2022 was a phenomenal year for the wedding industry. A return to business as usual (or unusual) as we tackled a swell of weddings off the back of Covid against a backdrop of rising costs, staffing struggles, a war, political disharmony and economic instability. Now the backlog of Covid weddings has cleared what wedding trends will 2023 bring?
2023 is set to be another busy year for the wedding industry but as we enter a period of recession and uncertainty there is going to be an ever-greater need for businesses to be strategic. My advice is to take action; minimise debt, add new income streams, closely monitor your cash flow, trim any unnecessary expenses, reduce your costs, focus your marketing campaigns and pay close attention to wedding trends and the needs of couples. These measures will help you successfully navigate the year ahead.
Ambiguity aside (and the gloomy January weather!), there is sunshine on the horizon and things can only get better (as D:Ream once sung). We live in a constant state of flux and nothing is ever certain. All we can do is hope for the best and plan for the worst.
I am an 80s kid and with my rose-tinted specs firmly on I can’t help feel a bit nostalgic for those halcyon days. I was born in 1979 so I don’t remember the economic struggles of the 1970s. My early childhood was filled with bright optimism as the grownups put their troubles behind them and embraced the era of neon colours, uplifting electronic pop, pioneering technological advances, adventure movies where the impossible seemed possible, a booming economy and a magnificent Royal wedding.
It seems I am not the only one harking back to this period of cheerful confidence and enthusiasm if wedding trends are anything to go by….
Eye-catching wedding trends.
The traditional white and cream weddings have definitely been flung into the past as bold colour takes over. Like the 80s, 2023 is going to be a year of vibrant and vivid shades. A riotous display of strength, fortitude and courage. Viva Magenta! The pantone colour of the year is a significant bright red. A daring colour to stand alone but in amongst a contrasting colour palette or rainbow scheme it will shine.
Is your venue a blank canvas to allow couples to experiment with bright colours? How can you meet the wedding trends and incorporate cheerful colours into your landscaping or interior décor? Can you offer interchangeable accent colours to help inspire your couples’ creativity?
Digital wedding trends.
The technological advances are getting better and better. As I get older, wedding couples seem to get ever younger and it’s very much the Millennial generation’s turn to get hitched. They might not have seen much of the 80s, but this is the generation who have a strong understanding and appreciation of the digital world that this decade gave birth to. This is bringing a digital element to wedding trends. Most couples are embracing the technology of the 21st century and making use of some of the great digital platforms now available which can be used to organise your guest list, send e-invites, collect RSVPs and arrange your seating plan.
Some venues are even linking software to their own CRM systems to help integrate their planning process with that of their clients. This is a great way to help streamline the planning process and make communication easier for everyone.
Un-traditional wedding trends.
Can you remember the last time you saw a groom in a morning suit and a top hat? It was probably in the 80s. Wedding fashion is becoming so much more interesting and less formulaic. Bridal fashion this year is also giving a nod to big, bold 80s style with voluminous sleeves and skirts. Whatever the wedding trend, there is nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable on your wedding day. Brides are taking this to heart and wearing what makes them feel good. I love seeing brides expressing their personality through their bridalwear. From the Doc Martin, leather jacket wearing rock chicks to the disco divas in their sequin jump suits and short skater dresses. And when it’s impossible to choose just one outfit, why not have two! An elegant daytime dress for the more formal proceedings and an evening showstopper to dominate the dancefloor! If your venue doesn’t have accommodation, can you offer a comfortable and private space for the bride and groom to change if they want to?
Is it bad luck for the Groom to see the Bride before the wedding? Like a lot of old wedding trends, this is a superstition based on historic practises such as arranged marriages. when families did not want the couple to see each other before their wedding in case they didn’t like what they saw! Whilst some still observe this tradition, some couples like the opportunity to take a ‘first look’. A private moment just before their ceremony when they are dressed in all their finery to appreciate one another and perhaps calm each other’s nerves before they step into the limelight. Is there an intimate place at your venue that you can offer to couples for them to make the most of this special moment?
Couples are not always opting for the traditional top table either choosing to sit in amongst their friends or even just a table for two. Can you offer a flexible table arrangement for couples to choose what feels most comfortable for them?
Inclusive wedding trends.
More and more weddings are also family friendly and inclusive. Most weddings will have children so it’s helpful if wedding venues can provide a welcoming indoor and outdoor space and entertainment for them. As a parent myself, I hold high appreciation for places which give a warm welcome to younger as well as older guests. Venues are ideal if they can safely entertain my kids whilst also entertaining me! Outdoor games, a bouncy castle, treasure hunt, babysitters, special kids menu and mocktails are all winners for kids of all ages.
Not everyone wants to dance. Older guests might want a quiet place they can rest in comfort away from all the wedding antics.
And not all family are two-legged! I am seeing more and more four-legged family members at weddings and there is a burgeoning demand for pet-handlers at weddings to help look after couples’ furry friends so they can participate in the event. Can you accommodate pets at your wedding venue?
Convivial wedding trends.
As well as providing sustenance, food plays a big part in the wedding day and is very much dictated by the tastes of the couple. Culinary choice is becoming much more multicultural and with various serving styles from formal plated wedding breakfasts to more informal grazing platters. Couples want their guests to enjoy their meal so will want to ensure that all tastes and dietary needs are catered for. If you provide in-house catering then how do you keep your menus fresh and exciting and appeal to all tastes and needs? If you work with outside caterers then get to know them well, especially the style and quality of their food, so you can help couples find a suitable supplier to meet their culinary needs. Evening food is continuing to be popular as weddings progress late into the night with guests needing further sustenance to keep them on the dancefloor. Simple street food goes down well when guests want something substantial enough to feed their hunger but not another full meal. This also presents a possible additional revenue stream for venues who can offer in-house catering.
