Wedding Trends for 2023 and Beyond

I’ve had a recent experience that brought up wedding trends.

The other day I was in a random store filled with random stuff, and I was waiting in line behind a young woman checking out a TON of candles. Like boatloads of candles. In glass. So there was wrapping involved. (Can you hear your photographer’s impatience?)

The wrapping gave the cashier time to engage in conversation with said candle hoarder, and she asked what the rest of us in line were wondering, “what are you going to do with these?” (I mean, besides the obvious, like recreate some scene from a vampire movie or light an episode of Game of Thrones.)

“Oh, they’re for my bridesmaids’ proposals!” To which the cashier smiled and said “Nice!”

As. If. this were a thing.

A bride and groom kissing outdoors in front of tropical foliage.

Dear reader, it is a thing. (Just google it and you’ll find a bajillion idea articles like this one.)

Your slightly curmudgeonly (and simultaneously delightful, if I do say so myself…) photographer had no idea.

Have you noticed that weddings just keep… getting… bigger? As in, there’s more and more and more that is done for them? It used to be that you got engaged and then got married and might have a bridal sort of shower (I’m showing my age) and maybe a stag but that was the extent of it.

And I’m not saying any of this is bad. No, a lot of it is just pure fun. I love engagement shoots, for example, because I get to know the couple even better before their big day and that just makes everything easier and better when that day comes. It’s also fun to photograph two people on the cusp of something huge, and in the process, capture more of their story.

My point of this little story is that one of the biggest wedding trends, it seems, with 2023 weddings is that they are bigger. In all the ways. From start to finish, there’s just more. This doesn’t mean that you should feel the pressure of this trend. Small is beautiful, right? Our tenth anniversary vow renewal is proof of that.

So what is trending right now? Let’s dig in. We’ll look at what’s in and what’s out. (Though again, your wedding is for you, so you do you!)

What’s Out

  • Uniform bridesmaids dresses (it seems fitting that we start with something about bridesmaids). Have you noticed that brides are picking a color or a theme (like floral) and then letting the bridesmaids find dresses that are flattering to them?
  • Another trend with the wedding party itself is letting them sit and be comfortable during the ceremony. Comfort!? Now I’m sounding crazy but it’s true.
  • No more wedding fireworks or exiting sparklers!
  • A lot of traditions like the cake cutting and garter tossing are on the outs. Even being walked down the aisle by dad! Though I don’t anticipate this being a big wedding trend in smaller cities and towns.
  • Boho has been a thing in weddings for quite some time and it seems to be heading out the door.
  • Formal plated meals with icky green beans. (ha)
  • Cupcakes in place of cakes. (Though the cookie table will forever live in Erie and Pittsburgh.)
  • Traditional bride or groom sides for the guests.
  • Receiving lines at the end of the wedding.
  • First look superstition is gone. We certainly knew that.

A wedding party smiling under a gazebo near a small lake on a sunny day.

What’s In

  • Midday ceremonies with time in between for rest before the big party at night.
  • Because of how many people are having destination weddings, there are added parties during the day or days before.
  • Huge wedding cakes are back. With dramatic decorations. And lots of color. (Surprise…)
  • Statement aisles — longer and curved or s shaped for more drama during the entrances. (It can feel like the entrances are too short, considering all everyone has done to look so amazing.)
  • So. Much. Color. Color everywhere! Including on wedding dresses. Scroll down in this article.
  • Other trends in gowns: sparkles, bows, embroidered veils, capes! (NO CAPES! Quick… what movie?), and quick change gowns that go from long to short or sleeved to sleeveless with one simple zip or button or magic.
  • And because of pre-parties and then time between the wedding and the afterparty, a lot of brides are creating multiple looks for each part of the festivities.
  • Speaking of small (which we did a few paragraphs up), a lot of couples are keeping the actual ceremony really intimate and then having loads of people at the celebration.
  • Speaking of intimate wedding ceremonies, some couples are even marrying days or weeks before the formal ceremony and party so they have something that was purely for them.
  • Wedding maximalism is a new design trend that includes color, patterns, textures everywhere, including the ceiling.
  • Custom dance floors (think color and sparkle again) along with actual disco balls. (Why can’t we leave the past in the past?… Next thing you know, mullets will… oh, right…)
  • This one is extra sweet, I think: a private last dance. All the guests are asked to leave the floor and it’s just you and him/her sharing an intimate moment of celebration (and those can be rare during all of this).
  • Overall, design everywhere is being influenced by the 70s, 80s, and 90s, and all of that is showing up at weddings. (Obviously you knew this when I pointed out that BOWS are big in gowns and disco balls on the dance floor, unless you’re too young to know and to that I simply say, SIGH.)
  • Custom written ceremonies so they are very specific to the couple and their shared story.
  • Friends and family officiating is a very popular wedding trend. As in about 57% of couples are opting for this over the traditional reverend or someone you barely know.
  • Quicker ceremonies in general are popular.
  • There’s still backlash from the pandemic and one of the repercussions is venues being booked on weekends pretty solidly and pretty far out. A lot of couples are opting for a weekday wedding, which also happens to save them some money.
  • And I say, save “them” some money, because a trend that parents will approve of is that it’s no longer considered automatic that the bride’s family pay. A lot of couples are paying for their own weddings or big parts of them.
  • Specialty vendors are growing in popularity, including food trucks, live painters, entertainers, and performers of all kinds.
  • Photo booths are still trending.
  • All of this said, elopements are getting big again. (I mean, if you look at all the planning weddings take now, who wouldn’t consider this option?)
  • Nontraditional wedding party entrances and exits. Haven’t we all seen the adult men as “flower girls” coming down the aisle to some hip hop?
  • Nontraditional entrances that include fur family! (All of us at Matt Mead Photography approve.)

A bride and groom dancing by themselves in front of large windows overlooking a treed landscape.

I want to reiterate that your wedding is your wedding. The biggest wedding trend of all? Have the wedding you want, the wedding that will make you happy, and the wedding that you’ll look back on and not think “oh, I wish we’d…” Though that can happen, and so what? Just have a vow renewal at ten years and be sure to have a great photographer. ((cough…me…cough))

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