Wedding ceremonies are steeped in history and feature many traditions that seem set in stone. However, there are some wedding traditions that are dying, or are overdue for an overhaul. These include trends that have simply fallen out of favor as well as practices that are based on outdated ideas.
If you’re planning your wedding and want an updated ceremony, read on to learn all about 15 wedding traditions that are dying or overdue for change.
Wedding Traditions That Are Dying Quick Take: Today’s couples are changing or dropping wedding traditions like traditional registries, wearing white, having single-sex bridesmaids and groomsmen, giving the bride away, doing a garter toss, having a guest book, and more.
Having a traditional registry
In the past, a couple registered at local stores for sets of fine china, silver, and crystal. Over the years, registries grew to include items for the home and fun extras at locations like hardware and sporting goods stores.
Today’s couples are taking this change even further. Since many of them already live together, they often have all they need for their home. Many are not interested in having china, silver, and crystal, but want experiences they can share instead.
The bride’s parents paying for the wedding
This dying wedding tradition stemmed from the ancient practice of a bridal dowry. These days, there are all sorts of payment arrangements. Often the couple pays for the wedding themselves, which is probably a driving factor behind many of these wedding traditions dying, as they look for ways to save money and personalize their event.
Not seeing each other before the wedding
Many couples today live together and don’t see the point in spending the night apart before their wedding. Since this tradition originated back when marriages were arranged and was meant to keep the groom from changing his mind when he saw the bride, it’s no longer pertinent.
Having only female bridesmaids and male groomsmen
Another big change happening is that couples are no longer limiting who can be in their wedding party. Plenty of people have opposite sex friends, giving rise to “groomswomen” and “bridesmen.”
Wearing a bridal veil
A bride has historically worn a veil over her face as she walks down the aisle. However, many brides today are skipping this. One reason is so they can see more easily —and their grooms and guests can see them. It’s also one less thing to have to spend money on, and one less thing to keep up with afterwards.
Also, some feel that the history of the veil signifying a bride’s modesty is outdated, and don’t like the practice of her father lifting it up as he “gives her away.”
The bride wearing a white or offwhite dress
White wedding dresses, symbolizing purity, were made popular by Queen Victoria in the 1800s and have been one of the most enduring wedding traditions. In recent years, offwhite slowly became an acceptable alternative for women who don’t look great in white—or were uncomfortable with the connotation.
These days, however, modern brides are going totally offscript with a full rainbow of colored wedding dresses. From blue to red to black, women are choosing what looks good on them—and saving a ton of money in the process as they avoid the huge markup on traditional wedding dresses.
Groom and groomsmen wearing black tuxedos
While black has been the go-to color and tuxedos the go-to style for grooms and their wedding parties for decades, that is changing. Today, many prefer lighter colors like gray or blue, and suits rather than tuxedos in line with a less formal atmosphere.
Using a “wedding” song for bridal party entrances
Traditional weddings have long featured classics like Canon in D and Bridal Chorus for the music when bridesmaids and the bride are entering the church. Now, however, many couples are choosing songs that have personal meaning to them.
Giving the bride away
Historically the bride’s father would walk her down the aisle, and when they reached the groom the officiant would ask, “who gives this woman in marriage?” The father would then answer “I do,” raise the bride’s veil, and hand her off to her husband-to-be.
While some weddings today keep this tradition but change the answer to “Her mother and I do,” some brides are doing away with it altogether, feeling that the concept of a parent “giving” her to her husband is obsolete.
Wedding vows that say “obey”
This wedding tradition was long overdue for an update, and thankfully is pretty much extinct. It used to be that the woman promised to “love, honor, and obey” her husband, while the man promised to “love, honor, and keep” his wife. Today’s vows are much more egalitarian.
The lighting of the unity candle
To symbolize their lives joining as one, many couples used to take two separate candles and light a single larger candle during the wedding ceremony. While very popular at one time, it has fallen out of favor recently.
Guest books at the reception
It used to be standard that every wedding reception would feature a table at the entrance with an ornately decorated book for each guest to sign. While it was a nice way to gather a record of everyone who came—and some books had space for guests to write personal notes to the couple—it often became just one more dusty relic in a box.
Much more creative options are happening at today’s weddings, such as taking Polaroid pictures, video messages, painting on a canvas, a collection of postcards, and even a retro phone where guests can leave voice messages.
Having a traditional wedding cake
Couples are getting very creative and personal with wedding cake alternatives these days. Cupcake towers are popular, as are doughnuts, macarons, and candy that is special to the couple.
The garter toss
Another of the wedding trends on the way out is the bride wearing a garter and her husband pulling it off at the reception to throw to single male guests. While this used to be standard, many brides today find it off-putting and are skipping it. And while the bouquet toss is still done at many weddings, it is decreasing in popularity as well.
Favors for guests
Although this is still done at many weddings, quite a few couples are opting out. There are many reasons, but in addition to cost, favors can cause a lot of stress. Researching types of gifts, coming up with something meaningful, and making sure they arrive in time, are transported to the reception, and are pleasingly arranged can add a ton of pressure at an already stressful time.
Throwing rice at the newlyweds
This wedding tradition has been dying for a long time. Today’s guests have all sorts of fun ways to salute the newlyweds as they exit, from blowing bubbles to waving sparklers to throwing biodegradable confetti.
What are your opinions on these dying wedding traditions? Do you plan to keep any of them? Are there others you intend to ditch? Let us know in the comments! And if you need help planning your honeymoon, we can help!
Ashley has always loved to explore new places and indulges her passion for travel whenever she can. She has been to 12 countries and 32 states so far.
Ashley has worked as a freelance writer for more than 20 years, specializing in the areas of travel, marketing, personal development, and the pursuit of happiness.
Favorite destinations include Sorrento and Capri, Italy; Haarlem, Netherlands; Paris; Sydney and K’gari, Australia; Rotorua and Waiheke Island, New Zealand; the American West; Palm Beach; the Florida Keys; and her hometown of New Orleans. Ashley has a goal of visiting every state plus many more international destinations.