Weekday weddings to standup comics: Here's how engaged couples are planning to marry this year

Stephanie Asymkos
·Reporter
·7 min read

Celebrations have been forced to take a backseat during the pandemic, with many engaged couples planning to marry last year rolling with what seemed like an endless stream of restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

With their lives on hold and money often tied up in non-refundable deposits, couples have been forced to scale down their weddings, trim guest lists, scrap original plans, or postpone for the future.

“The wedding industry has definitely been one of those industries that has been impacted greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kristen Maxwell Cooper, editor in chief at The Knot.

The new year brings a renewed sense of excitement for couples who are looking forward to creative ways to celebrate their unions. Here’s what couples are planning or what to expect as a wedding guest in 2021.

Emphasis on entertainment

A heartfelt father of the bride speech can bring an entire wedding to tears, but in 2021, guests — not just wedding VIPs — will have the opportunity to toast the happy couple. Multiple top planners and vendors predict the rise of "tiny toasts" at weddings where guests can prepare and share their remarks, fond memories, and well-wishes for the couple.

With dance floors at weddings limited due to the pandemic and social distancing measures, couples are finding unique ways to entertain their guests and leaning into alternative entertainment, like live or streaming stand-up comedians or performers, to keep guests entertained from their own tables.

Jeffra Trumpower, WeddingWire's senior creative director, said this is where a couple’s personality can really shine and create a memorable experience for their guests and it provides the ability for “people [to] stay in their seats and they're still being entertained, where it's not just music playing.”

Elvis Presley impersonator and chapel co-owner Brendan Paul performs a live wedding vow renewal ceremony using the Zoom videoconferencing software for a couple from Texas celebrating their 50th anniversary amid the spread of the COVID-19 at Graceland Wedding Chapel on July 28, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Elvis Presley impersonator and chapel co-owner Brendan Paul performs a live wedding vow renewal ceremony using the Zoom videoconferencing software for a couple from Texas celebrating their 50th anniversary amid the spread of the COVID-19 at Graceland Wedding Chapel on July 28, 2020, in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Weekday weddings

With only 52 weekends in a year, there’s been a land grab on weekends as couples who had their 2020 weddings postponed are setting dates alongside couples marrying in 2021.

“We actually think weekday weddings are going to become more popular,” Trumpower said. “They'll be thinking about maybe a Thursday evening wedding or a Monday evening wedding.”

Couples are now thinking outside of the conventional weekend weddings and are hosting brunch weddings on weekend mornings or weekdays, and finding the lesser worn paths are better for budgets, Trumpower explained.

Couples are now thinking outside of the conventional weekend weddings and are hosting brunch weddings on weekend mornings or weekdays. (Photo: Getty)
Couples are now thinking outside of the conventional weekend weddings and are hosting brunch weddings on weekend mornings or weekdays. (Photo: Getty)

“Weddings are already becoming a weekend-long affair, it feels actually pretty organic to say: ‘Hey, let's flip it around, let's find a different day that we actually get married and then enjoy the time together by extending maybe the weekend out a little bit further or beforehand.’”

The trend is also good for their wallets.

"I've had couples save over tens of thousands of dollars moving from a Saturday to a Monday wedding as minimums shift and more negotiations are made possible for weekday celebrations," Darryl Wilson of D'Concierge Events, a Houston-based planner, told The Knot.

Since the shift to outdoor weddings, couples are expected to embrace the daylight and host garden brunch parties under airy tents.

Dashes of nostalgia

Couples are reverting to their childhoods and incorporating throwbacks into their nuptials. Experts forecast memorabilia like yearbooks, childhood photos, or favorite candy will replace the tradition of displaying family photos at weddings that Trumpower has said: “fell by the wayside maybe a little bit depending on the couple.”

Individualized food preparation and presentation

Wedding industry experts say that buffets or traditional plated dinner are hallmarks of the past. (Photo: Getty)
Wedding industry experts say that buffets or traditional plated dinner are hallmarks of the past. (Photo: Getty)

For some guests, attending a wedding might be their first outing or large group gathering since March 2020 and there might be some reticence or nerves to overcome. To that point, Maxwell Cooper emphasized that engaged couples are “looking for ways to make sure that their guests feel very safe” by incorporating face masks as wedding favors, hand sanitizing stations, and personalized food offerings.

