In weddings, the ’90s are back and better than ever
From butterfly clips to polka dots, 1990s trends have been making a fashion comeback. Now, as ’90s babies increasingly reach average marrying age, these trends are popping up all over the wedding industry as well.
An Etsy 2019 wedding trends report declared ’90s nostalgia a top trend of the year, with over 300,000 searches for both rhinestones and polka dots on the site in the three months before the report’s release in February. Etsy has also seen a 14 percent increase in butterfly clip searches since last year.
Etsy trend expert Dayna Isom Johnson says a ’90s resurgence doesn’t mean we’ll suddenly be seeing huge puffy sleeves and oversize hair. Rather, popular ’90s trends are being modernized and updated.
“They give some nod to those styles but they are so much more sophisticated,” Johnson says, adding that today’s butterfly clips, for example, look more whimsical and romantic than they did in the ’90s.
And although wedding-dress sleeves may not be as puffy as they were 25 years ago, statement sleeves are big again. Dresses are breaking from the modern tradition of a sweetheart neckline silhouette, giving brides the opportunity to better express their personal style.
Lauren Kay, deputy editor at The Knot, says she has seen an increase in holographic and iridescent decor, chokers, disposable cameras on tables, and ’90s music. Jeffra Trumpower, creative director at WeddingWire, cites the return of ’90s styles like neon signs, macramé, and custom jean jackets with monograms or calligraphy on the back.
Los Angeles wedding planner Beth Helmstetter of Beth Helmstetter Events has noticed a return to bridesmaids wearing color block dresses — combining two or more large blocks of bold, typically clashing colors. And Chicago wedding planner Nicole Hensley of Storybook Weddings and Events notes more couples incorporating their favorite ’90s snacks into their special days.
“As most of our couples are now in their 30s,” Hensley says, “they lived through childhood eating dunkaroos, pop tarts, ice pops and so many other nostalgic treats. It’s been so fun sourcing these items for late-night snack stations or having our caterers put a fun twist to pop tarts... or creating an ‘adult’ alcoholic version of the ice pops!”
Perhaps the most surprising ’90s trend that is resurgent both in weddings and beyond is the fanny pack.
A 2018 report by the NPD Group found that fanny packs account for almost 25 percent of overall growth in the fashion accessories industry. Etsy reported a whopping 62 percent increase in searches related to “bridal fanny packs” in the three months before its trends report was released.
At bachelorette parties, a bride and her crew might wear bedazzled or glittery fanny packs that say “Bride” and “Squad.” Couples also are incorporating more chic, fashionable versions of fanny packs into the wedding itself. These classier versions may be referred to as hip or belt bags. Brides and grooms aren’t necessarily wearing them down the aisle, but they are using them at the reception or other wedding events to carry phones and other items.
Johnson sees fanny packs as part of a broader trend toward functionality and reusability. Not only are they handy during the celebration, but fanny packs can be used long after the wedding is over.
Experts agree that couples who want to invoke a little ’90s nostalgia into their weddings should do so tastefully and sparingly. Many suggested thinking about no more than one or two motifs from the ’90s and putting a more modern spin on them.
“If it’s neon fanny packs for example,” says Hensley, “take that idea and go a step above! Reinvent the idea. Give fanny packs out as favors filled with a hangover kit for surviving the next morning. Fill it with a mini water bottle, some pain reliever, eye drops and maybe a little ‘hair of the dog’!”
In essence, a full-on ’90s-themed wedding might be overkill, but including flashes of the decade here and there can make for a beautiful and nostalgia-filled event.