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Traditions in today’s weddings: turning 5 of them on their head

by | 17 December 2016 | Couple

As our culture and attitudes become more liberal(ish) – and our relationship with the internet grows we’re getting less attached to upholding the traditional trappings of the Western wedding.

So this week, we’ve taken some typical wedding-day traditions and practices and explored how the modern-day wedding has put a controversial spin on them.

1. The white wedding

The traditional white wedding was always a religious church ceremony at which the bride wore a formal white dress.

But as our relationship with religion evolves, and the internet becomes a haven for wedding-day inspiration, our choice of wedding venue and attire is changing massively. And today’s wedding vendors can accommodate for (pretty much) every taste.

You can tie the knot in stunning non-church wedding venues, at the zoo or hanging upside down from a bungee cord. And for the more eccentric among us, themed weddings and then some are all the rage.

Our approach to wedding attire is changing too with non-traditional, non-white wedding dresses becoming more popular. Some brides might even avoid dresses altogether and wear what they’re comfortable in, like a jumpsuit or trouser/top combo. While others shun tradition completely and get their groom to help pick out their dress.

Popup Weddings co-founder Alasdair helped his wife Kerry (the other Popup Weddings co-founder) pick out her wedding dress:

“I wanted Alasdair to help pick the dress because I value his opinion and I didn’t want to walk down the aisle in a dress he didn’t like.”

Bride wearing a white dress with patterened top

2. Saving yourself

Not having sex before you get married is traditionally a religious commitment; the idea being that you remain pure for your husband or wife. Although many people still follow this tradition, not many get a certificate of purity from their doctor to prove it – unlike this woman.

Couple lying and hiding under covers

3. Not seeing each other before the big day

Brides and grooms have always traditionally spent the night before their wedding apart; the idea being that they won’t know each other intimately until they say ‘I do’.

But nowadays, couples tend to already live together. And increasingly more couples provide their own wedding budgets. So staying apart isn’t always feasible:

“We stayed together the night before our wedding; I wasn’t forking out for two hotel rooms!”

explains my friend Lizzy who paid for her own wedding with her husband James.

And Popup Weddings co-founders, Alasdair and Kerry were together the night before their wedding:

“I didn’t want to spend a night away as we never have, and I wouldn’t have been able to sleep without Alasdair. I also felt more relaxed knowing he was by my side the whole way.”

Couple waking up

4. Photos: when and where to do them

When it comes to photos, the couple in question tend to get whisked away straight after the ceremony while the guests mill around and wait for the reception to start. But some couples are switching the running order of their big day and getting their photos taken before the ceremony.
Yes, this means they sacrifice that initial WOW moment when they see each other all dressed up at the ceremony. But it does mean they can spend more time celebrating with their friends and family.

There are other ways people are tailoring tradition to suit them too. One couple managed to pray together before their wedding without seeing each other. And other couples who have lost close family are having photos taken at their deceased relatives’ headstones.

Bride and father at cemetary

5. Supporting roles and guest-list etiquette

It’s traditional for the bride to have a maid of honour and the groom to have a best man. But, as gender becomes more fluid, more couples are subverting tradition and opting for best women and men of honour.

Couples are also turning guest-list etiquette on its head by inviting people to their hen/stag do but not the wedding. With limited budgets and multiple circles of friends, deciding who makes the wedding guest-list cut is tough. So some couples choose to only invite close friends and family to their actual wedding, and celebrate their upcoming nuptials with the rest of their friends at a pre-wedding party. A controversial, yet possibly great, budget-saving solution.

Bride with bridesmen

It’s obvious that our attitudes towards wedding traditions are noticeably different from our grandparents’. It could be because religion doesn’t have the societal presence it used to. But it might also be because of the internet.

Nowadays we have access to so much inspiration online, it’s easier than ever to find vendors who will make our dream wedding (however wacky) come true. And that’s a great thing for couples and the wedding industry alike.

Have you turned wedding-day tradition on its head? Have your controversial decisions caused an uproar among your friends and family? Let us know in the comments box below.

About the author

Jo Wigley

From her word-nerd studio (way) down under in New Zealand, the copywriter in Jo crafts websites, advertising campaigns, scripts, blogs and brochures for businesses across the world. While the creative consultant in her helps brands, big and small, find their voice in one heck of a noisy world.


Couple Traditions in today’s weddings: turning 5 of them on their head