There are a lot of lovely wedding traditions, but the wonderful thing about modern weddings is that there’s no real need to follow them anymore - unless that’s what you want.
Today, no-one’s going to sniff at the bride not wearing white, or the Best Man actually being the Best Woman, so when you’re planning your wedding you can pick and choose whether you like any classic wedding tradition and go with it, leave it out, or give it your own unique twist.
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I’ve been lucky enough to go to a LOT of weddings (naturally!), and over the years I’ve noticed more and more of these wedding traditions become outdated and less popular.
So, here’s my ultimate list of outdated wedding traditions, how people have updated them or replaced them with something that’s more fun, modern or meaningful to them.
For each one there are plenty of customs that you can do without - if you want to. We’ll talk about what wedding traditions have fallen out of favour, and what trends are on the rise.
Your wedding should be unique to you. There’s no point going through with outdated traditions just because that’s how other people have done things, or because you think you should.
If you love a tradition, that’s great! But lots of classic wedding trends are falling out of fashion, just like these.
The first tradition that has almost completely gone out of the window, is that of
the bride’s family (or father) paying for the wedding.
In fact, whilst lots of parents help out with wedding funds, most couples today
expect to be spending their own money on their big day.
Paying your own way helps you keep wedding costs under control (it’s easy to
bust a budget when you’re not footing the bill!), but also means you’re in
full control of what happens and how much you’re spending.
No-one will be able to turn around and say “but I’m paying for it, so
we’re doing x!”. And let’s face it, that’s an additional stress
you absolutely don’t need.
Back in the day, your wedding was the perfect opportunity to ask for all the
essential items you’d need for your first home together. But today it’s
pretty unusual for couples to be living apart before they’re married.
That’s led to the wedding registry becoming a bit redundant. It can be
difficult to think of a list of actual stuff that you need, and instead you end up
listing stuff that would just be nice to have, and end up never using.
Instead, lots of couples ask for a contribution to their honeymoon, or sometimes
even a donation to a charity that they love.
Speaking of honeymoons… they’re still very popular! But what is falling
out of fashion, is heading off on your honeymoon right after your wedding.
You can’t imagine how exhausting your wedding day can be, and lots of
newlyweds choose to either stay home and chill, or have a mini-moon right after the
wedding, with a big holiday planned for later.
A mini-moon is a little break for you both, probably somewhere not too far from
home, instead of a big destination holiday. It’s a good plan if you want to use
your honeymoon for doing exciting things, or going off on a long-haul flight.
Getting up at 4 in the morning to head off to the airport for an 18 hour flight
might quite literally be the last thing you want on your first day of wedded bliss!
Having a later honeymoon also means you can have some more time to save, instead of
trying to fund a wedding and an expensive holiday all at once. You can even ask guests
to contribute to it instead of buying you a gift.
Having two wedding colours is one of those traditions that goes so far back very few
people even know WHY it’s a tradition at all!
In fact, having two specific wedding colours comes from the time when a noble family
would have a specific colour associated with them (very Game of Thrones, right?!), so
having these two colours at your wedding would represent each side of the family.
Strangely, it’s a tradition that’s stuck around for a long time, but
it’s becoming outdated now as more people opt for either one key wedding
colour, or a palette of different shades.
I think having a Saturday wedding is less of a tradition, and more that it’s
just been the most convenient date for a long time.
Friday preparation, Saturday wedding, Sunday recovery has been the popular choice
for a really long time, but I’m noticing more and more weekday weddings each
Of course, the great thing about a weekday wedding, is that it’s going to cost
you way less than a Saturday in July, but it’s important to think of your guests,
People might be more than happy to take a Friday as holiday for your wedding, but if
you plan to get married on a Tuesday they might not be so delighted at the prospect of
having to take two days off, or turning up to work on Wednesday hung over!
Full Day Weddings
However, Tuesday might be lovely if you’re not planning for a full day
One of the newer trends is people having much shorter weddings, with a ceremony
followed by a lovely meal out.
Huge celebrations are becoming a bit of an outdated wedding tradition, particularly
if people have been married before, or only want a small, select group of people to be
The small evening wedding is a lovely option if you want something more intimate
with just your closest family and friends.
Other couples opt for a short day wedding with no evening do. This is becoming more
popular for couples who aren’t really into drinking and dancing the night away,
and would prefer to share the day with family and then head off together before the
Wedding Party Traditions
Lots of outdated wedding traditions are about the wedding party, with some of the most classic wedding features becoming less and less popular.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. We all know the
rhyme, but fewer and fewer brides are actually bothering.
