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10 Wedding Traditions that are Dying

Updated: Sep 22, 2021

Oh, how weddings have changed over the years!

Top: My grandparent's 60th anniversary party with their original wedding pictures. They just celebrated their 67th anniversary.



Fifty years ago, a typical wedding could be a simple cake and punch reception that ended with a honeymoon road trip to visit extended family. Now, it's not uncommon to see a glamorous all night event with dinner, late night snacks or even a fireworks display. Other couples are choosing to have low key intimate weddings at non traditional wedding venues like a rented out coffee shop or unique Airbnb.


More than ever, couples are feeling more comfortable with skipping wedding traditions.


The modern bride is free to be unique, without feeling the pressure to conform to tradition. Who would have ever though of having a Bridesman or Groomswoman!


Couples are encouraged to start trends that become the new standard of what is a 'must do' at a wedding. Since it's so easy to share the latest ideas, couples are thinking outside the box when it comes to wedding planning. Wedding inspiration sites like The Knot, Instagram and Pinterest have also accelerated the speed of new trends in the wedding industry.


Weddings now can incorporate all of your own personal likes, hobbies and passions. Themed weddings used to mean a particular color palette, but today it can mean anything from a video game styled event to a fairy tale themed wedding. You can have your dog in your wedding or carry cotton candy as your bouquet. The customizations are endless.


Tradition is no longer expected or mandatory.


Expectations have changed. The main reason these wedding traditions are fading is that a lot of the pressure is gone. Of course, people still expect the basics like a ceremony and reception, but the rest of the wedding details are completely open to interpretation.


Two points to clarify on this list are:

  • Some of these "dying" traditions are not completely gone yet, but they just aren't done as frequently at weddings as they used to be. You will still see many (or all) of these at very traditional weddings.

  • There is nothing wrong with any of them (by all means, keep them!), so there's no NEED for them to die. Some of them will just come and go with the times.


Top 10 Dying Wedding Traditions


1. Canon in D for wedding ceremony entrances- From the 2000s-mid 2010s, this was the go to song for wedding ceremony entrances, but you hardly ever hear it now. Couples today are choosing songs that are more personal to them vs generic wedding ones.


2. Bouquet toss/ Garter toss- These two wedding reception events used to be married together like the bride and groom, but in the last decade, the garter toss is disappearing. Today, 50% of weddings will still do the bouquet toss, but less than 20% will still do both.


3. Unity candle/ Sand ceremony- When I first started weddings back in 2008, almost every wedding did either the unity candle, sand ceremony, rope braiding or the heart/cross puzzle. Today, less than 15% of the weddings have these elements. Recently, I have seen many couples decide on a foot washing during their ceremony.


4. Napkins with your name on it- Not sure why this trend ended, but I used to see it at 99% of all weddings. It's very rare now when I see the cake napkins with the couple's name printed on them.


5. Traditional guest books- I never really understood guest books. I mean what do you do with them? I 'd rather have pictures of my guests than signatures, so this one makes sense to me. Today, brides are moving to signable art and photo books to modernize this tradition.


6. Veil over the face- I actually LOVE this one and am sad more people don't choose to do it. It's so beautiful and old fashioned. Not to mention, the moment of unveiling at the end of the aisle is really cool. I do understand why more brides don't want to do it since it might mess up your makeup, you can't see your guests (and they can't see you) and many have already had a first look anyway. Here's hoping this one comes back!


7. Black tuxedo- This is another one that is dying, but shouldn't be! Black tuxes are classy and traditionally were chosen for the most formal of occasions. For the last 5-7 years, most grooms are choosing gray or blue suits for themselves and their groomsmen.


8. Bridal sessions- Again another trend that I wish would be revived. Only about 25% of brides today are opting for a bridal session. Brides used to do this dress portrait in advance of the wedding day and then unveil the framed picture at the wedding reception. Today, brides use the bridal session as a final hair and make up trial in addition to getting pictures of them in their dress that there may not be time for at the wedding.


9. Smashing cake on each other- To be honest, I am not sure this was ever a thing, but almost every bride has "the talk" about not doing this when we go to cut the cake. In my 10 years as a photographer, I have seen only about 5% of couples do this one.


10. Favors- Before 2015, everything was all about personalization. Candy, koozies, cups, you name it, you got to take home a souvenir with Johnny & Suzie's name on it. In the last 4 years, favors have become less common with only about 40% of the couples decorating the table with favors.


Trending Wedding Traditions

  • First look (groom, dad, bridesmaids)/ First moment

Bride and Bridesmaids at Coffee Shop
Dress reveal to the Bridesmaids at Serve Coffee

  • Non traditional wedding venue locations- This was their fav coffee shop


  • Grand exits



  • Final private dance