Event Trends

2020 Event Trends To Look Out For

Written By Guest Blogger: Olivia Sundstrom of National Event Pros

The Year 2020

As the leaves begin to turn colors and cover the streets, children prepare to go back to school and calendars are dotted with holiday plans, the year 2019 is beginning its final transitions into the new year. 2020 holds new and exciting prospects in the personal lives of many and for the global community with upcoming elections, launches, and innovations. As the seasons and years change so do celebrations.

Incorporating Mindfulness 

Excited african-american man talking to diverse friends sitting

With the rise of technology and the interconnected world of social media, events have managed to strike a balance between utilizing this technology as well as creating a place of refuge from the online world for attendees to fully embrace the present moment.

The demand for real connection in the iGeneration has only been growing louder and the ways people choose to celebrate have been emphasizing mindfulness. Mindfulness inspired events can be anything from hosting yoga flow and meditation workshops, featuring live artists and speakers that inspire, a phone-free zone at an event, to hands-on creative activities like terrarium buildingpainting, and candle making.

Allowing guests to escape their day to day routines, work with their hands, or engage their minds are all great ways to incorporate mindfulness in small ways no matter the occasion.


Personalized Touches 

In today’s world where ideas are so interconnected and people are taking in more information than ever before the ability to stick out and hold space in any circumstance is increasingly valuable. This couldn’t be more true for brands looking to make an impact in a marketplace or for organizations to attract the best talent.

Bringing the right message to attendees without the feel of a gimmick is critical in a time where authenticity is the biggest draw and priority for consumers, employees, and the masses.

Delivering that message can be done in a multitude of ways but a trend of personalized rentals and experiences for events has been gaining traction and will be a central strategy for engaging audiences well into 2020 and beyond.

A Focus on Sustainability 


With the worldwide focus on making shifts towards sustainability in everyday life, so has the focus shifted towards creating sustainable and eco-conscious events.

The idea of a fully sustainable event sounds like a lofty goal but a focus on sustainability can be achieved in the details of the event. One of the keys to achieving sustainability in any setting is focusing on reducing overall waste.

Events have long been notorious for generating large amounts of single-use plastics, single-use dining utensil waste, excess paper waste and everything in between. Changing the essentials over to compostables is a cost-efficient and easy swap that will make a noticeable difference in making strides to a more sustainable event.

There are many ways to interpret a focus on sustainability in events including featuring speakers, sponsors, and opportunities to donate to eco-conscious causes throughout an event. Offering various menus that focus on sustainability by offering locally sourced options, seasonal options, vegan or vegetarian options are also great ways to cater to guest’s tastes mindfully.


Augmented and Virtual Reality

The virtual and augmented reality boom has been at the forefront of current event trends and will continue to dominate as a central event trend in 2020 and beyond.

Whether it be in marketing campaigns, used to transform expo & tradeshow presences, or as innovative entertainment at events, the mixed reality mediums will continue to expand into all facets of the event industry as well as everyday life.

Event Photography with a Twist

Event photo. NEP.png

The importance of capturing moments will never fade but the methods for how events are documented is everchanging. Creating interactive photo ops and photo booths are event trends that will surface throughout 2020. With smartphones and platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, the ability to capture events and share has become second nature.

Creating ways to make capturing moments special again and engaging for attendees has been the latest challenge in the increasingly connected world.


Futuristic Takes On The Classics 

A trend that has been seen throughout media and fashion recently is the focus on nostalgia. Nostalgia in the form of bringing back fashion from the ’80s and ’90s, retro-inspired shows and movies or remakes. Of course, the trend of bringing back all the best of the decades prior will continue to be reflected in the celebrations of the future.

This goes beyond throwback themed events, but now guests can enjoy re-vamped futuristic editions of well-loved arcade and video games.

With new releases in the gaming and entertainment spheres like the Atari Pong Table, a larger life version of Tomohiro Nishikado’s Space Invaders Arcade Game, and many more re-makes there is plenty to entertain attendees and gaming enthusiasts with for years to come.


Larger Than Life Giant Games

In addition to the futuristic remakes of well-loved video games making a pop-up in 2020 event trends, larger than life versions of games as a whole are making a come back as well. Expect to see make larger than life versions of favorites like giant twisterhuman billardslife-sized beer ponggiant battleship, and more.


