Elaborate & Elegant

How 2021 wedding trends are embracing smaller gatherings and focusing on the details


By Giselle Smith
Photos by Tracy Burch Photography


Engagement season is in full swing and 2021 is just around the corner — I can’t say I’m sad to see 2020 go! Giselle Smith here with Goldenrod + Glory Events and Lovely Leaves. I’m excited to share trends that we’ve been seeing take the stage across the U.S. wedding market.


Small, intimate ceremonies and receptions are all the rage. There’s no denying that it’s safer and easier to gather in small groups as we learn to navigate the new normal. Venues that can still accommodate large weddings despite percentage-based regulations include hotel ballrooms and convention centers. The wedding industry has done an exceptional job of pivoting through the pandemic, and we are seeing the most gorgeous tiny weddings. We consider a wedding a micro wedding if the wedding has a guest count under 50.

Backyard Venues & Private Farms

Backyard soirées and elaborate farm weddings are easy with an experienced planner and fab rentals. These work well for larger events, regulations considered. Regardless of the size of your event, you’ll need a tent to protect your guests from the elements (even in warmer weather) plus tables, chairs, linens and very likely many other pretty pieces to make your day magical. Favorites in Kentucky are All Occasions (Louisville) and Bryant’s Rent-All (Lexington) for basically everything you need for the big day. Another Lexington local and boutique rental company, Canvas, carries luxury furniture — think lounge areas, bars, coffee tables, cake tables — you name it.

Dramatic Tablescapes

What couples are saving with small guest counts, they’re spending on finer details including dreamy table decor their guests are sure to “ooh” and “aah” over. Florals have taken a modern turn with fewer greens and more blooms; sometimes these are stand-alone with candles, but using multiple arrangements to fully line tables is a stunning addition to any reception. In linens, we’re seeing a lot of velvet still, but some newer bold metallics are hitting the market, and we’re excited to see where they go. Don’t forget china, glassware and flatware.

Bright, Bold Colors & Holographic Elements

Fashion and design industries seem to be pulling from 90s pop culture with nostalgic Lisa Frank-esque color palettes. The 2020 Pantone Color of the Year — Classic Blue — is finally popping up with counterpart French Blue and is perfect for the nuptials of dedicated UK fans. Pinks and purples, such as Raspberry Sorbet and Amethyst Orchid, are also projected colors for spring 2021.


Beige, Tan, Brown, Gold, Copper, Rust, Yellow and Orange — Wonderfully Warm Color Palettes

Sometimes forgotten, these warm colors bring about feelings of security and comfort. Neutrals and beige are easy to tie in with mixed metals and dried florals, such as pampas grass and palms leaves. Yellows, rust, browns and oranges are naturally found in florals and wooden textures. Whether you’re going for cozy, earthy, modern, or romantic, these colors offer a shade for you and all of them photograph beautifully.

Over-the-Top Invitations

Texture is trending in paper products. Wood and acrylic invitations are higher-priced pieces, but we’ve been pricing them left and right for clients. Gold foil is also popular right now. Something to be aware of is extra shipping costs associated with heavier invitations and even wax seals; I think the look and feel of luxury invitations with hand-written calligraphy are definitely worth the extra cost despite the initial sticker shock.

Small Tables

Smith, table for four? In today’s world of social distancing and safety, table sizes are shrinking. For certain outdoor events, couples are keeping their large guest counts, and instead are cutting the number of guests seated at each table. Typically a 72” round table seats ten with full place settings and a 60” round or 8’ banquet table seats eight. Lately, we are having weddings with additional sizes with 48” rounds seating four to six, 36” seating three and 30” seating two.

Floral Installations

Between micro-weddings and mixed table sizes, dollars saved on centerpieces are now going towards breathtaking floral installations. Floral installations could include dreamy ceremony arches, aisle florals growing from the floor, and flower-adorned fireplace mantles, staircases and chandeliers. Entrances with freestanding floral structures either climbing around the edges or completely around the door are sure to wow guests upon arrival.


Plated Dinners & Tasting-Style Aperitifs

Dinners are moving away from buffets, stations and family-style serving to avoid guests waiting in lines. One benefit to plated meals is more time for actually enjoying the party as plated meals tend to come out faster than guests could make it through a buffet line. Menus at each place setting instantly up the ante and give guests something to look forward to as each course is served. A beautiful bar set up is one of my favorite parts of a wedding, but wine and drinks served tableside are taking precedence. A fun way to incorporate tableside drinks is to have a special drink for each course whether it be a wine pairing or a signature cocktail.

Individual Desserts & Better-Than-Ever Welcome Baskets

Multi-tiered cakes adorned in sugar florals will never go out of style, but individual desserts, either at each place setting or served after dinner, are a neat way to personalize the event. We have one Lexington couple doing beignets and another couple in Louisville doing macarons for their guests. In place of traditional favors, couples are gifting big with customized welcome baskets and bags. Designing and packaging these luxe gifts is a service we have added this year.

Elevated Escort Card Displays

Assigned seating is a must like never before as extra precautions must be made to limit unmasked exposure. Escort cards come in many forms. Sometimes they are actual cards that are folded and set out on a table or showcased on a backdrop accented with florals. Other times they are listed on a sign by table or in alphabetical order. Don’t shy away from creative escort displays, especially if you have a smaller guest count. Place cards (different from escort cards) are typically folded or laid flat at each place setting telling guests which seat is theirs once they find their table.

Stateside Honeymoons & National Parks

Leaving the country is more difficult than before especially for couples who do not have current passports. Wait times are exceeding 6 months on updated travel documents, so many couples are choosing locations within the U.S. to honeymoon. National Parks are popular this year, particularly Yellowstone whether flying into Wyoming or Montana. Beaches will always be a go-to and most are within driving distance from Kentucky (Charleston, Savannah, Rosemary Beach). My all-time favorite vacation is Aspen for a cozy romantic getaway complete with hot tubs, skiing, couples snowmobiles, fine dining and museums.

Giselle Smith
Event Stylist & Planner, Goldenrod + Glory
Instagram @_giselle_smith

Planning & Design: Goldenrod + Glory
Floral Design: Lovely Leaves
Plants: Denizen
Venue: The Haycraft
Dress: Twirl Lexington
Suits: GenTux
Ring Box: The Mrs. Box
Rentals & Decor: All Occasions Event Rentals
Stationery: Studio W Designs
Cake: The Bailey Bakery
Macarons: Sweet T’s Treats