Ahhh, a New Year, a fresh start, and a time when a lot of couples are newly engaged!
If that's you, I want to start off by saying a huge CONGRATS on your engagement!! This is SUCH an exciting time in your life! I hope you're taking time to soak in the engagement bliss as much as you can because it's seriously one of the best feelings in the world. I'm so happy for you!
If you're already itching to get stuck into wedding planning, then this journal entry is a great place to start, so well done haha :)
As a wedding photographer who specializes in Elopements + Intimate Weddings, it's safe to say I've worked at a ton of weddings. Throughout my experience of documenting weddings of all sizes + styles, I've noticed some trends that have been slowly, yet steadily, declining, and others that have, excitingly, been on the rise! As we welcome 2023 and get immersed into this new year, I wanted to share my insight on wedding trends to provide you with some inspiration for your wedding planning process.
Now, before I go on, I need to address something first.
This list has not been curated for the purpose of shaming in any way, shape, or form. I'm a friendly, welcoming, and inclusive gal - that's literally never my intention! I want to be clear that there is no such thing as a 'good' or 'bad' trend - they are simply just trends. Are some becoming less popular? Sure. Are some new ones popping up? Certainly! Yet it's important to emphasize that a trend is just a trend.
Like any industry - like fashion and music for instance - trends come and go. Some people like to stay up to date with trends and always follow what's in style. Others purposefully go against trends, because in their community, going against the trends IS what's cool (I know this to be true because this is often the zone I fall into haha). Other people genuinely just aren't bothered by what's in or what's out, and just continue to be live their lives.
No matter which category you may fall into, I always want to encourage you to live your best life, plan your wedding the way YOU + your partner want it to be, and, ultimately, I want you both to have FUN!
So instead of looking at this list and reading it as what you can and cannot do, or what you'll be celebrated for and shunned for (lol, if anyone is actually thinking that?), I would love for you to read this entry and simply be intrigued by what is on the rise, and what's not so common anymore. Deal?
Now that we're all on the same page, let's move onto the actual wedding trends that are IN and OUT in 2023!
Here's a quick roundup:
Standing Wedding Parties During The Ceremony
Overly Edited Photographs
Experiences Over Gifts + Favors
Dramatic Decorated Ceilings
Whimsical + Eclectic, and Clean + Bold Wedding Styles
Super Small Wedding Ceremonies with a Reception to Follow on the Same Day
What's Out Of Style For Weddings In 2023
Sounds vague, right? Well, that's because it kind of is, but don't worry, I'll give you some ideas of what exactly this means.
I've noticed that more and more couples are straying away from cookie-cutter weddings, in all sorts of ways. Most notably is that their weddings are far more intentional, and don't include wedding trends just because that's what they think they're supposed to include in their wedding day.
Instead, couples are becoming more educated on different wedding trends, their originations, and are taking the time to genuinely decide whether they feel passionately about individual trends, one way or the other. By making intentional decisions about what you choose to include and exclude from a wedding day, couples have joined a movement to have more unique and personable wedding days.
A more specific example of uniformity going out of style is that couples are opting to encourage their wedding parties to wear what they want. People who wear dresses in a wedding party will not be wearing the same exact style in the same exact colors anymore. Instead, diverse styles, colors, and textures are IN right now, and, as a wedding photographer, I am SO dang happy to see this. I believe that your wedding party will be relieved by this trend as well as it allows them to be more comfortable in what they're wearing as they support you and your spouse-to-be on your wedding day.
If you're all about this trend, but find that your wedding party is wanting a little more guidance, you can opt to provide different shades of one color so the outfits match in that sense, or you can provide examples of different colors in your wedding palette , and have them each pick one of those colors, and to not repeat colors. Another alternative is to provide swatches of different colors + textures of outfits from a wedding party outfit provider and allow your wedding party to pick whichever option suits them best. Again, it's totally up to you how you end up going about this, but I hope these tips provide a little guidance!
(Also, side note: if you're confused by my term "wedding party," it's a term I prefer to use over "Bridesmaids" and "Groomsmen" as I have found them to lack representation of the people who actually make up a couples' wedding party. I wanted to mention that now so that we're on the same page in this journal entry.)
