Recently engaged or gearing up for a wedding in 2021? Congratulations! 2020 definitely shook up the whole wedding and event scene, and will probably have a big impact on weddings moving forward (even when we can gather unmasked and in large groups again). As the Lake Tahoe wedding experts, we’re breaking down some of the biggest wedding trends you should know when planning your wedding!

Small weddings

2021 will be the year to embrace a smaller guest list, and plan a perfectly intimate event for your nearest and dearest! Whether that be cutting your list from 300 to 150 or taking it from 100 to only 50, many couples had to rethink their guest list and cut back for this past year’s safety and budgetary reasons (thanks COVID-19). Since we’re all still learning the best way to navigate this pandemic and there are still restrictions on gathering (in Lake Tahoe and beyond), small, more intimate gatherings are the new norm! 

Smaller weddings mean you can create a more personal event. As your guest list shrinks, you’ll find yourself focusing more on what really matters to you and your soon-to-be spouse. Plus, you’ll have more one-on-one time with your partner and your guests! Small weddings also give you a little more wiggle room in your budget and make everything more personal. In 2021, we predict brides and grooms will be focused on creating cozy, intimate events that turn into lasting memories for all!  

South Lake Tahoe is a magical place. Just imagine yourself  surrounded by crystal clear waters, picturesque mountains, and your closest family and friends as you say “I do.” We’ve got eight different Lake Tahoe wedding venues for you to choose from, and just know you’re going to find the perfect spot to get married!

Wedding welcome boxes

We can’t think of a better way to kick off your wedding celebration than with a perfectly curated welcome box! Customized “welcome kits” are growing in popularity, even for local guests and non-destination weddings. We predict these welcome kits will get even more creative and sentimental in 2021!

Wedding welcome kits come in all shapes, sizes, and containers, and allow you to make sure your guests have all the essentials in one handy and beautiful, and personalized package.  They are an awesome way to share a bit of your personality and show off the magic of your wedding location! As fun and festive as they can be, remember to add some practical goodies as well. For a 2021 wedding, we predict many welcome bags will include hand sanitizer and masks, especially in the earlier part of the year, along with the wedding program/itinerary, personalized notes, and cute wedding favors. 

If you’re getting married in Tahoe, which is known for endless amounts of exciting outdoor adventure opportunities, consider throwing in some local goodies along and outdoor essentials that guests could use during their stay! Planning a Tahoe beach wedding at the Beach Retreat & Lodge? Stock your welcome boxes with sunscreen, sunglasses, and some delicious South Tahoe treats!  Booking a ceremony with spectacular views of the Tahoe mountains and the Carson Valley at The Ridge Tahoe? Pack some custom stocking caps for a cool weather affair, or have mountain themed picture frames made!  The sky is the limit, and there are so many options for welcoming your guests with a special Tahoe treat!

Outdoor celebrations

Outdoor weddings are certainly not a new trend, but with health and safety a top priority in 2021 — and the always impressive beauty surrounding us here in Tahoe — we’re sure, more and more people will be opting for outdoor wedding ceremonies in 2021. In fact, we believe lots of wedding festivities, even pre-ceremony celebrations (such as bachelor/bachelorette parties, bridal showers, and engagement parties) will be booked outdoors in 2021!

Thankfully, there’s no better place to celebrate outdoors than Lake Tahoe. Our South Lake Tahoe wedding and reception venues all offer incredible outdoor spaces. Check out Hard Rock Hotel’s patio and pool decks or Valhalla Tahoe’s stunning Grand Lawn! For something a little different, you can’t miss Zephyr Cove’s  82-foot, two-story, luxury yacht!  

An outdoor, South Lake Tahoe wedding will allow people to social distance more easily and take full advantage of these gorgeous Tahoe views! You can make your outdoor wedding really magical with some great tents, twinkle lights, and natural/rustic elements.

Goodbye buffets

Say goodbye to the long lines and food safety concerns at a wedding buffet! We’re predicting many more single-serve wedding dinners in 2021, complete with restaurant-quality tableside service and to-go options! While buffet-style dinners have long-been common at weddings, COVID-19 has put an end to that, at least for now. 

When planning your wedding meal, look into how you can minimize lines, clustering, and multiple people touching the serving utensils. Plated options give you and your guests better peace of mind, not only about food safety but also when accommodating guests with allergies. Also, plated dinners just feel more personalized, don’t they?  The dining staff at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel has gotten rave reviews, and the culinary team at The Landing Lake Tahoe Resort & Spa are always raising the bar when it comes to food and wine offerings!

We have some amazing wedding caterers and wedding cake designers in Lake Tahoe who will help you craft the perfect meal for your wedding. From individual cupcakes, cake pops, or mini cakes to to-go meals, individually-plated dinner, or hors d’oeuvres, 2021 weddings are going to be as delicious as ever!

