Wedding Season – lasting from late spring through early fall, with weddings typically peaking in June and September – is here, and this year it looks a lot more similar to 2019 than 2020. At Yelp, we decided to take a look at our data to analyze wedding planning trends. After all, millions of people use Yelp to find their wedding service professionals — from wedding planners, DJs, caterers, photographers, bakeries, officiants, party busses, florists, and more. And withYelp’s Request a Quote feature, you can easily find the right professional for your wedding, and get quotes back for services in just a few hours.
The biggest trend? The long-awaited return to celebrations with friends and family. With vaccinations readily available to many Americans, review mentions of terms like “change the date” are increasing, and businesses in the event planning and wedding categories are rising in consumer interest. Review mentions of COVID-19 related terms such as “elope,” “backyard,” “cancel,” “zoom,” “virtual,” “reschedule,” in wedding related categories have fallen off from their pandemic peaks, showing that we’re on the road to weddings as we once knew them.
In fact, several categories, like videographers and florists, have seen consumer interest return to pre-pandemic levels. In order to identify the top trends for 2021 weddings, Yelp’s data science team started by combing through our data for trends in consumer interest and review text. Then we consulted with Yelp Trend Expert Tara Lewis for her expert look at the top trends of the season, as well as some of the top-rated wedding planners on Yelp. In addition to the top trends, we used our data to show where certain wedding-related categories are popping across the country, and name the top-rated Women-owned, Black-owned, Latinx-owned and Asian-owned wedding businesses.
Above: Yelp’s Request a Quote feature can be used to request appointments and quotes for everything from photographers to caterers.
Out with Micro-weddings, in with Extended Minimonies
In the 12 months prior to April 2020, the term “minimony” was non-existent in Yelp reviews mentioning weddings. Flash forward to today, and the term has become a staple of wedding-related reviews. Christine Ong Forsythe at Lavish Weddings, a top-rated woman-owned wedding planning business on Yelp, expects “extended celebrations” to be a big 2021 wedding trend. Though the guest lists are smaller, Forsythe is seeing that brides and grooms want to have as many events as possible to gather and see their guests. Expect to see weddings with a welcome party, after party, excursions like hiking or boating, post wedding brunches, and more.
While talk of micro-weddings remains elevated, it’s on the way down from peak levels during COVID-19; a positive indicator for larger celebrations to come. Especially in the northeast, talk of small weddings in reviews is down 76% from peak pandemic levels.
Tara’s Take: “The 15 to 20 person backyard micro-weddings of 2020 will be much less popular in 2021, but don’t expect brides and grooms to go back to 300 and 400 guest weddings. Minimonies with anywhere from 50 to 100 people will be the star of 2021, and might just stick around for a while. The pandemic has changed how we view celebrations, and we expect paired-back guest lists, but more curated, thoughtful experiences for a smaller number of guests to continue to be sought after by brides and grooms.”
Choosing Vendors with Intention
At Yelp, we’ve seen that people are looking to support minority-owned businesses, and businesses that align with their values. Weddings are no different: Mentions of black-owned businesses in reviews that mention weddings were up 361% and mentions of supporting local were up 127%. This is part of a larger trend we’ve been seeing across all of our categories – supporting businesses that align with your values, whether it’s black, asian, women or Latinx-owned vendors and businesses.
Tara’s Take: “People are more thoughtful about where their dollars are going, and more aware of the fact that they can support businesses in their neighborhoods and communities by hiring them for their wedding celebrations. After complimenting a friend’s engagement ring recently, she noted that it was important to her to purchase it from a women-owned business in her neighborhood. This trend will only continue to rise in popularity as people look for ways to amplify minority voices and support small businesses.”
LaterMoons + Bed & Breakfasts
Even before COVID-19, the minimoon was on the rise. At Yelp, we’re seeing that mentions of minimoons have spiked in reviews (215%), indicating that the return to traditional honeymoons may not be on the horizon. In fact, Yelp Trend Expert Tara Lewis believes the “latermoon” – a one to two week trip several months after a wedding – will be the hottest trend of the 2021 wedding season. Interestingly, mentions of honeymoons, minimoons and latermoons have spiked in reviews of Bed & Breakfasts (up 42%), indicating that couples may be prioritizing cozy, independent hotels over large resorts.
Tara’s Take: “I wouldn’t be surprised if COVID-19 makes the traditional honeymoon as we think of it – where couples drive off to the airport after the wedding ceremony, or leave for a big trip early the next morning – a thing of the past. Increasingly, people are opting to make the most of the wedding festivities with a recovery brunch or pool day, and save themselves the stress of going out of town immediately after. Latermoons are the new honeymoons!”
Forget the Winery, Head to the Distillery
Mentions of weddings have spiked in reviews of distilleries (up 51%), indicating a new trend of weddings at these historic, chic and industrial spaces. Distilleries also offer an opportunity to learn about the area’s culture and history, while enjoying some local flavor – and dancing the night away. Venues like Kings County Distillery in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Garrison Brothers Distillery in Hye, TX, and Sagamore Spirit Distillery in Baltimore, ME, make for great wedding venues.
