2014 Wedding Trends: Spontaneous, Social and Shoeless

PHOTO: Bride, Balloons, Bicycle.
Courtesy of Sandals and Beaches WeddingMoons

It’s nearly wedding season, so congratulations to all couples en route to their “I do” moment. We won’t say “en route to the altar,” because altars aren’t a necessary element anymore -– and neither are white dresses, seating arrangements or shoes, for that matter.

Planning a wedding in 2014 is all about finding maximum joy and meaningfulness for the couple and the guests. If traditions fit into the plan, great –- if not, they get a reboot. Here’s what that looks like right now:

PHOTO: The #SocialMedia Wedding.
Courtesy @sothankyoumusic/Instagram
The #SocialMedia Wedding

To hashtag or not to hashtag? That is always a question, and according to wedding expert Rita Moore of La Valencia in San Diego, couples these days either unplug altogether from social media during the wedding – or go the opposite direction and make it a major element throughout. The #socialmedia #wedding includes selfies of every moment, a special #hashtag just for the wedding, and special pages or albums on Instagram, Facebook and beyond.

READ: 10 Amazing Apps to Simplify Wedding Planning

PHOTO: Mindful Favors.
Courtesy Andaz 5th Avenue
Mindful Favors

Frosted glass favors and fussy centerpieces are a thing of the past. Modern couples want decorations and gifts that tie into something experiential and personal. The catering director at Portland’s Sentinel Hotel reports that wildflower seed packets are a very popular wedding favor among nature-loving Cascadians. In the heart of Manhattan, Andaz 5th Avenue’s event manager Chiara Tirapelle created a wall of paper cranes in honor of a poem about cranes that had special significance to the couple. Each wedding guest got a paper crane as well.

READ: Bride Tracks Down Wedding Crashers, Receives Apology

PHOTO: Planned Elopements.
Courtesy of Sandals Resorts
Planned Elopements

Also known as a smaller destination wedding, the quasi-elopement is popular with couples who want to escape from reality, but keep some of the trappings. Romance-intensive resorts like Sandals excel at planning these anywhere from weeks to four hours in advance – for wedding parties ranging from just-us-two (simple and free with an all-inclusive stay) up to 20 or 200 persons.

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PHOTO: Spontaneous Vow Renewal.
Courtesy Grand Wailea
Spontaneous Vow Renewal

Here’s an encouraging trend from the long-term married demographic: Couples who have been married for many years are saying “I do again!” and it’s often the man who sets it up as a surprise. Hotels including Sandals and Maui’s multi-gen favorite Grand Wailea report that husbands are looking to make big romantic gestures-- not only on major anniversaries, but sometimes just to show they care.

READ: 28 Couples with 1,500 Years of Marriage Renew Their Vows

PHOTO: Cakelets.
Courtesy Alizé at Palms Resort Casino
Cakelets

Whatever you do, don’t call them cupcakes. Cakelets -- tiny scale rendition of wedding cakes, complete with multiple tiers and miniscule toppers -- are popping up everywhere these days. Chef Tammy Alana of Alizé in Las Vegas sees couples ordering cakelets as favors, anniversary gifts, and in lieu of one massive wedding cake. She hopes to see (pro tip here, guys) more people ordering them as proposal props in the future.

READ: Love Story Wedding Cake Could Spell Bliss or Divorce

PHOTO: Shoe check.
Jewel Resorts
Shoe check

Barefoot weddings = so romantic. Holding your expensive shoes in your hand while you hike across the sand to the ceremony = such a pain. Hence, the “shoe check” organized by places like Jewel Resorts in Jamaica. Guests are encouraged to be carefree and casual in this beachy spot, with their footwear safely waiting on dry land.

READ: UK Couple Spends $1.50 on Their Wedding

PHOTO: After the Party, Its the?
Palladium Hotel Group
After the Party, It’s the…

Since wedding receptions tend to be for the whole family, planned after-parties are a popular way for the bride and groom to celebrate with friends late into the night. “After the cake is cut and the old folks go home, couples are organizing personalized after-parties in VIP lounges, special tents, or hotel suites, so they can keep the party going,” says Karen Bussen of Palladium Hotel Group, whose “Private Beach Bash” (pictured) is popular with night owls.

READ: Colorado Couples Say 'I Do' To Cannabis Weddings

PHOTO: Silent Disco.
Loden Hotel
Silent Disco

Trying to keep noise down after a certain hour? Wedding guests can still get down on the dance floor – to the beat of music that only fellow guests with headphones can hear. A quirky festival and nightclub popup for several years, “silent disco” is now on offer from certain forward-thinking special event venues like the Loden Hotel in Vancouver.

READ: Trendwatch: Phone-Charging Stations at Weddings

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