a blessing or family remembrance at a wedding ceremony with blues and pinks


5. Family blessings and remembrances 


We’ve honored loved ones at weddings for generations -- whether it be with framed portraits, special readings, family blessings, or the passing of family heirlooms. Following a year of immeasurable loss, and a deepened appreciation for connectedness, more couples are adding family blessings and remembrances into their ceremonies.


Weddings are a time of great joy and hope for the future, and the open expression of family, community, and togetherness. But they’re also a time of reflection, for remembering those who have passed, and all those who have touched our lives.


(Read Honoring the Memory of Loved Ones in Your Wedding Ceremony.)


a wedding guest hands a bride or groom a charitable gift at the reception instead of a material gift


6. Charitable donations instead of material gifts


More couples are asking for charitable donations in place of traditional wedding gifts!

Instead of piling another box on the gift table, guests are asked to support a chosen charity -- such as a local arts organization, food bank, homeless shelter, animal shelter, or other valuable service -- in honor of the couple’s union. 

Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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