21 Ways to Make Your Wedding Feel More Modern, Straight from the Experts

modern wedding seating arrangement
Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Young Photography

Top industry professionals share their best tips for putting a modern spin on your traditional nuptials.

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ana and damon reception table decor
Shannen Natasha of The Wedding Artists Collective

There are few events with quite as many traditions as a wedding, but that doesn't mean you can't still make your day your own. If you're looking to plan a wedding with a classic structure but the right hint of modernity, know that you're not alone. Whether they're trying to appease older generations of family members who have strong opinions on what a wedding looks like or want to follow traditions they love but ditch others that don't work for them, plenty of couples are searching for ways to bring their big days into the 21st century.

So how can make your wedding modern without making the event unrecognizable? Start by looking to the experts for advice. We asked 21 wedding professionals to share their best tips for modernizing the ceremony and reception. Wedding planners, stationers, photographers, caterers, florists, and more all heard our challenge and rose to the occasion.

Some of their standout advice included ditching traditional black-tie attire in favor of something more contemporary. No, that doesn't mean you can't have a formal event, but it does mean you can be a little more playful. Consider swapping black tuxes for navy blue ones and be more forgiving with wedding guest attire requests. Another genius idea? Think outside the box in terms of entertainment. A live band is sure to get the party started, but a silent disco reception is one way to ensure your reception is talked about for years to come.

Think about the food you serve, too. Almost everyone loves being treated to a decadent three-course meal, but if you know that your guests are going to be ready to party, work with your caterer on ways to speed up the serving process and get everyone out on the dance floor faster.

For more ways to make your wedding feel entirely of the moment, click through here for additional expert-approved ideas.

02 of 22

Go Digital

digital wedding invites
Courtesy of Bliss & Bone

"Technology is increasingly an integral part of our lives, and there is no way to make your wedding feel more modern than with a chic, timeless wedding website. Before guests even arrive, you will have set the tone. To create a seamless experience for your guests, make sure to work with a company that can help pull your overall wedding design into both the website and invitations, creating a cohesive look from start to finish."—Cindy Skanderup, Co Founder & Creative Director, Bliss & Bone

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Start with Your Venue

modern wedding seating arrangement
Courtesy of Aaron Young Photography

"Select a wedding venue that has a clean, neutral palette. Think white walls, concrete floors, and vaulted ceilings. You can build upon this modern environment to create a beautiful and sleek setting for your ceremony or reception."—Erin Sprinkel, Co-Owner, Sterling Social

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Ditch Traditional Bridesmaid Attire

modern wedding bridal party color palette
Courtesy of Liz Banfield

"Unify the bridal party by giving your bridesmaids a color palette instead of a dressing them in matching gowns. This allows everyone to express their individuality while keeping your color vision for the wedding in tact."—Liz Banfield, Owner and Lead Photographer, Liz Banfield

05 of 22

Opt for the Unexpected

modern wedding natural outdoor setting
Courtesy of Suzanne Karp Photography

"Mixing a natural setting with the unexpected décor elements is a great way to make your wedding modern yet timeless."—Lindsey Nickel, Wedding Planner and Wedding Business Coach, Lovely Day Events

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Say "Yes" to White

modern wedding white table decor
Courtesy of Ira Lippke, Nathan Smith

"All-white everything is always the cleanest, most sophisticated way to portray a modern vibe throughout your wedding design."—Kristin Doggett, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Bellafare

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Dress Up Your Band

modern wedding typographic band backdrop
Courtesy of Christian Oth

"We think band backdrops are the ultimate way to modernize and freshen up a wedding's vibe."—Calder Clark, Owner and Creative Director, Calder Clark

08 of 22

Make Your Entrance Grand

modern wedding dressed-up doors
Courtesy of Doe + Crow Photography

"Transform the entrance to your reception to make a statement. When we think of modern, we think of clean lines, noticeable contrast, and minimal focal points. For example, we updated a traditional set of doors with the help of sheer fabric, wild greenery and clean, sophisticated lanterns."—Eatherley Schultz, Owner, Floressence Flowers

09 of 22

Stray from a Black Tux

modern wedding groom in navy tux
Courtesy of Rachel Red Photography

"Black tuxes are timeless, but a colorful, fitted tux is the perfect choice for a modern wedding."—Rachel Ashcraft,

Founder and Owner,

Rachel Red Photography

10 of 22

Play with Color

modern wedding classic place setting with punch
Courtesy of Rebecca Theresa Photography

"If you are looking to for ways to modernize your table décor but still want to keep guests feeling comfortable, stick with a formal place setting to keep things timeless, but then focus on clean lines. For this place setting, we went with a classic hemstitch napkin but added a little bit of a more modern color to jazz it up!"—Diana Venditto, Owner and Creative Director, Eventi Floral & Events

