Having a beautiful wedding is wonderful. But throwing a beautiful big day that makes your guests—all of your guests—feel included in an impactful affair? That’s the cord couples are going out of their way to strike.
By Sarah Woods
Couples taking care to make each aspect of their wedding uniquely their own is nothing new. A big day that’s reflective of your special love story is a steadfast trend with staying power. What is new, however, is the length to which 2020 couples are going to ensure their celebrations are also about everyone else. From awareness and inclusivity to built-in givebacks and low-carbon footprints, today’s modern weddings are all about doing good, feeling good and feting it forward.
Here are some cutting-edge “conscious coupling” ideas to take your wedding to the next level when it comes to positivity and impact.
While you can’t control other people—least of which what comes out of their mouths—you can go the extra mile to make sure that your LGBTQ+ friends and family members, and your guests from a rainbow of races and backgrounds, feel seen, heard and, above all, welcomed. First up, consider your place cards. “Identifiers are really important to the LGBTQ+ community [Mr., Mrs., Ms.]. You don’t want to get this wrong because it wasn’t clearly communicated to your calligrapher,” says Chicago Loft Venues’ creative director Joshua Yates. “Sexual identification can be confusing to straight people, so just ask. The fact that you thought to clarify—and educate yourself—will go a long way toward showing them that you care.” Yates also suggests thoughtful toasts and keeping things inclusive when it comes to the menu, too. “Vegetarian, vegan, nut allergies… Best to work alongside your caterer to check all the boxes—and ensure that all of your guests not only have options, but fresh food that tastes good and meets their dietary restrictions.”
CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE
If you haven’t checked your privilege yet, you’re in need of a serious “woke up” call. And nothing screams privileged more than an elaborate, decadent (read: over-the-top expensive) wedding that most people can only dream about. “I’m not at all saying that your wedding shouldn’t be absolutely lovely,” says Yates. “But I do think it’s important for couples to put their priorities in order, figure out what’s fun vs. frivolous, and find that balance between tasteful and showboating. Couples getting married aren’t exempt from confronting the ways in which society privileges some individuals over others, or from reflecting on the different areas in their lives where they have privilege. Being aware of your privileges, and not putting them on display, shows your guests that you are sensitive to how social and systemic inequality has played a role in your life, be that as an advantage or as a disadvantage.”
Sustainable weddings have been gaining steam for some time now, but 2020 is proving to be the year where instead of just a nod or a few green gestures—recycling, duh, or dropping excess food off at a shelter—couples are going full zero footprint (or as close as they can get). Fashion is a good place to start. Think “upcycling”—grandma’s diamond on a new setting, mom’s wedding dress cropped to a high-low hem, vintage accessories with sentimental value. From there, “The best way to approach a green wedding is to vet your vendors from the get-go, asking about the extent of their sustainability efforts,” says Yates. And, according to Yates, it’s all about making myriad micro decisions that add up to minimal total waste. “Eco-friendly invitations, recyclable straws, repurposing your ceremony florals for the reception, wildlife-friendly wedding favours, sourcing locally grown food… All of your efforts add up.” Another greenish trend we’re here for is edible flowers. “You can add pops of organic color to your food plating, ice cubes or desserts,” adds Yates. “And because they are edible—you guessed it—it’s zero waste decor.”
INTO THE MYSTICISM
Wellness, both physical and spiritual, is a priority that’s topping almost everyone’s list. Even before sheltering in place made us all take a long look at our lifestyles, holistic tendencies were trending—proving that gluttony and overindulgence is out while sustainability and self-care is in. This could take shape with simple menu additions like signature mocktails for the teetotaling set or a nutrient-packed smoothie menu for the fitness-obsessed. But what’s really taking off is the enlightenment trend. “We’re seeing more and more couples looking to infuse their fetes with a metaphysical vibe,” says Yates, referencing recent requests for crystals, saging, palo santo, numerology readings and aura photobooths. “Personally I think subtlety is key or things can get too hippie-dippy, and then you lose the elegance factor. Try gifting your guests some rose quartz [the crystal that signifies love], or ask your wedding party to pass around your rings during your ceremony to bless them with some good juju.”
GIVE MORE THAN YOU TAKE
Minimalism is the new maximalism. While wedding registries used to runneth over with 12-piece sets of formal china and gilded serving trays for days, today’s couples often are of the camp that less is more—especially when it comes to stuff. They’re also hyper-conscious that the worldwide pandemic has thrown our country into a recession and that unemployment is at an all-time high. “I think it goes without saying that no one is going to feel good about registering for a $3,000 sterling silver tray from Tiffany & Co. right now when there are millions of people out there struggling with food insecurity, not knowing where their next meal is coming from,” says Yates. “Instead, select a charity that impacts your community and ask for donations in lieu of gifts. If, for example, child hunger is important to you, check out Chicago organizations like Fight2Feed and Rise Against Hunger—and decide where your heart lies. Setting it up so that your guests are donating to those in need, rather than your personal collection of plates and home decor, will leave a lasting impression—and warm-and-fuzzy feelings all around.”