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  • Writer's pictureMatthew Connelly

Wedding Trends in 2023

Wondering what's happening in the world of wedding trends in 2023? Here's the perspective from a wedding DJ.

Wedding toast by the best man at River Highlands Ranch
Wondering about the garter throw? We can modernize the guest experience.

What? You’re engaged and now beginning to think about what wedding style you want. As a DJ in the wedding industry, I've had the experience of seeing trends come and go. In this blog post, I'll discuss some of the latest trends I've noticed, specifically related to pre-ceremony cocktails (hellya!), short ceremonies (more time to party), friend or family members as an officiant (I love this), first dance before dinner service (this is my favorite), not spotlighting the cake cutting (The other 5.9 hours of your wedding are already spotlighted), and of course: Skipping the bouquet and garter throws (lets talk about this).

1. Pre-Ceremony Cocktails

Pre-ceremony cocktails are a great way to kick off your wedding day and set the tone for the celebration to come. More and more couples opt to have a signature drink or cocktail hour before the ceremony, allowing guests to mingle and socialize before the formal proceedings begin. I love this trend. Here’s why: It loosens the atmosphere and incentives your always late aunt Karen to be in time to grab a drink.

When you plan your pre-ceremony cocktails, please remember the logistics of getting everyone where they need to be for the ceremony. You don't want guests to be too tipsy or running late because they were enjoying the cocktails too much! Consider having a designated area for the cocktail hour that's close to the ceremony location, and make sure everyone knows when and where they need to be for the main event. As a DJ, I’ll help communicate when your guests should make their way to your ceremony site.

2. Short Ceremonies

Gone are the days of long, drawn-out wedding ceremonies. Today's couples opt for shorter, more meaningful ceremonies that focus on the couple's love and commitment to each other. I see many couples trade conventional bible readings for a favorite poem. I’m not only a DJ but also a part-time officiant for friends. I combined a verse from a Biggie Smalls song into a small section of a friend's ceremony. Only true B.I.G. fans recognized the lyrics as I changed it enough to be appropriate and attributed the source to Biggie's birth name: Christopher George Latore Wallace.

What about vows? Not one for the spotlight and aren’t sure about sharing your vows in front of all your guests? Consider writing your vows and sharing with your partner on the morning of your wedding.

3. Friend or Family Members as an Officiant

Having a friend or family member officiate your wedding ceremony can be a beautiful and personal touch. This trend has been gaining popularity recently as couples seek to make their ceremonies more intimate and meaningful with someone they have a personal relationship with.

If you're considering having a friend or family member officiate your wedding, they legally need to be an actual officiant in CA. (check your state laws if you’re not in CA) How long does this take? It’s quick. Depending on how quickly you can type your name and email address, maybe one minute. I’ve officiated over than 10 weddings and am legally an officiant. Here’s the site I used to become ordained: Universal Life Church

4. First Dance Before Dinner Service

Traditionally, the first dance between the newlyweds takes place after dinner and speeches as a way to kick off the dancing portion of the reception. However, some couples now opt to have their first dance before dinner service following their introduction. I saw this for the first time when DJ’ing a friend's wedding in San Luis Obispo. Jared and Olivia told me they wanted to dance their first dance after their introduction and just before dinner began. This is why it’s a fantastic idea: Everyone is seated, and we have 100% of their attention. It’s a perfect transition from cocktail hour and sets a beautiful vibe for dinner.

Logistics plays a bit of a role when deciding whether to keep your first dance after speeches or do it after introductions. You can ask your planner or me for advice. My weddings are split about 50/50 on when this happens.

5. Not Spotlighting the Cake Cutting

In the past, the cake cutting was a major focal point of the wedding reception, with the couple's photographer and videographer capturing every moment of the process. However, some couples are now choosing to skip the traditional cake cutting altogether or to do it in a more low-key manner. TBH, I’m not a fan of skipping it. I think it’s a beautiful moment that should be performed, but if you think you’re feeling a little burnt out on being the center of attention, you can talk with your photographer to grab a few pics of the two of you sharing your cake/cupcake/wedding cookie, etc with each other without it being announced. The photo is epic, and you don’t need your DJ to grab everyone's attention lowering the music and sharing: “Everyone turn your attention to the head table as Matt & Shannon will now celebrate their love by sharing their first dessert as a married couple.”

This trend is especially popular among couples who want to focus more on the celebration and less on the formalities of the wedding. Wondering if you need a traditional cake? I don’t think you do. Many couples have a small cake for the photo opportunity or share a cupcake or cookie. It’s 2023.

6. Skipping the Bouquet and Garter Throw

I get this one. If you're not one for the spotlight and can't hype your guests during the bouquet or garter throw, you might want to skip it as it can really interrupt the party vibes. I also understand the gendered nature of a classic tradition.

Wondering if you can modernize this wedding moment? For sure. How about getting all your guests comfortable by opening up the competition to everyone, (not just signaling out the unmarried guests) and offering a bar tab at the after-party for whoever catches the garter or bouquet? Want extra style points and looking to modernize a little more? Skip the actual removal of the garter and throw a football instead. Helmets suggested because it's going to get competitive.


Don’t feel pressured to maintain a wedding tradition if it doesn’t match your style. Just say yes and get ready to party.

Photo Credit - The always amazing Andrew and Melanie Photography

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