10 Summer Wedding Trends for Modern Brides

By: Julia Layton

Classic wedding trends -- think flower girls with white roses and satin chair wraps -- are classic for a reason. But what if you want to customize your big day?
Classic wedding trends -- think flower girls with white roses and satin chair wraps -- are classic for a reason. But what if you want to customize your big day?
Digital Vision/Getty Images

If you've been to a wedding recently, you know white roses, petal-dropping flower girls and bride-and-groom-topped cakes are no longer required. Not that traditional weddings will ever go out of style -- you really can't go wrong with a petal-strewn, white satin aisle -- but lots of modern brides (and grooms) are choosing something a bit more customized and out-of-the-ordinary for their special days.

In a time when so many people see "different" as "good," practically anything goes in today's weddings, and each year and season brings a new trend, sometimes downright out there, other times simply beautiful, unique and current. Here, 10 trends that can bring some noteworthy and stylish flair to a summer wedding, beginning with a stunning new approach to the bride's bouquet.


10: Jeweled Bouquet

Think flowers are the only way to go? Not anymore. The bridal bouquet has taken a turn toward the sparkly, made partially or entirely of jewels.

The brooch bouquet is one of the most popular, especially custom-made ones that incorporate family jewelry for an extra-meaningful touch. But any jewelry can be used, from gem-laden hat pins and cocktail rings to strands of pearls and waterfall-earrings, which can make dramatic accents.


You can make your own, buy one pre-made or go high-end with a custom creation. There are companies that focus entirely on this unique piece of wedding bling.

Next, a vintage look, re-made.

9: Long Sleeves

When Kate Middleton, actual princess-to-be, walked down the aisle in long sleeves, she revived a look that is starting to cut slightly into the strapless domination of the gown market.

Many brides are now choosing that vintage, classic style, somewhat reminiscent of the 1940s, for their own princess moment. Lace is a fabric of choice, not only for the sleeves, but also as an overlay for the entire gown -- thanks again to the lovely Duchess of Cambridge. Lightweight, open lacework is especially appropriate for an outdoor affair in the warm, summer months.


Long sleeves can be versatile, though: A three-quarter or bracelet sleeve can show a bit more skin, while a full-length satin one can keep you warm for an air-conditioned ceremony. You can also have the best of both lengths by choosing a strapless dress with a matching shrug or jacket that comes off after the "I Do" portion of the show.

Next, good-bye, bridal pastels?

8: Color!

Shades of orange, peach and apricot will look fresh and cheery in a summer wedding.
Shades of orange, peach and apricot will look fresh and cheery in a summer wedding.

No, the pastels and white wedding isn't going anywhere, but summer will be seeing a whole lot more color at some high-style events. Not so much in gowns (although blush is a growing choice), but in décor: The bold colors of the year are popping up in flowers, tablecloths and chair-draping.

Deep pink, bright orange, grass green and teal are popular choices, sometimes in strikingly bold combinations and other times in luscious, monochromatic glory. You'll also likely be seeing a mix of colors in bridesmaid's dresses, as an alternative to the usual one-color-for-all.


Next, the "green" angle.

7: Eco-invitations

Many stationers are now offering eco-friendly invitation choices.
Many stationers are now offering eco-friendly invitation choices.
Inti St. Clair/Photodisc/Getty Images

Eco-friendlier options are everywhere now -- on our roads, in our light fixtures, even in our vegan-leather shoes. So why not in our weddings?

While brides and grooms are making a variety of green choices these days, one increasingly common one is in invitations, perhaps because it's a relatively simple way to reduce a wedding's environmental impact. Recycled paper and natural inks are popular choices in mailed invitations, while some couples are even choosing to skip paper invites altogether, preferring to go the electronic route, which eliminates any and all resource consumption in the invitation realm.


Next, where "green" and vintage meet.

6: Recycled Rings

It's not a new approach to the ring, by any means. Women have long been getting married in their mothers', grandmothers' and great-grandmothers' rings. Lately, though, the tradition has become a full-fledged trend, with forward-thinking brides looking increasingly backward for their jewelry.

Beyond the obvious meaning (and vintage charm) that characterizes "recycled" rings, whether from a family member or an estate sale, there's another, "greener" pro: An antique ring consumes no virgin metals, ditto for heirloom gemstones.


Next, where "green" meets yummy.

5: Local Fare

Forget flavorless wedding fare. Many couples are choosing locally sourced food for their big day -- sure to be fresh, in-season and full of flavor.
Forget flavorless wedding fare. Many couples are choosing locally sourced food for their big day -- sure to be fresh, in-season and full of flavor.
Simon Watson/FoodPix/Getty Images

As the "eating local" movement continues to pick up steam, brides are getting in on the action. More and more, they're looking for locally sourced ingredients in the food for their events, either through their caterers or in their own cooking.

