Though timeless touches are always a good idea, sometimes trends are popular for a reason. As equestrians, we may never quite leave behind the idea of a rustic barn wedding, but this year a new wave of concepts is surfacing for wedding planners and couples. A renaissance of more formal indoor affairs may be returning to weddings, combining many of the authentic and customized elements that have been popular in the past few years. There is a return of bolder colors, marble dance floors, and smaller wedding parties.
Of course, the most important part of your wedding is your vision, so while planning, don’t lose sight of your own tastes or personalities in trying to follow this year’s trends. Be yourself, and the perfect wedding will follow.
Named a top planner by Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar as well as one of the best planners in the country by Martha Stewart Weddings, Calder Clark has garnered a devoted following for her exquisite weddings and flawless logistics. Calder infuses events with her trademark Southern flair and warmth, developing a sensory experience by layering lush florals, nuanced colors, dressmaker details, and ambient lighting throughout her parties.
Nearly two decades of event design have established Clark and her firm as classicists. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should,” she says. “A curator’s approach, an editor’s eye, and a near-reverence for refinement are the hallmarks of great design.” The best parties are intricate behind the scenes, but effortless in their rollout, she adds, “leaving guests to wonder just how such a night came to be.”
From offices in Charleston, South Carolina, and Raleigh, North Carolina, the Calder Clark team plans a limited number of destination affairs annually, both domestic and international. Her work has been featured in numerous publications, including Veranda, Coastal Living, Town & Country, Elle Decor, and Southern Living.
At home in Charleston, Calder loves spending time with her husband and two babies, playing tennis, eating way too much ice cream, and relearning the piano.
1. Hanging Floral Installations/Decor
Various types of greenery, chicken wire, fishing wire, and floral tape are in our production partner’s arsenal. Hardy florals that don’t need to be tubed to stay alive (roses and succulents) fare much better than delicate blooms like sweetpeas and anemones. Installations work well to the left and right of the couple as well as behind them, as these are key areas in guests’ direct sightlines. At receptions, think about the axial view: a stunning entrance, a fabulous band backdrop, a living fixture over the bar, and a fabulous hanging piece over the dance floor are important “wow” factors.
2. Smaller Guest Lists/Smaller Wedding Parties
There are two important reasons why couples take a red pen to their early guest list efforts—intimacy and finance. A smaller wedding ensures you’ll know everyone on your dance floor, and it almost guarantees you can steward your budget with greater ease.
As for smaller wedding parties, the biggest influence is maturity. Our brides who are 28 and older simply don’t see the relevance or reason to have a wedding party of 38. There’s no wrong or right, although we do share with our clients that a larger party can be overwhelming for many reasons.
3. Bold Floral Vessels
Anything can be a vessel. One of our favorite designs sprang from one of my antiquing jaunts across the Southeast. I came across a series of gorgeous vintage blown-glass demijohns and bought three on the spot. Once I’d collected 20 of them, I pitched them to a special client for a ceremony altar concept, flooding them with just white French tulips, and that image has since been pinned two million times. That’s what’s interesting to me—using something that has meaning.
There are limited major vessel suppliers, so everyone seems to have the same look. We buy everything and completely customize it, so that it becomes ours for our clients. You have to keep things fresh!
4. Unusual Colors or Color Combinations
Color is back! After a decade of creams, grays, blush, and gold, it’s time for a shake-up. Our brides are definitely asking for interesting, thoughtful, interior-design-driven palettes like olive green and shell pink or eucalyptus and butter. It’s just a really exciting time to be a creative. French blue, celery green, and crisp white is a favorite palette right now.
There are no rules. I would encourage brides to think beyond a Pantone chip or paint deck. It’s really about color and texture—smooth, sleek, crusty, pickled, patinated, hammered. These are ways to consider surfaces, vessels, linens, and installations that will maximize the “oomph” factor.
5. Dividing Large Spaces into Smaller, Cozier Ones Using Furniture
We tend to use giant, custom greenery flats covered in lemon leaf or cocculus to create architectural divides. We flood them with interesting furnishing vignettes and soft goods like draped café tables, always designing with the goal of having one’s eye be able to rove about the space, as opposed to everything in the room being on a 30-inch high plane.
Often, people are pigeon-holed into a venue that works for 100 different reasons, except for one: it’s too large. I’d much rather have a New York vibe where people are cozy-to-crowded than a vacuous space where people wonder if the couple saw a giant fall-off on their RSVPs. Breaking up the space allows one to create a guest experience where people are encouraged to roam from moment to moment, as opposed to being devoured by a generic ballroom.
6. Moving Back Indoors
A lot of this is driven by cultural trends and the publishing houses. Magazines started asking us specifically for indoor weddings upwards of three years ago, which could only mean they were positively inundated with the “rustic barn” look. That being said, follow your heart. It’s all been done before anyway, so pick your venue and then build a custom look around the bones of it.
I think as an American designer, my eye is always on Europe. Design inspiration is on a cycle much like fashion—with the French kicking it off, New York and L.A. picking it up and pollinating the U.S. with what’s hot and what’s not, from paint palettes to textile trends. Overall, what we’re seeing is a reverence for the classics: garden ceremonies, sunset cocktails, black-tie seated dinners, big bands. These hallmarks of high-level entertaining never go out of style.
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