Emma Gold, founder of GSP Events, the events production agency responsible for some of the most iconic weddings of the last 27 years, unveils the trends for nuptials in 2024, along with other experts in the industry.
Virtual Reality Unnecessary
“Destination weddings remain one of the top trends in weddings for 2024. More and more couples are choosing to host nuptials in far flung destinations across the world – and this is only growing. Vineyards in Italy and Villas in France are now the norm; couples are looking for the biggest and best new destinations further afield, the more unusual the better. Looking ahead to 2024, couples are planning multi-day extravaganzas in beachside locations on the Turkish coast; or Mallorcan mega-parties. That being said, there is a reason the old favourites remain. Destinations in the South of France and Tuscan Hills never lose their spots at the top of the destination hit list; it is simply that the events become more ambitious and as planners, our ideas become more wild. Recent examples include a South of France celebration over 4 days. Each day was an entirely different theme; overnight builds with cranes and a massive amount of logistics meant that guests awoke to an entirely new setting every single day. It involved boundless creativity from our team to design the concepts, using the absolutely magnificent setting we were in. Cap Estel was this couple’s for the weekend, and they certainly made it their own.”
“Another trend we are seeing more and more of – the hotel buyout; guests are keen for total exclusivity and privacy for their guests. It is no longer enough to simply take a few rooms or the events spaces for the day or the weekend. Going forward, guests are taking over entire hotels. Clients of ours this year had the Maybourne Riviera for the weekend. One event was hosted there, with best friends and family all accommodated in the hotel. It means the celebrations never stop, and it allows guests to spend good quality down time together too. From a logistical perspective, it’s hugely helpful in ensuring guests are at the right place at the right time; but also, what a dream to be able to have all your loved ones in one place.”
Artificial Intelligence Enters
“As with many of the tasks in life these days, there is a place for A.I. as a tool to help couples with administrative tasks. AI-generated wedding speeches have been around for some time and we are now seeing couples use it to help with guest list and table planning, too. By entering some key references, such as ‘relationship to the couple’ and which category they sit into (old friend, family etc) a plan can be generated within moments. Of course, refining the seating plan is necessary and the couples’ input is essential to ensure the most perfect of plans. A.I. isn’t going to know the history of guest x and guest y, and that’s why the human touch never goes amiss!”
Creativity with a Conscience
“Creativity is king – we are always on the lookout for the newest, hottest, most unusual and beautiful ideas. Previously, this may have been without consideration; more and more we are seeing that guests are truly interested in what we are doing to protect the planet whilst we party. This may be from something as ‘small’ as having biodegradable confetti – which is easy to make at home if you are lucky to have a garden with some flowering plants and some time on your hands! Our couples are moving away from excess for excess’ sake, and looking to how they can make changes to improve the sustainability of their celebrations. An example might be how for the floral displays and decorations, we are often tasked to use local, seasonal plants and flowers indigenous to the area we are in. Having excellent quality produce is paramount, so finding local flower suppliers who can meet our needs is always the first port of call. With all the travelling that can be required for destination weddings, more and more of our couples will look at ways of off-setting carbon emissions. This may be by planting trees or donating to carbon off-setting funds. It extends from environment to social, with many couples not requesting gifts, but donations to favourite charities. This is continuing to become more and more popular across the scene.”
Larger suppliers are also seeking to reduce their footprint in innovative ways. Leading marquee provider, English Marquee Company, is investing heavily in sustainable alternatives to traditional canvas pole or steel frame tents. Managing Director Sam Peters commented: “Marquees by nature are relatively sustainable as they are used time and again, however we are increasingly looking at solutions that take it further. 2024 will see wedding couples opting for marquees made of natural materials such as timber and transported in hydrogen trucks, with any canvas donated to humanitarian aid schemes to be remade as tents.”
Back to Basics?
“As we know, food is a huge part of celebrations for many. For our clients, it can be one of the most integral parts, or a minor focus, but there is one requirement that never changes – quality of ingredient. Despite trends of deconstructed dishes or crazy flavour combinations, we always ensure when choosing our food suppliers to work with, that the quality of the ingredients is the best it could possibly be. This is of particular importance for the year ahead, when the culinary trend we are seeing across events is the notion of back to basics – within reason of course! More and more, guests are asking for hyper-local, provenance-traceable ingredients, that speak for themselves on the plate. It is eating like a local from the local area. It is freshly caught fish grilled with Provence herbs when on the South Coast of France; it’s homemade ravioli with local olive oil and locally sourced vegetables when in Italy. This simplicity is what we are seeing many of our guests searching for – and that is reliant on ingredient access, which is a luxury in itself. Of course, there is always a place for complicated dishes of expert flavour combinations, but it can be just as difficult to create something equally as delicious with a handful of ingredients of what’s available then and there. It’s part of the consciousness of consumption we are seeing, and also a change of preference following many years of over the top fine dining taking centre stage.”
Max Uyanik, Chef Patron of leading event caterer Food Show, notes “Wedding food in 2024 will be much less fussy. Caterers will do away with unnecessary theatre whilst retaining the beautiful presentation and fun elements that keep guests talking. We’ll be using shorter supply chains and the very best ingredients, with produce sourced as close to the venue as possible. This freshness and seasonality will let the ingredients speak for themselves as well as telling the story of the location.”
“In the industry, we are always pushing the boundaries with design and creativity, and when it comes to decoration, this is even more true, as one of the best ways to ensure a true wow-factor is through the flowers. Epic, flowing displays in thematic colours to match the surroundings of a grand-dame hotel; quaint bud vases with grasses and pops of colour for an English Country Estate recovery lunch. The sky is the limit with flower arches for framing couple as they make their vows, totally picture perfect. Aisles lined with vases, bouquets, and candles .. there is no end to what can be achieved with the beauty of flowers, plants and foliage. Incredible displays from the intricate to the over the top can make a huge difference to the overall feel of the day. When it comes to picking the styles and what to use, there is an abundance of choice, and trends really vary on location and couple, of course. We are seeing couples choosing local flowers more and more; this means working with the best florist but choosing seasonal and indigenous options, even grown in the surrounding areas. We might look at masses of heavenly lavender to be an element of a Provence Chateau wedding; Amalfi lemons as table dressings for a Sicilian soiree; Guests holding nuptials in Bodrum, Turkey in peak summer may choose the bright pink bougainvillea and mandarin trees local to the area, combined with other Turkish plant varieties.”