2016 Destination Wedding Trends

March 31, 2016 | Wedding Trends

by Nancy Hellmrich If you haven’t seen a lot of splashy news about big celebrity weddings lately that’s because today’s love-struck couples are opting for simpler, more intimate ceremonies set in astonishingly photogenic locales. When it comes to the accompanying fashion, food, and ambiance, individuality is even more in vogue than last year, which makes chasing the latest trends a wild ride indeed.


Walter Peak Station, New Zealand. Photo courtesy of Jim Pollard Goes Click.
Walter Peak Station, New Zealand. Photo courtesy of Jim Pollard Goes Click.

Extreme Photo-Centricity is In

Imagine a timeless portrait of a besotted couple, captured at just the right moment, in just the right place with nary another soul around. Caught in quiet embrace atop an Icelandic cliff, overlooking a sapphire sea. Emerging from a tiny chapel with bright, white walls that stand in stark contrast against an impossibly blue sky. The gentle blur of white-clad bodies racing barefoot across pure white sand and into a turquoise surf. A groom whispering sweet nothings to his sweetheart in the midst of a private vineyard. Giddy lovebirds stealing kisses on the cobbled streets of an Old World city. Newlyweds silhouetted against a fiery sunset in the radiant Arabian dunes.

Perhaps thanks to popular photo apps such as Instagram, high-end destination photography is the secret to today’s most enviable nuptials. To ensure their wedding memories are worthy of a Parisian museum or, at the very least, a haute gallery in the artsy part of town, modern couples are carving off a larger slice of their budgets to spring for professional destination-wedding photographers who are renowned for their breathtaking portfolios and exclusive reputations. While candid shots of your big day are always part of the package, iconic images that exaggerate the awe-inspiring scale of your wedding location are today’s pièce de résistance.

Vintage Car
Vintage Car

Personal Branding for Power Couples

The intense focus on iconic wedding photography fits hand-in-hand with the modern inclination to give our blessed unions a business-like twist. In a world obsessed with mission statements and core values, fairytale love affairs and happily ever after are giving way to cool, calculated mergers between two formidable personal brands. If the Beckhams and Kardashian-Wests can do it, so can you.

Merger-minded couples are even hiring personal brand specialists to help them sort through their values and beliefs to form a cohesive vision of their future together. Done right, the result is a combined brand that highlights the best in both of you equally and provides a north star that you can follow throughout your marriage. From there, the wedding planner takes over and your new, united raison d’être is introduced to the world in a carefully planned campaign that strikes an authentic emotional chord with colleagues, family, and friends.

Courtesy of Reem Acra, 2016 collection
Courtesy of Reem Acra, 2016 collection

“You Do You” Dresses for the Bride

This year’s bridal fashion week supported the “be who you are” theme with a breadth and depth of statement styles that ranged from dreamy to downright shocking. We saw bohemian glam from Naeem Khan, fairylike fantasy from Reem Acra, romantic stunners from Marchesa, seductive numbers from Inbal Dror, mod glam from Houghton, and a blue hydrangea floral gown from Romona Keveza that left the fashion show crowd positively breathless.

Vera Wang raised more than one eyebrow with ethereal models dressed in barely there lingerie-style gowns. Design trends included gorgeous arrays of 3D floral appliques, butterflies, swirls, or soft, white feathers; deep-V necklines that plunged even further than last year, thigh-high side slits, and sheer overskirts that invited double-takes from the front row. Enduring themes included elegant, silk pants suits; youthful crop tops; LWDs (little white dresses) in mini-shift or fit-and-flare; as well as blush colored fabrics, stone-washed hues, and watercolor prints.

When it came to hair and makeup the consensus was effortless, flushed, and dewy. Perhaps the most talked about trend was the striking white eyeliner on Marchesa’s models. Other beauty tricks included pink shadow beneath the eyes; smoky lids with ink-black liner smudged to a morning-after look; metallic wet-look lids; and ombré or just-bitten lips. Hairstyles ranged from loose, free-spirited locks and chunky braids with jeweled accents to swept back ballerina chignons and top knots adorned with paper-thin, white butterflies.