And it’s pretty easy to see why - unless you have certain things that are
meaningful to you, it can be a bit of a faff.
However, I’ve been to plenty of weddings where a bride has incorporated a bit
of Mum’s wedding dress into her own (old and new), borrowed jewellery from Nan,
or kept a blue hanky from Dad to add a little extra meaning to her day.
Female bridesmaids, male groomsmen
It’s pretty obvious why this is falling out of fashion - most of us have close
friends of both genders, and it feels weird for your husband’s best friend to
have to be a bridesmaid just because she’s a girl, or your brother have to be a
groomsman because he’s a guy.
Lots of weddings now include Men of Honour or Best Persons, or you can get rid of
the titles altogether and just invite people you love to stand with you during your
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Speaking of bridesmaids, another outdated tradition is having your bridesmaids
dressed exactly alike.
The reason this custom sprang up is more than a little disturbing, so prepare!
Because on their wedding day, brides would be given to their husbands with a dowry
(i.e. a big wad of cash), kidnapping the bride was worryingly common.
So, it became popular for the bride to be accompanied by several young women, all
dressed similarly, to prevent the bride being stolen.
Fortunately for everyone, this would be a very unusual situation now!
And seeing as your bridesmaids don’t need to double as your decoys, you can
also do away with the custom of having them dressed identically.
Lots of wedding parties today will pick a colour, or colour palette and let
bridesmaids choose dresses they like.
It helps a lot if you can be more flexible, as it saves you trying to find a dress
that suits every bridesmaid, or forcing someone to wear something she feels really
Don’t see the bride
With more modern weddings, the tradition of not seeing the bride before she walks
down the aisle is becoming less popular.
It’s often for practical reasons, but a lot of couples like to spend their
wedding morning together so they can take some time before all the palaver begins.
A lot of couples now also go shopping together to get that perfect dress. For many
people, their partner is the ideal person to shop with, they understand what suits you
and what you feel confident in (as well as being the best person to let you know this
isn’t the right style for you - gently!).
Another tradition that’s fallen out of style, is having a floral bouquet. Some
brides don’t bother at all, whilst others look for more exotic options!
I’ve seen weddings with paper flowers, button bouquets and no flowers at all, but
special buttonholes for the men with lego figures on.
Flowers are beautiful, and will always be a popular choice, but keeping your wedding
flowers can be difficult (and expensive), whereas if you go for an alternative, you can
keep it forever.
One thing to bear in mind about going for something like paper or brooch bouquets,
is that they are blooming heavy! So make sure you carry one around for a bit before
deciding they’re the right option for you.
Dress & Ring Traditions
A lot of wedding traditions are about what you’re wearing. From the dress to
the accessories, it’s surprising how many old-fashioned traditions have lasted,
and how many are fading in popularity today.
Let’s start with the biggest thing (usually literally!). The wedding
The “classic” wedding dress is a big, white, floor length princess
dress. Often including a couple of layers of petticoats to keep it nice and
And that’s the dream dress for lots of brides - but not all.
Wedding dresses now come in all styles and shapes - and colours. I’m seeing
more and more brides choosing colours instead of the classic ivory, from blush pinks to
And floor-length is no longer the requirement either. Lots of brides prefer to wear
something a little more fun and funky - even pairing a shorter skirt with colourful
shoes for a more exciting look.
Another hangover from not seeing the bride before you’re married, the veil can
be a lovely addition to your wedding outfit, but if it doesn’t work for you -
it’s no big deal.
There are lots of different options that are becoming more popular than veils, from
lovely hair accessories to simple flowers.
Some brides even like to go the full tiara!
It’s important to pick the style that’s right for you and your wedding,
and that you’re going to feel comfortable wearing through the day.
Everyone wants to look fab in their photos, but not everyone gets excited about
wearing a full suit - or tails! - especially if you’re having a summer
Luckily for the gentlemen, fewer and fewer people are choosing to go for the full,
formal suit on their wedding day.
The more casual look with a waistcoat instead of a jacket, has become a big trend
over the last few years. It’s a nice balance of formal and relaxed, and many
grooms feel much more comfortable without having lots of layers that they aren’t
allowed to remove!
So if you don’t want to wear a tux, tails or a 3 piece suit on your wedding
day - don’t! This is one of those traditions that’s becoming more outdated
by the day.