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Rethink Your Ceremony Backdrop

modern wedding hanging ceremony backdrop
Courtesy of Amber Gress Photography

"Look up, think high. Instead of a standing mandap or chuppah, hang one from the ceiling."—Michelle Edgemont, Event Designer and Florist, Michelle Edgemont Design

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Tweak Your Bouquet

modern wedding ombre bouquet
Courtesy of Angie Silvy

"Choose an ombré bouquet or one in an unconventional shape, like the cascade."—Amy Nichols, Owner, Amy Nichols Special Events

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Plan Interactive Entertainment

modern wedding silent disco headset
Courtesy of Abby and Lauren

"Interactive entertainment is a huge hit! Whether a confetti pop or ceiling drop at the end of the first dance, or a well orchestrated transition from reception to afterparty by way of Silent Disco DJs and headsets, these modern touches add such life. We love keeping guests entertained and excited throughout the entire celebration."—Cassandra Santor, Owner, Cassandra & Company

14 of 22

Combine Metallics

modern wedding gold-dipped light bulbs
Courtesy of Anaise Prince Photography

"We love metallics, it's a trend that remains timeless year after year. A way to make metals modern is to have fun with where you use them. Gold- or silver-dipped light bulbs hanging over the reception tables are fun statement pieces and are sure to set the mood."—Katie Mamula, Senior Event Designer and Marketing Manager, Ryan Designs

15 of 22

Twist Your Place Settings

modern wedding twisted napkin on plate
Courtesy of NV Maui Media

"Try to incorporate modern 'twists' into timeless classics. A place setting, for example, contains many tiny elements to change up, like the napkin and the place card. Rather than fold the napkin flat with straight lines, give it a simple twist for a modern feel that is fresh yet still classic. Instead of a traditional paper place card, consider playing with different materials and textures, such as leather, marble, or capiz shells."—Kimiko Hosaki, Founder and Creative Director, Elements by K.H & Co.

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Incorporate Your Personalities

modern wedding paper airplanes
Courtesy of Annie McElwain

"By incorporating elements of their relationship and personalities into the day, couples are able to instantly modernize their weddings while still paying tribute to timeless traditions. At this wedding, my groom was a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corp., so we designed a paper airplane program for guests to fold and toss as the couple exited the church."—Jill Remy, Event Planner, Designer, and Owner, Jill & Co. Events

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Look to Interior Design

modern wedding romantic lounge area
Courtesy of Katherine Miles Jones

"Use home décor pieces to create a modern lounge area. We are always inspired by interior design and love to mix classic and modern furniture for a timeless look. Guests will feel at home and appreciate a place to rest their feet between dancing!"—Chelsey Morrison, Owner, Principal Designer, and Planner, Gather Together Event Planning & Design

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Design an Innovative Menu

modern wedding innovative dish
Blue Plate Catering

"A great way to make your wedding feel modern is through the food you serve. Catering has come a long way from the old banquet halls. A seated dinner can be fun and it doesn't have to last three hours either. Work with your caterer to create a menu that is inspired by you as a couple and incorporates different elements. For example, your guests can be invited to their tables with a shot glass of gazpacho or a demitasse mug of bisque."—Rachel Razowsky, Senior Sales Consultant, Blue Plate Catering

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Select Modern Florals

modern wedding structured florals
Courtesy of Crystal Stokes Photography

"A modern design means sleek lines with an architectural feel. Consider using flowers with structure, like calla lilies and orchids, to achieve your desired aesthetic."—Ashley Culicchia Cash, Owner and Creative Director, The Graceful Host

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Take Your Entertainment to a New Level

modern wedding featured cocktail performance
Courtesy of Larissa Cleveland Photography

"In addition to ceremony and reception entertainment, up the ante with feature performances during cocktail hour."—Stephanie Cole and Sarah Drake, Founders, Cole Drake Events

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Use Classic in a New Way

modern wedding marbled table
Courtesy of Jacqui Cole Photography

"Classic elements used in non-traditional ways can make your day feel very modern. We used these custom marble tables without runners or linens to give the space a modern, clean look that was absolutely beautiful."—Tracie Domino, Founder and Creative Director, Tracie Domino Events

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Have a Device-Free Ceremony

modern wedding guests throwing petals
Courtesy of From Parris with Love

"Today's newest phones and devices will look outdated in a few years, so no matter how amazing ypir wedding ceremony photos are, if these devices are present in them, they'll date your event photos more than any other element. So even if going fully 'device-free' feels like too much, an unplugged ceremony is a good compromise to make your wedding modern."—Parris Whittingham, Owner, From Parris with Love

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