Wedding planning is a complicated business – and not just because couples need to figure out everything from where to hold the reception to what to wear and how to make sure feuding family members aren’t seated at the same table.
For many couples, perhaps the trickiest aspect of tying the knot is creating a celebration that both speaks to the uniqueness of the union and adheres to a traditional wedding format. It reflects a desire to be the same as everyone else…but different.
This is where themes come into play, allowing couples to express themselves through a vintage vibe, classic ambience, bohemian feel or emphasis on particular colours while maintaining the usual wedding framework characterised by a stroll down the aisle with Dad, a first dance to something slow and melodic and cutting the three-tiered cake.
Of course, popular nuptial themes reflect a complex mix of trends in lifestyle, fashion, art, celebrity culture and technology, and when it comes to jewellery they play out in an ever-changing preference for different styles, metals and gemstones. Here’s what’s trending in the wedding space this year and how jewellers can translate consumer preferences into in-store gains.
Global colour authority Pantone’s Colour of the Year in 2017 is ‘Greenery’, which the company describes as being a “refreshing and revitalising shade” that encourages consumers to “take a deep breath, oxygenate and reinvigorate”.
Accordingly, many couples are embracing greenery in their weddings, says wedding coordinator Christine Ligthart, director of education at the Australian Academy of Wedding and Event Planning and founder of the I Do Crew.
“It goes across the board from using foliage to even potted plants in weddings,” Ligthart states. “Other couples will have really elaborate installations above their tables that are just greenery, with maybe the odd flower. Most people do greenery with elegance or really classic, beautiful styling. Lots of gold and crisp linen and maybe white flowers is quite popular.
“It’s not so much about having an eco-wedding, which was trending five-plus years ago. People like natural and they want to feel that their wedding is good for the environment, but it’s quite hard to do so they have stepped away from that towards this greenery and natural look.”
So how does this translate to jewellery?
Anita Rosielle from Kezani Jewellery, which is based in Western Australia and specialises in bridal jewellery, says emerald is popular among couples who take the trend at literal value, while soft, muted gold tones are on-trend among couples seeking a more fluid interpretation. “Plus, many girls are going natural with lots of leaves and choosing metal leaf sprays in the hair with metal cuffs,” she adds.
Reflecting a similar desire to avoid opulence while retaining an emphasis on intricate detail, contemporary couples are increasingly drawn to the charms of vintage-themed weddings characterised by lace gowns with sweetheart necklines, historical venues and classic cars. Crucially, there’s scope to reuse or upcycle favourites from the past as well as buy new items inspired by the 1920s and beyond.
“Because we’ve gone through a phase over the last 10 to 15 years of very simple, classic, basic trends, the next wave of more intricate design is coming back,” says Andrew Teleki, chief designer at Charles Rose in Melbourne.
“Vintage is certainly popular because you can get a bit more elaborate with the designs rather than just basic solitaires. Halos – the bigger look for the same amount of money – is what tends to be trending with us,” Teleki explains. “So if someone has a certain price point, a solitaire diamond ring is just a solitaire, the most basic, whereas if you change it up a little bit with a halo in a vintage sort of style and design you get a much more impactful ring.”
Rosielle says lace headpieces teamed with pearl and crystal earrings and bracelets are popular among vintage brides, while Justin Linney, creative director at Linneys in Western Australia, says many couples choose delicate yet decorative engagement rings and wedding bands. “It’s still elegant but definitely…a lot more decorative,” he states.
Even if couples don’t set out to create a vintage theme, Teleki says the desire for individual pieces fit for Instagram can often result in a vintage design.
“With modern day media on their phones, couples have everything at the touch of a finger and they flip through ideas,” he says. “You do get a chance to make something very individual, and when you do things like that it does have a bit of that vintage feel.”
Along with vintage, Linney says ‘boho chic’ is one of this year’s key wedding trends. “It’s that push towards being a little bit different, not following the trends, being less conventional that’s inspiring boho chic,” he comments. Think free-flowing fabrics, homemade invitations, outdoor ceremonies and hand-picked flowers with a stylish edge.
Ben Preston Black from Creations Jewellers in Canberra says lifestyle and home design trends often have a strong influence on wedding jewellery styles.