Light Up The Night with LEDs

The use of LED’s are not only effective when it comes to scaling back an electricity bill but they have become a simple way to elevate any piece of decor, venue, rental item, or trade show booth. More flexible than traditional lighting fixtures, and more versatile than neon, LEDs have taken over.

Team Building


Throughout the years’ organizations have been evaluating the idea of company culture and ways to organically increase employee retention, and attract the most valuable candidates on the market. Teambuilding events have taken the corporate events of the past and given them a makeover.

Team building events in themselves are an event trend that will only become more a part of organization’s strategies and due to the ability to customize any event to fulfill the needs and desires of each organization, teambuilding events are a solution that works across all industries.


National Event Pros is a full-service event planning, production, and rental company headquartered in Seattle with accomplished partners worldwide.

For over 30 years, our network of event professionals and extensive equipment inventory have provided our clients with services for more than 50,000 private parties, public gatherings, school picnics, and corporate special events.

Sustainable events, redefined.

Written by Aaron Shook, CPCE, 1st VP Seattle NACE


I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “oh sweet, freaking butter sauce, not another article on sustainability”. Sustainability fatigue is real and beginning to wear us a tad thin on the topic. We care, we really do, but we are busy, overwhelmed, and unsure of what we should be doing. The reality is weddings and events are a filthy business when we look at it through the lens of sustainability, but with a little focus and effort, we can make an impact. I am going to talk about how to apply sustainable principles to weddings and events and leave you with a few ideas for ways you can incorporate them into your event.

First, I want to clarify the term. Sustainability is such a challenging topic to tackle. The term has been misused, misunderstood, confounded, misappropriated, and even vilified at times. Now-a-days, we hear the word SUSTAINABILITY and many of us instantly conjure the vision of an activist chanting about the rain forest, or a group with signs damning GMOs and the companies that participate in their propagation. We think of climate change, plastic pollution, and honeybees. Rarely do we think about profitability, pricing, accessibility, inclusion, homelessness, or workforce, but here is the thing; the term sustainability includes all these things and more. To start let’s define and re-understand the term. We need to un-learn sustainability a bit, so we can relearn how to apply the term to real life.


  1. the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level.

    1. “the sustainability of economic growth”

  2. avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance.

    1. “the pursuit of global environmental sustainability


So what in tarnation does that have to do with the event world? Well, it takes a crap ton of resources to pull off a wedding or event – financial resources (money), social resources (workforce, attendees & community), environmental resources (materials and collateral used in the event). In many businesses it is easy to look for ways to reuse, recycle, or manage our resources in ways that are more sustainable in nature, however; in the event business, we consume at alarming rates, often with no consideration for the life or these resources post event.

The Green Bride Guide states that the average wedding produces 400 lbs of garbage and 63 tons of CO2. With an estimated 2.5 million weddings per year, that is about 1 billion lbs of trash and as many emissions as approximately 4 people would produce in a year, in just one single day.

According to meetgreen, a typical conference attendee will produce 1.89KG (4.16 lbs) of waste per day with 1.16KG (2.55 lbs) going directly to landfill. To put that in perspective, a single day event with 500 attendees produces around 2200 lbs of garbage with 1300 lbs going right to the landfill. This doesn’t even account for the waste produce by the event itself.

This is a fantastic amount of environmental resource consumption, and we haven’t event talked about the other two types of resources required to pull off an event.

So what in the sweet Sam Hill do we do about it?!? Well, first off, you have to care. If you don’t care about it, then I don’t have a whole lot for you. But if you do care, and I guarantee that your guests do, then I have some ideas to help you on your way.

Let’s break it down by type of resource.


Honestly, there is not a lot to say here, except know your budget and stick to it. Often when we see this resource being misused or over consumed, it is because the budget didn’t align with the scope of the event from the beginning. Go into it, just like with a construction project, knowing that you will usually exceed your budget by about 20% for a one-off event. Set your budget with this in mind. Hire a planner to help you build a vision within your budget, do your research, and build up your wedding or event with the important components first, adding in the additional elements as finances allow. This will be easier than trying to trim elements to meet budget later. Work with pros that quote fixed costs and try to avoid variable costs wherever possible. If it is a for profit event, ensure what you are charging is ample enough to cover the cost.

