When it comes to weddings, there are trends that may last a few years. Others are more short-lived. They touch every aspect of the big day — dresses, flowers, colors, cakes.
But one big shift has been in venues. It’s less common for brides to go the traditional route of a morning or early afternoon Saturday church wedding followed by an evening reception at a banquet hall. Brides are selecting unique venues, doing more outdoors, going with unconventional days and times, planning destination weddings and holding the ceremony and reception at the same location.
Hillary Casey knows this well. She is the private events specialist for Moersch Hospitality Group, which includes Tabor Hill Winery in Buchanan, Michigan, and Free Run Cellars in Berrien Springs, Michigan, which each offers indoor and outdoor spaces for ceremonies and receptions.
Casey said they’ve been “working at creating a better outdoor social space and making it a little more hip.” Outdoor weddings have become extremely popular at the venues and a patio and estate tent can accommodate groups up to 225 guests.
Sue Martin-Urback said she’s noticing a lot more outdoor elements being incorporated into the decorations even at indoor receptions. Martin-Urback is the event coordinator for Heston Hills Event Center in LaPorte.
“People are using a lot of greenery, bringing in slabs of wood and twinkly fairy lights and going with the rustic or industrial look,” she said. “A lot of people have gone from real to faux flowers because they look so real. And they’re doing mason jars with flowers or candles. It’s very comfortable and makes people happy and sets the mood.”
Casey noted that “minimal” is a trend now and that for their outdoor weddings, very little is done in terms of decorating. “There’s a 360 degree view of the vines, so the outdoor is your decor,” she said. She has noticed more floral arches are being requested since last year’s royal wedding.
A lot of brides booking weddings at Tabor Hill and Free Run Cellars are from out-of-town, according to Casey, so the one-site locations for weddings and receptions are important.
“I think people are wanting something unique, and we are the only winery restaurant in the area,” she said. “Couples can then come back and have their anniversary in the restaurant.”
“Wedding season” has changed, too. Fall is supplanting June as the busiest time at area venues.
“Harvest season — August through October — is peak season for us,” said Casey.
Martin-Urback agreed that fall is wedding season for this generation, but she said that winter weddings are picking up. “We are starting to do winter weddings again, and they are really pretty,” she said.
When it comes to other facets of the wedding, she’s seeing shifts in colors, desserts, dances and favors.
“Purple seems to be back again — eggplant shade. So are greens and whites,” she said. “Two years ago it was all yellow and gray, so now people are going toward navy and darker colors as opposed to pastels.”
Desserts now mean more than a slice of cake — and often are finger foods that can be eaten without a plate or fork. Brides are setting up s’mores bars, candy tables and doughnut walls, according to Martin-Urback. Late night snacks are a big thing, too — like popcorn bars. “I had one wedding where milk and cookies were given on the way out as favors,” she said.
And speaking of favors, Martin-Urback said she is seeing more food than traditional items. She recalled one wedding where a family had a honey farm and gave jars of honey as favors.
The complicated, highly coordinated dances that involve the wedding party? That has been fading, she said. “But everyone’s different. You think something is starting to go away and every once in a while it pops back up.”