Courtesy of Dolce&Gabbana
Courtesy of Dolce&Gabbana

Rebellious Accessories For Men

Today’s grooms are foregoing posh tuxedos and morning suits and opting instead for individual expressions of personal fashion sense. Even formal suits are being softened with a disheveled hairstyle or stand-out statement accessories such as custom cufflinks, streamlined ankle boots, pocket watch chains, and designer sunglasses. If there is one clear recommendation for grooms from the fashion industry this year it’s, “Invest in a vest.” Waistcoats in coordinated or contrasting fabrics are all the rage.

On the runway, designs for the modern three-piece featured muted hues, classic fits, and lavish materials. Big names such as Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli offered suave black or grey suits with contrasting lapels, decorative cuffs, or sophisticated patterns – jacquard, crowns, or bees – that gave them a fashion-forward edge. Dior channeled the high finance crowd with sharply tailored jackets, matching waistcoats, and Bond-like bowties. Versace’s sleek, blue, power suits featured finely woven fabric that positively shined beneath the runway lights.

Wedding
Wedding

Beloved Traditions & Anti-Trends

For some, a blissful union begins with the embrace of cherished family traditions. The good news is, more enlightened resorts are offering faith-based and culture-savvy wedding packages that feature time-honored ceremonies designed to make even the most conservative grandparents proud.

On the nouveau front, changes in marriage equality laws have brought LGBT couples into the spotlight and resorts are getting in on the fun with special ceremonies designed just for them. An emphasis on STEM learning is giving self-professed “geeks” a reason to celebrate with quirky ceremonies designed to dampen the eyes of even the most stoic physics majors. And hipsters are still the kings and queens of the anti-trend. Current social sightings sporting the #hipster hashtag include brides in lingerie-look gowns holding bouquets made of succulents or kale; bearded grooms in tweed waistcoats holding court in rustic settings; and eccentric guests sipping artisan cocktails and sampling locally sourced foods.

Painted Wedding Cake
Painted Wedding Cake

Love in the Time of Foodies

With individuality taking center stage this year, thoughtful couples are skipping fixed-menu dinners and going for a wider range of flexible fare featuring free-flowing, mini-portions designed to please a variety of tastes and dietary needs. When it comes to ingredients the trend toward fresh, organic foods and locally sourced flavors continues to gain steam.

On the dessert table, there’s a clear move away from cupcake arrangements and back to tiered fondant cakes made into tantalizing works of art. As more pastry chefs up their game, we’re seeing delicate filigreed metallic designs; painted cakes that mimic Monet, Renoir, or Van Gogh; theme cakes depicting Swan Lake or A Midsummer Night’s Dream; and 3D-printed decorations that never fail to cause a stir.

To Tech or Not to Tech

While a few couples are opting for socially demure “unplugged” celebrations, more and more are embracing tricked out, high-tech affairs that would make even Jack Dorsey and Sheryl Sandberg blush. We’re seeing GoPro® “bride cam” bouquets, Swarovski Crystal Misfit trackers that record your heart rate as you walk down the aisle, and drones that swoop into the venue like paparazzi helicopters, pausing to deliver the rings at just the right moment.

Wedding hashtags have evolved beyond simple name combinations to clever phrases that highlight the wedding venue, date, personality quirks, and more. At the reception, crowd-sourced video, photos, and tweets are projected on overhead monitors in real time. Tuxedoed robots are mingling in the crowd, streaming live footage for those who can’t be there in person. And Tylt Energi gadgets keep everyone’s devices charged throughout the day.

Popular tech gadgets and tricks include: rings fitted with projection chips, LED light-designed gowns, Ringly text alerts, 3D-printed wedding favors, robot bartenders, selfie sticks, reception charging stations, GIF photo booths, and more. Trendy wedding apps for smart devices include: Periscope, Appy Couple, WeddingMix, WedPics, LiveLens, and Zola Registry – which allows guests to buy you experiences rather than material possessions.


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2016 Destination Wedding Trends - by Nancy Hellmrich


If you haven’t seen a lot of splashy news about big celebrity weddings lately that’s because today’s love-struck couples are opting for simpler, more intimate ceremonies 
set in astonishingly photogenic locales. When it comes to the accompanying fashion, 
food, and ambiance, individuality is even more in vogue than last year, which makes chasing the latest trends a wild ride indeed.