The LGBTQ Factor

Kristen Maxwell Cooper, executive editor of The Knot, dishes on wedding fashion, trending jewelry styles, and the results of a new study on LGBTQ wedding jewelry

Since 2012, JCK has partnered with The Knot on an annual supplement that delves into modern-day wedding jewelry preferences among couples around the country. For the past three years, The Knot has also published a secondary study, focused on the LGBTQ community and its take on wedding costs, proposals, traditions, and, of course, jewelry. We spoke to The Knot executive editor Kristen Maxwell Cooper about the highlights of the LGBTQ study (click here for more) and a host of other wedding trends to help put the bridal jewelry market in the proper context. In short: With more people legally allowed to marry, there’s never been a better time to be in the wedding business! 

JCK: What were the most important findings in your 2016 LGBTQ Weddings Study?

Kristen Maxwell Cooper: One thing I thought was very interesting is how much the LGBTQ community is spending on engagement rings in general. For couples in our Real Weddings study, $5,978 is the average spend vs. $5,719 for men in our LGBTQ study. That speaks to how it doesn’t matter who you are as a couple. You want to celebrate how you want. Weddings are so rooted in tradition, and this is something that [the LGBTQ] community wants to be part of, this tradition of weddings and marriages. 

JCK: Did any of the findings surprise you?

KMC: I’m not sure there was anything super surprising. We’re seeing diamond center stones are still the most popular engagement ring style, the same as in our Real Weddings study. The number of men insuring their engagement ring has more than doubled, from 26 percent in 2015 to 60 percent in 2016. In general, we’re seeing more couples. The marriage equality ruling made it legal for everyone to get married. The number of people taking that leap and getting engaged is on the rise.

JCK: In terms of fashion, what are the year’s most important dress trends?

KMC: One trend we’re seeing that would impact the need for a necklace is a very deep V neckline, almost borderline plunging. It’s very long and flattering to the upper body because it elongates your frame. On the flip side, we’re also seeing a vintage inspiration coming into wedding gowns, so we’re seeing some high collars, almost Victorian-esque, which is great for a big statement earring. 

We’re also seeing the big appliqué for the last season was bows—very feminine. And this idea of bridal capes—it may be sheer but it goes over your shoulders. You might wear it for your ceremony and take it off for your reception, especially if you have a religious ceremony. We saw those trends come down the runway in April and we will start seeing them in stores in September–October.

JCK: Which jewelry trends are you highlighting?

KMC: In terms of engagement rings, definitely rose gold and the popularity of yellow gold and the use of colored diamonds. We saw some vintage inspiration in rings and also the idea of rings with elaborate side views, and pear shapes and marquise-cut diamonds, which are so incredibly stunning. 

Of course, halos seem to be here to stay. But we’re now seeing this mixed metal halo. And stacking bands are very popular; maybe you get more than one wedding band or you get one wedding band now and others as you hit more milestones in your relationship. We’ve also seen tennis bracelets make a comeback, as well as choker necklaces, whether it’s a delicate velvet ribbon around the neck or Catbird’s tiny chain choker necklaces, very delicate.

JCK: What overall lifestyle trends are making an impact on how people get married?

KMC: One of the biggest things we’re seeing is not only a signature drink, but also the idea of a satellite bar. So maybe you and your fiancé are really into wine or you’re whiskey connoisseurs, so you’ll have a satellite bar almost as a form of entertainment. We’re seeing this idea of personalization come into the wedding, things that speak to the bride and groom and their likes and hobbies that make it a fun and unique experience for the guests. In desserts, it’s not just a cake. Maybe they’ll have a doughnut wall or a cotton candy machine. 

We’re seeing this idea of social media and having a hashtag for your wedding is still very popular and very trendy. On the flip side, couples are having unplugged ceremonies. You can bring out phones at the reception but for the ceremony, they’re asking people to put them away. And, of course, this idea that couples are using their smartphones to plan their weddings.

JCK: Finally, tell us about what’s trending as far as honeymoons.

KMC: Over-water bungalows. Before, you had to go to far-flung places like Tahiti or Fiji to see them, but now we’re seeing them crop up closer to home, in places like the Caribbean. Iceland is the big place right now for honeymoons, as is New Zealand. You don’t think of them as honeymoon destinations. Asia in general is a big destination. And more couples are taking two weeks or 12 days away, and taking that opportunity to go to a place that requires a day of travel. 

(Top: Levi Ely/Offset; inset: Cavan Images/Offset)

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