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You’re not the only one!
Book now for September and October 2024 so you don’t miss out on popular spots.    DON’T MISS OUT

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Planning a wedding that’s wildly different from anything your friends or family members have done is no bad thing. But is it so terrible to embrace a wedding tradition or two? 

Going hand-in-hand with comfort and nostalgia, wedding traditions can give your special day structure and manage guest expectations.

On the other hand, feeling obliged to include certain rituals in your day can cause unnecessary stress. And as a company specializing in stress-free weddings, we’re all for keeping things as chill as possible. 

Taking a “kiss, marry, avoid” approach to seven of the most talked about wedding traditions, we ask which traditions remain intact and which have gone the way of the landline.

Let’s play keep, update or ditch. 

Ditch: A plus one for every guest 

Guests that aren’t already part of a duo may find it intimidating that they have to bring a plus one.

The pressure is on to find someone who they’ll enjoy spending the day with, but who will also cope with meeting a room full of family and friends they may never have met.

And this works both ways.

For you, as the couple, meeting a bunch of plus-one strangers on your special day is, well… odd. And then you have to budget for these strangers, too? Yeahhh — nah. 

People are much more open to going alone. In fact, some even prefer it

Weddings are social events that should give all in attendance the opportunity to catch up with friends and family they may not have seen for a while or, better yet, meet new people and make new friendships.

Update: Who pays for the wedding

The lines for this wedding tradition are being redrawn rather than ditched.

In the 1950s, the average age of young women to marry was about 20 while for men it was closer to 23, according to the U.S. Census.

Today, the average age is about 29 for women and 30 for men. With these ages in mind, you might assume that more couples are paying for their own nuptials since they’re more likely to be financially established.

But this isn’t quite true.

According to Wedding Wire’s 2020 Newlywed Report, parents are paying for around 52% of the wedding, and the couple is paying the rest.

And, although parents are still paying the majority, how they control that money is becoming more flexible. 

The same report suggests that roughly one-third of parents write a check for the couple to spend as they please.

This gives couples greater wedding budget freedom, rather than having to okay every expense with their folks.

It will be only a matter of time before this wedding tradition becomes outdated, as couples continue to find ways to pay for the lion’s share of the celebrations themselves. 

Ditch: Big, traditional weddings

Traditional weddings with a long guest list are a thing of the past. Aunts, uncles and cousins you’ve not seen for decades, plus colleagues you don’t think about outside office hours are being given the heave-ho.

The latest data from The Wedding Report confirms that, even though COVID restrictions have eased, most couples are keeping the guest count small at 50 to 100 guests. That’s micro wedding territory, y’all.

And it’s not just the traditional lengthy guest list that’s on the way out. Traditional, formal dress is, too.

According to The Knot survey, since 2009 formal black-tie weddings have decreased from 20% to 16%. Outdoor weddings have increased from 39% to 52% in that same time period.

In another twist, weddings held in religious institutions have dropped from 41% to 22%. 

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And this is happening nationwide as well. According to The Knot survey, since 2009 formal black-tie weddings have decreased from 20% to 16%.

Outdoor weddings have increased from 39% to 52% in that same time period. In another twist, weddings held in religious institutions have dropped from 41% to 22%. 

Update: The gift registry and asking for cash

Already living with your partner before getting married? Then your home is probably flush with the more traditional wedding gifts such as a toaster, crockery, cheese boards and wine glasses.

While asking for cash is tempting, the reality is it won’t sit well with many traditional folks who find money requests distasteful. 

If you’re committed to the money request option, consider the modern alternative of inviting guests to contribute to a honeymoon or an experience. You could even use a service such as Honeyfund.

Still facing resistance? Explain that an experience is more memorable than a new set of towels.

But even with that kind of help, you might expect that Aunt Betty is going to give you a casserole dish no matter what you request. 

Ditch: The law that says a bride’s dress must be white

Does the dress have to be white? Heck no. Just ask our buddies over at Electric Sugar Elopements.

Dresses can be any color the bride chooses. And because more brides are choosing to wear off-white or not white it’s becoming more common to see bridesmaids and other guests rock up in lighter tones. 

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Keep: Old, new, borrowed, blue

The “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” is, despite the times, a tradition that a lot of couples embrace.

The sentimental element of borrowing items or including mementos from a cherished family member is still important for many. Especially if that person can’t be there on the day.

While this wedding ritual has endured, it’s also seen its fair share of updates. Vintage cars, old poems, matching tattoos, customized clothing and sapphire jewelry are just a few of the ways modern couples are celebrating this Victorian-era wedding tradition.

Keep: bachelor and bachelorette parties

Let’s just say that living and working in Vegas means we know this pre-wedding trend is still alive and well.

In fact, according to a small Wedding Wire survey, around 97% of bachelor and bachelorette parties are overnight events.

While many are keeping these as separate parties for each bride and groom, around one in 10 are having joint celebrations. 

Embrace the wedding traditions that suit you

If you’re a couple that hates dancing, ditch the first dance.

If the thought of having a bunch of people watching you cut a cake feels weird, then leave it out of your day.

Or if you simply can’t find a way to include something blue, then don’t sweat it.

Adding traditions to your wedding day is only fun if they feel natural or you believe in the motivations behind them. Never be afraid to update them or ignore any that you feel are outdated.

Ready to start working out which traditions may fit with your day? Download our ultimate destination wedding checklist.  

Download the Ultimate Destination Wedding Checklist for Couples

McKenzi Taylor
McKenzi Taylor

McKenzi Taylor is America’s go-to elopement and micro wedding expert, often featured in small and major media outlets, such as the New York Times. With over 15 years of wedding photography experience, it was after planning her own Las Vegas elopement in 2016 that McKenzi felt her purpose shift into elopement coordination. She started Cactus Collective Weddings soon after in 2017. Since then, she’s become a WIPA board member, and has helped well over 1000 couples get hitched in style around Las Vegas, San Diego and Black Hills.