Every new year comes with new engagements, new seasons, new fashion and décor trends...and, this year, a new decade!
This year, we're particularly excited to embrace 2020—there's something seemingly special about the date, right?! That said, we can't help but feel a slight ting of nostalgia saying goodbye to 2019 and everything we witnessed in weddings this past year. In 2019, we saw couples embrace pampas grass décor, brides opt for colored wedding gowns, and dogs (and cats! and llamas!) take part in their parents' wedding celebrations. We also saw guests really become part of the wedding—from attendees taking on more active roles in the ceremony proceedings to couples focusing on "the guest experience" and investing in that with interactive moments and reimagined practices.
So, while we're not entirely ready to bid adieu to everything we loved about 2019, we realize it's time to lean into 2020...which is why we called on 20 of the industry's top wedding planners to ask what they expect to see in the new year (and, ahem, new decade). You'll have to keep scrolling to see what they had to say—and, spoiler alert, there are some mixed opinions in the crowd!—but know that one thing is certain: The rules are out. Color is the new neutral, mismatched bridesmaid dresses are the new standard, dried flowers are the new specialty bloom, and sustainable practices are the new expectation.
Keep reading for more on what trends the pros are over and what they're still here for in 2020. We've broken everything down according to the expert we talked to—and while we had their attention, we asked everyone to share their best bits of planning advice. So, basically, if you're getting married in 2020, we have everything you need to know below!
Biggest trend of 2020: “I think the biggest trend this year is the non-traditional flower," says Mindy Weiss, a Los Angeles-based wedding planner. "Instead of fresh flowers, dried flowers are in—sometimes painted or bleached and, sometimes, left natural.”
Trend to keep: Weiss feels that greenery is still having a moment. “I’m loving all the greenery," she says. "Not just in florals but in draping, ceiling treatments, and furniture too."
Trend to ditch: “I’d like to see us move on from flower walls," she admits, adding that she's done a "lot of them" in recent years.
Best planning advice: “Take your time and don’t try to plan the entire wedding the week you get engaged," she says. "Enjoy your engagement and then enjoy the planning process.”
Biggest trend of 2020: "I believe that the focus on the planet, with recycling and its longevity, will seriously influence trends in everything including weddings," says Rachel Birthistle, a wedding planner based in Lake Como, Italy. "This year, from a recycling point of view, we worked with plants rather than cut flowers when we could. Also, when decorating large tent structures, we kept roots attached to plants and sent them back to nurseries afterward."
Trend to keep: "Color! We saw more clients than ever choosing stronger colors and the end result was so refreshing," says Birthistle, who agrees with Weiss about the latest floral trend. "This year, we started to include an ingredient in décor that previously would have been so taboo: dried flowers! We predominantly integrated the dried flowers with fresh flowers, which actually added a whole new dimension to the design," she says. "It expanded the color palette and added texture that you can't get in fresh flowers."
This year, we started to include an ingredient in décor that previously would have been so taboo: dried flowers!
Trend to ditch: Unsurprisingly, Birthistle says she's ready to see one trend go: "Pastels!"
Best planning advice: "Understand your budget and ensure that you have a really comprehensive budget for whatever destination you are considering so there are no surprises later on," she says. "Some of the biggest causes of stress that I see in the planning process are financial ones. It is not so dissimilar to a building project....allow a buffer as you'll for sure go over your original budget!"
Biggest trend of 2020: Stefanie Cove, a wedding planner based in Los Angeles, agrees that 2020 will be a year of color. "I think a trend of 2020 will be a colorful palette with rich tones and dimensions as brides get away from all-white weddings that feel oh-so-bridal," she says. "I think that custom printed tent fabric and tablecloths will be big." Additionally, she predicts smaller guest counts and longer celebrations. "I think longer celebrations, which can span for a full three days of events or more, are a new trend," she says. "Some even include a 'rest and recovery day' after the wedding."
