Shifts in Wedding Trends Over the Last Few Decades

Shifts in Wedding Trends Over the Last Few Decades

Decades ago, weddings, while they were still large spectacles, were much easier to plan due to the lack of creativity, traditions to uphold, and choices for nearly everything were so limited. Coordinators and planners were nonexistent which meant everything was left to the bride and her family to prepare the event from start to finish. This meant there was little time and effort spent on color schemes, themes, party favors, and above all, engagements lasted for a short time so planning was simple.

Your colors were white. White flowers, white cake, white dress, white linens. Traditions were important and very few people focused on having a “unique” wedding. Grooms wore black suits and were uninvolved with planning. Fathers of the bride walked their daughter down the aisle, made a speech and ultimately paid for the event.

Ceremonies only took place in a church or place of worship, typically in the morning and was followed by a reception, typically with a band, in a banquet hall or hotel. The bride and groom always danced a “honeymoon dance” and following the reception, the newlyweds would leave on a car decorated with cans and go immediately to their honeymoon.

But times are much different now. While some traditions have withstood the years, many have faded and couples are focusing their energy on making their day unique and creative adding personal touches, even considering the environmental impact on things when making a decision.

As we fast forward through the years, the industry is now saturated with millions of choices to personalize your wedding so planning has become much more complex and time-consuming. In addition to the internet, there are thousands of bridal shows, magazines, bridal boutiques and social media to influence your decisions. With just the click of a button you can receive quotes for prices of venues, or even create an electronic version of your dream wedding.

People are getting married on beaches, on yachts, in gardens, at wineries, under water or even on top of mountains. Literally, anything is possible these days. Bridesmaids are sometimes given the leigh way to wear what they want within a color realm, sometimes even white!  What would have been unheard of fifty years ago are themed weddings – think chic rustic woodland, seaside, festival, Hollywood glamour, vintage –and these are popular today as they offer couples the chance to personalize their weddings and at the same time provide an opportunity to incorporate an element of fun and surprise for their guests. This is often done with the addition of photo booths, sweet tables, food stations, garden games, etc.

Here are some of the biggest traditions that couples are now straying from.


Father walking the Bride down the aisle

Last century it was believed a bride’s father walking her down the aisle was to become a thing of the past as many brides opted to walk alone. With the recent legalization of same-sex marriage, it will be interesting to distinguish whether this tradition becomes more or less popular. Some brides have even opted for their mother to walk them down the aisle. It looks like the key to this traditions longevity is its ability to adapt and update with the times.

Parents of the Bride pay for the wedding

The tradition that the bride’s family pay for the wedding is derived from the notion of a dowry. In the past, when women weren’t allowed to live on their own, work outside the home, or own property. An unmarried daughter was a considerable burden, especially on families living at or near the subsistence level. To remove this burden, her family would pay a man to marry her. With women now fully independent, luckily for the father of the bride, he no longer has to foot the bill alone.

The average age for couples to marry has increased from the early twenties to early thirties and the cost of the wedding is now more likely to be shared between both sets of parents and the couple. It’s refreshing to see more grooms are getting involved in the planning of their wedding and they are definitely having a greater say in what they wear with many opting for more casual clothing and footwear.

The Best Man Speech

This tradition has grown over the last 250 years. While the role of the best man was primarily created to act as a ‘protector of the bride’ until the day of the wedding, the best man speech became more popular in the late 19th / early 20th century. This tradition is now at its strongest, but the best man speech is now more so focused on entertainment and humor.

Tin Cans & the Honeymoon

According to “Wedding Ideas Magazine,” this tradition originated from the Tudor period. When the bride and groom were to depart from their wedding festivities, guests would throw their shoes at them. It was considered to be good luck if you hit the carriage/vehicle. With few guests in modern times satisfied walking home with just one shoe, the Americans twisted the tradition slightly and started using aluminium cans instead. Over the last 100 years this tradition has faded out.

While many still do leave straight from their wedding to their honeymoon retreat, many now use donated proceeds from their guests wedding gifts to pay for their honeymoons. Otherwise, those who do not have the money to afford a lavish honeymoon straight after their big day, many embark on a mini-moon, a small romantic break before their more adventurous honeymoon experience.