Diverse wedding vendors

Other than COVID-19, the last year saw a lot of political unrest, a rise in the Black Lives Matter movement, and ongoing attacks on the LGBTQ community and women’s rights. With that in mind, savvy young couples are putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak, and putting their political beliefs and values at the forefront of their wedding planning. 

Consider supporting wedding vendors who share similar beliefs and celebrate diversity, such as women- and black-owned businesses and LGBTQ-friendly wedding vendors. The staff at the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority can help you find the right mix of wedding vendors, including wedding planners, caterers, photographers, beauty services, florists and so much more! 

There’s no harm in looking around until you find the right ones or questioning where you vendors stand on specific issues. Many of our Lake Tahoe wedding venues, including Valhalla Tahoe and Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, also have lists of preferred wedding vendors — so you have a great starting point to find the perfect vendors for your big day!

Virtual experiences

Virtual experiences became the norm in 2020 thanks to COVID-19. Couples opted for more virtual happy hours and planning sessions with their wedding party, did video meet-and-greets with vendors and guests, and live-streamed the ceremony for those who couldn’t attend in person. This trend is likely to stick around through 2021 and onward, which gives you some awesome opportunities to make your wedding incredibly memorable and accessible to loved ones from around the world!

Consider unique ways you can take your wedding virtual to allow more of your loved ones to safely participate.  A virtual lounge or Happy Hour is a great touch that lets guests feel connected to each other! Look into home-delivered meals and cocktails to really add a special touch and allow family and friends (near and far) to participate! You can even do your wedding toasts, special readings, and bring in some virtual entertainment all through video or streaming capabilities. 

Be sure to discuss the internet and A/V requirements with your venue and other vendors to make sure that there are the capabilities and equipment available to handle all your virtual needs. You can also ask vendors, such as your wedding videographer, if they can provide any live virtual expertise as part of their package. 

Less focus on gift registries

If we learned anything in 2020, we learned how to make the most of our time at home! Many people invested in their homes, whether that meant upgrading their living spaces or just their home decor and gadgets! With that in mind, we’re sure that 2021 wedding registries are going to look different. Since they likely already have many of the items found on a traditional registry, 2021 engaged couples are shaking things up and focusing on the things they really need and value. 

If that sounds like you, there’s no need to register for big sets of cutlery or a gravy boat you don’t actually need (or already bought… Quarantine purchases, anyone?). Rather, think of things you really want as you start your life together.  For example, consider asking for money toward a honeymoon fund, a down payment on a house, or a charity that means a lot to you. Or, if you’re outdoor enthusiasts, add a kayak, hiking/biking gear, or skis so that you can enjoy everything Lake Tahoe has to offer year-round! 

Sustainability/eco-friendly weddings

All you have to do is look around to see how much waste a typical wedding generates. With more and more couples concerned about the environment and trying to live life more sustainably, eco-friendly weddings have been on the rise — and it’s a trend we fully support here in Lake Tahoe! In fact, Lake Tahoe Resort hotel is certified green and the staff is great at planning waste-free and eco-friendly events. 

Consider making your wedding as eco-friendly and waste-free as possible. Incorporate a reusable tote into your welcome kit, minimize single-use plastics, ask your venue about their green initiatives (many Tahoe businesses are huge proponents of eco-friendly events), explore decor rentals and pre-owned or rented attire! You can also look into opting for natural and organic products and unique ways to educate your guests about environmentally-friendly practices they can incorporate beyond your wedding day.

Unique entertainment

In 2021, we predict fewer people on the dance floor and more happy couples booking more unique wedding entertainment! With a smaller guest list, you can really invest in memorable and fun entertainment that everyone will love! 

Think outside the box and consider hiring a magician, comedian, or a local band to perform instead. You could also plan some other activity, such as casino-style table games or even a movie. That way, it’s something different and allows you to talk and interact with your guests — while allowing everyone to remain socially distant or participate virtually if they want to.   

Local focus

The pandemic has hit local businesses especially hard. To help out and keep their communities thriving, many couples are trying to support local as much as they can during the wedding planning process. Not only does it help the people who live and work in your community, but local products are usually more sustainable, and local stores provide great customer service and support you often don’t get online or from big chain stores. 

Thankfully, shopping locally is easy when planning a wedding, especially in Tahoe. We have plenty of amazing local businesses and Lake Tahoe wedding vendors to work with on whatever you may need — from custom engagement rings to florists, cake decorators, and craft shops for your DIY wedding decor. 

Let’s start planning!

While 2020 was a rollercoaster of a year, it really brought some interesting values and ideas to the forefront! We can’t wait to see how you incorporate some of these exciting trends into your Lake Tahoe wedding and make it totally your own! 

If you’re looking for a great Lake Tahoe wedding venue or simply want to learn more about planning a wedding in Lake Tahoe, be sure to connect with us.