By Kevin Walker
Like all big events, weddings move from one trend to another. What was hot in 2014 is stone cold in 2017.
For this year, you can expect new trends to emerge and a few from last year to keep going. The good news is that whatever theme you pick for your big day, the Philadelphia area has a diverse number of options from which to choose.
Everyone has their own idea about the best way to tie the knot. However, some trends emerged in interviews with Philadelphia wedding planners and designers.
- Art deco is in.
- Glam — art deco-style and otherwise — also is in.
- Country barn weddings remain popular with many.
- Many couples now focus on guest experience and appealing to all five senses.
- Nontraditional has become the new traditional for many, with couples looking to become trendsetters.
- That said, traditional is always in with some. That’s one reason for the continued popularity of landmark buildings in Philadelphia for weddings, including the National Museum of American Jewish History.
- Also, donut walls. Your guests will thank you.
If you’re thinking about getting married, that’s just an old tradition that is fading fast in the modern world, right? Actually, no. Marriage rates have stabilized in the last decade, according to statistics kept by (of all departments) the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The federal agency reports that since 2009, about 6.8 percent of the population got married. That’s more than 2 million people a year. In 2014, the last year for which numbers are currently available, it jumped to 6.9 percent, or 2.1 million people.
So if you are planning a wedding, you have a lot of company.
Wedding planners in the Philadelphia area said they receive a steady stream of requests for planning, catering and designing weddings.
“People have money to spend,” said Marlee Wilson with DFW Event Design in Philadelphia. She noted that some of the recent weddings have been larger than usual. An upcoming wedding in Jersey City features 300 guests and is taking up most of the space at the Hyatt Regency.
Couples are also moving fast.
Jennifer Supper, director of sales and special events for Kaleidoscope Weddings in Wayne, said, “Short engagements are in. I am hearing from people who want to get married in less than six months.”
Another trend is appealing to all five senses, said Caitlin Boshnack, wedding sales manager for the Garces Group in Philadelphia. For example, she said, herbs might be included in floral arrangements so “people can smell how beautiful it is as well as see it.”
Homemade Wedding Trends
One of the big trends emerging in Jewish weddings is the idea of going homemade.
For example, Supper said for a recent wedding, the bride made a homemade version of the chuppah covering into which she had woven her grandmother’s scarves.
“In another one, the bride made a hand-sewn tallit out of yarn, large enough to be a quilt on her and her husband’s bed after the wedding,” Supper said.
There also have been changes in the ketubah, which traditionally is done before the ceremony by two appointed witnesses. More and more couples are choosing to have the ketubah signing during the ceremony “so everyone can witness as opposed to before the ceremony with a select few family members,” Supper said.
The Roaring ’20s
Katie Robinson with DFW Event Design said while trends come and go, one big one has emerged so far in 2017, a kind of “Great Gatsby” feel for weddings.
“The biggest trend we are seeing right now is art deco, the 1920s,” Robinson said. “It’s really, really big this year. A lot of gold, metallic and sequins. Everyone wants sequins.”
That has spilled over into big events beyond just weddings. DFW just handled a corporate party in Philadelphia where the theme had a strong art deco bent and the same theme was wanted for a charity event.
Where do the trends come from? No one is sure.
“I don’t know exactly where it starts, but suddenly that’s what everyone wants,” Robinson said. “Everyone wants glam.”
She said country barn weddings remain popular in some areas, but even they want to “glam” the wedding. That can include everything from the gold and metallic to jewel tones for decorations.
The high-end, glamorous feel also extends to wedding invitations. More elaborate invitations have become an emerging trend, particularly laser cuttings that offer an upscale look and feel.
Small Plates, Donut Walls and Dessert Bars
When it comes to food, Boshnack said the overall trend is couples are focused more on the “guest experience” and providing “a high-end dining experience.” Rather than an “all-you-can-eat” buffet style, couples are choosing small plates with more haute — or at least homemade — cuisine.
“We’re seeing more people opting for small plates,” she said. “Especially during cocktails.”
Wilson said when it comes to food, “everybody has their own thing, especially when it comes to dessert.”
DFW works with local caterers, producing a number of interesting desserts for recent weddings, including specialty sandwiches, strawberry lavender cake and edible glitter.
Yes, edible glitter.
“When it comes to food, everyone seems to come up with something different,” said Wilson.
Another trend that started in 2016 and continues this year are donut walls. Typically situated behind a dessert bar, the donut wall is exactly what it sounds like: a wall with creatively designed donuts hanging on it. And yes, you are invited to eat one.
Wilson said the walls have become a popular choice no matter what the overall design of the party. They also offer the opportunity to make cutesy signs such as “I donut know what I’d do without you” or “Donut worry, be happy.”
That’s optional, of course.
For those who wish to keep kosher, wedding planners work with a wide range of local caterers who serve kosher meals for weddings. Most venues also allow you bring in food from the caterer of your choice.
Most wedding planners work with facilities all over the Philadelphia area, and in this regard the bride-to-be has an enormous amount of choices.
One traditional but still popular spot is the National Museum of American Jewish History.
Aside from its location near Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, another attractive aspect of the museum is it offers the choice of multiple rooms within the museum, giving some flexibility in planning the wedding, Supper said. They include a ballroom and a terrace with views of the city.
Other sites that remain popular include the Fairmont Park Horticultural Center, the Franklin Institute, many of the city’s other museums and the major hotels. The Morris Arboretum at the University of Pennsylvania also is a popular choice, as are the city’s many country clubs.
Another traditional choice is one of the Philadelphia area’s many mansions, including Pen Ryn Mansion on the Delaware River, the Knowlton Mansion and The Lake House Inn.
However, others want nontraditional choices.
For example, Boshnack said some couples have opted for Olde Bar. The restaurant is located in the historic Old Original Bookbinders building in Old City that was home to the famous oyster house and seafood restaurant dating to 1898.
Olde Bar represents a new spin on an old tradition. Couples from previous generations were married there.
“A lot of couples said their parents get married there and they have special memories,” Boshnack said. “They go there for a reception or other event and say, ‘My parents got married here and I want to get married here, too.’”
These represent just some of the choices couples have, and the trends they are tapping into, in 2017.
But as wedding planners will tell you, everyone has their own ideas on decor and preference on location of their wedding. Luckily, in Philadelphia, you have enough choices to suit almost any taste.