Trend to keep: "Let’s keep the beautiful tablescapes," she says. "In 2019, we have really seen people get creative with fabric for linens and napkins, embroidery, plates, glassware, et cetera, on their tables. I love embroidery on a napkin or ribbon for the place card instead of paper."
Trend to ditch: Cove is admittedly over velvet, saying, "We have seen a lot of velvet furniture in 2019…"
Best planning advice: "Don’t rush! 2020 is a busy year and many couples getting engaged are concerned about locations and date," she says. "Don’t sacrifice what you really want based on that—even if you have to wait a little bit longer for the perfect scenario!"
Biggest trend of 2020: In addition to eco-friendly and sustainable practices, the team at Easton Events predicts "food as art," including interactive food experiences such as mixology lessons, as a trend in the coming year. Also on their list? Over-the-top musical and interactive moments.
Trend to keep: “After parties have become more and more important in the last few years and we love that," says Lynn Easton, who is based in Charleston, South Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia. The Easton team is also all about color and pattern-play. "Our event interiors have always been residentially inspired and this revived license to play with textiles, palettes, and tabletop is a welcomed trend," she adds.
Trend to ditch: Also, fireworks! Easton explains: "They are not environmentally friendly and can be hazardous to both large and small animals in the area!"
Best planning advice: “Before you do ANYTHING…including hiring the planner or booking the venue or photographer or even buying the dress...first establish your wedding budget so you can decide how best to utilize your funds based on your headcount and priorities," she says.
Biggest trend of 2020: “Non-traditional wedding dresses will become more popular for brides who want to make a statement or simply embrace a more contemporary style," says Francie Dorman and Britt Cole, the duo behind 42 North in Massachusetts. (Think beyond white and, maybe, beyond the dress with jumpsuits, skirts, and capes!) Dorman and Cole also believe that immersive entertainment experiences will excite guests rather than just serve as ambiance. "Groups like aerialists, harpists, and performance artists will be at the epicenter of the celebration" the predict.
Trend to keep: “We love when there are no wedding parties," they admit. "Instead of trying to pick and choose your closest loved ones, we've seen couples honor their friends in other ways that have more meaning through sentimental gifts or mentions in toasts, where that relationship can be communicated clearly.”
Trend to ditch: “Family-style dinner service, while fun in theory, disrupts the tablescape design and can sometimes make it awkward for guests to keep reaching, passing, and exchanging plates over one another," they admit. "In this same vein, we would like for farm tables, wooden benches, and dessert bars to make their way into the archives. We'd love to see a return of formality to make guests feel catered to rather than a 'serve yourself' mentality.”
Best planning advice: To start, Dorman and Cole recommend making a guest list and having an open and honest discussion about the big-picture budget before pulling the trigger on any major decisions such as booking a venue. "Also, try to remember that at the end of the day, the wedding is about you and your partner," they say. "It can be very easy to let outside noise...but stay true to your original vision and the meaning behind your celebration, which is to honor one another in an experience that feels uniquely you."
Biggest trend of 2020: Jesse Tombs, a wedding planner based in San Francisco, sees ceremony and reception décor inspired by art as a major trend. "I love pulling inspiration from galleries, fashion shows, and art books that my clients connect with," he says. "I ask my clients to send pictures of five to six artists that they love. I use these images to pull color, texture, and concepts for all parts of the wedding weekend. Using art as inspiration is a sure way to ensure that the wedding day is a true reflection of the client, and also totally original and unique."
Trend to keep: To that point, Tombs says one-of-a-kind escort card displays will never go out of style. "I love thinking outside the box for escort card displays that feel more like an interactive art installation that guests can experience, while also serving its purpose," he says. "These displays can also act as décor and are always so memorable."
Trend to ditch: Floral foam! "The foam used in floral design is so bad for our environment," he explains. "When interviewing a floral designer, make sure you ask them if they use floral foam; if they do, ask them to not use it in your wedding design. Together we can eliminate the use of floral foam in wedding and event floral design!
When interviewing a floral designer, make sure you ask them if they use floral foam. If they do, ask them to not use it in your wedding design. Together, we can eliminate the use of floral foam in wedding and event floral design!
