Wedding trends for 2020 focus on one-of-a-kind, totally personalized nuptials, from the cake to the decor.

If you’re planning a wedding this calendar year, you’ve never had it so good. These days, there are lots of new styles, technologies, and products to make your day special.

“Anything that’s unique is going to be popular in 2020,” says Sarah Godby, vice president of sales and marketing with Ritz Charles. “Not that people haven’t always wanted something different, but now they want something unique, artistic, and environmentally responsible, too.”

Here’s a look at some of those up-and-coming options to help you get started.


Cakes Go Boho

Look for a shift away from traditional floral-decorated wedding cakes with intricate piping in favor of sweets with a more bohemian influence. In the coming year, you’ll see confections sporting a combination of airbrushed designs, metallics, textured effects, and natural greenery.

Unplugged wedding trend

In the age of technology, a reminder to turn off cell phones during wedding services.Image by Leah Rife Photo

“Traditional has gone artistic,” Godby says. “It’s really building more of a picture than a decorated cake.”

One example Godby mentions is an all-white base color completely covered with black hand-painted flowers. Traditional florals will always be around, but they’re now smaller in scale and often paired with metallics for an updated look.

You’ll also see decorative touches that include edible flowers such as nasturtiums or vine-like wrapping created with rosemary. “People don’t think about herbs as something that can be used on a cake,” Godby says. “But now we put them in everything, whether it’s lavender, thyme, and lemon cakes or sage in a signature leaf. People love that natural green element and feel.”

Tiles and geometric prints are also inspiring frosting patterns. Godby notes one creation that resembled marble, complete with painted gray veining.

The ombre effect, all the rage several years ago, is making a comeback—with a twist. Instead of graduated shades and tints of one color, today’s bakers use the same technique with multiple hues. Often, these are muted tones, a hot palette for 2020. Metallics such as gold leaf, rose gold, and bronze are combined with different textures to add even more pizzazz to the ombre gradation.

Naked or semi-naked cakes will also receive a makeover. “We’re seeing a lot of those because they tie into that natural trend,” Godby says. “But I think we’ll start to see a few more embellishments on them because brides are going for that painted look.”


A Catered Affair

Unique wedding altar and reception venue

A guitar placed as a memorial is displayed prominently at the altar and the reception venue.Image by Leah Rife Photo

Trying to decide if you should go with a plated dinner, family-style service, a buffet, or food stations? The Ritz Charles has observed two dining options gaining popularity: 1) a traditional sit-down meal with modern flavors and a more contemporary presentation, and 2) grazing tables.

“With grazing tables, guests can socialize,” Godby says. “There’s food all evening. I think that’s something guests enjoy.”

These spreads often include local cheeses and meats, along with healthier vegetables such as roasted Brussels sprouts and beets.

As people become increasingly eco-conscious and environmentally aware, Godby has noticed more clients asking where the Ritz Charles sources its food and what its recycling practices are. A recent wedding party requested that everything be compostable.

At The Willows at Westfield, formal, plated sit-down dinners and buffets are often requested, with hickory-smoked beef brisket and Alabama chicken being the most in-demand dishes among bridal clients. Prior to the meal, Miranda Kessler, catering sales manager for Crystal Catering at The Willows, finds more brides are opting for passed appetizers rather than the more traditional cheeses, fruits, and vegetables displayed on trays.

“People want servers to walk around with bite-sized hors d’oeuvres and offer them to guests,” Kessler says.

It’s not only a convenience for attendees, but this delivery method increases the variety of offerings circulating the room. Crowd-pleasing items on the menu include steak skewers, sweet potato crostini, and buffalo chicken spring rolls.

Godby and Kessler are both seeing an upsurge in the variety of dietary restrictions and special requests.

“It’s not just the standard vegetarian option or nut allergy, it’s everything,” Kessler says. “And gluten-free is becoming way more common.”

If you have a special drink in mind that you’d like to have served, you’re in luck. “The signature cocktail that was popular eight or 10 years ago has started to come back,” Godby says, “but now they are using herbs such as lavender, thyme, or a sage leaf as a garnish instead of an olive or an orange slice.”

Craft beer, gin, and vodka are falling out of favor at the bar. What’s in is darker liquors—bourbon and whiskey—and new spins on classic favorites like the Old Fashioned.

The bride and groom may have a traditional wedding cake that is reserved just for them, but guests will likely be served a selection of miniature desserts. “We are definitely seeing more doughnuts and dessert bars with different options,” Kessler says.

