2023 Wedding trends and tips from industry experts
Along with so many other things, the last few years have been especially tough on couples planning their weddings. Parties were postponed, guest lists were slashed, and many plans were scrapped altogether. But all that time not spent at the altar has given the wedding industry real reason to celebrate. It’s only the beginning of 2023, and already we’ve seen signs that this year will be the biggest in recent memory for extravagant receptions, décor, dresses, and more.
We are speaking with some of our favorite wedding industry insiders—who also happen to be Paperless Post design partners—about the new wedding trends and comebacks that they can’t wait to see in 2023. Whether you’re planning to get married this year yourself, or just like being in the loop, read on. And check back in as we update this post with new info from the experts!
Stephanie Fishwick working in her studio. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Fishwick; “Swan’s Garden” by Stephanie Fishwick for Paperless Post.
Stephanie Fishwick, Artist and Calligrapher
For more than a decade, Virginia-based illustrator, collagist, and calligrapher Stephanie Fishwick has been crafting imaginative, one-of-a-kind artwork, beloved by newlyweds-to-be on the hunt for beautiful invitations with a definitive point of view, and a story to tell. Her work is whimsical but not precious; fresh but never faddish, with unexpected touches of darkness and humor peeking out between every delicate bloom and tangled vine. Is that a fawn with fangs nestled among pink rose buds? Yes—and he’s delighted to be here. (Check out our exclusive collection of Stephanie Fishwick invitations to see what we mean.)
With her pen nib on the pulse of today’s wedding trends, Ms. Fishwick knows more than a thing or two about what modern couples want for their big day. Below, she shares what she’s most excited about for weddings in 2023.
“Blue Jays” by Stephanie Fishwick for Paperless Post; photo courtesy of Stephanie Fishwick.
What trends have couples been requesting going into 2023, especially now that the pandemic seems to have passed its peak?
With so many couples postponing their nuptials for a year or more during the pandemic in order to travel for the occasion, we’re now seeing a return to multi-day destination weddings. There are also larger guest lists and big wedding parties—a far cry from the micro-weddings we all got used to seeing!
As far as style and décor is concerned, the ’90s nostalgia that is trending in fashion and elsewhere carries over to event design. Traditional wedding elements like tall candelabras and lush, opulent floral arrangements with fruit and expensive ceramics seem to be making a comeback. Cakes have become more elaborate, and minimalist/ikebana-style floral designs are being replaced with a more is more look. Mood boards are filled with super-romantic extravagance, warm hues including cream, pale lavender, pale peachy pinks, and rich, inky blue shades, and palettes of colors that occur in the florals themselves. And texture is important in 2023—layering fabrics and materials like lace, velvet, silk, vicuña, and linen.
“Provence” by Stephanie Fishwick for Paperless Post; video courtesy of Stephanie Fishwick.
Tell us about a trend you’ve been incorporating recently in your invitation design.
Viv, the Stephanie Fishwick studio manager, noticed that we have had an uptick in inquiries asking for simply beautiful, classic calligraphy on gorgeous paper. It’s a more traditional option that highlights the calligraphy itself. In fact—and I give Viv all the credit for this!—we’ve added a package back into our offerings called “The Petit,” which is a suite with no artwork, just calligraphy. And there’s been a trend back towards formal copperplate, my most elegant style of formal calligraphy.
“Ivy Tangle Photo” by Stephanie Fishwick for Paperless Post.
What’s been inspiring your most recent work?
Right now, I’m very inspired by a stack of vintage French fashion magazines and some very old comic books I found about romance and weddings. I have a file folder of artwork I’m constantly adding to. I’m always on the hunt for unusual clippings to collage—I’m currently working on creating patterns for a side project with old tapestry clippings.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Fishwick; “Raspberry Blossom” by Stephanie Fishwick for Paperless Post.
You’re known for your illustrations of flora and fauna, in a range of styles. What advice do you have for couples who are at the beginning of the wedding planning process, but haven’t yet settled on a style or theme?
Let the location of the wedding guide you in narrowing down the many options that exist for styling. I think working with local artisans, craftspeople, and vendors and honoring their traditions wherever the event is taking place is important.
“Love Leaves” by Stephanie Fishwick for Paperless Post.
What’s one thing you think every wedding in 2023 should have?
It’s such a nice touch to greet all guests with a special drink upon arrival. I have friends and family members who are sober, and have noticed that, quite often, the only options are booze and seltzer. It’s cool to have a cocktail for those who drink, but to also have alternatives for those who don’t. Some of our clients have addressed this at their events with an alternative specialty mocktail, but it could even be something simple like a luxurious, high-quality tea.
Photo courtesy of Stephanie Fishwick.
Jimmy Leclerc, Executive Pastry Chef of Ladurée US
If you’ve ever happened upon one of Ladurée’s locations and managed to not walk inside, congratulations—you might just be one in a million. Each artfully designed tea room is practically bursting with irresistible French confections, from éclairs and millefeuille to its famous rainbow-hued macarons.
As a world-renowned dessert destination, it’s no wonder that brides and grooms looking to add a bit of je ne sais quoi to their big day often turn to Ladurée for spectacular wedding cakes, too. We spoke with Executive Pastry Chef of Ladurée US, Jimmy Leclerc, to get the inside scoop on what sweet stuff couples are requesting for 2023. (By the way, be sure to check out our exclusive collection of Ladurée invitations, too.)
Chef Jimmy Leclerc piping a wedding cake. Image courtesy of Ladurée US; “Ruban D’Or” by Ladurée for Paperless Post.
