I’ve watched many friends get married over the years and was a Maid of Honor at one wedding. Still nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelming experience of planning my own wedding. Thankfully, I am doing it with my best friend, who is also getting married later this year. We joke often that we feel like we’re marrying each other, and the men are just along for the ride. (We know who our real soulmates are!) In the midst of comparing notes and prices with my bestie, I couldn’t help but notice some wedding trends 2023 emerge. Many of them are eco-friendly and sustainable—and all of them are fun or elegant. Without further ado, here are some wedding trends you’ll see this year either as a bride or a guest.
10 Wedding Trends 2023
Skipping some stationery
I was surprised when my venue (an organic orchard) straight up told me that paper programs are banned on the venue, since people just toss them or lose them. My best friend did paper Save the Dates but will not be doing formal invitations! I—lover of all things arty—had to have hand-calligraphed Save the Dates, formal invitations, RSVP cards, and place cards. However, it’s far from the day and age when double envelopes, programs, and individual menus were the norm. For the menus, I plan on having just one per table. And I actually think it’s more chic to forego the program—when you go to a normal party, you don’t get handed a table of contents!
For the most eco chic stationery, consider choosing recycled paper to reduce your impact on deforestation. Take a look at this handmade paper from recycled cotton fibers and letterpress-printed with a century-year-old machine in Portland, Oregon. Gorgeous!
Long-sleeve gowns are the new strapless gowns. So many celebrities, including the Princess of Wales, Meghan Markle, Hailey Bieber, and Naomi Biden, have made this the wedding trend of this decade. But I’ve found that brides in Spain have been wearing primarily long-sleeve gowns for years, and it’s not so much a trend there as a tradition. The sleeves in Spain are more voluminous and diaphanous, whereas American brides tend to go for fitted and sexier silhouette.
Black tie for men
I am a big fan of this trend. Polished, proper black-tie look with a bow tie is a 2023 Do, much like navy or tan suits that took the wedding world by the storm about ten years ago. A groom who looks like Daniel Craig on an assignment as 007 is never a bad thing, in my book.
Sleek, polished waves
For bridal hair do, sculpted and glamorous waves (think New Hollywood) are the braided updos circa 2013. If you choose an updo, 2023 brides are opting for sleek and polished, rather than tons of tendrils evocative of your Senior Prom.
An eco option that I didn’t see much during my friends’ weddings in the past, companies are starting to offer veils for rent or purchase. This takes care of the awkwardness of owning a cathedral veil that you have to wash and care for until you loan it out to your other friends or perhaps your daughter (oh, in the next 30 or so years!). I’ve seen rental veils start at $50—a fraction of the cost of a brand-new veil.
Warning: you’ll see this in your Instagram feed this summer if you are in the range of peak-wedding age! Expect Gatsby-era coupe stacked into a pyramid and happy couples pouring champagne as their first entry into the reception. I am all for this—so much better than other festive touches like sparklers and fireworks! Wildfire hazards and chemical pollution are a No for any eco wedding. 🙂
Similar to the Champagne tower, this gives you an option for a festive exit that does NOT involve potentially wildlife-harming toxins and fire hazard! When you’re ready to exit the party, have your friends / wedding party line up and put their hands together for a tunnel. You and your new spouse will run out of it feeling like a couple of champions!
Skipping wedding favors
Are you interested in reducing waste and saving some money? You’ll do both by foregoing that controversial item—wedding favors. The fact is, most wedding budgets don’t allow for truly lasting and meaningful favors that the guests will cherish for a long time. Usually the favors end up being small items that are only meant to last for a little bit (like a box of chocolates or a pair of flip flops for dancing), and the packaging waste alone is tremendous. Often, the guests don’t even remember to take the favors with them. If you want them to leave with something lovely, have the guests take home the flowers from the wedding instead.
Locally sourced flowers
Extravagant floral displays are still the most in vogue look for weddings. I’m opting out of a floral arch though (as pretty as that looks), because it’s a lot of flowers and money for a very specific 45 minutes of the wedding. I’m also choosing a florist that sources primarily local and sustainable flowers, and more brides are intentional about choosing in-season, organic, and local blooms—a large source of the carbon footprint of your wedding.
Skipping non-feminist “traditions”
Where do I even begin? The father walking a grown daughter to the groom is so infantalizing and sexist, no? I would be happy to walk the aisle myself, but I probably will compromise by having both my father and mother walk me up to a point, and then walking the rest of the way myself to my groom. Instead of the introduction as “Mr. and Mrs. xyz,” I want the DJ to announce us as “as husband and wife for the first time, X and Y!” Don’t even get me started on the garter toss. This isn’t 1923! Lastly, I am also skipping the bouquet toss. I don’t want my women friends to grovel for the “luck” of being the next in line to get married, and plus I really want to keep my bouquet for a while!
Mix & match bridesmaids
As someone who has had to buy bridesmaid dresses that were never worn again, despite the brides’ insistence that “you’ll keep wearing them!”, I am having my bridesmaids pick their own dresses within a wide range of colors as long as it’s floor length. This way, they are truly able to buy something they like. One of my bridesmaids is even rewearing a dress she wore to her brother’s wedding—sustainability in action! A growing number of brides are letting their bridesmaids express their personal styles and also practice eco fashion, mixing colors and textures. Rich colors, velvets, and patterns are all still going strong for 2023.
Are you starting to see a trend here toward formality and Old World grace, because I am! (Black tie, long sleeves, Champagne towers…) After over a decade of modern and natural buttercream-frosted cakes decorated with fresh flowers, vintage decorated cakes are making a comeback. This means piped edges, fondant flowers, and even cake toppers. I’m excited for my own vintage cake that’s of course, 100% vegan.
Let us know if any of these wedding trends are speaking to your heart!
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Photo: Oblation Papers; Hailey Bieber via Instagram; Nova; HK Photo Company via Unsplash