The most prominent single-serve treats are doughnuts, cupcakes, dessert shooters and bars, cookies, and slices of pie and cheesecake.


Set The Stage

“What’s on the horizon is more of a totally thematic and custom wedding,” says Scott Evans, owner and president of Evans Audio Visual and Wow-Factors Event Rental & Decor. “People are going to a one-of-a-kind wedding and they have very specific items that they want.”

When it comes to dressing the tabletops, Evans says gold flatware is a sought-after luxury accessory. “It’s one of those statement pieces,” he says. “Brides who want their weddings to stand out are going for gold or gold-trimmed flatware for its simple elegance.”

Glass chargers, customized with decals and edging details, and designer wine glasses in black, gold, pink, or amber also grace tables.

Especially in high-end weddings, you’ll spot terrariums filled with succulents and other living plants used to decorate the dining and bar areas. Terrariums can even be mounted on glass and suspended from the ceiling. “That’s a really cool decoration for tight spaces,” Evans says.

Unique lighting is another way to make the decor shine. Uplighting is being replaced by more specialized illumination such as texture lighting, which projects brightness through an image such as broken glass to create dimension and visual interest.

Massive chandeliers decorated in greenery contribute to a lush atmosphere in wedding and reception venues. Wow-Factors recently created a 12-foot-diameter chandelier wrapped in greenery with nine fixtures hanging at different heights. “I think a lot of people don’t realize that’s available here in Indianapolis,” Evans says. “Now, anything you can get in L.A., London, or New York, you can get here in Indianapolis.”

Evans says starlight LED surfaces will be the hottest trend in specialized flooring for 2020. “It looks like a night sky with stars moving on the dance floor,” he says. “It’s just a lot of fun.” Another innovative idea for the dance space is to cover a swimming pool in clear acrylic.

Low-lying fog is making a comeback  to create a dreamy environment at the reception. “The couple wants that first dance to be something super special,” Evans says.

He also sees dance floors fully wrapped in custom-printed decals, as well as murals or backdrops placed behind the band or the stage. “People are starting to get more and more into the art of their event,” Evans says.


Capture The Moment

“What I love is seeing couples choosing things that are really reflective of who they are as a couple and not necessarily following tradition,” says Leah Rife, owner of Leah Rife Photo. She’s noticed couples picking venues other than the traditional church—whether it’s a barn, a more industrial setting, or a library—based on what’s important to them.

A couple during their engagement photos

Couples are choosing to return to special sites, such as where they met or had their first dates, for their engagement photos.Image by Heather Sherrill Photography.

That personalized experience is reflected in the photo shoots. One couple Rife recalls had a guitar at the ceremony as a nod to a family member who had passed. They even asked for a portrait featuring the instrument.

Rife has also observed changes in engagement sessions. These images focus on locations or activities important in the relationships. Couples are having photos taken at the sites of their first dates—where they had drinks or shared their first pizza together.

“Nobody used to do that for engagement photos,” she says. “It’s very informal, but it means something to them.” 

Including engagement pictures as part of the photography package allows the couple to get more comfortable in front of the camera before the big day. Rife notes that shots from engagement photo shoots are being displayed on save-the-date cards.

Videography, in conjunction with photography, is becoming more popular, in part because it includes audio input.

Couple dances in a grassy field

Drone videography provides a bird’s-eye view of a couple’s nuptials and reception.Image by Morning Light Film Co.

“We’re seeing more and more couples that understand the value of videography,” says  Josh Nichols of Morning Light Film Co.

“On your wedding day or rehearsal dinner, your family members and close friends are going to say very sentimental things about you. How we capture your day helps you truly remember the day how it was. I think that’s the value,” he adds.

Technology has really ramped up the offerings in videography. Using drone technology to obtain overhead views of the wedding is a fairly recent development that is growing in demand. Lydia Nichols is drone-certified, and Morning Light includes this type of footage in its higher-end packages.

“It’s almost expected now,” she says. But be advised: Not all venues allow drone videography. So, if you want it, be sure to confirm that it passes muster with the wedding facility.

Morning Light doesn’t yet offer it, but couples are choosing to go live on Facebook or Instagram to broadcast their ceremonies. Now, even non-attending guests can see the proceedings. And after all the work you put into planning, staging, and organizing your special day, you want as many people to see it as possible.


Don’t miss Indianapolis Monthly‘s FREE Winter Bridal Show on January 12, 2020 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Sip champagne and enjoy light appetizers as you stroll through the ballroom of bridal vendors.

Brides, register here