In general, I find that uniformity often leads to less originality. It's important, however, to note that this is not always the case, and does not need to be the case for you + your wedding day. It's simply something something I've noticed over the years.
Standing Wedding Parties During Your Ceremony
Speaking of wedding parties, it has been quite traditional for couples to have their respective wedding parties stand next to them during their wedding ceremony. While I don't think this trend is going to disappear entirely in 2023 (in fact, I'm in two of my friends' weddings this year and they have both informed me that I will be standing next to them haha), I have noticed that this trend is on the decline for sure.
There are a few reasons for this.
Some couples don't reeeeeally see the point! Of course, it's handy for head wedding party members to hold bouquets and rings, yet this is something that can still happen when your wedding parties are sitting down in the first row during your ceremony. Otherwise, couples find that it's harder for their closest friends + family members who make up their wedding party to actually see the couple during the ceremony + enjoy it to its fullest! For that reason, many couples are having their wedding parties walk down the aisle during the procession, and then take a seat in the front row.
Couples want the ceremony to be focused on them + their vows to each other. They want their wedding party to be sitting in the front row so that they can look out and actually see them and feel supported by them visually. They also want their wedding parties to genuinely feel more comfortable during the ceremony, so taking a seat, again, helps them enjoy the ceremony more.
Alright, I'll say it: I hate how negative this one sounds off the bat, so excuse the subtitle as it's what I've come up with for lack of a better term.
I think it's safe to say that people are over the forced smiles towards the camera, and being positioned in a way that feels boring, awkward, and uncomfortable. And hey, I get that sometimes being in front of a camera can feel uncomfortable because it's most likely not something you do everyday. It's important to trust your photographer + the process, and I think it's also important to make sure you're finding a photographer who you genuinely like the personality and the style of because that will make a HUGE difference between feeling uncomfortable and not liking the photos in the end, and feeling like you're a teensy bit outside your comfort zone but the reward is so so worth it.
So, how can you, as the couple getting your photos taken, avoid stuffy poses when having your photos taken?
Something I like to encourage my couples to think about when I'm taking their photos is to focus in on each other and have fun. Make a playlist that we can play on a bluetooth speaker during your family + wedding party photos so it doesn't feel so stuffy. Let's dance and have some fun during your portrait session with just you as a couple. Have a secret handshake you want to show off? Tell your photographer! Have an unusual idea that you'd love photos of? Do it! I guess I can only speak for myself as a wedding photographer, but this is what I look forward to when I'm documenting your day! Being your true self - dorky-ness, weirdness, hilarious dance moves and all - will always lead to the best photos because you instantly will feel more relaxed, more natural, and will have fun in the actual moment, which will then leave you with memories to pair alongside the photos you can cherish for a lifetime.
Okay, this one is probably going to ruffle a few feathers, but I've noticed that wedding hashtags are on a steep decline. I do believe there's a good explanation for this one though.
Social media platforms are all pushing videos more than photos. This isn't to say they're stopping photos altogether, just that the platforms - and their viewers - are preferring videos, as they tend to be more engaging.
Hashtags disappear with stories after 24 hours, so it's hard to actually find all the photos + videos your friends have shared after your wedding day because, along with videos, more and more people opt to post updates on their stories rather than on their actual feeds.
The idea of gathering all of your friends' and families' photos is a great one, and I think that in 2023, there are more efficient ways of doing so than asking everyone to use a wedding hashtag. Some new solutions include shared google albums, getting a free plan for an online gallery provider for your day, and also shared albums on your actual phone.
Overly Edited Photographs
The last trend that I think is going to be out in 2023 is overly edited photographs.
Now again, to each their own. If you personally prefer a total airbrushed look, and you're into the idea of extra things added to your photo in photoshop by your photographer often, then by all means, find the perfect photographer for you!
In general, however, I have seen a massive transition to more natural, even imperfectly perfect photos in recent years, and I think this trend is only going to increase over 2023 with a rising desire for it from couples.
