For couples with a knack for all things current, a modern wedding theme is a great way to showcase your love for contemporary design. You're a lover of all things fresh and trending, and your wedding should reflect that! So how do you host a modern wedding? We turned to the experts for modern wedding ideas for everything from invitation suites to chairs and tablescapes.
Clean lines, Lucite décor, and an overflow of fresh greenery are just a few tricks that can turn any event into a modern retreat. Design your stationery to feature bold text and a monochromatic color scheme, plan for a ceremony backdrop that’s minimal and elegant, and curate a cocktail menu that features the latest in custom creations. From there, consider keywords that will be vital to your planning experience (we like simple, geometric, and avant garde).
For more modern wedding ideas, we gathered our best tips from wedding planning experts on how to make your nuptials chic and contemporary.
Use 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!” 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.
Go 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!) bridesmaids dresses. It's a feature that will add a whimsical element to your wedding day and the 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
Your wedding dress can also be a nod to your minimalist wedding style. “For this chic wedding, the bride wore a stunning, minimalist gown by Rime Arodaky,” says Ashley Sawtelle, owner of Ashley Sawtelle. Clean lines and a minimalist design created the perfect focal point for the bride’s wedding portraits. Looking for a minimalist wedding dress? Check out 67 of our favorites here!
Set the tone with stationary
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,” Thomas Bui, founder of Thomas Bui Lifestyle. For a modern event, bold text set against a minimal design will project a simple and fresh design for your stationery.
Use greenery instead of florals
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 a contemporary style is to use arrangements filled with vines, leaves, and other lush, green foliage,” Remy says. If you still want to include florals into your tablescape design, vary each arrangement in height as to create multiple levels of centerpieces.
Eliminate decor entirely
Why not eliminate the need for decor when it comes to finalizing your modern ceremony setup? “One modern 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 decor will result in striking final photos."
Follow a monochrome color palette
“Using a mix of materials in a monochrome color palette is one of the easiest ways to emphasize a modern wedding,” says Virginia Edelson, founder of Bluebird Productions. Apply this palette to everything from your flatware to the florals.
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.
Go for all white everything
“Sticking with an all-white design, whether in your florals, tablescape decor, 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 decor." If you want to add a pop of color, fresh greenery is a great option that works with any season.
Think about your venue
One of the best ways to convey your wedding style is through your choice in 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 decor,” Schepps says. For this wedding, the clean lines, heightened ceiling, and refined feel of the space really lent itself 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 to your dessert table."
Give your planner a set of words to live by
One of the best ways to stay on theme with your modern style is to come up with a collection of design-oriented keywords. “Our favorite modern wedding buzzwords are clean, geometric and simplicity,” Christen Ryan, founder of Ryan Designs. “The beauty of sticking to these descriptive words is that they will never fail a modern reception space." Plus, your wedding planner will know exactly what you are expecting of the final product.
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."
Go trendy 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."
Don't be afraid of negative space
“Create visual interest with clean lines, striking colors and negative space,” says Lauren Emerson, owner of Lauren Emerson Events & Design, who designed this contemporary tablescape featuring minimal decor and a simple yet sophisticated place setting.
Keep the tables minimal
“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.
But still pay attention to special 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.
Use 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 create 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.
Go 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 to this modern fête.