How to Pull Off a Modern Wedding Theme

Want to learn how to create an effortlessly elegant modern wedding theme? Look no further than right here, with Zola's guide to modern weddings!

By The Zola Team

couple kissing in city
Photo by Loretta Lewis Photography

Chic, elegant, and totally sophisticated, a modern wedding theme cultivates an atmosphere of fun and refinement. But modern weddings can also be quite daring, and without the right know-how, your modern theme may not materialize exactly how you’d envisioned.

To pull off a modern wedding, you’ll need guts, chutzpah, moxie... and this guide. We’ll take you through the essentials for nailing your modern wedding theme, from building your own style to executing every last detail. By the time you’ve finished reading, you’ll be an expert in all things modern chic.

Crash Course in Modern Style

As you navigate the trendy waters of modern wedding ideas, a few core concepts will help guide you to your own unique wedding aesthetic. Here’s a quick breakdown of what makes up a “modern” style:

  • Minimalism: Details stand out in a minimalist modern wedding. By strategically using white space, simple decor, and a limited color palette, you’ll create a wedding aesthetic that epitomizes 21st century elegance.

  • Clean Lines and Geometrics: Modern style is all about embracing sharp lines and interesting shapes. So when you’re choosing decorations for your wedding, always be on the lookout for clean lines and intriguing geometric shapes.

  • Mixed Materials: You might think that modern materials are all about, well, “modern” substances, like plastic and metal. But that’s not always the case. Modern style deftly combines industrial materials with natural elements like stone, wood, and florals.

  • Break the Rules: Modern design experts encourage breaking the rules of tradition... with style. At modern weddings, it’s not unusual to see black wedding dresses, floral arrangements made from non-florals, and inventive takes on a classic wedding cake.

Pull Off a Modern Wedding Theme Photo Credit // Gerber + Scarpelli Photography

Build Your Unique Modern Style

Modern style is a spectrum—there are so many different ways to incorporate contemporary design elements into your wedding day. To help create a cohesive wedding style, decide on a few guiding ideas or wedding themes. You and your partner should discuss what modern style elements and designs you want to incorporate throughout your wedding. Take these into consideration:

  • Color: Whether you’re planning a rustic barn wedding, a bohemian affair, or a modern extravaganza, color plays a crucial role in any wedding. But when it comes to modern wedding styles, color can elevate contemporary design elements and blow your guests away.

    • Monochrome: Going all out on one color is a simple but powerful design move. Go for neon lights with a bright pink or yellow color scheme, or play up white space with a—you guessed it—all white wedding.

    • Black and White: Black and white is simply timeless. Leaning on these colors as a theme for your modern wedding creates stunning contrast in everything from your flatware to your floral arrangements.

    • Neutrals and a Focus Color: Accents of color throughout a neutral-toned wedding can express your personality, connect to the nearby natural landscapes, or even just add a hint of vibrancy. White and green is a popular combination, but feel free to play around with accent metallics, like copper, gold, or silver, too.

  • Descriptive Themed Phrase: Think of this as a thesis statement for your big day, or a mantra of style. That way, when you talk to caterers, wedding planners, and designers, you can give them succinct, yet descriptive guidance. Take a look at these example phrases to get inspired for your big day:

    • Flowing lines, hint of green
    • Geometric desert beauty
    • Urban garden
  • Image Inspiration: Every artist needs a muse. Find inspiration for your wedding elements through other pieces of design. Take a look at modern art pieces, photography, architecture, fashion, or even modern cake design. If there’s a piece that speaks to both of you, let that piece act as your compass while making any and all wedding decisions.

Modern Wedding Tip: Need ideas for colors, themes, or guiding designs? Draw inspiration from where you’re getting married. For example, if you’re planning a wedding in the dramatic drylands of the Southwest, look to the natural colors and shapes of the landscape. Or, if you’re getting married in a bustling city, the cool greys, polygonal shapes of new skyscrapers, and glittering lights might help guide your wedding aesthetic.

Celebrate in a Modern Wedding Venue

When it comes to creating a modern wedding style, it’s all about location, location, location. Since minimalist design is an essential component of modern wedding styles, finding a wedding venue that fits your modern vision is imperative.

