By Laurel Thompson

Weddings aren’t the grand affairs they used to be, with mile-long guest lists, three-tiered cakes and a dozen bridesmaids lined up by the altar. This year festivities are looking less traditional and more intimate than ever before—and not just because of COVID-19 restrictions. Whether you’re planning your own wedding or attending as a guest, here are the top trends to watch out for in 2022: 

Courtesy of The Perfect Touch Event Planning, photo by Lauren Finch Photography

1. Micro-Weddings & Elopements

Small ceremonies and elopements replaced conventional weddings during the first half of the pandemic, and now they’re here to stay. Local wedding photographer Shallyn Edgar says most of her clients are opting for more intimate gatherings and prefer to customize their days rather than sticking to traditional ceremonies. Elopements are often followed by receptions with close friends and family, and more couples are reciting their own vows to one another without an audience. She says that makes the first look even more special (and some people are doing a first look with their dog). 

2. Laid-Back Receptions

Receptions are also breaking with tradition: In 2022 there will be fewer cake cuttings, garter and bouquet tosses and, in some cases, no first dance. The idea is to get right to the dancing and mingling with friends and family, usually to a curated Spotify playlist or a live band. Lacey Kala’i, co-founder of floral shop Lace and Lilies, says there will be lots of interactive stations at receptions this year, including cotton candy carts, build-your-own cookie bars, DIY postcard stations, yard games and even bounce houses. The after-party is making a comeback too, so guests can keep the party going long after the couple’s send-off. 

Courtesy of The Perfect Touch Event Planning, photo by Bridgett Burnett.

3. Creative Outdoor Venues

These days outdoor wedding venues don’t just include gardens and golf courses. “We are seeing everything from ice castles, parking garages, sand dunes and national parks more and more for our clients. I think our clients are wanting their weddings to be more about them and who they are,” says Lindsey Morris, co-owner and lead planner at The Perfect Touch Event Planning. 

“Outdoor venues not only allow guests to spread out, but they also provide a backdrop for some amazing photo opportunities that speak to the natural beauty of the Colorado landscape,” says Tiffany Weber, co-owner of The Hillside Vineyard in Fort Collins. Plus, they open up the doors for a fun, free-flowing reception with guests dancing under the stars or enjoying cocktails around a campfire.

Courtesy of The Perfect Touch Event Planning, photo by Abbey Rice Photo.

4. Candid Photos

Couples are starting to embrace the go-with-the-flow mindset when it comes to documenting their big day. Edgar says couples care a lot less about posed shots and are wanting more documentary-style photography that captures the raw moments between them and their guests. She will often shoot the couple’s portraits on a separate day, so they don’t have to miss the fun. The result is a gallery that has a much more authentic, relaxed and playful feel than posed shots.

Courtesy of The Perfect Touch Event Planning, photo by Abbey Rice Photo.

5. A La Carte Vendors

All-inclusive venues are also becoming a thing of the past as more couples opt for a pick-your-own-adventure kind of experience. “We are seeing more weddings that prefer to choose their own vendors to create the dream team over a venue that does it all for you,” says Kala’i. “This keeps the weddings unique.” 2022 weddings will be customized to the couple’s tastes, from the food and music right down to each table setting. Rentals run the gamut from furniture and heat lamps to photo booths, decorated backdrops, neon signs, band stages, bar tops, you name it—there’s a rental company for that. 

6. Food Trucks & Mobile Bars

If there’s one type of vendor couples care about this year, it’s the food and drinks. Morris says the food is one of the biggest changes to tradition, with weddings going from sit-down dinners to cocktail-style servings, breakfast bars and lots of food trucks. 

“These options really break up the formality of an event and make it more upbeat and fun,” she says. “One of our favorite trends is the popping up of mobile bars in weddings, which allows couples to add to their theme and create a unique experience for their guests.” There are lots of different styles of mobile bars for rent in Northern Colorado, including champagne trucks, retro campers, air streams and even horse-trailer-converted bars.

Courtesy of Lace and Lilies, photo by Skyewater Photo.

7. Flowers, Flowers, Flowers

According to Kala’i, a decade ago couples had a floral budget and a decor budget, but now the decor budget is mostly reserved for flowers. And it’s not just greenery and fresh cut flowers; dried flowers are making their way into bouquets, centerpieces, floating floral installations and hair pieces for the bridal party. Kala’i says floral arrangements will include more blooms and fewer foliage garlands this year, with surprise elements such as tropical orchids and anthuriums adding a pop of color. Brides are also sourcing a lot of their flowers from local farmers and opting for more eco-friendly and sustainable designs (so long, floral foam).

Shallyn Michelle Photography

8. Bold Colors & Industrial Decor

The bohemian style may have been popular over the last few years, but this year weddings will feel a lot more industrial—think metal arches, geometric shapes and less natural wood. Color schemes are also becoming more modern, with bright, bold palettes making a statement no matter the season. Weber says a lot of couples are picking monochromatic color schemes and incorporating a hint of metal to make the colors pop, whether that be glittery plate chargers or a shiny flower vase on each table. The “Bridgerton” garden aesthetic will be big this year too, with elegant metallics and royal themes in Dutch blue and bold jewel tones.

Courtesy of The Hillside Vineyard, photo by Yellow Paddle Photography.

9. Glam is Back

Bold colors and attire can only mean one thing: bold makeup and accessories for the bridal party. The glam aesthetic will be big this year and include lots of fun, textured boutonnieres and hair pieces with pearls, jewels and floral accents, according to our wedding experts. Creative hairstyles will sport vintage curls, braids and accessories, such as gold flakes and large pearls sewn through updos, says Edgar. Makeup will either be more natural and let the outfits speak for themselves, or it will add to the glam with bold lashes, a shimmery highlighter and a dark lip. 

10. Non-Traditional Attire

Wedding attire also has a new look in 2022, but with a retro twist. Morris says her clients are breaking all the rules when it comes to bridal party garb, so we’ll see lots of colorful velvet tuxedos on groomsmen (sometimes with suspenders and no jacket), and bridesmaids wearing dresses in different colors and styles. Wedding dresses will be simple and elegant, with low v-necks, low or open backs and lots of bridal separates, and some couples will indulge in their monochromatic colors instead of wearing white and black. As for the white bridesmaid dresses, we’re leaving those in 2021.