The Hottest New Wedding Trends for 2016

It's going to be a great year for weddings! We've got the most exciting new ideas for décor, flowers, cakes, music and more.

The Cake

They look too pretty to eat, but that won’t stop us from slicing into these awe-inspiring cakes.

gold and pink wedding cake
Photo courtesy of Erica O'Brien Cakes

Back to buttercream. After taking a backseat to fondant-covered cakes, buttercream textures are in demand again, says Erica O’Brien of Erica O’Brien Cake Design in Hamden, Connecticut. “Brides are liking the more organic finish that you get from traditional buttercream,” she says. What keeps these cakes from being stuck in the ’80s are contemporary colors for the blooms and different textures.

Ooh, la la! Speaking of frosting, sometimes you just don’t need it. “Naked” cakes, which are unfrosted (or partially frosted) and simply adorned with berries or fresh flowers, are trending from coast to coast — and at both relaxed receptions and more formal affairs, says Nataly from the Great Dane Baking Company in Long Beach, California.

naked wedding cake
Photo Credit: Natalie Schutte Photography

Brush strokes. Hand painting is another versatile trend, lending itself to a bohemian vibe or something more luxe and elegant. This is a great way to pick up the motif of your dress or your invitations (especially if they’re also hand painted). Or try it just for the wow factor.

Decadent flavors. No doubt couples have a more sophisticated palate these days. A vanilla cake just won’t do anymore, says O’Brien. One of her most requested flavors for 2016 is salted caramel. Others on the rise: white chocolate mousse, lemon, champagne, lavender-vanilla, apple spice, green tea and chai latte.

The Music Report

The songs and sounds for 2016.

The more the merrier. The days of picking between a DJ or a band are over. “Couples are viewing each aspect of their wedding celebration as an opportunity to bring in different entertainment options,” says Antonia Christianson, founder of Antonia Christianson Events in Virginia Beach. For example: a cabaret singer to serenade guests during the cocktail hour, a retro orchestra to add to the ambiance at dinner and a rocking dance band or DJ to keep people moving well into the night.

Mix things up. “Just a few years ago the trend was to do contemporary music only — Beyoncé, Rihanna, Katy Perry,” says Alex Donner, leader of New York City’s Alex Donner Orchestra and Alex Donner Entertainment. “But now I’m seeing more requests for a blend of retro to contemporary. Lately I’ve seen more interest in Elvis numbers — it’s fun and people haven’t heard it in awhile.”

Focus on your roots. Greek bands, bluegrass, Motown…whatever music matches your culture and heritage should become a part of your special day.

The Photography Report

These are the share-worthy photography and video trends you’ll want to focus on.

bride and groom
Photo Credit: Womble Photography

Epic action shots. Couples are requesting shots like doors slowly opening for a bride to walk down the aisle, a mom or dad wiping their tears or an aerial shot of the dance floor, say Joann and Mark Anthony of Nineteen Studios. “These are the images that really tell a story,” they say.

Ready to share. Chances are you already have your wedding hashtag, now consider setting up a selfie station at your reception. And make sure your guests know when to click (ceremony, no; anywhere else, absolutely) and how to post.

Old and new. “We’re finding a rise in clients asking for a mix of film and digital,” say Los Angeles-based photographers Miki and Sonja Rakicevic. “Each offers their own look.”

Just the highlights. “Sharing has become such a hot commodity, so more couples are valuing the short highlight films that are easily shared online,” says Shannon Acevedo of Hoo Films. These are snippets that videographers turn around soon after the celebration, while everything’s still fresh in guests’ minds. The fully edited film comes later.

Try this trend: Drones and Google Jump virtual reality videos offer immersive viewer experiences.

More big-picture trends from Professional Photographers of America:

  • Photos for days. Couples are booking PPA photographers for more than just the big day itself, hiring pros to capture the entire wedding weekend — sometimes even an entire week — with family and friends, to ensure the full-on experience is forever on film.
  • On-site retouching. Driven by the "now" factor of social media, PPA photographers are adding a photo editor to the crew. This allows for a select batch of fully retouched images to be created on-site for instant social sharing.
  • Traditions be gone. Many brides and grooms not only want to see each other before the wedding, they also want to capture those private, connected moments in their photos. Nore and more, PPA photographers are being asked to include these special pre-wedding moments on the shot list.