Outdoor Weddings, Weeknight Ceremonies Among Fall Wedding Trends



Photo by Hannah Barlow Photography


There was a time when June was the must-have month for weddings in western Pennsylvania. While June remains popular, fall is quickly becoming a favorite time of year for local couples tying the knot. Not only is the weather cooler and more accommodating for outdoor ceremonies, but location weddings can be breathtaking with fall in its full glory as the backdrop.


Photo courtesy Donna Cavanaugh

Couples also are embracing Bohemian-themed weddings for their simplicity and warm feel, said Donna Cavanaugh of Cavanaugh’s Bride Show.


“You see more nude tones and soft colors. Pampas grass is pushing eucalyptus into the past. Large circles for floral displays and other geometric shapes in metal are very on-trend,” she explained.


Green tones, nudes, and orange are all the rage right now for bridal party colors, and multicolored dresses are making a comeback as well, she added.


Flexibility is the name of the game when planning a fall wedding. Ever since COVID hit last spring, couples have realized that adaptability is a necessity.


“People are realizing they need to be more flexible with their planning and expectations,” said Kelly Mowrey, the director of catering for Chatham University and the Eden Hall Farm. “Large, grand weddings are not the priority now. Gone are the days of weddings with 150 people or more. We are seeing a lot of intimate weddings now with 50 or fewer guests.”


Another fall wedding trend is making the day a reflection of the happy couple, said Andy Allen, owner of Armstrong Farms.


“We love to see the creativity each of our couples brings to the farm,” he said. “The beauty of our set-up is that you can really personalize the barn and surroundings to whatever vibe you’re going for. Whether it’s black-tie or barbecue, it’s about what fits your style and what makes you and your guests feel comfortable and at home.”


Moving the Party Outdoors


Outdoor venues were a must during COVID for couples who did not want to delay their special day. Armstrong Farms was a go-to location during most of 2020 as people scaled down and looked for safer alternatives to indoor celebrations.


“Outdoor weddings have always been popular, but we’ve definitely seen an uptick in inquiries in the last year knowing that outdoor spaces offer more flexibility and opportunities for social distancing,” said Allen.


Mowrey said that Eden Hall Farm is booked through the end of 2021 and is already booking out into 2023. She added that while some couples are attracted to the farm’s backdrop and incredible scenery for an outdoor wedding and reception, others like the sustainability and other amenities afforded by the location.


“We plant the crops we need for the events, which requires six months’ notice, and we smoke all the meats here on-site,” she explained. “We can customize the menu and use fresh ingredients. Our maple tree is a popular photo spot, and our orchards are a unique setting for a simple outdoor ceremony.”


Cavanaugh confirmed that outdoor weddings are always an option, but noted that she also observed a slight increase in requests for indoor venues within the last year. Regardless of where you plan to hold your wedding, she recommends planning on booking at least 15 months in advance—or longer—if your location is a top choice for couples.


Micro-weddings and Midweek Celebrations


Whether by trend or necessity, some couples are taking advantage of the growing trend toward micro-weddings and midweek celebrations. Micro-weddings are intimate ceremonies with 50 or fewer guests. During the height of COVID, couples were forced to downsize to meet health and safety mitigation requirements. Even as restrictions lifted, some couples opted to continue with smaller celebrations because they preferred the cozy feel, said Cavanaugh.


Another growing trend is midweek weddings, which are growing in popularity for couples looking for smaller ceremonies and ways to reduce their wedding budgets. Not all wedding venues offer this option, so be sure to inquire if it is something you are considering.


Some Things Never Change


Trends may come and go, but some things never change when it comes to western Pennsylvania weddings. DJs are still very much a part of the special day. “They keep the party going and help everyone maintain that wedding vibe until the very end,” said Cavanaugh.


And don’t forget to make room for cookies. “The Pittsburgh cookie table continues to grow in popularity and often replaces normal wedding favors,” she added.


Trends for 2022 and Beyond


Looking ahead to the 2022 wedding season, venues and wedding planners expect a variety of trends. Cavanaugh anticipates the emergence of more chic and glamorous weddings, with lots of fresh flowers, silver and gold, and diamond décor.


Allen said the popularity of including fun and interactive elements into ceremonies and receptions is expected to continue. Things like signature cocktails, a champagne or margarita bar, a caricature artist, or even a doughnut wall in lieu of a traditional cake are all trends he anticipates continuing.

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