When my son and his wife were married five years ago, there was a moment in the planning stages where I realized their wedding day would be anything but “traditional”. Credit their beautiful outdoor venue (no church), the “mixed-up” wedding party (ladies aside the groom; men aside the bride), their Keds canvas sneakers (no formal shoes beneath the tuxes and dresses) or the trays of truffles after dinner (no wedding cake) – they found dozens of details to make their day unique and memorable. But given the most recent wedding trends, perhaps my son and his wife were more old-school than I thought.
Hindsight being what it is, my own wedding to my wife thirty-two years ago now seems downright formulaic. We were married in a church, accompanied by an organist and harpist. We exchanged rings and vows before a priest. We lit a “unity candle” at the altar. Our reception was in a hotel ballroom, with an open bar and live band. Dinner was served, wedding cake was cut, and the only time the dancing stopped was to toss the bouquet and garter. Our one and only off-script detail? We included a contemporary John Denver song in the ceremony (much to our priest’s dismay). Otherwise ours was a carbon copy of just about every other wedding of the 1980’s.
I’m sure you have examples of just what makes weddings different these days. Let me guess. They’re no longer just outdoors; they’re now in backyards or in barns or at faraway “destinations”. The ceremony is facilitated by an officiant (“basic online ordination package” – $29.99!) The bride grooves down the aisle to something more like Metallica than Mendelssohn. The vows – far removed from the dusty “to have and to hold” – could double as songs or poems. The receptions take place in twinkly-lit tents. The food is more likely “finger” than “buffet”. The wedding cake has been replaced by a cupcake tower.
“Non-traditional” should be a non-surprise when it comes to modern-day weddings. After all, the average age of today’s marrying couples is 29, which typically follows years of living together or even a purchased home. Four of five couples who marry are millennials, and millennials are all about personalization. Thus, 44% write their own vows, and only one in four have their ceremony in a religious institution.
Let’s dig deeper, shall we? If you’re not convinced the traditional wedding has gone completely off the altar, check out the Chapel of the Flowers website (“Voted Best Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas!”), particularly their article, “New Wedding Traditions to Trade In for the Classics”. Perhaps you and your future spouse will consider the following from their list of suggestions (not that I would):
- Rings – Skip the jewelry store and head for the tattoo parlor. Your wedding band tat will never fall off and the ink will remain… “until death do you part”! For that matter, your tattooist might also be an officiant, so you can have the whole shebang right there in the parlor. I’m sure the biker dude in the next chair will be happy to witness the signing of your marriage certificate.
- Wedding Dress – Skip the white in favor of pastel hues or bright, tropical colors. After all, the “innocence, purity, and light” of white may not be – ahem – the appropriate statement.
- Pocket the Phones – As in, ask guests to refrain from taking their own photos. Really? Is the Force with you or something? Unless you hand out physical restraints as your guests walk through the doors, those phones will keep on a-clickin’. Moving on…
- Smaller Wedding Parties – 1-3 family/friends at most. This suggestion is either overlooked, ignored, or most likely mocked. If anything, wedding parties seem to be getting bigger these days. Moving on again…
- Gifts – Out with the wedding registry and in with “donations to a good cause”. Say what? I get that modern-day couples live together and already have most everything they need, but what about cash? Clearly, money dances have fallen by the wayside. Donations to good causes works for funerals but not for weddings. Hard pass.
- Delayed Honeymoons – Don’t delay… I repeat, don’t delay. I know several couples who never had a honeymoon because, well, “more important” things got in the way (i.e. real life). I also know a couple who divorced before they even made it to their honeymoon. Don’t delay. Have some fun while you’re still carefree and unconditionally happy.
No matter how you feel about “new traditions” at weddings these days, there’s an underlying positive to be gleaned. At least we still have weddings. The vows may raise your eyebrows. The food and festivities may not be your particular glass of champagne. But those details don’t really matter, do they? At the end of the day, you still have two “I do’s” and one “I now pronounce you…”, sealed with a kiss. You still have a marriage.
Some content sourced from the Wall Street Journal article, “They Solemnly Swear Their Wedding Will Ditch Tradition”. (8/6/19)