Couples who love contemporary designs and trends will want to consider a modern wedding theme for their big day. While clean lines, Lucite décor, and an overflow of fresh greenery are just a few tricks that can give any event a modern feel, plenty of other ideas can be incorporated into your ceremony and reception. So we gathered advice from various wedding planning experts on everything from invitation suites to chairs and tablescapes.
Ready to get started? Read on for 22 ways to make your wedding a modern and chic affair.
Set Up Ghost Chairs
The look of a floating ceremony built on top of a garden fountain helped bring a modern edge to this setup with the addition of acrylic ghost chairs. "Using unexpected variables such as vellum, concrete, or acrylic (to mimic Lucite) can bring a modern feel to your event," says Jacin Fitzgerald, owner of Jacin Fitzgerald Events. "Acrylic chairs allow all the elements around them to shine as they are quite literally transparent!"
Opt for a Mismatched Bridal Party
A trend that doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon is outfitting your bridal party in various (and chic) bridesmaid dresses. It's a feature that will add a whimsical element to your wedding day and resulting photos. “Whether you let your bridal party pick their own dresses, or you prompt them on a specific color/style/design that you encourage them to wear, the end result will be something playfully elegant,” says Caitlin Campbell, senior event coordinator and designer at True Event.
Wear a Minimalist Wedding Dress
A simple wedding dress can add to your event's modern aesthetic. “For this chic wedding, the bride wore a stunning, minimalist gown by Rime Arodaky,” says photographer Ashley Sawtelle. Clean lines and a minimalist design created the perfect focal point for bridal portraits.
Set the Tone With Stationery
What better way to send the message of a modern wedding design than with your invitations? "As the first indication of your wedding style, invitations are a key element in your wedding theme," explains Thomas Bui, founder of Thomas Bui Lifestyle. Bold text set against a minimal design will project a simple and fresh design for your stationery.
Use a Simple Backdrop
Sleek lines, a minimal background, and a sophisticated color palette can make or break a modern ceremony setting. Keep the focus on the couple, the venue, and the design by reducing your use of décor.
Go With Greenery
For a literal take on a fresh reception, Jill Remy, owner and designer at Jill & Co. Events, suggests creating your centerpieces with an overflow of greenery. "One of the best ways to turn your reception into an example of contemporary style is to use arrangements filled with vines, leaves, and other lush, green foliage," she says.
If you still want to include florals in your tablescape design, vary each arrangement's height to create multiple levels of centerpieces.
Why not eliminate the need for décor when it comes to finalizing your modern ceremony setup? “One approach to your ceremony would be to keep the focal point solely on your couple,” says Kat Braman, owner of Kat Braman. “The result of a scenic backdrop without the use of décor will result in striking final photos."
Focus on Interesting Flavors
“Enhance the food and beverage experience by channeling the excitement of a pop-up dinner for a modern, discerning foodie crowd,” says Chelsey Jean Morrison, owner and principal designer/planner at Gather Together Events. “Plan for perfectly paired passed bites and sips at cocktail hour, curated wine pairings, or seasonal/locally sourced foods." Enhance the look of your presentation by creating a fuss-free tray organized by quality treats and hors d'oeuvres.
Choose All White
“Sticking with an all-white design, whether in your florals, tablescape décor or reception and ceremony backdrops, is a modern wedding technique that is always in style,” says Kathleen Deery, owner of Kathleen Deery Design. "Using an all-white palette can bring the spotlight to other details throughout your day (especially on your tablescape) including linens, glassware, centerpieces, and other uses of décor." And fresh greenery is a great option for adding a pop of color that works in any season.
Think About Your Venue
One of the best ways to convey your wedding style is through your choice of venue. Jen Schepps, sales manager at Abigail Kirsch Off Premises, suggests choosing a space that’s undeniably contemporary. "When you go with a space that’s already adopted a modern feel, you don’t have to adapt your space with any unnecessary décor," Schepps says. For this wedding, the clean lines, heightened ceiling, and refined feel of the space really lent themselves to the wedding’s modern aesthetic.
Try a Modern Cake Design
Make sure you carry a modern element throughout every detail of your day—even in the cake. "The patterns and textures created on this simple two-tier cake created a chic and stylish element to the reception," says Heather Balliet, owner of Amorology. "A perfect balance of playful and elegant, the design of your cake can create a contemporary focal point for your dessert table."
Give Your Planner a Modern Motto
One of the best ways to stay on theme with your modern style is to come up with a collection of design-oriented keywords so your wedding planner knows exactly what you want. "Our favorite modern wedding buzzwords are clean, geometric, and simplicity," says Christen Ryan, founder of Ryan Designs. "The beauty of sticking to these descriptive words is that they will never fail a modern reception space."
Nowadays, personalizing your big day goes way beyond the day itself. “Capture your wedding with a live painter who will render all of the special scenes and moments from your celebration,” suggests Anna Griffith, senior event sales manager at Cannon Green. “Not only is an artist the perfect cocktail hour entertainment, you’ll also have a one-of-a-kind keepsake to take home with you.” Contemporary design really does focus on the little details!
Pay Attention to Flatware
Alicia Fritz, founder of A Day in May Event Planning & Design, wants couples to consider their tablescape details when finalizing a modern wedding style. “A simple and unexpected way to add a contemporary twist to your wedding reception is by trading out traditional flatware and glassware,” she says. “For example, by using black metal cutlery and stemless glasses, guests' attention will be drawn to these small details as they're so far removed from typical place setting offerings."
Get Creative With Cocktails
Pair your elevated hors d'oeuvres with a cocktail menu worthy of the latest trends. “Whether it’s the latest in cocktail infusions, bold flavors, or custom creations, a cocktail menu that can stand on its own in a modern setting is unique and distinctive to any event,” says Jay Crabb, beverage director at Paula LeDuc Fine Catering & Events. “Play around with glassware and garnishes for an added touch of modern flair."
Keep Tables Simple
“Centerpieces bursting with greenery, varying white florals, and a slate-inspired color scheme are just a few of the elements that make this tablescape fresh and contemporary,” says Alicia Falango, founder of Alicia K Designs. We also love how this couple added a splash of neutral color with the camel chairs.
Don't Forget Small Details
“You can adapt all the little details to fit your modern wedding theme,” says Callista Osborn, owner of Callista & Company. “For example, we gave these table cards a contemporary twist by incorporating a geometric design with bold colors." A pop of color is a great way to add a modern touch to your place cards, invitations, or other stationery elements on your big day.
Apply Black as an Accent
Black is the perfect color for a modern wedding. "It reads elegant, chic, fashion-forward, and sophisticated all at the same time," says Laura Ritchie, principal event designer at Grit & Grace. "We use it often to add depth and character to our designs." Whether adding a touch of color to the outline of a menu card or using it to adorn an entire Lucite placemat, black is one hue that will always create drama.
Be Bold With Candlelight
“Clean lines and candlelight galore are the very definition of modern romance,” says Cassy Anderson, founder of Cassy Rose Events, who supports the use of candlelight for any modern affair. Glass votives in varying heights will give your candlelit tablescape plenty of dimension and diversity.
Create a Custom Dance Floor
For this Art Deco–inspired wedding, the couple decided on a geometric design for their custom dance floor. "Our bride was looking to create a day that resembled art deco elements," says Melissa Cooper Wald, senior director of events at Major Food Group at The Seagram Building. A black-and-white color palette with touches of gold and metallic supplied the perfect atmosphere for this modern fête.