Tara’s Take: “While wineries and breweries took the wedding venue spotlight in 2019, distilleries have now taken center stage as the hottest new trend to break the mold of the rustic winery wedding. Tuthilltown Distillery in Gardiner, NY has 4.5 stars and 118 reviews on Yelp, and allows for gorgeous weddings right alongside a stream that runs through the property. Like Tuthilltown, many distillers can offer unique experiences for your guests such as private tours and tastings of their iconic whiskey and other spirits.”
Floral Installations Reign Supreme
Consumer interest in floral designers is up 14% in April compared to the same period in 2019, prior to the pandemic, and florists are up 2% from pre-pandemic levels, showing that not only have they recovered, they’ve exceeded their earlier levels. It’s no surprise that floral designers are in high demand, as beautiful floral elements can completely transform and elevate a backyard, hotel or beach ceremony. In fact, Travis Barker recently gifted Kourtney Kardashian with a stunning floral installation for her birthday.
Tara’s Take:“Floral arches, flower walls and elaborate floral installations create a stunning photo-worthy moment, whether it’s an elopement, minimony, or large traditional wedding. Bohemian touches like dried pampas grass and dried palm leaves are a great way to take part in the trend with a less traditional feel.”
Let Them Eat (micro)Cakes
Why have one cake when you can have 50? Review mentions of small and mini cakes in reviews that mention weddings increased 62%. Individual cakes for each guest will be a popular trend at 2021 weddings, and allow for a special touch for every single guest. Brides and grooms can take inspiration from Minnie’s Bake Shop in New York City, which is known for their delicious and beautiful “Minnie” cakes.
Jessica Rolph at 3 Little Birds Event Planning believes that, in addition to mini cakes, weddings in 2021 will feature individual appetizers such as “grazing boxes” – mini charcuterie spreads in beautiful packaging (like those at Grazing Haus in Cape Coral, FL): “There are so many fun ways to create these personal appetizers. We don’t see this going away, and guests love it.”
Tara’s Take: “Microcakes are a trend that started due to smaller weddings during COVID-19, but we predict that the trend is here to stay. Having smaller cakes for each guest also allows you to have fun with it, and couples can try trends like donut cakes (made popular by Angel Food Bakery in Minneapolis).”
Shining Bright with Diamonds
Yelp data shows an increase in mentions for wedding jewelry such as diamonds and wedding bands (up 62%). Though weddings changed a great deal in the last year, Americans are continuing to spend on the associated precious objects: Diamonds. The growth in this category is another indicator of weddings to come post-COVID-19 vaccines. In fact, diamonds are one of the categories that has bounced back to pre-pandemic levels.
Tara’s Take: “Yelp data is showing a bigrebound in review mentions for diamonds and wedding bands. After a difficult year, people are getting engaged and planning weddings and celebrations. I, for one, can’t wait to celebrate love in all forms!”
Romantic Lighting & Lounge Seating
Rolph believes that now more than ever, with intimate celebrations, couples are focused on the details. 3 Little Birds Event Planning is seeing an increase in events with cocktail and lounge style seating, offering a more elegant and homey feel with a beautiful lounge area for guests to sit and mingle – perhaps catching up after a going without spending time together in person. Mina Brightman from Cherished in Hawaii Weddings is looking forward to the trend of outdoor venues illuminated with dozens of flickering candles, creating a glamorous and romantic atmosphere in the evening. “It’s all about lighting to set the mood and ambiance,” says Forsythe.
Jen So, Founder & CEO of Campfire Events, one of the top-rated Asian-owned wedding planners on Yelp, expects to see couples bring the destination weddings to them, with touches of lemons for Italy, or boho touches that evoke Tulum: “Due to the lack of travel in this past year, we predict that many design decisions will center around a destination theme to help transport their guests into a unique space. The focus will be on building an experience, more than ever.”
Where wedding categories are popping*:
Bridal Boutiques: Chicago, IL
Calligraphers: Austin, TX
Caterers: Bridgeport, CT
Diamonds: San Diego, CA
Floral Designers: Salt Lake City, UT
Makeup Artists: New Orleans, LA
Officiants: Las Vegas, NV
Wedding Planners: Sacramento, CA
Venues & Event Spaces: Kansas City, MO
Party Buses: Nashville, TN
The Top 5 Women-Owned, Black-Owned, Asian-Owned and Latinx-Owned Small Businesses for Weddings**:
**In order to identify the top Women-owned, Black-owned, Asian-owned and Latinx-owned small businesses for weddings across the U.S., we used our data to identify businesses with thewoman-owned, black-owned, asian-owned and latinx-owned attributesin categories like “wedding planning,” “florists” and “caterers,” as well as businesses in the “event services” categories that mention “weddings” in reviews. From the candidate businesses, we narrowed the list down through weighing a variety of factors, including average rating and review counts. Finally, we limited the lists to two per state per category, and used human curation to determine the final top 10.