The First Dance

While the sanctity and intimacy of the first dance have never been compromised, the nature of them has changed drastically. If you search on YouTube “first dances,” more than likely majority of the videos that appear will be choreographed or full of upbeat, fun dances. Often times, the bride and groom will incorporate their guests and encourage people to join them.

Traditional Wedding Dresses

Brides are shifting from traditional white, modest, floor-length ball gowns, to dresses with more personality, flare, and fit. Gowns now range from non-white, to short, strapless, tight fitting to show their figure, and sometimes even 2 pieces!

Throwing the Bouquet of Flowers

This tradition came into being when other women attending the wedding would try and take a piece of the brides dress or flowers as a token of luck. To avoid any hard feelings in the 21st Century, the bride throws her bouquet of flowers into a crowd of her bridesmaids and female attendees to pass on the luck of marriage. Often times now, the bride will throw a bridesmaid bouquet, order a small one designated to throw, or even take an arrangement from the centerpieces to toss for photos. More often than not, the bride wants to keep her bouquet for keepsake!

Finding Vendors

Finding a vendor today is much easier with the sake of the internet but can also be more difficult to narrow down due to the overwhelming volume of possibilities now. Many couples will choose vendors based on the venues preferences, social media, or word of mouth based on who their friends and family have used in the past.

According to, here are some statistics that show the varying up and coming trends for today’s weddings.

Weddings planning:

Only 27 percent of engaged couples sent a save-the-date to guests compared to 67 percent today! Thirty-one percent of engaged couples sought the help of planner to assist with their big day, compared to less than a third 10 years ago. Only 34 percent of couples decided to take engagement photos, compared to a whopping 62 percent today.


Ten years ago, only 17 percent of engaged couples incorporated a theme into their wedding, but, great news. Today, a little over 50 percent of couples plan their wedding around a theme—this trend has gone up nearly 188 percent! Feeling rustic? Go ahead! Want something a bit more beachy? Plan away.

Catering & Dessert:

The popular trend of incorporating non-traditional food options has doubled, with 26 percent of couples today using a food truck, pizza bar, ice cream station, and/or local fare during their big day. Keep in mind, only 14 percent of engaged couples followed this trend 10 years ago. More desserts, please! Over half of couples today provide their wedding guests with dessert other than the traditional wedding cake, compared to 28 percent 10 years ago.

Social Media:

Sixty-four percent of couples announce their engagement via social media compared to 18 percent 10 years ago. The same goes for announcing your nuptials. But, make sure guests unplug on the big day. Many couples today request that guests turn off their phones to be fully present during the ceremony, compared to six percent 10 years ago. offered some more insight on differences in the wedding industry:

Couples are marrying later.

As women are empowered to be more career oriented and less dependent on marriage for financial stability, they’ve been tying the knot later. In 2007, the average age of marriage for a female was 26, and that number has jumped to 30 since then. In comparison, men are, on average, 32 when they get married as opposed to 29 back in ’07.

Couples are spending more on engagement rings.

Ten years ago, the average price for an engagement ring was $2,600. Not anymore. Today, couples are shelling out $5,000 for their ring.

Couples are staying engaged longer.

In 2007, an engagement typically lasted about eight months. Fast forward to today, and an engagement averages about 13 months. That’s a pretty significant jump! According to WeddingWire, couples are prolonging their engagements to plan more elaborate, over-the-top weddings. Additionally, many couples tend to cohabitate before they get married, so they don’t feel as much of a rush to tie the knot.

More couples are meeting online. 

If you’re still looking for love, this survey says that the most tried-and-true method of meeting your future spouse is through a friend. However, the difference in couples that have met online is astounding. Ten years ago, only 12 percent of couples that got married said they met online. Today, that number has jumped to almost one in five. Touché, Tinder!

Overall, weddings have certainly changed a lot and become more colorful in the past fifty years and it is going to be interesting to see how many more changes are yet to come.


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