If we’ve learned anything during the past year and a half, it’s that the wedding industry knows how to adapt. As soon as it became clear that weddings could not go on as anticipated for the foreseeable future, planners and vendors quickly sprang into action. Creative social distancing measures were adapted, Zoom events became the norm, and the micro wedding grew into a bonafide phenomenon that will be around long after the pandemic finally ends.
Couples were also forced to make a hard decision: did they want to move forward with a scaled-down event, or postpone until it was safe to throw the wedding they had dreamed of? While we’re not completely out of the clear, the vaccine has restored some hope for couples who are starting to map out their weddings for 2022 and beyond. And as we anxiously await the day when socially distant ceremonies and on-site testing are a thing of the past, one future trend has become clear: Macro weddings are primed for a comeback, and they’re going to be bigger than ever.
One future trend has become clear: Macro weddings are primed for a comeback, and they’re going to be bigger than ever.
What Is a Macro Wedding?
Whereas a micro wedding is all about small, intimate details, a macro event involves the complete opposite. “A macro wedding would entail a larger guest list, bigger spaces, and a fun experience from start to finish,” says Heather Lowenthal, the founder of Posh Parties, a full-service luxury event planning company. “After not being able to celebrate in large groups for over a year, couples are excited that their guests are ready to attend a wedding and party.”
Beyond a larger guest list, we are looking at over-the-top everything—floral installations, custom-built furniture, heavily curated welcome gifts, a weekend's worth of events, and surprise entertainment moments.
Wendy Kay, the owner of Birds of a Feather Events in Dallas-Fort Worth, says her clients are also looking for ways to turn their wedding into an unforgettable, grand affair. “Beyond a larger guest list, we are looking at over-the-top everything—floral installations, custom-built furniture, heavily curated welcome gifts, a weekend's worth of events, and surprise entertainment moments,” she tells Brides. “Our clients really want us to flex our creative muscles right now with regards to not only the visuals but the guest experience as well.”
From non-stop wedding weekends to extravagant bridal gowns, here’s how the industry’s top pros are helping their clients plan the macro weddings of their dreams.
The Wedding Weekend
According to wedding planners, couples are more interested in throwing multi-day events than ever before. “Our clients are incredibly excited to celebrate and reconnect with their loved ones,” says Laurie Arons, a San Francisco–based planner with more than 27 years of experience. “It may be the first big outing or opportunity to travel for many of their guests, so couples want to offer a rich, fun, and exciting weekend surrounding their wedding.”
While welcome parties were a common request even before the pandemic, Arons says couples are now looking to take their pre-wedding festivities to the next level. “We’re also planning an array of daytime sports and activities like tennis round robins, golf outings, morning yoga, cooking classes, and wine tours,” she tells us.
Couples are also looking to keep the party going long after the reception. Rather than the standard post-wedding brunch, Aron says some of her clients are hosting beach or pool parties the next day. “These outdoor events are safer than your average hotel ballroom, and much more memorable for a summer weekend event,” she explains.
In addition to planning a weekend full of events, some of Arons’s clients are also searching for hotels and resorts that can accommodate all their guests in one place to maximize their time together. “This may mean providing complimentary hotel rooms or subsidizing room rates in order to encourage all guests to book at the main wedding resort,” she says.
Chioma Nwogu, the creative director of Houston-based planning company Dure Events, agrees that multi-day events are set to become the norm. “85 percent of my couples have made their wedding a weekend celebration,” she says. For example, a recent event she did spanned four days and included a poolside welcome celebration, an elaborate rehearsal dinner, and a performance-filled after-party.
And since the last thing any bride wants to do on her wedding weekend is field a million questions from guests, Lowenthal recommends giving them the rundown right from the start: “Kick off your wedding weekend with a fabulous welcome bag that includes an itinerary detailing each event!”
The Guest List
One of the most literal ways to throw a macro wedding is to invite a macro guest list. For many brides-to-be, scaling down their invite list was one of the hardest changes to accept during the pandemic. And now that we’re looking ahead to 2022, wedding planners are seeing couples return to the numbers they had imagined pre-pandemic.
“Many of our couples couldn’t wait to resume planning the large celebration they’d always dreamed of, and the availability of vaccinations and home test kits allowed them to do so safely,” says Arons.