There's a big pull in media, fashion, and even music recently that feels super nostalgic. It's why the 90's fashion is back in style at the moment, and also why film photography - and film-looking digital photography - is making huge waves across the globe. We also see it on social media with the use of filters - sure, they're available for people to utilize, but most opt to use filters that only change the colors and tones, rather than the physical features of one's face and/or body. People are craving a more stripped-back life, a more candid experience, and this is translating across all aspects of life, so it only makes sense the ripple is felt within the wedding industry as well.
I do want to say that photographers shouldn't necessarily conform to trends just because they're popular because, if there's anything we've learned, it's that trends fluctuate, and they can fluctuate often. That being said, there are HEAPS of wedding photographers who enjoy staying true to their style, but may have extra goodies like polaroid pictures or a roll of film that you can add to your photography collection to increase the variety of photos + styles of photos you receive in your full gallery, if, that is, film photography, or at least the look of film photography, is appealing to you.
What's IN Style For Weddings In 2023
Experiences Over Gifts + Favors
This is a trend I am seeing more and more every month it seems! Couples are choosing to skip having a traditional registry of household items that they would like guests to purchase from for their wedding gifts, and are swapping them with honeymoon registries. This is where guests can put money towards an experience or aspect of the couple's honeymoon, and help them up their honeymoon fund in general.
We're seeing such a rise in this trend for a couple reasons. It is far more common for couples in the modern age to live together for a while before they actually get married, which generally equates to the couple having all the household items they need, which typically is what a registry would be for.
It's also because experiences are valued much more than physical goods in this day and age! People would rather have loads of experiences rather than loads of things cluttering their house.
Another example of how couples are opting for experiences over tangible goods is by forgoing wedding favors, and, instead, adding experiences that will entertain their guests during their actual wedding day. For example, I've seen a rise in games or interactive experiences at weddings in recent years, especially during cocktail hour. Some couples even have micro activities for their guests to partake in during the wedding reception when they may need a break from the dance floor, like a fun photo booth, a temporary tattoo station, magicians, caricature artists, and more.
As a wedding photographer, this is something I LOVE to see! Not only is it a chance for the couples' personalities to shine through on their wedding day by choosing a unique experience to add to the experience, but it also helps your guests be entertained during cocktail hour + the reception! It provides more unique moments, which leads to more interest + variety in your wedding photography gallery, so it's a win-win overall. If you take the time to think up and incorporate a special activity / experience in your wedding day in lieu of a physical favor, the positive impact it will have on your guests and their enjoyment of your big day will be ten-fold, I guarantee it!
Dramatically Decorated Ceilings
This one has been FUN to see! While ceilings are often forgotten when it comes to the decorating part of a wedding day, I believe their time in the spotlight has arrived! Dramatic ceilings can have a HUGE impact on a venue space, whether you're outside with twinkle lights or some sort of artistic installation overhead, or inside with a grand, unique, and BOLD light fixture over the dance floor - this is something that will make your guests' jaws drop! At least, they've always made my jaw drop when I walk in!
If we dive deeper into this, it's the classic tale of the little details having a big impact, and I believe that's something important to remember as you're planning your wedding day. I often say to not sweat the details, as in, if something minor doesn't exactly go the way you planned, that it truly will not 'ruin' your wedding day or your guests' experience at all.
That being said, if you pay attention to the details of the day and put effort into the aspects that will have the biggest impact, I definitely encourage you to shift your main focus in those areas. Ceilings, for example, can be the perfect place to do so.
It can something be viewed as elaborate to have your eye drawn upwards in your venue, and yet it can work with any style, even the more simple + reserved of styles can have tasteful, whimsical, and straight-up stunning installations on the ceilings. I've seen twinkle lights that cover the ceiling so that it looks like stars lighting up the sky. I've seen unique chandeliers of massive sizes above the dance floor that truly take your breath away, and I've even seen little paper Oragami swans strung up on the ceiling, dangling down delicately. It doesn't have to be super complex, yet shifting your focus up to the ceiling may be an decorative aspect to your wedding day that you'll want to consider.