What are some trends you’ve noticed brides or grooms asking for in 2023?
Flower power, including all-floral decorations and flower-flavored wedding cakes, is trending. And ever since the pandemic, outdoor weddings have felt safer, and therefore more popular. We’re seeing more weddings in gardens and parks, and people enjoying the fresh air and being outside.
“Fantaisie” by Ladurée for Paperless Post; Table setting at Blenheim Palace. Image by Katie Julia.
What’s the inspiration behind your most recent work?
I’ve been focusing on seasonal products, and trying to respect what every season brings us in terms of fruits, flowers, etc. We do our best to work with local produce and producers.
Ladurée is known for exquisite French desserts, in a range of classic and unique styles. What advice do you have for brides or grooms who are at the beginning of the wedding planning process and trying to decide on a style or theme?
Go with your heart. This is your day, and it should make you feel the happiest. Every design, flavor, and concept is possible, so imagine your dream wedding and go for it. There is always a way.
“Trianon” by Ladurée for Paperless Post.
What’s one thing you always do when planning an event?
Organization is key. Every detail should be on a schedule and done on time. I highly recommend always being one step ahead to try to foresee the unpredictable as much as possible.
Any last advice for brides and grooms in 2023?
Take your time to plan ahead. Choose a wedding planner who listens to your every idea—even the wildest ones. Most importantly, come to Ladurée to design your dream wedding cake.
Tiered Ladurée wedding cake. Image courtesy of Ladurée US; “Grand Palais” by Ladurée for Paperless Post.
Stefanie Cove, Celebrity Event and Wedding Planner
When members of the in-crowd want to turn their wildest wedding dreams into reality, they go to Stefanie Cove. The celebrity event planner and producer, whose glamorous clientele includes A-list actors and supermodels, is known for her impeccable taste, boundless creativity, and seemingly endless resources. Over the past 15 years, she’s built her reputation on attention to detail and the ability to weave her clients’ own tastes into every production she and her eponymous business execute.
As one of the most sought-after party planners in the industry, Stefanie designs weddings for trendsetters and often winds up setting trends herself. We spoke with her about what her clients are loving for 2023 (hint: intimate events and guest gifting) and what they’re very much over (bye, boutonnieres!). Read on.
Celebrity wedding planner Stefanie Cove. Image courtesy of Stefanie Cove; “Flying High” by Paperless Post.
What are some trends you’ve noticed brides or grooms asking for in 2023?
Since the pandemic, I have seen many clients looking for multi-day destination events. Everyone wants to spend more time with their friends and family and turn their wedding into a long weekend experience. More than ever (music to my ears, as this has been a long-time priority for us), couples are expressing that they want their guests to have a seamless experience from start to finish—the travel, the events, everything. There seems to be much more care in that area since COVID.
I’ve also been getting requests for larger engagement parties at home paired with smaller, more intimate destination events for immediate family and friends only. This way everyone is included in the engagement party and does not need to be invited to the more intimate wedding. And clients have been moving away from welcome bags and giving their guests a beautiful note and gift instead, oftentimes locally sourced.
Fashionwise for grooms, I’m seeing custom pocket squares instead of boutonnieres. I like that we are moving away from that trend.
What are your biggest sources of inspiration for events?
Our inspiration is always architecture, travel, and art. Less bridal and more thoughtful. We love the unexpected when it comes to weddings, or a striking juxtaposition. We design with purpose, using the natural beauty of where we are working. We are lucky enough to travel a great amount for what we do, so we are always looking for new inspiration around the world. The clients are also our inspiration—hearing and seeing what they like from a design perspective, and turning it into an event that feels just right and never overdone while still representing them.
“Pink Tie Affair” by Paperless Post; Photo via Abby and Lauren.
What advice do you have for brides and grooms who are at the beginning of wedding planning and trying to decide on a style or theme?
I think it is always best to reflect your personality and likes at your wedding. Don’t try to make your wedding what others want—it should just be about the two of you. Nothing has to look like a clichéd wedding unless you want it to. I have many clients who want a “wedding” but in the form of an amazing and sophisticated dinner and party. There are no rules anymore, and I don’t believe in doing everything traditionally—unless that’s what YOU want! And it’s important to think about what you will still love 25 years from now.
Photo via Abby and Lauren; “Leiden” by Paperless Post.
What is one thing you always do when planning an event in general / one thing you think a great event is complete without?
One really unique and very important part of our process is the way we interpret design. Once we have immersed ourselves in our clients’ likes and dislikes, especially with key elements like food they love, which colors they gravitate towards, what kind of architecture catches their eye, and, most importantly, what takes priority for them in the overall event experience, we are able to put together an inspiration deck that acts as a guide to walk them through each event and what it will look like. Our goal is to capture exactly what the client is looking for and put it with the correct visuals so that they can envision the event, even if it’s hard for them to articulate it.
“Adored” by Paperless Post; Photo via Fred Marcus.
Any final advice for newly engaged couples in 2023?
Don’t rush, and enjoy! Don’t make wedding planning your full-time job—hire someone who can do it well and make the process fun. And don’t obsess over tiny things; let the professionals do that. Being newly engaged myself, it’s interesting seeing the other side of the process. Friends and family ask A LOT of questions, and it’s stressful! There is no perfect scenario; everyone has to weigh the pros and cons when it comes to location and venue. There are lots of puzzle pieces that all will work out at the end of the day. Organization and having the right people around you is what is most important.
Hero image via Stephanie Fishwick.