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This is the year of the wedding, with approximately 2.6 million marriages expected to take place in the U.S. this year, according to The Knot Worldwide. It’s the largest  number of nuptials since 1984, mainly due to pandemic postponements and pent-up demand.

So, what are the latest trends North Shore couples can anticipate? To answer that question, we talked with Ashley Tangerini, lead wedding planner with Mavinhouse Events, an event planning agency based in Ipswich with planners located throughout New England. Her answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.

Big bashes are back

We’re definitely seeing big gatherings these days. Everybody is ready to gather with their friends and family and celebrate on a larger scale than in 2020 and even 2021. People are booking between 140 and 200 people. There aren’t a lot of venues on the North Shore that hold more than 200.

Home-based weddings are popular

We’re seeing a lot more private home weddings happening. I think it comes back to people not having enough venues to choose from [given the wedding boom].

Coastal retreats and farm settings remain stand-out venues

On the North Shore, we have a lot of venues on the coast, so that’s always going to be a crowd favorite around here for weddings. Many of these coastal venues have places for outdoor ceremonies with beautiful backdrops and people are looking to play that up if the weather permits. There are also a lot of rustic barn and farm settings up here, which couples are drawn to as well.

September is the new June

When I started doing weddings about fifteen years ago, May and June were the “it” months. Now, September has become the new June—September to early October. I think it’s because the weather is a little more hopeful. There have been a couple of rainy Mays recently.

Creative floor plans trending

If the space allows, we’re seeing a lot of couples doing unique floor plans with maybe a mixture of long and round tables. A lot of venues include just round tables and then every picture from that wedding looks the same as all the other weddings held there. So, a few rentals and tweaks can really change the space and make it unique.

Double-duty florals reign

A lot of clients want to bring floral elements into the ceremony setting, but they don’t want to take away from the natural backdrop. So, we’re seeing a lot of ground altar arrangements that curve around the couple. And those arrangements can work double duty. That’s because they’re usually composed of multiple smaller arrangements or potted flowers, which can be picked up and moved into the reception area, unlike those archways that we saw a few years ago that were staked into the ground. Where there is a tent involved, we’re seeing a lot of florals coming down from the ceiling or hanging from chandeliers or other lighting.

Bold color palettes making a splash

Color is definitely back. For the past couple of years, it was a lot of neutrals, whites, greens, and blushes. With coastal settings, I am seeing a lot of the blues and whites and greens. Many of our fall couples are really going hard into vibrant jewel tones.

Bridesmaid garb more individualized

For bridesmaids’ dresses, I am seeing one type of dress in different colors or different styles of dresses but in matching tones. Brides these days are more cognizant of what someone might feel comfortable wearing and, thus, give their wedding party several options.

Groomsmen staying traditional

A navy blazer or navy suit is pretty classic around here, although I also see many people going very classic with a black tux.

Unusual bars and signature drinks are in

People are looking to rent different style bars. So, if it’s a rustic setting, there are rustic-style bars with whiskey barrels. If you’re on the coast, there are beautiful white curved or round bars. Signature drinks are in these days, too, because it’s just another way people can show a little bit of themselves. Many couples offer two signature drinks [one for each person getting married].

Plated dinners still in favor

The traditional plated dinner is here to stay. A good half of the people out there want that and it’s never going to go away. The caterers on the North Shore these days are fabulous and able to take basic wedding food and bring it up a level using locally-sourced farm produce, if the time of year allows.

After-party food trucks rolling in

We’re also seeing food trucks, mainly when the wedding’s over at the after-party. Around here, we have a couple of popular food trucks—a great burger truck, roast beef sandwich truck, and a pizza one. There are a lot of fun and local options and if people are from the North Shore, they probably know what they are and will bring in the one that has meaning to them.