Current trends in the wedding industry

What’s 'in' at the moment in South Africa

The wedding industry in South Africa is continually changing and evolving, which means that trends tend to come and go. From lunch weddings, surprise ceremonies and winter weddings: we have 17 trends for you.

1. Lunch weddings are definitely a very catchy trend – not only are they cost effective, saving on the lighting and drinks bill, but they are a funky alternative to the usual evening wedding.

2. Backyard weddings are also extremely fashionable at the moment. The return to simplicity and the homely feeling of one’s parents’ home has become trendy. The 'shabby-chic' farm-type wedding can easily be achieved by making use of the types of glassware and vases that you remember seeing on your grandparents’ dining table as a child.

3. Buffet to the table has taken the industry by storm. Tables are served large bowls of decadent cuisine, which guests can help themselves to. This creates a relaxed vibe, with everyone sharing and passing the dishes around. As far as menus are concerned, preferences tend to lean towards foods such as slow-roasted organic lamb with a sprinkling of lemon juice, olive oil and oregano, served with tabouleh salad, tzatziki with organic low-fat yoghurt, whole-wheat bread and a fresh herb salad. Note how unprocessed grains such as tabouleh are being paired with local produce to emphasise the use of organic foods at weddings.

4. Modern couples love to create a surprise element for their guests nowadays. Many couples opt to host the ceremony in a romantic stone chapel in the winelands with the reception at an eclectic seaside venue. It has become a trend for the reception venue to be kept a secret until after the ceremony!

5. Winter weddings are a great way to utilise 'down time' in the industry, when one gets great deals! Points to remember are that the use of pinstriped fabric and damask table linen is a popular trend during the winter months, as it speaks of luxury and quality. Muted colours, coupled with charcoal, grey and off-white is a classic and timeless option. Romantic candlelight, crackling fire places, your granny’s silverware and dripping candles on candelabras create an old-world feel, as if time is standing still – also a popular idea for winterweddings.

6. Planning the menu around seasonal products available at the time of the wedding, and using fresh, organic produce has become very popular with those conscious of their carbon footprint. It‘s clear that wholesome foods are coming to the fore, and an emphasis is being placed on bistro-style cuisine and buffet-to-the-table menus rather than the more traditional three course meals. Included in this trend is the novelty of having alternating starters. The ladies can, for example, be served a lightly seared yellow fin tuna with miso mayonnaise and paired with a daikon and coriander salad drizzled with a vanilla dressing, and accompanied by limes with roasted sesame seed panacotta. A duo of game consisting of kudu tartare on parsley purée served with a gebriche sauce, and lightly salted Springbok loin on beetroot puree and bronkhorst can be prepared for the men.

7. Creating reclining quarters by means of ottomans, couch clusters and Ibiza-style daybeds, is always a very trendy idea. The music and lighting colours are important aspects in creating different atmospheres and ensuring that this kind of change is effective.

8. Projecting the bride and groom’s favourite movie or a black and white film on a screen or white wall near the dance floor to add to the ambience of the evening, has become a very popular choice.

9. Intimate, destination weddings for only closest friends and family have become exceedingly popular as opposed to over-the-top grand affairs for 300 guests.

10. Asking guests to donate to your favourite charity, has become a popular alternative to giving gifts.

11. Cocktail weddings are becoming more and more popular. Weddings are being transformed into casual standing social events. Seating in the form of lounge pockets instead of formally set tables. Guests are also treated with pass-around bowl food and amazing interactive food stations.

12. Some people have tended to opt for 'Boho Deluxe' – raw wood tables, very often using doors as table tops, with no linen, chunky silver and gold candelabras, half melted off-white candles, with a mix of vintage and modern chairs.

13. The Mardi Grass theme is a great way to entertain guests at a street carnival or pre-dinner drinks. Tone it down with neutral colours such as pearly whites, light golds and silvers. Hand out different colour beads to the guests. A jazz duo and barbecued canapés will tie everything together like a real New Orleans party!

14. A funky idea is to take the weather into account and organise umbrellas for the guests. It makes rainy weather far less stressful; no one likes to get their outfit spoiled at a special occasion. Be sure to find umbrellas that are either all the same colour or that match. This makes a feature out of them and can look really pretty.

15. The more traditional perfectly plated desserts are becoming a thing of the past, and canapé-style service is becoming the 'in-thing'. Alternatively, one may wish to serve a dessert extravaganza of a variety of innovative combinations consisting of petit fours and friandise. Guests can also enjoy the chef’s compilation of macaroons, Turkish delight and chocolate truffles throughout the remainder of the evening should they wish to do so.

16. If weddings are an expression of love, then poetry is one of the most touching ways to communicate one’s feelings on the big day. Invitations, place settings and speeches offer the perfect opportunity to include a special poem or quote. The timeless works of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Coleridge, Shelley and Keats are worth exploring, but one can also simply use an extract from the lyrics of a particular song.

17. Laid back entertainment for the wedding day consisting of boule (also known as petanque) is a wonderful game to play. It originated in southern France and has become an extremely popular pastime throughout the country. Boule sets are widely available in South Africa and many of our clients love to include them in their entertainment plans.

This article is a collaboration with the Aleit Group – the leading wedding and event coordinators in South Africa

photographs by Jean-Pierre Uys, Sybrand Cillie, Christine Meintjes and Zarazoo

Are you getting hitched? Have a look at our wedding section to get inspired. For more information on all things Cape Town, subscribe to our newsletter and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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