The jeweller explains it’s evident this season in consumer preferences for all things rustic and natural – which, in turn, flows through to the styling of boho chic-themed nuptials.
“For example, if you look at how kitchen design and industrial design has evolved, you see that bathrooms are all about copper,” Preston Black says. “All the piping is left exposed because people want it left a little bit unfinished, a little bit more rustic.”
As such, rose gold and coloured gemstones are also popular among the boho chic set.
“There’s a lot of rose gold, a lot of coloured gemstones and peachy-pink colours,” Preston Black says. “Anything that’s got that sort of coppery, industrial colour to it is popular as well as matte finishes, sandblast finishes, hammered finishes and anything with a rustic feel.”
Rosielle agrees rose gold as well as angular pieces are popular among couples styling a bohemian theme. “[We’re seeing a lot of] small jewelled crowns and headbands, along with silk and champagne coloured gemstones,” she says. “Feature dress rings and ear cuffs use more pointy and angular gemstones rather than rounded.”
Linney says boho brides are drawn to unique, personalised designs: “These clients are a bit more open to the use of different coloured materials, so perhaps considering rose gold rather than just white or yellow gold or platinum. They will also consider some different coloured gemstones, such as sapphires, rubies and emeralds, to really get that point of difference across.”
Classic-themed celebrations are elegant, sophisticated and most in keeping with the traditional wedding format. Crucially, despite the demand for more modern themes, classic is just as popular as ever with today’s couples.
“The classic theme is not really changing with brides – the bride’s not really adjusting her style to suit the latest trends,” Linney says. “What we’re finding is brides are going for classic solitaires and, in particular, fancy-shaped diamonds in the solitaire design.
“We’re also finding with this particular style that clients are looking at plain wedding bands, the more traditional wedding bands without any diamonds, whereas previously it was all centred around the diamond set wedding bands. It’s interesting to note that change.”
Ultimately, Ligthart believes it pays to remember that despite a desire to individualise their nuptials with a theme, most couples value the traditional wedding format and any theme-inspired choices will take place within this framework. As such, most wedding jewellery will retain elements of classic design.
“If you go to a wedding, even if it looks really unusual or different, it will generally still follow exactly the same format that weddings always have,” she says. “Couples want to step outside and have a bit of fun; however, they still want it to look like a wedding.
“That goes for wedding jewellery as well. There’s more confidence in knowing their style, but people don’t tend to take too much of a risk.”
The moral of the story? Jewellers who are able to find a balance between keeping up-to-date with customer preferences and staying true to the basics of wedding jewellery design are well placed for success.
|THE BIGGER PICTURE|
|What are some of the macro trends responsible for the popularity of these wedding themes? Even though most nuptials don’t stray too far from the traditional wedding format, the online environment is fuelling a shift away from cookie-cutter weddings towards personalised celebrations and, importantly, a desire to publish and share the finer details across both traditional and new media.
“What we find interesting is the emphasis on the wedding being more of a spectacle, more of a published event,” says Justin Linney, creative director at Linneys. “Each year, I’m finding more clients have the option to share photos with different blogs and magazines, which puts a bit more pressure on the theming. That’s why there’s been a bit of an explosion in wedding theming and that emphasis on creating a unique event.”
Although it may seem like the emphasis on publicising weddings and the ubiquitous wedding hashtag are driving couples towards larger guest lists, Christine Ligthart, director of education at the Australian Academy of Wedding and Event Planning and founder of the I Do Crew, says it’s quite the opposite.
“It’s not unusual for me to be asked about a wedding that’s only 55 to 60 people,” Ligthart explains. “People feel confident not to ask everybody to their wedding, so they’re able to have the wedding they want that pays a lot more attention to detail – beautiful florals, tables that are intricately laid with lovely elements that match the theme, and a menu designed by a chef.”
Significantly, George Bakoulas, general manager of the Australian Diamond Company in Melbourne, says the push for smaller weddings and greater attention to detail is encouraging couples to increase their spend on jewellery.
“So they’re getting a little bit more substantial with the engagement ring because they’ve recognised once the wedding day is done the only thing they’re left with is their rings and each other.”