Also, the wedding photos you'll get that incorporate your ceiling will be INCREDIBLE!
Whimsical + Eclectic, and Clean + Bold Wedding Styles
This trend is pretty straight forward, and I like that. Blending different wedding styles to create your own, unique spin is definitely on the rise. The most popular ones I've seen recently include whimsical-feeling weddings that are soft + delicate, that include eclectic, sometimes even edgy, details that help create a juxtaposition on your wedding day. The contrast in styles works really really well though, and adds so much more interest to your wedding day.
Another blending of styles I've seen more of is a clean, almost classic look, with bold additions strung throughout. I've been seeing this a LOT with wedding outfits - think a clean, simple dress, with a dramatic bow on the back, or sleeves that elevate the look to something more fashion-forward. It's a great way to incorporate a trend, and to also ensure it still feels like a reflection of you and your personality.
Funny how it always comes back to you + your partner's personalities shining through on your wedding day...clearly, the trends are here for it, and so am I.
Super Small Wedding Ceremonies Followed By A Bigger Reception On The Same Day
Over the years, I've received messages from people saying they would love to elope, yet are still drawn to the idea of a larger wedding, and really just can't decide. While some opt to choose one or the other, others choose to do both by eloping one day, and having a reception party at a later date.
There's another option, and it's new to the scene in the U.S recently, and that is to have a VERY small ceremony with you, your partner, your officiant, and mayyyybe your immediate family members if you want them there (and/or witnesses, depending on where you live and if they're needed), and that's it. Your ceremony itself will almost feel like an elopement in how small and intimate it is, and it allows that special, sacred moment to be fully focused on you + your partner vowing to choose each other every day for a lifetime. I personally feel like this is incredibly romantic and always makes me feel emotional when I'm documenting it.
The difference between this option and an actual Elopement is that, after the ceremony, you will have a reception to follow on the same day, so you truly get the best of both worlds! A great option if you'd like to write your own vows, but get super nervous being in front of a ton of people with all eyes on you. And yet, you're still able to celebrate with your friends + family, dance on the dance floor, eat good food, drink good drink, and have an epic celebration of your love!
I used to live in London in the UK, and this is VERY common over there actually! The way weddings work across the pond is slightly different, so having smaller ceremonies with a larger reception to follow right afterwards is common! I love the idea and I'm excited to see this sprinkled throughout 2023 more!
Last, but certainly not least, is COLOR! Color has been making a resurgence in weddings in the past few years, and it is here to stay! We love her haha.
You might be thinking, but Christy, when did color ever leave weddings? And to that I say, you have a good point! What I'm most excited to see with color in 2023 is the variety of it that's used throughout wedding palettes. Pastels, you know, they were great, but couples are moving on from them. Instead, they're opting for rich, earthy tones, and also for more vibrant, saturated colors. Sometimes when I think of vibrant colors, I sometimes wonder if it will feel too loud and in your face, and, yes, sometimes it can be, and sometimes it works really well!
If you're wanting to incorporate more color and also want it to feel understated in a way, a fantastic option is to talk with your florist about adding more colorful sprigs and stems into your bouquet and arrangements! This is a trend within this trend that I am OBSESSED with at the moment! It photographs so well, and adds such remarkable drama and interest to the day, in such a simple way.
Basically, if you're on the fence about what colors to use, this is your sign that it's okay to try something a little different from the norm, and that you can still do it in a way that feels like you! This is when it's great to have a phenomenal team of wedding vendors - definitely utilize their expertise! Your wedding dream team, as I like to call us wedding vendors working on your wedding day, want to help you in any way possible! Bring them your ideas and your concerns, and I guarantee they will help you customize your day in a way that brings all of your dreams to life.
So there you have it! A big ol' list of what wedding trends are IN and OUT in 2023!
Did any of these surprise you? Am I missing anything? Which ones are you considering adding / dropping from your big day? I would LOVE to hear your thoughts, so don't be shy, drop a comment below! I always reply :)
Thanks so much for reading, and happy wedding planning!
The Francis Frames