The season of toasts, nuptials and first dances is almost upon us, so we’re naturally wondering what the hottest wedding trends of 2020 will be. The common thread weaving its way through these celebrations? A shifted focus to more personal, comfortable and real wedding elements. From small guest counts and thoughtful gift-giving to natural greenery and loosened hairstyles, here are some trends you’ll be seeing more of in 2020 (along with some expert commentary and eye-candy photos).

7 Wedding Trends To Look For in 2020

Guest List Trend: Intimate Numbers & Family Gathering

Many planners throughout the South point to wedding guest lists shrinking. In Birmingham, AL, Vulcan Park & Museum has seen a rise in smaller weddings (think 50-70 guests instead of 300). Director of Marketing & Public Relations LaShana Sorrell interestingly credits technology as the instigator for the shift. “With the technological world we live in today, you have access to hundreds of people at a time. Your wedding is something special you want to share with your closest friends and family — then you can share it with the world later,” she says. “We see couples wanting to focus on the people who they interact with (in-person) daily.”

Wedding crowd outside at Vulcan Park & Museum

Birmingham’s Vulcan Park & Museum offers multiple spaces (indoor and outdoor) for weddings of every size. Even if you are in an indoor venue that holds 300 people, you can make it feel cozy for a smaller guest list. Image: Eric & Jamie Photography

Hair Trend: Loosening Up

While past wedding hair trends have leaned toward the more traditional, meticulously coiffed variety, 2020 is looking at dreamier down-dos. “Sleek polished updos seem to have exited the wedding scene and have been replaced by loose, tousled looks,” says Karissa Paulk, store manager of The Gulch Blowout Co. in Nashville, TN. “I feel like we’re seeing brides and bridesmaids wearing their hair down more than we ever have. And the romantic waves are making a comeback.”

Loose romantic braid for wedding trends in 2020

Loose, romantic styles are on-trend for 2020. Image: Karissa Paulk

“The days of structured updos and very cemented hair are gone! Amen!” agrees Mandy Burnett, owner of Harper & Olive Salon, also in Nashville. She also mentions the accessories that accompany this trend. “Large bows, pearl headbands, glam clips and bobby pins steal the show for this year’s bridal hairstyles,” she tells us. “These looks have been seen on the runway as well as magazines, and add such a unique flair to any hairstyle.”

That’s not all we can look forward to. She’s also getting tons of requests for hair bouquets. “Hair bouquets on the runway this season came in all shapes and sizes,” says Mandy. “My personal favorite is the crown. Both fresh flowers and dried flowers, these crowns add a beautiful and romantic edge to your ensemble.”

floral crowns are a wedding trend in 2020

Floral crowns are in! Image: Instagram

Wedding Party Gift Trend: Personalized Items

Brides (and grooms) are moving towards showering their loyal friends with more than just matching bathrobes or cufflinks, and they’re getting really creative. “In the South — and especially here in Alabama — it has become a huge trend among brides to spoil their bridesmaids completely,” explains Kirby Whitehead, owner of A’mano Gifts in Birmingham. “We are talking about a gift to ask the bridesmaids, sometimes a gift during the bachelorette weekend, and then another gift during the actual wedding festivities.”

There is also a new trend of gifting coffee table books because it’s a way to pick a personal, unique memento that the bridesmaid can keep forever. “It will sit on a coffee table or bookshelf for years to come and always be a reminder of a special friendship between the bride and bridesmaid,” Kirby adds.

Variety of coffee table books from A'mano Gifts for wedding presents in 2020

If you are looking for something personal to gift your bridesmaids, include a hand-picked coffee table book to give alongside a pair of matching pajamas. Image: A’mano Gifts

line up of books given to bridal party at Southern hospitality wedding - Jayber Crow

A recent Nashville bride and groom gave a copy of their favorite book Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry to everyone in their wedding party alongside personalized billfolds. Sentimental touches like this will find their way into more weddings this year. Image: Brooke Davis Johnson of BlushByB

Florals Trend: Raw, Natural Greenery

Maybe you’ve noticed a blooming surge of greenery at weddings. From bouquets to massive foliage installations, the outdoors is finding its way into wedding ceremonies and receptions everywhere. “Organic and overrun foliage will be highlighted and requested, especially when it comes to arches and ceremony backdrops,” says Sara-Jane Kerstetter of Nashville planning firm Selah-Vié. “Vibrant and rich natural greens will be emphasized and play a key role as they are incorporated in abundance this year. We love how this trend looks like a forest casually crept into your ceremony.” She continues, “Placing raw greens in spaces beyond the table allows for elements to be connected from floor to ceiling, creating a more aesthetically cohesive setting.”

