In terms of weddings, incorporating tech can be a beautiful thing: Did you know live-streaming your ceremony—for a grandmother who's unable to travel or a bestie stuck with a prior commitment—is a thing now? But in the wrong hands, technology can also be disastrous. "How many times has Uncle Joe wandered into the middle of the aisle with his iPad, thinking it's his job to take the perfect photo?" asks Vishal Joshi, cofounder of Joy, a free wedding-planning website and app. Joy's approach is simple: Harness the power of technology for good, by adapting its interface in response to real user feedback about what's needed to make the nuances of planning—from guest list management to live photo sharing to destination wedding travel to appropriate audience participation (Ahem, Uncle Joe)—as stress-free as possible. (And, Joy's focus is on the guests as much as on the couple.)
In pursuit of that goal, the Joy team has collected over two year's worth of data from upwards of 500,000 users. That means in addition to improving their product, they've also been able to identify trends that are sure to be seen this upcoming wedding season. If you yourself are planning a 2018 tying-of-the-knot, read below for Joshi's discussion of the top 10 trends, his explanation for some of their inceptions, and many suggestions for how Joy can make sure that come your own wedding, you're praising the tech gods—not cursing them.
10 Wedding Trends for 2018
1. Unplugged Ceremonies
Ah, here's where the intrusiveness of Uncle Joe took its toll. Joshi says couples and photographers both have become fed up with photo-fidgety guests who don't know when to stay seated and still. "It's usually the ceremony that people care most about having their photos ruined, because there are those key moments—the first look, the walk, the kiss—that obviously don't last forever," says Joshi. "When guests try to take their own photos, they block the way or distract the bride and groom, and then the photographers can easily lose that moment." But then, what officiant wants to begin his heartfelt speech with the wedding equivalent of a "please silence your cell phones" movie theater preview? As an alternative, Joy can send your guests a push notification 15 minutes before the ceremony that politely asks they put away their phones and allow the professional photographers to do their jobs.
2. Fewer Hashtags
This one initially surprised Joshi the most, but he soon worked out an explanation: "Nowadays people are so conscious of curating their social media image," he says. "When you're at a wedding, you may take photos of everything from the cake to the couple to the parents tearing up, but you're not going to post 50 photos of someone else's wedding on your Instagram. You're going to post one or two of your duck face selfies and call it a day." Josh also points out that it becomes more difficult to come up with an original hashtag literally every single wedding that occurs. "You search #SarahAndJimmy, and you're going to get every #SarahAndJimmy photo out there," he says. It's no longer the convenient collection service it once was. Joy's solution is allowing guests to take photos in an Instagram-like manner inside the Joy app (or upload from other photo apps). Only invited guests can see the photos, so no one is concerned about privacy settings or overwhelming the feed. "Everybody is there for this same cause: to be connected with the bride and groom on their wedding day," he says. "So, they have no problems adding photos in bulk"
3. Cash Registries
Cash registries are the norm in many places around the world; why then has it been so fought against here, and why now is it finally becoming acceptable? "I think it's mostly because we have these new generations of people, the millennials and whatnot, who are no longer attending weddings where the couples haven't been living together—usually for a number of years," says Joshi. "No one's registering for a Keurig coffee maker, because they've been drinking Keurig coffee together for the past two years." What do couples really want as a wedding present? To make a dent in their student loans, to cover the down payment on a new place, to vacation in Greece on a honeymoon they can't afford after paying for a wedding, to experience a cultural event they'd never book on their own—all of these are huge-ticket items that no one guest would be able to give. "There are all of these wonderful experiences it would be nice for your guests to allow you to do, that quite simply, you need cash for," says Joshi. "I know people who have created a registry for no reason, trying to figure out weird ways to get cash through refunds and selling credits and things like that. That's silly! I wouldn't have any problem giving cash if I know the bride and groom are then going to go to that super nice restaurant and remember me."
4. Destination Weddings
There's been an uptick in both international and domestic destination weddings as of late. Joshi reasons that this is in part due to modern couples' departure from traditional ceremonies in favor of "a good time with friends and family," but also because they can actually save you serious moolah. "It's completely counterintuitive, but most of the money surrounding destination weddings is not spent by the bride and groom," says Joshi. "Think about these all-inclusive resorts where the food and drinks and stay is all covered by your room fee—and that's paid by the guests, who also cover their own travel. You're just paying for your own accommodations, and then some very minimal special arrangements for that day. If you're on a gorgeous beach with white sand, how much more decoration do you need, right?"
5. Fast Casual Food
In another indication of couple's opting for the customized over the customary, many are bringing in casual options like taco trucks or DIY donut bars. "They feel more authentic to them as a couple, or echo some special moments from their past together," says Joshi. "They're trying to create a more authentic experience for their guests."
6. Live Slideshows
Photo booths have proven they're more than a flash in the pan, or, rather, reception corner. But, they're stuck in that corner; with live slideshows, photos can be taken and shared from all over—the bar, the dance floor, the bathroom line, whatever. "One couple was telling us about a guest who had the goal of taking a selfie with every person at the wedding," remembers Joshi with a laugh." He was uploading them to Joy's live stream that was being shown in the reception, so all of a sudden people were laughing like, 'What is happening? I've got to find this guy for a selfie too.' " And while a live slideshow can bring your friends and family closer together at the actual wedding, it can also help you feel closer to those far away. "If your grandma is 1,000 miles away, all she has to do is go to your website and she can experience the entire wedding live," Joshi says. "That's so precious in many ways, because now she can see everything and ask you about specific moments afterwards that were captured by photos."
7. Colorful Floral Arrangements
More modernity! "Gone are the days of simple pastel florals and roses," says Joshi. "Brides are getting bolder, and they want bolder colors and flowers."
8. Modern Influences
In case you haven't gotten the message, the weddings of 2018 will be modern—meaning they'll be filled with small touches that are relevant, sleek, and far from boring, Joshi says. "They'll be incorporating of-the-moment interior design elements like mattes and marbles. Expect lots of texture."
9. Flexible Schedules
It used to be that a wedding weekend had three basic components: rehearsal dinner, ceremony, and reception. Then, we added the Sunday brunch. And now, in 2018, Joshi says we should expect even more disrupting of the traditional schedule. "You probably realize that people move away from home more than they used to, and thus couples are choosing to marry outside of the bride or groom's hometown," explains Joshi. "They'll often choose where they're currently living. Now that friends and family are traveling, the couples want their guests to feel like they're actually getting to experience this new place—this place that the couple calls home." This endeavor takes many forms—from local wine tastings to bridal party games to workout classes to renting out a beloved bar for an evening hangout. "What people end up doing is recreating how they live local for their guests," says Joshi. "There's no more 'no one sees the bride until she walks down the aisle.' No, you had fun with her last night and maybe you saw her this morning, and okay, now she's getting married, but in the evening we're all going to do something else. It's all about a fun experience, not obligations."
10. Greenery & Botanicals
If you choose to build your wedding website on Joy, you'll have your choice of themes, but the three most popular websites are "Calligraphy Botanical," "Lush Greenery," and "Rustic Wreath." Joshi says this botanical theme carries over into actual weddings. In 2018, expect a focus on plants, succulents, and greenery that are stunning beautiful, and rewardingly cost-effective.