Best planning advice: "Get off Instagram! So many couples are on Instagram constantly getting inspiration from weddings that have already happened," Tombs explains. "There's no way your wedding will feel unique and different if you are comparing your wedding ideas to ones that already exist."
Biggest trend of 2020: Alison Hotchkiss, also of Alison Events, sees smaller, more intimate weddings as an opportunity in 2020.
Trend to keep: "We always love combining multiple textures to create more depth and visual interest in our events," she says. She is also excited to see ceremony structures that are more round or asymmetrical instead of a traditional shape.
Trend to ditch: "The sweets buffet! It’s been a trend for a long time," she admits. Instead, she recommends staying away from that concept in favor of serving smaller treats such as petit fours tableside (in beautiful french coffee presses). "This allows for a more formal meal," she says.
Best planning advice: "Think about your guests not just what you like," Hotchkiss recommends. "If you don’t eat shellfish, but if you’re having a 200-person wedding, know that a seafood station will be the biggest hit at cocktails. Same with transportation. Have snacks and water and a great playlist to take people to and from the reception and even consider smaller vehicles and more vehicles so people can leave every 20 minutes versus every hour."
Biggest trend of 2020: Planner Jessica Sloane of Nashville is excited to see classic colors this year. "For instance, the Pantone Color of the Year is "Classic Blue," and blue has been making an appearance more and more as of late," she says. "Different shades of blue can be complemented with neutrals and earth tones." (See above, and more below!)
Trend to keep: "The use of natural elements has made its way into the wedding market, and I think that's a timeless trend," she says. "My design approach is to always consider the environment you're in so that you're creating an environment that feels cohesive and considered."
Trend to ditch: Barn weddings—using farm tables and reclaimed wood. "They've had their time," she admits. "I hope to see more and more venues that offer a different aesthetic, especially in the South!
Best planning advice: Sloane suggests taking wedding planning a step at a time. "Use tools like Pinterest for specific things, like starting a paper board to share with your invitation designer instead of doing one board of everything you like," she says. "That will often feel overwhelming to a newly engaged couple!"
Biggest trend of 2020: The husband and wife duo behind Valley and Company Events in Seattle hopes to see couples embrace creative timelines that turn the tables, like having happy hour (or skipping it entirely) before the ceremony and making more time for dancing and the party. "2020 will be huge for punched up celebrations: amazing music collaborations, great lighting, floral displays during dancing, and sensory stations for guests like smoked craft cocktails, a popcorn station upon guest arrival," they say.
Trend to keep: "Interactive cocktail hours are so much fun for guests! We want to see more of them in 2020 and with a continued elevation—think an olive oil tasting station," they say. "We did this for a vineyard chateau wedding, and guests noshed on artisanal bread and had their own dipping cups for olive oil and smoked olives."
Trend to ditch: Unless done very well, Nick and Aleah Valley say they often see favors left on tables at the end of the night, despite best-laid plans. "Instead, put that budget into welcome bags for all guests—or splurge on arrival tokens like cinched-up shawls in velvet ribbon or blankets for a cozy coastal ceremony."
Best planning advice: "Close your eyes and visualize the way you want your guests to feel when they enter and leave your wedding," the Valley team recommends. "This one exercise can help you shape a vision that may become your planning framework for the entire process, or it can also show you what you don’t want."
Biggest trend of 2020: "Color will be the biggest trend of 2020!" says Jove Meyer of Brooklyn, New York. "I think couples will bring more fun and excitement to their celebrations with the use of color! Gone are the days of white and gold!" That said, he recognizes that color does not always have to be everywhere, or overwhelming. Instead, Jove says it can be done with pops of colors in the fashion, in the flowers, and in the food! "In 2020, couples will add color to their big days in fun ways from stationery to linens," he says. "Couples will be bolder in showcasing their own personal style, which is so exciting!"
Trend to keep: "Personalization is the trend I hope never goes away, and keeps getting stronger year after year," he says. "A wedding should reflect the couple’s style, personality, and love story and this can be done in so many ways with personalized touches throughout the wedding."