Belle Meade wedding reception

FLWR in Nashville designed floor-to-ceiling dripping greenery to contrast the crystal and crisp linen at this Nashville wedding reception. Image: Mary Rosenbaum

Instead of trends, Greg Campbell, co-owner of Garden District in Memphis, TN, says the Garden District team prides itself on creating classic, timeless looks. But Greg does expect to see more green this year: green flowers, herbs, berries and moss. “This provides a classic look with a fresh twist,” he says. “Also, green works for any season — green parrot tulips, hellebores, maidenhair fern in March or green amaryllis, Granny Smith apples and cedar in December.” Timeless meets trendy.

Graham Harlin of the Nashville’s Fairlane Hotel tells us he’s loving “big, luscious, naturally cascading bouquets and sprawling asymmetrical greenery.” Other floral trends to watch for include arch installs and even tree installations, bringing elevated, nature-inspired decor to a whole new, floral-forward level.

RELATED: This Bride Was Upstaged By Her Own Flowers

Floral wedding cake surrounded by greenery

When opting for green foliage and florals, you can go for a more natural, earthy look, or you can keep things sophisticated and elegant. The options are endless! Image: Garden District

Green-themed wedding for wedding trends in 2020

A mixture of draping chandeliers and circular tree installations creates a striking visual against the modern decor. Image: Rene Zadori | Designer: Andrea Eppolito

Drink Trend: Custom Craft Cocktails

What’s a wedding reception without fun libations? As we move toward more customized weddings, we see more intriguing new cocktail options. Nashville’s Kristen Winston of Kristen Winston Catering says craft cocktails are all the rage. “Couples are planning cocktails reflecting their style, tastes and heritage, which adds a personal touch.” Many couples will attach fun names to their drinks and serve them with custom ice cubes in various shapes.

Fermented drinks are also making an appearance, according to Graham at the Fairlane Hotel. Interesting selections like kombucha and makgeolli (a lightly sparkling Korean rice wine) can add an exceptional element to the big day.

Cucumber Cooler renames the McBreeze at a recent wedding

Look closely, and you’ll see the “B”-carved ice cube in this craft cucumber cooler served at a recent Nashville wedding. The bride and groom renamed the drink “The McBreeze” Image: Mary Rosenbaum

RELATED: From Florals to Fireworks: This Wedding is a Stunner

craft cocktails are a wedding trend in 2020

Craft cocktails — like the Oh Happy Day — are the new trend in reception beverages. Image: Kristyn Hogan Photography

Registry Trend: Casual Picks

Bromberg’s, one of Birmingham’s go-to spots to register, is a trusted source for registry trends. Julia Glass, Bromberg’s gifts and tabletop buyer, shares that couples are gravitating toward not-so-formal wishlist items, such as everyday dinnerware, flatware and stemware. “Italian pewter has replaced fine silver platters as well as Annieglass serving pieces to reflect a more casual lifestyle,” she says. “Many are still selecting formal patterns for dinnerware, but some will select patterns that can transition from casual to fine with the addition of a salad plate or some other place setting item.”

For brides who register for both casual and formal, mixing-and-matching is a great way to use everything. “Throw out the rule book for a table that is more eclectic, and use something with an emotional attachment (an heirloom piece) with something new and updated,” Julia adds.

Casual dishware as a wedding gift from Bromberg's

This stunning scalloped dish set and brushed gold flatware from Bromberg’s are two examples of some of the more versatile options couples are registering for in 2020. Image: Bromberg’s

Cake Trend: Buttercream Frosting

Natural, entirely edible and less polished cakes are making their way into the scene in 2020. We talked to Lori Laird, the “me” of Memphis’ beloved Cakes by Mom and Me, who, along with her mother, crafts show-stopping cakes. She says they’ve seen a recent rise in buttercream frosting requests. “You know the old saying, ‘What goes around comes around,’?” she says with a laugh. “Buttercream roses and garland from the ’40s and ’50s — and even ’70s and ’80s — are popular again. Couples are moving away from fondant and pearls and towards something more edible.”

asheville claxton farm wedding

This almond cake by Henderson, NC’s Gateaux Cakes and Pastries is adorned with European buttercream frosting and layers of raspberry jam, raspberry mousse and fresh raspberries AND a beautiful waterfall of anemone flowers. Image: Rob + Kristen

Buttercream cake, a wedding trend in 2020, from Cakes by Mom and Me

Buttercream is back! The old-school icing is once again the most-requested. Image: Cakes by Mom and Me

Spot these trends this wedding season or try them yourself if you’re in planning mode.


For more stunning Southern wedding inspiration, visit our wedding archives HERE!