2021 saw a major increase in weddings in America as vaccines rolled out and mandates were reduced. According to leading wedding resource The Knot, 2022 is set to host the most weddings in recent history, 2.6 million. Couples and wedding professionals continue to adapt by prioritizing health and safety to move forward with celebrations, including those that were postponed from 2020.
98 percent of those set to wed in 2022 are confident their wedding will take place as scheduled. 81 percent of couple will implement at least one health or safety measure on their wedding day, such as having hand sanitizer readily available or requiring guests to be vaccinated. The average guest size in 2022 is projected to return to pre-pandemic numbers at 129 (131 guests in 2019).
Hannah Nowack, editor at The Knot, says that many wedding trends that have risen to prominence in recent years will continue their popularity in 2022. Mini cakes and individual desserts, which were big (no pun intended) in 2021, will continue to be a mainstay. Not only are they safe for guests, but they allow couples to choose a variety of flavors instead of settling on one.
“Many couples may order a single-tier cake so they can do a ceremonial cake cutting, but then fill the menu with three or four beloved desserts guests can enjoy in individual portions,” Nowack says.
As far as wedding cake decorating and the themes that will be utilized, Nowack says that there has been a return to bold color palettes in weddings and that trend extends into wedding cakes.
“Couples are excited to throw an epic party and they’re choosing vibrant, celebratory colors, like magenta, to ensure the cake’s aesthetic fits the vibe of the day,” she says.
For those looking to match the wedding cake with an overall theme, Nowack suggests replicating patterns seen elsewhere in the wedding, like on a wedding dress or as part of a table linen, onto the cake. This creates more cohesion within the overall wedding design and couples get a cake that feels more personalized to them.
Another way to spruce up a wedding cake, especially in the spring and summer months, is to use pressed flowers. This has been a popular trend for a few years and continues to be extremely useful in decorating. Given the move toward bold colors, pressed flowers are a great option that can add a variety of shades to a tiered confection.
Nowack says that art is a major source of inspiration for many of the cakes at weddings these days.
“For example, bas relief, an art form seen in sculpting, is gaining favor with couples who want a feeling of Old-World charm in their confection. Additionally, abstract, structural details, often made from sugar work, are popular for couples looking for a modern, clean, minimalist look.”
Everyone wants a beautiful cake, but making it appetizing for guests is also imperative. Many couples continue to choose classic flavors like vanilla and red velvet, but for those who want something a little more unique, citrus is especially popular.
Citrus fruits and berries, such as limes, oranges, blueberries and raspberries, are rising in popularity in baked foods, according to Bryan Fitzsimmons, senior manager insights and client experience at Dawn Foods Global.
“Now more than ever consumers are seeking out foods like these that deliver both great taste and functional ingredients that are going to help their overall health. Desserts are no exception,” Fitzsimmons says.
Other wedding food trends
Individual portions at weddings are not limited to desserts. 2021 saw a rise in individual servings, like individual charcuterie boards and canned cocktails. Couples are leaning into upgraded individual foods, Nowack says. Some examples of this are individual sushi flights, caviar tastings and dessert platters.
“Instead of simply doing individual servings as safety precautions, couples are turning their meals into an experiential affair,” she says. “With that we're also seeing the emergence of storytelling that can happen through leveling up the catering menu—some couples are crafting their menu around their love story by including wine from their first date or a dish they ate while on an especially memorable vacation together.”
Seasonality and locally sourced dishes are becoming more prevalent at weddings. Couples are thinking holistically about the impact that their wedding is having on the earth and economy, and thus are emphasizing booking local caterers that focus on seasonal ingredients as a way to be more conscious with the menu.
Couples will also look to bring the fun to their menus. Nostalgic dishes that remind couples of beloved childhood memories or memories they shared early in their relationship, are popular. Fitting examples of this includes chicken tenders as a late-snack snack or a soft pretzel station during cocktail hour, snacks that make attendees feel young again.
Another fun option is to bring in a food truck later in the evening. Food trucks have been a popular late-night snack option, especially when offering something indulgent like tacos, burgers or doughnuts.
“Couples like the idea of mobile food because it turns dining into a fun experience guests can be more involved in,” Nowack says.
The 2022 wedding boom
In February, The Knot, an authority in wedding planning, advice and resources, released The Knot 2021 Real Weddings Study, which captured responses from more than 15,000 couples who were married in 2021.
The study revealed that many factors impacted by the pandemic in 2020 are back to pre-pandemic numbers. Only 10 percent of couples needed to change their wedding location in 2021 (45 percent in 2020).
Additional findings from the study:
- In 2021, 85 percent of couples incorporated at least one health and safety measure into their wedding, with three on average.
- On average in 2021, couples spent $34,000 total on their wedding, including ceremony, reception and engagement ring, back in line with 2019 spending.
- Couples who wed in 2021 were engaged for an average of 16 months and 75 percent of those who got engaged in 2021 have already set a date for 2022.
- 75 percent of couples utilized digital wedding planning platforms, like The Knot, and 84 percent created a wedding website to share their wedding details with guests.
- On average, couples hired 14 wedding professionals – from florists to planners – to help them plan and execute their weddings.
“Couples, guests and wedding pros alike are demonstrating how far we’ve come in the last two years as the desire to celebrate is stronger than ever. This year will not only be the year with the most weddings in recent history, but also starts to welcome the next generation of couples - Gen Zers - getting married,” says Lauren Kay, executive editor of The Knot. “Gen Z is a uniquely diverse generation and particularly eco-focused; as a result, we’re seeing personalization take center stage like never before.”