Pull Off a Modern Wedding Theme

Take a “tour” of these modern wedding venues:

  • Museum: Modern museums are all about sleek lines, high ceilings, geometric architectural accents, and white space. Tour local museums—and not just the modern art ones. Science, natural history, and tech museums may also have updated event spaces ideal for your wedding.

  • Art Galleries: The sprawling layout of an art gallery gives you plenty of room to celebrate. Not to mention art galleries are primed for exquisite lighting and stylish use of white space. Bonus? Art gallery venues sometimes come pre-decorated.

  • Industrial Spaces: Exposed brick, steel beams, and stunningly tall ceilings make the perfect ceremony backdrop for your modern wedding. What’s more, warehouse venues are growing in popularity and often come with updated bathrooms, catering spaces, and parking to help you celebrate with ease.

  • Rooftops: The rooftop of an urban building makes for a fantastic modern event space, providing guests with a unique bird’s eye view of your chosen city.

Modern Ensembles for the Whole Wedding Party

Your wedding outfit is a key piece to your wedding decor. Why? Because everyone will be spending the whole day looking at you! (And your beautiful spouse, of course.) As such, your wedding clothing should express who you are and play off your modern wedding themes and accents.

  • Mix and Match: Pattern mixing is a rule modern wedding outfits love to break. Instead of choosing a singular color for your wedding party, let them choose individual patterns and styles from pre-selected fabrics that suit your wedding palette. A mix of busy, simple, and solid ensembles will create unity, while still standing out.

  • Asymmetric: Cut ties with old ideas of symmetrical elegance and make an asymmetrical fashion statement.

  • Minimalist Fashion: When in doubt, go for simplicity. Keep details to a minimum in your wedding party outfits to create a runway-worthy fashion statement.

Choose Modern Decor

When it comes to modern wedding decorations, every detail must be carefully considered. Even the smallest decor items can elevate your celebration of love and commitment to modern style. Take a look at these modern decoration ideas to add unique flair to your wedding day:

  • Light Fixtures: Lighting isn’t just about illuminating a space—it’s an opportunity to add style. Use modern light fixtures as functional accent pieces throughout your venue. You can find some great inspiration for funky and stylish light fixtures at Ikea, or check out the quick list below:

    • Geometric lightbulb cages to hang over guest tables
    • Sleek and modern chandeliers
    • Candles in glass terrariums
  • White Drapery: Pop quiz! What is a key component of a modern design aesthetic? Answer: Strategic use of white space. White drapery adds dimension and movement to your venue, while enhancing the reception’s modern vibe.

  • Flowers: While modern aesthetics might be associated with modern materials, flowers never go out of style. Look for unusual flowers with unique petal shapes. A few examples of modern flora include:

    • King protea
    • Dahlias
    • Orchids
    • Eucalyptus branches

Modern Wedding Tip: Modern florals aren’t always flowers. In fact, you can skip the petals altogether and create stunning floral arrangements, bouquets, and centerpieces made entirely of greenery.

Incorporate Technology

What could be more modern than technology? Using technology in your wedding reception can help create fun memories, capture moments, and make your reception even easier for your guests to enjoy. Here’s how:

  • A Bird’s Eye View: If you’re saying your vows outdoors, consider using an aerial drone for footage of the ceremony. This dynamic view will give you an amazing perspective as you look back on one of the most important days of your life.

  • Social Media: Tap into your guests’ social media love by creating fun digital projects they can all enjoy, including:

    • Custom Instagram filters
    • A unique wedding hashtag
    • A live feed of guest’s posted photos during the reception
  • A Sleek and Modern Wedding Website: While always lovely, paper wedding invitations — with crucial event details—tend to get lost, accidentally recycled, or buried under a pile of fridge magnets. Save paper and bring your guests into the digital age with Zola’s free and easy-to-use wedding website builder. You can choose from hundreds of designs to bring your own unique modern style to your wedding website. Give your guests the gift of accessible information with Zola!

An Unforgettable Modern Love

As a lover of modern style, you want to focus on what’s important—the elegant and wonderful here and now. And what could be more important than saying “This is my partner in love and life for the rest of my days” to your whole community? Pretty much nothing. Use your modern wedding to embrace this moment and create a memory you’ll remember when today’s modern becomes tomorrow’s vintage.