Beyond the obvious "eco-friendly wedding" benefit, both in shorter shipping distances and supporting local, often organic farms, this choice also encourages fresher, in-season and locally themed fare that can make a wedding meal that much more delicious, unique and of-the-moment.


Next, continuing with the "down home" approach.

4: Rustic Charm

Who says you can't combine "down-home" with "gorgeous"? A rustic sign sets the tone for the natural setting and easy vibe to come.
Who says you can't combine "down-home" with "gorgeous"? A rustic sign sets the tone for the natural setting and easy vibe to come.
Keri Pinzon/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Glamorous is always in, and satin-draped chairs aren't going away, but an increasing number of brides are choosing a different approach to their wedding style: rustic beauty.

Farm settings, wildflowers, wood tables (sometimes of varying shapes) and local game are just a few of the rustic touches being incorporated into modern weddings. Rural charm is especially suited to summer affairs, when outdoor events are easier to arrange, sunlight can supplement soft, old-style lighting into the early evening, and it would not seem out of place for the bride to ride in on horseback.


Next, speaking of horses.

3: Bringing Nature In

Following closely on the rustic theme, many brides are opting to set aside the castle and draw their wedding décor, theme and overall ambience from nature. The horseback entry is a good example (although household pets are more commonly involved animal life), but this trend is often less dramatic and more, well, natural.

Floral centerpieces comprised of budding branches, tables sprinkled with fresh leaves, tones of greens, warm browns and reds, and place cards in the form of miniature potted plants (which double as favors) are just a few of the natural or nature-inspired touches you'll be seeing in summer events.


Next, a trend that continues to pick up speed.

2: Food Trucks

There is perhaps no trendier food movement than the truck -- gourmet, ethnic or just plain burgers and pizza, food trucks are beginning to show up at weddings as a stylish way to feed guests.

At formal weddings, they can tone things down a bit, and at more-casual events they can be a fun alternative to the buffet. Food trucks can even serve just candy and baked goods, if you're looking for an interesting supplement to the traditional wedding cake.


Finally, using your day for good.

1: In Lieu of Gifts...

For many couples, gifts just equal more stuff.
For many couples, gifts just equal more stuff.
Gentl and Hyers/Botanica/Getty Images

It's a whole new world of weddings, with people marrying well into their 30s, 40s and beyond; and with so many brides and grooms already financially established in their lives, many socially conscious couples are choosing to ask for a different kind of gift.

Charity contributions are becoming big wedding gifts, with brides and grooms requesting donations to their favorite charities rather than traditional gifts like flatware and serving pieces. It opens up a entirely new set of options, and many Web sites have popped up to accommodate this charitable wedding trend, making it very easy to implement, whether in lieu of gifts entirely or as an additional gift option for invited guests.

Of course, most brides are loathe to give up the gifts, and who can blame them? How often do you get the chance to list absolutely everything you love because people are just dying to buy it for you?

Then again, contributions to, say, the World Wildlife Fund can really bolster a green-themed event. And it can't hurt to start your life together with some good karma.

For more information on wedding trends, style choices and planning the big day, check out the links on the next page.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

More Great Links

  • 2012 Wedding Trends. Your Wedding Company. (Feb. 27, 2012) http://www.yourweddingcompany.com/index.php/action/createTrends/planId/1/
  • Camilli, Doug. "Kate Middleton visits Royal School who stitched wedding dress." The Montreal Gazette. Mar. 2, 2012. (Mar. 2, 2012) http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/Gossip+Kate+Middleton+visits+Royal+School+stitched+wedding+dress/6242280/story.html
  • Jenkins, Elizabeth. "Bid Adieu to Boring I Do's." MSN. (Feb. 27, 2012) http://glo.msn.com/living/hottest-and-wackiest-wedding-trends-7337.gallery
  • Naylor, Sharon. "Top 10 Green Wedding Trends." Living Green Magazine. Feb. 27, 2012. (Feb. 27, 2012) http://livinggreenmag.com/2012/02/27/lifestyle-choices/top-10-green-wedding-trends/
  • Top 10 New Wedding Trends for 2012. The Knot. (Feb. 27, 2012) http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/planning-a-wedding/articles/2012-wedding-trends.aspx?MsdVisit=1
  • Wedding Trends for 2012. The Washington Post: Lifestyle. Dec. 19, 2011. (Feb. 27, 2012) http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/wedding-trends-for-2012/2011/12/19/gIQAAsHjHP_gallery.html#photo=4