A wedding should reflect the couple’s style, personality, and love story and this can be done in so many ways with personalized touches throughout the wedding.
Trend to ditch: Meyer is "so over" huge wedding parties, saying, "It is so much work for couples to manage so many friends, their wardrobe, their schedule, and their emotions!"
Best planning advice: "Make sure you're planning a wedding that is a reflection of your relationship, your love story, and your personalities," he says. "Have fun in your planning process and make it enjoyable, rather than stressful. Most importantly, you do you, boo! It is your wedding: It should feel like you, look like you, taste like you, and be a reflection of you and your fiancé. It is not your mother's wedding—she had her big day or big days. This is about you and your fiancé, so keep that in mind when making decisions."
Biggest trend of 2020: Sunna Yassin, of the Northern California-based Bash Please, says her team is seeing couples opt for "non-traditional" catering. "For example, we're seeing more and more couples hiring their favorite restaurant chefs to curate a dining experience that is more unique than the average wedding caterer with a choice of fish, chicken or beef," she says. "This allows the couple to infuse a sense of their personal style and tastes into their celebration. "
Trend to keep: "Non-traditional bridesmaid looks—think eclectic over matchy-matchy," Yassin says.
Trend to ditch: The Bash Please team is also "so over" guest books with Polaroid pictures. Also, large bridal parties. "We find it’s best to keep your bridal party more intimate and find other creative ways to include friends and family into your celebration, either through readings or blessings," she says. And, finally, pre-selected entrées. "It’s not realistic! No one knows what they want to eat six weeks before an event," adds Yassin.
Best planning advice: "Before jumping on Instagram or Pinterest, talk to a few friends or relatives who recently got married," Yassin recommends. "It's always helpful to hear from people you trust about what they ended up enjoying the most about their own celebration or any tips they would like to share!"
Biggest trend of 2020: Charleston-based Blake Sams also feels that smaller, more intimate weddings will make an appearance in 2020. "Despite scaling down the guest list and venue, there will still be super lush moments of that of a grander event," he says. "Quality over quantity."
Trend to keep: Taper candles galore! "I am a huge fan of taper candles or any candlelight for that matter," he says. "More is more!"
Trend to ditch: Dried flowers or artificially colored florals. "I am not a fan and think it’s time to move away from this trend in 2020 and not look back," he admits.
Best planning advice: "I feel strongly about instructing couples to start the wedding planning process with a list of the things that are important to them," he says. "They should then go back to this list throughout the planning process in order to make sure their event reflects their initial goals."
Bridesmaids in pantsuits or tuxedos instead of dresses will be the year’s biggest trend. The looks can be fitted, flowy, sparkly or cropped—whatever suits your personal style the best. We just think it’s all so terribly chic.
Biggest trend of 2020: "Bridesmaids in pantsuits or tuxedos instead of dresses will be the year’s biggest trend," says planner Michelle Rago. "The looks can be fitted, flowy, sparkly or cropped—whatever suits your personal style the best. We just think it’s all so terribly chic. This is one instance where putting on your Big Girl Pants is a cinch!”
Trend to keep: Rago and her Manhattan-based team love when couples ask a loved one to officiant their ceremony. "We love the trend of having family or friends officiate the ceremony," she says. "A ceremony can feel awkward and disconnected if couples simply pick a rabbi or a minister, but they don’t really have a relationship with them. Having someone they both know and love brings much more heart and sincerity to the ceremony.”
Trend to ditch: This was an easy one for Rago, who says, “Too many speeches. Too many speeches. Too many speeches.”
Best planning advice: “Pick your planning team, wedding date, and venue as quickly as possible so that you can get your save the dates in the mail and take a deep breath," she recommends. "The creative process, which includes invitations, flowers, music, and even food, takes time to get right. With the date and location picked, you will alleviate some pressure and feel freer to create.”