Money is a precious resource and there is never enough of it when planning a wedding or event. It can get away from you quickly if you are not paying close attention to it.


Social resources are a tricky one to talk about, because often, the use of these resources is less obvious. The reality though, is that how manage our social resources has a massive impact on our community and our world. Here are a few areas where your approach can have a tremendous impact:

  • Your event team – It takes a team of people to execute pretty much any wedding or event. Work with the best your budget will allow and ensure the companies you work with have great employee relations. Do they engage in fair labor practices and care for their teams? Event service teams are often low wage earners and this won’t change any time soon, but by ensuring you work with companies that have a great track record of care for their teams and a good team culture, you will make a positive impact of the community and town where you are hosting your event.

  • Pay your vendors/partners what they are worth. Discounts hurt everyone. When you ask your event partners for a discount, I guarantee you that the discount comes out from somewhere else. Margins in the event world are too thin for a discount not to be offset somewhere else. This means that when your caterer gives you that 20% discount to win your business, they are reducing the staffing levels or buying cheaper product to offset that discount. Paying fair market value for quality ensures your partners can remain focused on what is important to you and your event.

  • Source locally. Sourcing locally applies to both environmental and social resources. Working with local companies and products ensures the long-term viability of communities to thrive and grow.


We hear about this one a lot. Regardless of your political, religious, or environmental viewpoint, I think we can all agree that there is a lot of work we can do to protect our environmental resources. Here are a handful of things that can easily be managed in the wedding and event world:

  • Work with vendors that align with your values. If one of your values is protecting the oceans, work with a vendor that has similar values. Look for a caterer that uses paper straws or a rental company that has reusable packing material for their rental equipment. Know what is important to you and look for the same in your partners.

  • Manage your waste stream. This is a huge one with massive impact. The main idea here is the old adage – reduce, reuse, recycle (and compost). Easier said than done for weddings and events, but with a little focus in a few areas, you can be successful. Main goal, keep everything you can out of the landfill.

    • Use compostable alternatives for all disposable products (cups, plates, favors, etc)

    • Talk to your caterer and venue about how they manage their waste streams. It will really bum you out if you spend time and energy to source compostable barware only to find out that the venue has no means of composting, of if the town you are having your event in has no infrastructure for composting.

    • Ensure you have a plan for your caterer and services teams to sort the waste. Contaminated recycling or compost just goes straight to the landfill

    • Use compostable or recyclable materials for all of your printing and collateral.

    • Get your guest counts nailed down and don’t over order. Something like 10% – 20% of the food at weddings and events end up in the garbage at the end of the night.

  • Work with vendors that source locally as a priority.

  • Work with rental companies to use washable serviceware instead of using disposable.

  • Restore any damage. I see it often where a group will have an outdoor wedding or event in a beautiful greenspace, but post event, the place looks like a horde of angry zombies tore through it. Ensure there is a plan to leave spaces better than you found them.

  • Avoid the gifts. Little take home gifts are super cute and show you care… for about 3.5 seconds until your guest sets it down and forgets about it, or throws it away when they get home. Show you care in a different way. Give them a little note letting them know that you made a small donation in their name to a local organization at the same value as the cost of a gift. It is meaningful, helpful, and won’t go to waste.

There is so much more we can do to ensure we create sustainable events, but we thought these were some great places to start for those of you feeling a bit overwhelmed of overburdened in thinking about it. The most important thing is to be a good Steward to your environment, your communities, and your finances. Ask yourself questions along the way as to the choices you are making. Set litmus tests to determine if the choices align with your value system and then weigh the options. It is all about making thoughtful, responsible choices.

Here are some great resources for you if you are wanting to dig a little deeper:

Events Industry Council

The Green Wedding Professional



The Knot

Aaron Shook (CPCE), is General Manager of Ocean5, the unique new, 60,000sqft events and entertainment center in the South Sound, and Table 47, the new farm-fresh, locally and responsibly sourced restaurant and caterer located in Gig Harbor. Aaron is also Co-Owner of Perfect Storm Moments an elite wedding and events planning company in the Seattle area.