Public health is at the forefront of priorities for couples and much of how food is presented will change as a result of the pandemic, she said, remarking that buffets or traditional plated dinners are hallmarks of the past.

Smaller plates and individual-sized portions will be seen from hors d'oeuvres to mini desserts and wedding cakes. Bars will also shift to grab-and-go options with batches of pre-made cocktails for guests, Maxwell Cooper said.

Receptions will resemble restaurants

General view during the reception of the bride and groom, Meg and Matt, on their wedding day after moving the date twice as new nationwide restrictions were announced during the COVID-19 outbreak, in The Ashes Barns Country House, Endon, Stoke-on-Trent, Britain, November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine
General view during the reception of the bride and groom, Meg and Matt, on their wedding day after moving the date twice as new nationwide restrictions were announced during the COVID-19 outbreak, in The Ashes Barns Country House, Endon, Stoke-on-Trent, Britain, November 3, 2020. REUTERS/Carl Recine

Farmhouse-style tables and family-style serving are out for 2021, and wedding receptions will resemble a fine dining experience with plated dinner service at tables for two or four.

Rather than queuing at the bar or buffet, servers will take drink orders and bring food and beverages to guests to minimize physical contact among guests.

Keeping with social distancing protocols, reception dining tables will be arranged based on the guests’ families or households, rather than meshing couples or individuals together in groups of eight or ten.

Mindful vendor selection

Couples are looking for vendors that “not only offer products and services that will bring their wedding to life but also who align with their values and the causes that they stand for,” Maxwell Cooper said. (Photo: Getty) 
Couples are looking for vendors that “not only offer products and services that will bring their wedding to life but also who align with their values and the causes that they stand for,” Maxwell Cooper said. (Photo: Getty)

Millennials and Gen Zers are now aware of their purchasing power and are using their money in conscious and intentional ways to seek “ally-ship” with LGBTQ+ or BIPOC-owned small businesses or sustainable products, according to Maxwell Cooper.

Couples are looking for vendors that “not only offer products and services that will bring their wedding to life but also who align with their values and the causes that they stand for,” Maxwell Cooper said.

Attention to virtual visuals

Engaged couples are looking to incorporate technology into virtual invitations and a keener-eye for digital visuals for the broader wedding experience. (Photo: Getty)
Engaged couples are looking to incorporate technology into virtual invitations and a keener-eye for digital visuals for the broader wedding experience. (Photo: Getty)

2020 was the year of live-streamed weddings over platforms like Zoom, FaceTime, and Google Meet. Couples planning to marry in 2021 know that not every invited guest will be able to attend in person, so live-streaming the day’s festivities will continue.

Couples who planned to marry in 2020 were forced to change plans many times over due to shifting restrictions, so communicating updates to guests through wedding websites and private Facebook groups rather than printed and mailed stationery was a matter of practicality and cost-efficiency. Now engaged couples are looking to incorporate technology into virtual invitations and a keener eye for digital visuals for the broader wedding experience.

"Everything from trying on dresses virtually to AR wedding invitations that give tours, and even glimpses into the wedding location,” Annie Lee, planner and innovator at Daughter of Design, an event firm, told The Knot. “Plus, photos with guests who cannot be there or with the couple at the wedding—AR is going to be a great inclusion."

Delayed honeymoons

Couples are taking what’s being dubbed by industry insiders as a “nanomoon,” a domestic, shorter, and less expensive way to celebrate their new nuptials. (Photo: Getty)
Couples are taking what’s being dubbed by industry insiders as a “nanomoon,” a domestic, shorter, and less expensive way to celebrate their new nuptials. (Photo: Getty)

Travel restrictions placed on Americans have quashed the possibilities of exotic honeymoons for newlyweds. Couples are taking what’s being dubbed by industry insiders as a “nanomoon,” a domestic, shorter, and less expensive way to celebrate their new nuptials with the intent of taking a larger-scale trip once it is safe to do so again.

Following the nanomoon is a “massivemoon,” whereby couples are taking this time to save up and plan a two-week, multi-city, multi-country trip to “really blow it out [and] do it right for their honeymoon,” Maxwell Cooper said.

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Stephanie is a reporter for Yahoo Money and Cashay, a new personal finance website. Follow her on Twitter @SJAsymkos.

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