Plastic-free ceremonies, buddy moons and zen dos: get ready for wedding season 2019

Natural, pared back but exceedingly personalised is the emerging overall theme for weddings this year, as couples try to put their stamp on their celebrations while keeping things classic and stylish.

While 2018 saw couples fall head over heels for gorgeous greenery, full-on florals are back this year as bouquets get bigger and pretty petals line the aisles of ceremonies nationwide. The trendiest couples are going even further with their statement florals by using alternatives such as pampas grass and circular floral arrangements as ceremony backdrops and centrepieces.

Last year’s wedding buzzword may have been ‘unplugged’ but this year it’s ‘plastic-free’ as couples take a cue from the likes of Princess Eugenie et al and attempt to keep their big day decor as eco-friendly and ethical as can be.

We are becoming more mindful about how we eat and drink, and there’s no better place for couples to highlight their newfound healthy ways than at their weddings, which they are doing with a focus on local Irish produce being served up to the most discerning of guests, and non-alcoholic alternatives such as alcohol-free craft beer and gin on offer for those forgoing the fizz.

The classic, elegant dinner party is returning, albeit without the formal top table as couples adopt every effort to make wedding planning as relaxed and drama-free as possible, and integrate with their guests to immerse in the day.

Colour-wise, ‘Living Coral’ was announced as Pantone’s Colour of the Year for 2019 and while it may creep into high summer weddings, as a tricky colour to wear it’s likely that brides will side step this one in favour of easier-to-style purples and pinks.

Elsewhere, alternative celebrations including the chilled out ‘zen do’ are making waves with those who are favouring a relaxed weekend with their pals ahead of the Big Day, while those wanting to really extend the celebrations are opting for the ‘buddy-moon’. A second dress for the reception is now very much a thing for fashionista brides, while hyper personalisation with custom illustrations of the couple and hand written notes for each guest could be expected at some of the more romantic, intimate soirées.

Of course, when it’s all done and dusted couples can look forward to doing it all again at their the 10-year anniversary vow renewal ceremony — another huge trend trickling down from celebrities who are finding that they want to do it all again!

For now though, here’s a closer look at some of the top trends for the wedding year ahead…


Paperless & plastic-free

One of the major focuses for the individual this year has been to become more aware of the plastics we use in our daily lives, and to make a concerted effort to reduce waste. And while when Princess Beatrice proudly declared to British Vogue ahead of her big day last year that her wedding would be ‘plastic-free’ many rolled their eyes, she did further highlight that it’s not just in our day-to-day lives that we could be more mindful about what we use and throw away. With that in mind, many couples this year are looking to reduce their footprint (and bonus — save a bit of cash too) by going paperless with their wedding invites and/or save-the-dates, attempting to cut down on the plastic waste produced from their weddings, and choosing to go local for food and decoration.

Reusable, hired or borrowed decor, coaches for guests instead of their individual cars, donating flowers or reusing them for next day celebrations and thinking twice about hen party outfits or photo booth props are just some of the ways couples are attempting to reduce the impact of their big day. When it comes to DIY projects, ethical couples are choosing glass over plastic and opting for stationery suppliers who use recycled paper and local printers to create their products. Guests are getting in on the action by restyling their wedding outfits and wearing them again à la Kate Middleton. So-called ‘ethical’ or eco-friendly weddings are nothing new, however people are more aware than ever of the effect of their choices on the planet, not least those choices they make for a lavish affair like their nuptials.


Big florals

When it comes to decor, bringing the outside in is the order of the day for weddings in 2019. Many saw the huge impact huge florals had on the likes of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex last year, and are opting to go big on the blooms and make their florals a real statement feature throughout their celebrations. Whether it’s floral illustrated invites to set the tone for what’s to come, a huge Royal-inspired ceremony arch to welcome guests as they arrive, or candyfloss-feel cherry blossom trees as pew ends, couples are using nature as their backdrop no matter where the wedding may be.

“The trend is moving towards a larger bouquet,” Ruth Monahan from Appassionata Flowers concurs. “These will be loose and flower-centric in style and similar in tone to Dutch Masters with colour and texture. Peonies and vintage garden roses are still the favourite choice, and dusty pink bouquets are proving to be very popular.”