Nwogu says she’s working on upcoming weddings that will have headcounts ranging from 100 to 700 guests. In addition to increasing their numbers, her clients are also looking for larger venues that will allow guests to spread out if social distancing is still recommended. Many venues, however, have been forced to raise their prices to account for the additional sanitary measures they’ve implemented, which can make finding a space that's within budget and big enough to hold everyone tricky.
While some couples are willing to pay to accommodate their larger guest lists (many of Nwogu's clients have increased their budgets by 35 to 50 percent), others are looking for alternate options. For Lowenthal, that might mean suggesting her clients take their event outside. “Beautiful outdoor settings can feel grand without a lot of additional décor brought in, and will allow for a higher guest count than indoor spaces at this time,” she explains.
Regardless of the venue, Lowenthal says to focus more on who will make your day feel meaningful rather than the final headcount. “Make sure the people you invite are the ones you want surrounding you on the day you get married," she recommends.
Of course, no macro wedding is complete without an over-the-top ensemble. To learn more about which styles brides will be gravitating towards in the coming seasons, we turned to one of the most prominent bridal fashion experts in the industry. Having been a go-to designer for celebrities and brides alike for the past 25 years, Monique Lhuillier knows a thing or two about navigating fashion's ever-shifting trends. So when the renowned designer began thinking ahead to her post-pandemic creations, she knew she needed to infuse her gowns with one thing: joy.
“After quarantining for the pandemic, I really wanted to create a collection that felt celebratory and happy,” Lhuillier tells us of her Fall 2021 collection, a line filled with pops of color, floral details, and fun feather accents. “It was important to me that our brides smiled when they saw these dresses and felt excited about visiting a store to try them on in person.”
Lhuillier notes that even throughout the pandemic, brides were coming to her for extravagant dresses—a trend she expects to continue as full-scale planning resumes. “We’ve had many brides choose full ball gowns with lace or embroidery and trains that go on for days,” she says. “We’ve also seen brides gravitating towards color and prints and choosing gowns that reflect their individualism, but also allow them to have fun.”
To coincide with wedding weekends, Lhuillier has been seeing more enthusiasm for bridal looks beyond the ceremony gown. Some are choosing an over-the-top ceremony look and then changing into a more manageable dress for dancing, while others are shopping for cocktail dresses and even additional bridal gowns for the rehearsal dinner or day-after brunch. No matter the style, these additional outfits are all about letting the bride’s personality shine through. “It’s refreshing to see them having so much fun with all the different moments of the weekend and celebrate with such joie de vivre!”
Ironically, one of the keys to pulling off a macro wedding is to focus on the specifics. “Couples are getting excited about their weddings again and really care about all of the small details,” says Kay. “Everything has just been taken one step further.” For example, “a seven-tier cake becomes a nine-tier cake, six chandeliers turn into 12 chandeliers, a custom-built apothecary-style coffee bar turns into a Harry Potter potions and elixir bar for the specialty cocktails—yes, we are absolutely doing that,” she admits.
“Think of that one thing you've always wanted to have at your wedding and make it a reality,” says Nwogu. She suggests considering extras like live caricature artists, 360 photo booths, and personal mini wedding cakes to make your day even more unforgettable.
For wedding weekends, Arons likes to add a custom touch by infusing the event with local details. “I always strive to incorporate elements of the wedding locale, either through unique live entertainment, favorite local menu items, or specialty cocktails that highlight regional spirits, fruits or spices,” she says.
There are also plenty of ways to throw a macro wedding without a macro budget. First, decide which details you want to splurge on (entertainment, food, flowers, etc.), and then look for ways to save elsewhere. Kay recommends securing a venue where you can bring in an outside caterer and bar. “Supplying your own bar will save you thousands of dollars,” she explains. “Chairs and linens can make a huge impact visually, so I'd spend a lot of your dollars there if you can't afford to have a lot of floral moments.”
If you’re looking to save on entertainment, Kay suggests sourcing your loved ones for fun options. “If any of your friends are musicians, dancers, or artists, they might be willing to gift you little surprise and delight moments for your guests,” she says.
And while it might be tempting to focus on the elements that will make your wedding feel grand to guests, it’s important to remember that the event should ultimately reflect your tastes. “The key thing is to have fun and customize your day and budget to fit your vision,” says Nwogu. “Spend wisely on things you and your partner will appreciate.”