Wedding Photographer

Wedding trends of 1984: “epic” dresses, big cakes

Since 1984, experts had not expected as many marriages in the United States as this year.

It’s easy to assume that, aside from their sheer volume, celebrations past and present don’t have much in common. Especially when it comes to a ceremony, a lot has changed, including who could legally have them and how people talk about them.

But now that statistics have linked the marriage surge of 2022 to that of 1984, it’s hard not to wonder: what do modern marriages look like to those back then?

Over the two years, there was a desire to go above. A good economy partly set the stage for lavish wedding spending in 1984. Today, the pandemic has given couples more time “to dream, budget and save for their big party,” said organizer Renee Sabo. wedding party and owner of Urban Soiree. In Boston.

“We’re seeing clients diving back into planning with a ‘bigger is better’ mentality for their wedding this year,” she added.

What defines over-the-top, however, has changed. “It’s not just one big party, it’s multiple parties over several days,” said Jamie Chang, wedding planner and owner of Mango Muse Events in San Francisco.

But that hasn’t completely changed. Contemporary celebrations still involve some defining elements of ’80s weddings, say the experts, who explain below how recent trends in dresses, desserts, decor and more feel very 1984.


Among the first things that may come to mind when you think of a 1984 wedding: very ornate dresses, with puffy sleeves or a voluminous skirt (or both).

Wedding dresses in the 1980s were synonymous with volume, epic proportions and regal lace,” said Monique Lhuillier, the designer of an eponymous bridal line.

These elements became less fashionable over the following decades, as preferences shifted towards what she described as “simpler, more streamlined silhouettes”.

But now, Lhuillier said, “many ’80s trends have returned to the bride with a modern twist.” One is lace, which continues to be popular. The “puff sleeves and full ball gown” are also back, which she says have more “lightness and movement” than those of yesteryear.

Some of the puff sleeves worn today are also detachable, said Michael Cho, Amsale’s senior designer, explaining that “brides don’t just want a statement look, but they also want multiple looks in one for their special day.”


Like the dresses, the cakes served at weddings in 1984 were made to attract attention. Many had tiers upon tiers supported by pillars and some from this era incorporated opulent touches such as functional fountains.

They had “big personalities,” said Sarah Davidson, creative director at HUE by Sarah Davidson, an event planning company in Madison, Wis.

But eventually, cake preferences shifted from fantastic to minimal, with some people avoiding them altogether and serving less fussy desserts, including cupcakes and donuts. “Over the past few years, wedding cakes have had a pretty minimalistic trend, with many couples opting for a few tiers of a simple white design,” she said.

Modern couples, however, are channeling “the spirit of the ’80s” with their wedding cakes, according to Davidson. “That doesn’t necessarily mean large in size,” she added, but cakes with “a creative design that stands out.”

Lara Martins, owner of LILA Cake Shop in Temecula, Calif., said that instead of cakes with visible pillars supporting each tier, the preference is now for double-barrel cakes “created with tiers made up of stacked cakes,” which “offer height”. and a “slender, elongated figure”.

Some of those creations, Martins added, are decorated with hand-painted buttercream flowers, piped frosting and other edible embellishments. “The current trend in cake design is leaning towards a highly individualized edible piece of art.”


Sabo said that in the ’80s reception decor was “moving away from simple centerpieces to larger, more elaborate floral designs.”

Fueled by the desire to capture and share social media-ready moments, this trend is alive and well today.

“We’re seeing tablescapes full of layers and flowers filling every open space for those Instagrammable wedding moments,” said Chanda Daniels, creative director of Chanda Daniels Planning & Design in Oakland, Calif.

As supply chain issues continue to plague the floral industry, some couples are choosing to get married in gardens to secure the setting, said Meredith Ryncarz, wedding photographer in Savannah, Georgia.

Ryncarz estimates that about half of his clients getting married this year have chosen venues with existing gardens, explaining that they “provide the lush texture of greenery and flowers that they desire as a backdrop.”

“About 50% of weddings that I know of from other sellers also take place in outdoor gardens,” she added.


When the camcorder was introduced in 1983, it didn’t take long for people to start using the devices to record wedding videos, which quickly led to the creation of a whole new profession: the videographer. of marriage.

Over time, the demand for professional wedding videos has diminished; as Chang put it, videography “hasn’t always been a go-to for couples like photography is.”

But for many, the pandemic has made it more important to create and savor memories, leading to renewed demand for videos. “Having a unique and memorable film that shows not just what happened, but the people and emotions of that day is becoming increasingly important,” Chang said.

Dan Strickler, an event videographer in Philadelphia, began filming weddings in 1989 and retired in 2020. In September, he will return behind the camera to immortalize the nuptials of the daughter of his very first clients, who “wants a film similar in essence to what I shot for his parents,” he said.

For Strickler, that means a video incorporating snippets of guests congratulating the newlyweds on camera, which he says was a common feature of those he made early in his career.

“Wedding videos in the 1980s were very documentary in style,” said Erin Sok, co-owner of Sok Vision, a videography company in Washington. While some modern couples still prefer this approach, she adds that others commission “films with drone and gimbal shots” to create “complete cinematic masterpieces with flowing stories.”

A provided image shows a wedding dress with a voluminous skirt and puffed sleeves, common design elements of the 1980s. and some very 80s elements that experts say many of these events will have. (KT Merry, via Monique Lhuillier via The New York Times) — NO SALE; FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY WITH NYT STORY 80S WEDDING TRENDS BY IVY MANNERS FOR MARCH 26, 2022. ALL OTHER USE PROHIBITED. —