Biggest trend of 2020: Birmingham, Alabama-based Neillie Butler predicts that custom patterns and, more specifically, chinoiserie will come into focus as a more popular design element. "You'll see it in backdrop coverings, paper designs, and on stage and bar facades," she says. "These patterns can be incorporated into the design early on and can inform various touchpoints throughout the celebration that will make an impact on guests."
Trend to keep: The Pantone Color of the Year! "'Classic Blue' was very popular this year, and we are super excited to see it stick around this year as the Pantone Color of the Year," she says.
Trend to ditch: Butler has had enough of the all-white and green weddings. "We love the classic wedding but you can still achieve a classic style through ceremony rituals and celebration traditions that really reflect your own personal style," she adds.
Best planning advice: "Give yourself plenty of time to plan! Couples have big ideas, and these grand plans take time," she warns. "Don’t rush, enjoy the process, and know that vision will crystallize over time."
Biggest trend of 2020: Ashley Smith of San Francisco is all about bold statement pieces and patterns. "At least, this is what I'd like to see," she says with a laugh. "I'm really into mixing bold colors with patterns in furniture, floors, art installations, ceremony backdrops, and some smaller elements like patterned napkins. I also really love neon, but thinking less neon sign, more giant neon chandelier over dinner or in a structure."
Trend to keep: That said, Smith admits that she is as obsessed with neutrals. "I'm still in love with the whole airy, light feel," she says. "I don't know if I'll ever not love it! I love keeping certain parts of the wedding and design, for example, the tablescape or flowers super neutral and minimal in color, while mixing in larger bolder pieces in other environments. I feel like it brings balance to the bigger statements and makes it all look cohesive."
Trend to ditch: Photobooths! "This has been on a decline for a while now, but I think it's time they cease," she says. "Do you really want a million photos of your drunk friends with mustaches? You've already hired a great photographer. They are great for parties and other events, and they are so much fun there."
Best planning advice: "Start now! We are hearing and seeing a ton of couples waiting to start the planning process or waiting to hire vendors for some reason," she says. "Other than that, trust your planner to help you select all of your vendors. If you want a cohesive look or feel, and you've selected a planner already that you like or love, let them handle the vendors. They know who is who and who is capable. It will be a much smoother ride and experience on both sides."
Biggest trend of 2020: "We see micro weddings hitting the scene in a big way for 2020," says Virginia Edelson, a wedding planner based in Aspen, Colorado. "Micro weddings are larger than a traditional elopement but do not include every single person you’ve known since birth! We love how intimate a micro wedding can be. Due to the size, a lot of unique destinations and venues become options to celebrate the experience with your nearest and dearest." In addition to trending destination weddings, Edelson, who has a degree in art history, predicts an uptick in swings—yes, swings! "In the art world, swings in interactive gallery and museum experiences have had their moment," she says. "We predict that swings will start to come on the scene in the wedding world in 2020. While it may not be the biggest trend of the year, we see it as a rising trend and are excited to bring swings into venues with appropriate rigging and spaces for them!"
Trend to keep: Paper and unique stationery! "We love, love, love paper and are seeing some clients prioritize it less," Edelson admits. "While amazing design can be relayed in a paperless save the date or invite or welcome book, there is something about a tangible piece that arrives in the mail to really set the tone."
Trend to ditch: While she's not totally over favors, Edelson and her team would like to see the approach to welcome gifting change in 2020. "Instead of a standard welcome box or bag, we’d love to see more welcome suites with interaction and 'build your own' welcome amenities," she explains. "Very rarely does an amenity drop go as smoothly as planned, and we’d love to have the guest welcome experience be more seamless!"
Best planning advice: "Talk it out! Talk to your fiancé and families (both) about priorities for the wedding to make sure you acknowledge all of the priorities before major decisions are made," she recommends. "It is often very challenging to please everyone but acknowledging priorities from the get-go can help from a relationship perspective. Also, identify the key decision-makers for the wedding and include them on all initial big decisions. This will make the planning process from engagement to marriage run much more smoothly."
