Wedding Trends and Our Collective Spirit
Oct 04, 2020
At Urban Designer we like to think of our wood watches and wood rings are timeless classics, transcending and complementing the passing trends of the day, and appropriate as gifts for any wedding. As a fashion and design company, we of course follow trends, especially for weddings, so we know what our customers might be looking for and to get inspiration for our own designs. Honestly, usually I’m pretty cynical about trends as they change with the years and seasons. It seems like the design and fashion powers-that-be change their minds about what is fashionable just to motivate us to buy more stuff.
This year, however, I’ve been watching emerging wedding trends, my cynicism has melted into compassion for our collective culture. I won’t recount the multifold crises and reckonings that have surfaced this year affecting the way we perceive our environment, culture, health, economy, leadership, and communities. I’ll assume you’re up to date. Because the influences on our culture and common life are so stark this year, I have seen, in a clearer way than ever before, how fashion reflects these influences in our culture and common life. Much like great art, fashion and design trends not only reflect the world, but at its best, these trends offer something back to our culture that we need for balance, healing, and inspiration - even if we don’t know we need it yet.
There are a few wedding trends that struck me in particular this year of teaching me the expressive and healing aspects of fashion and design.
This trend is, at first, obvious and practical. Given that we are in a global pandemic, it’s simply not wise (or in some places, not even legal) to have 500-person weddings right now. While some couples are postponing their large gatherings until better times, others are going ahead with “microweddings” where only a very small number of people attend (the working definition is 20 people or fewer). I think microweddings signify something beyond public health mandates.
That microweddings are a trend this year exemplifies human resilience and creativity in spite of unanticipated grief and restriction. Weddings, the epitome of an event centered on joy, hope, and love, haven’t ceased, nor has our capacity to experience those virtues. We’ve just adjusted our expectations - and even what we think is desirable - to reflect what we all need now. Microweddings also reflect the pared-down nature of all our social lives, but, as many of us have seen, a quality over quantity mentality has deep benefits. One-on-one phone calls instead of crowded bars; or a ten-person wedding instead of 500 offers intentionality, connection, and intimacy that we seem to need right now. There was a time - and will be again - for large, expansive celebrations; but this isn’t it. We need depth, not breadth.
Maximalism (or Abundance)
Why have a single flower in a vase when you can have thick layers of lush petals five feet high with replicas of Greek statues interspersed? And that’s just at the guestbook table. Despite the microwedding trend of “less is more”, “maximalism” is also on the rise. Maximalism’s “more is more” motto means “bright colors, sparkle, and a whole lot of texture.” Maximalism is complexity, boldness, redundancy, intensity, and luxury.
Again, this year has changed me. I might have been turned off by maximalism’s relationship to overconsumption and showiness, I actually think this trend about more than “stuff for stuff’s sake.” We as a culture have lived, and are living, at time of great deprivation, grief, strife, hopelessness, and uncertainty. So much of what we hoped and planned has been taken from us -- minimized, you could say. We are reminded daily of what we now lack in opportunity, security, and even material things, activities, services. Maximalism is a response to this feeling of lack. I think of this trend as “abundance,” as maximalism still sounds a bit aggressive and elitist to me. Abundance as a wedding theme identifies and helps to fulfill our need to feel full, whole, cozy, and surrounded by beauty.
Sustainability has been on the list of wedding trends for a while. Couples are choosing eco-friendly decorations, recycled paper invitations, and vegan menu options as they apply their values and global concerns to their planning. This makes sense, given the unmistakable signs that the climate and environment have run amok. For the first time that I’ve seen in wedding trends, “social justice” is also an influence on everything from language included in vows, ethically sourcing dresses and rings, and using registries to give to charity. I see the coupling of environmental sustainability and social justice as mirroring this grouping in advocacy and in public values. No longer separate, unrelated issues, Justice with an inclusive, capital J, includes all aspects of our culture. That Justice is influencing weddings, which have had an a-political, dreamworld status, signifies to me that these movements are now deeply embedded into culture.
Weddings today are more secular or “spiritual but not religious” than in previous eras. However, the mysticism trend incorporates symbols and rituals that began as indiginous arts in various cultures but have been incorporated into modern secular-spiritual culture. For weddings, this includes cultivating aromas from sage or palo santo smoke or diffused essential oils; placing stones or crystals with specific meaning in specific places; and incorporating divination practices like tarot cards. These elements add to the aesthetic of the wedding celebration- and, for many, the energy, aura, intention, and meaning of the space and gathering.
In times of collective hardship like war, famine, disease, large-scale loss of life, and economic depression, people historically have returned to spiritual and religious practices. This wedding trend points to the same phenomenon in our culture today, as we respond to the multiple crises in which we’re immersed. When the world seems chaotic and even dangerous, we look for the grounding of ritual, mediated by elements of the natural world (like stones, smoke, water).
Find your trend
Weddings are recognized and celebrated across every demographic category that seem to divide us more often than not. Wedding trends, therefore, are a sort of informal yet complete poll of the culture, an aggregate of circumstance, preference, and emotion. The way that these trends identify and respond to our collective longings give us all something to think about, even if we’re not planning or attending a wedding any time soon. We can all reflect on what our spirits are feeling in this moment - and what the antidotes and balms are for peace, healing, and joy.
At Urban Designer our wooden watches and wooden rings are appropriate for weddings of any size - from macro to micro and everything in between. While our styles are not immediately identifiable as “maximalist,” our abundance comes in the gifts of our designers, the quality of the materials we use, and the heart with which we do our work. Sustainability is always core to what we do, and we are committed to making our beautiful and meaningful pieces affordable and accessible. From the ancient meaning of the koa wood we use to the influence of feng shui in our design to the connection we feel to our customers, we believe our work is infused with a mystical, spiritual element. Whether you are looking for the perfect groomsman gift, anniversary memento, or a personal piece of art, we hope our offerings inspire and comfort you during this extraordinary time.