Greenery remains a big favourite this year, both for bouquets and table decor, with florists achieving texture by mixing in various types of eucalyptus, acacia, waxflower and more.


Hyper personalisation

When it comes to weddings this year, everything is personal. Custom illustrations of the couple for the invites and stationery throughout the celebration will offer a whimsical keepsake that’s sure to impress guests, while others are going one step further with custom illustrations of the guests themselves for table plans and place cards.

Photos are still very much a feature, with guests’ carefully dug-up past profile pics perched on their place setting to break the ice, while sentimental couples are taking the idea even further with individually hand-written notes to guests as a way to thank them on the day.

The idea is to make everything as personal as possible for couples this year, from the choice of music in ceremonies to the choice of celebrant for a symbolic, non-legal blessing. If having a friend say the wedding isn’t quite an option, getting family and friends involved by singing, playing an instrument, dancing or adding to the ‘open speeches’ are other ways of making sure the couple’s stamp is put on the day. For those embracing social media, the personalised hashtag is still very much an option.


Natural Minimalism

In keeping with ethical, plastic-free and eco-friendly weddings, minimalism is set to take over this year with many couples paring back decor and making a statement with simple contemporary feel details including bare banqueting tables and typography-led stationery.

Along with the decor, the dress is another item getting the minimalist once-over. Inspired by Meghan Markle’s stunning ‘second’ dress by Stella McCartney, ‘less-is-more’ is the idea when it comes to the sophisticated bride, where the dress is all about an exquisite cut, fabulous fabric and, most importantly, the fit and feel.

Further to that, the make-up-free look that has become the go-to beauty trend this year extends to the wedding day, with brides showing off their glowing, glossy skin — complete with freckles and birth marks — in a bare faced, luminous look.


Cakes: Focus on flavour

While from Pinterest and Instagram it may seem that the focus on wedding cakes is all about their appearance (and height!), couples this year are thinking more about how their cake tastes in order to ensure it goes down a treat with family and friends.

Many are becoming a little more adventurous with their flavours too, and opting for dark and decadent flavours such as velvety chocolate for autumn/winter weddings, or a light lemon buttercream for summer soirées.

“Couples want something different, something they haven’t had before,” says baker and cake designer Caroline Goulding. “My most popular flavours [at the moment] are raspberry, white chocolate and honeycomb; blackberry, elderberry and vanilla cream cheese; and lime, coconut milk and passion fruit curd.”

Jen Rojas of Cupcakes and Counting reveals her most popular flavours for 2019 are equally exciting, including ‘Genuinely Guinness’ — a rich and deep dark chocolate cake infused with a Guinness draught and layered with Bailey’s cream frosting; ‘Salted Carmelita’ — a moist caramel cake layered with salted whiskey caramel and salted caramel frosting; and ‘Lemon and Elderflower’ — a tangy lemon cake layered with fresh lemon zest buttercream frosting and a hint of elderflower.


The zen do

As an alternative to raucous, booze-fuelled hen dos, many health-conscious brides, their ’maids and friends are turning towards rest and relaxation this year as a way to celebrate and recharge batteries ahead of the Big Day.

‘Zen dos’ include everything from yoga retreats to countryside getaways where hikes and healthy meals are the order of the day.

It’s not only the pre-wedding celebrations that are seeing changes this year however, as family-moons and buddy-moons become more popular with couples taking a page from the likes of Meghan Trainor and Gwyneth Paltrow by bringing their friends, siblings, kids and/or ex-husbands (!) along on their more-the-merrier honeymoons.


What else we’ll be seeing over the wedding season

Colourful groom suits


1. Wedding dresses with pockets

2. Brides in tiaras and bandeau headpieces

3. Smoke bomb photos

4. Animals

5. Non-alcoholic signature drinks

6. Colourful and printed grooms suits

7. Signs everywhere

8. No formal top table


Trend flashback

Last year in the Weekend wedding special we predicted the wedding trends for the year ahead. How did we do?

1. Greenery accents 2. Neon signs 3. Handfasting ceremonies 4. Hoop bouquets 5. Fluid wedding parties 6. Open air speeches 7. Signage 8. Unplugged celebrations 9. Unique ceremony locations 10. Detachable skirts


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