Biggest trend of 2020: "We are looking to see brides step away from the traditional bridal gown and wear something a bit more playful and unexpected," says Heather Balliet of Amorology Weddings in San Diego. "Showing off a bit more of your personal style and letting your personality come through while setting the tone for the day is a trend we are hoping to see more of in 2020."
Trend to keep: The comeback of baby’s breath! "It has the capability to take on so many fun different forms and colors in an updated modern approach to how your mother's baby's breath was used in the past," she says.
Trend to ditch: Palms and pampas grass! "While we love it and it is so pretty, we are ready to play with some new fun textures," she admits.
Best planning advice: "Determine your guest list," Balliet advises. "While this sounds like it is a simple task, it is important to take the time to create a 'tier-one' and 'tier two' list to help determine the size of your venue you will need and budget for your wedding day."
Biggest trend of 2020: "Eco-friendly and sustainable weddings will continue to grow in popularity as more couples become environmentally conscious. Due to the high demand, we see vendors already taking action towards a more sustainable approach," says Jennifer Zabinski of JZ Events in New York City. "Eco-friendly stationers are offering recycled and biodegradable paper; caterers are buying local produce from organic farms; florists are making efforts in leaving minimal to no waste and using flowers that are locally grown and in season. Couples will also seek to minimize waste by donating centerpieces to local hospitals, nursing homes, or places of worship."
Trend to keep: Zabinski knows it's been done but doesn't care: She still loves floral ceiling installations and greenery. "There nothing quite like it," she says. "We love the romantic ambiance this design creates and how it can make a space feel more intimate and inviting."
Trend to ditch: "We would love for matching bridesmaid dresses and hairstyles to finally be a thing of the bygone era," she says. "There’s nothing more fun than letting your closest friends dress in what makes them feel comfortable. Different colors and textures make for great photos too."
We would love for matching bridesmaid dresses and hairstyles to finally be a thing of the bygone era. There’s nothing more fun than letting your closest friends dress in what makes them feel comfortable.
Best planning advice: Before diving into planning, Zabiinksi recommends taking the time to enjoy being newly engaged. "You’ll only be engaged once, so you should enjoy the anticipation and excitement that comes with it," she says. "Once wedding planning kicks into full gear, you’ll quickly find yourselves discussing wedding-related items at nearly every dinner and family gathering, so brace yourselves! Once the confetti from your engagement party has settled—it’s time to talk money, expectations, and estimated guest count. Discuss what you are comfortable spending, how funds will be allocated, and what elements of your wedding day are most important to you. Budget planning is key, even before your venue search or reaching out to event vendors."
Biggest trend of 2020: "I think dinners with just one or two courses seated will be a very big trend," says New York-based planner Marcy Blum. "Long seated dinners, unless they are under 50 guests, are going to fall by the wayside."
Trend to keep: "I love having a seated dinner with toasts out of the way first, followed by dancing," she says.
Trend to ditch: Fireworks! "They are bad for the environment, overdone, and not very surprising anymore," she says. "There are many other more exciting options!"
Best planning advice: "Engaged couples should have a private and very real sit down together without any parents or outside opinions first," she advises. "That way, each understands, and, at least, respects what is important to the other person before they embark on the planning. It's amazing to me how many couples get embroiled in planning a wedding without having a clue what the other person's vision for it is."
Biggest trend of 2020: "I think we will see a LOT of blue and white in color," says Todd Fiscus of Dallas-based Todd Events. "We'll also see more seated dinners and bands that are more of a show."
Trend to keep: Fiscus loves classic traditional styling. "I think timeless is still something worth achieving," he says. "I think trendy is something to stay away from!"
Trend to ditch: "Pampas grass!" he says.
Best planning advice: "Find five things that you want to make the focus—we call them 'highlights'—and make those five really sing...if everything has to be 'amazing," it’s honestly too much pressure on you," he admits. "So, try not to take [planning a wedding] too seriously. While it’s an amazing time of your life, it’s a few days. Put your best energy into that time with people you love, and the rest all works out!"