Music also plays a big part in the enjoyment of the wedding day from the ceremony right through to the dancefloor. But is music entertainment enough? As wedding parties have returned to larger numbers not all guests will know one another so ice-breakers are a great opportunity to help guests start conversations with strangers. Wandering musicians, close-up magicians or silhouette cutters are a perfect addition to the drinks reception and wedding breakfast. More active guests might want to participate together in garden games such as croquet, quoits or laser clay pigeon shooting.
Make sure you talk to your couples about all their ideas and help them to find entertainment best suited to your venue. Do you have a suitable space available for what they want? Comfortable indoor and outdoor seating areas for guests to rest or chat if they don’t want to dance are also welcome.
Outdoor wedding trends.
The change in law governing where legal wedding ceremonies can be conducted was relaxed a little during Covid to allow ceremonies to be conducted outside. This has had a massive impact on wedding trends and led to an increase in outdoor wedding ceremonies. The law is set to be changed further to enable more flexibility in where and who can conduct wedding ceremonies.
Summer weddings still remain extremely popular with couples hoping to enjoy as much of their wedding outdoors as possible. More and more people are embracing the health benefits that exposure to nature brings and this is also influencing weddings in 2023. Lots of couples are choosing marquee weddings that enable them to feel more connected with the outdoors whilst still giving them a shelter from the weather. Woodland and orchard wedding ceremonies are also very popular, as are venues that are close to water and the coast.
How can you help your couples make the most of your outdoor space?
Weddings with a conscience.
The social and environmental impact of weddings and events is becoming an ever-increasing concern and an influence on wedding trends. We are an industry notorious for waste but we are getting a lot better. Clients are becoming a lot more mindful about the impact their wedding will have on the wider world. Couples are often choosing local wedding venues to save travel for themselves and their guests and also opting for local suppliers to lower their carbon footprint and support the local economy. Locally grown flowers and produce are very popular.
If you provide in-house catering then think carefully about where you source your ingredients and if you can do more to reduce the journey they make to the plate. Your food menu doesn’t have to be completely vegetarian but offer a good choice of exciting and appetising vegetarian and vegan dishes to tempt even the most hardened meat-eater.
Homegrown flowers from family and friends’ gardens can provide a beautifully personal touch to a wedding day as well as being a sustainable option that is grown not flown. Can you help put your couples in touch with a local florist who supports this or who can supply seasonal and locally grown blooms?
There are some amazing drinks producers in the UK now supplying everything from wine and beer to exciting spirits and soft drinks. How local is your bar menu?
Providing a recommended list of local suppliers is very helpful for wedding couples but choose suppliers who share the same sustainable business ethos as you as well as those that offer an excellent standard of service and quality.
If you are working to make your wedding venue more sustainable then share this with your prospective clients. How do you encourage your couples to have a sustainable wedding? Evidence your efforts to reduce waste, use sustainable materials and renewable energy. Reduce your carbon footprint by planting trees, working with local suppliers and reducing your own travel. Support other local and global environmental organisations to widen your impact.
Everyone is watching their pennies but that doesn’t mean that couples are looking for a cheap wedding. Most couples will have a budget in mind and price is going to be an important factor in helping them to decide on everything from their venue to the size of their guest list. But their wedding is an important milestone event. They want it to be special and memorable and they want all their loved ones to be a part of it. They understand that their wedding is an investment. This means that they want good value for money. They want to know what they will be receiving for their investment.
Couples have more choice than ever when it comes to weddings. So how do they choose?
Trust. Couples need to trust in the people they are investing with. They want to be assured that they are going to receive the best possible service and that you will understand their needs and support them to have the best wedding day. Communication, flexibility, guidance, information, expertise, comfort and convenience are all highly prized assets when it comes to offering value to your clients.
Couples want to make the most of their special event. Lockdown forced couples to reduce their wedding party size to more intimate affairs with many couples settling to have a small legal ceremony with just their immediate friends and family. Whilst we wait for the marriage law to catch up to the 21st century I think we will see more and more couples choose this option with a second, bigger celebration afterwards. With the legal bit out the way, couples then have the freedom to stage a wedding ceremony on their own terms under the guidance of a celebrant.
Wedding venues that can offer weddings over multiple days are becoming increasingly popular. Venue hire is one of the biggest wedding expenses so couples want to get the most for their money. Venues that can offer accommodation, whether it’s a bedroom or a tent pitch, enable couples to extend their celebration. This also gives venues the opportunity to increase their income by offering additional entertainment and hospitality such as a BBQ the night before or a brunch the following day. This is also appealing for guests, some of whom may have travelled some distance and may want to extend their stay rather than rush back home.
Whatever the predictions for wedding trends in 2023, one thing is for certain, the wedding industry is still thriving and couples still want to get married in their own special way. Each of your clients will bring their own set of needs and requirements for how they want to plan their wedding. Be very clear on who your ideal couple are and the type of weddings your venue is best suited for. Offer as much flexibility as possible but also be the expert and help guide your clients to get the most out of your venue.
If you need any help planning your business strategy for 2023 and beyond then please do get in touch.
I hope you all have a great 2023.