The diamond engagement ring, the matching gold bands, wedding rings come with a lot
of traditions - but if you’re going to be wearing this jewellery every day for
the rest of your life, so make sure it’s perfect for you.
Firstly, the tradition of diamond engagement rings actually hasn’t been around
for as long as you imagine. It’s less a tradition and more just an example of
genius marketing from De Beers, who (shockingly) are the biggest diamond company in the
Whilst diamonds are undoubtedly beautiful, more and more people are looking for
other options. Whether that’s abandoning the single stone for several, to
choosing a coloured stone, like a sapphire or ruby instead.
Another tradition growing in popularity, is moving away from matching gold wedding
bands. Lots of couples are choosing more unusual designs for their actual wedding
rings, or alternatively choosing more hard-wearing but less valuable metals.
A groom I know who’s infamous for losing things had a titanium wedding band
that cost about £30. His wife told me that he was bound to misplace it within the
week (I think he actually lasted a month!), so better to keep it affordable!
The ceremony is where you’d expect to find a lot of outdated wedding traditions, but whether you’re having an old-fashioned church ceremony, or a modern civil ceremony, you can still pick and choose the traditions that are right for you.
There are some obvious reasons why the Bridal Entrance has become a bit of an
outdated wedding tradition - what if you don’t have a bride? What if you have
Even for straight couples, the wedding entrance can be a bit daunting, and more
people are choosing different ways to get down the aisle.
Particularly for same-sex couples, the idea of one person hanging around at the end
of the aisle while the other gets the big entrance can feel a little unfair, so lots of
people are opting for a double entrance.
This means that both of you get to have a gorgeous entrance to music that’s
meaningful to you, and you still have that lovely moment when you see each other for
the first time, looking stunning and full of joy.
Another popular option is to enter together, coming to the ceremony together, the
same way you plan to leave it. This can be a beautiful moment too, and it keeps that
“first moment” between the two of you more private.
Giving you away
Another outdated custom is for the bride’s father to walk her down the aisle.
This can be a lovely moment for the two of you (no matter how old-fashioned), but it
might also be a moment you actually want to share with your mum, or your step-dad, or
even your best friend.
Gone are the days when this was a sign of passing “ownership” on from
father to husband, today it’s more of a rite of passage, from being part of your
parents family, to starting one of your own.
As a result, today lots of people want both their parents to walk them down the
aisle, or sometimes they’d prefer it to be mum.
I’m also seeing lots more weddings where the groom is walked down the aisle by
his parents as well, making it a lovely symbol of two families joining together.
The Wedding March
If I’m honest I can’t actually remember the last wedding I went to where
the Wedding March played!
It’s a very outdated tradition now, even at religious ceremonies, as lots of
people envision a particular song playing them down the aisle.
Most places are more than happy for you to have your own music for that moment, even
if you have hymns throughout the rest of your service.
A classic example of an outdated wedding custom is having to sit on the appropriate
side for the Bride or Groom.
Don’t make your mutual friends have to choose who they like best! It’s
also pretty difficult if one person has a massive family, and the other doesn’t.
I’ve been to weddings where the groom’s family was twice the size of the
bride’s, and it makes for a very lopsided venue!
No, I don’t mean wedding day drama! I’m talking about the traditions of
rice throwing, and the bouquet toss. Two wedding features that are declining in
I’ve not actually been to a wedding where rice was thrown, and I’m
pretty glad about that - it hurts! But even confetti is a tradition that’s fading
A lot of that is due to practicality - confetti and rice make a mess! And some
confetti is also made of non-biodegradable materials so a lot of wedding venues ask you not to
But if you love confetti but don’t want to ruin the environment, there are
other options. For example flower petals or bubbles - they’re a nice way to
update an old custom.
The bouquet toss is also something that’s not so popular anymore. Most brides
would prefer to keep their bouquet than chuck it - and the idea of picking out the
single people and making them compete for it feels just a bit mean nowadays.
I’m sure this sounds odd, but a rising wedding trend is couples who
don’t actually get legally married on their wedding day.
This is because more people aren’t going for a religious or civil ceremony,
and prefer to have a Celebrant officiate their wedding.
This means that your wedding ceremony can be anything you want it to be, and you can
hold it anywhere you like - but that’s because it isn’t a legal marriage.
The legal bit of your wedding is the signing of the register, and Celebrants
aren’t able to officiate that for you.
However, it does give you much more freedom in deciding how you’d like your
wedding day to go, and more couples are avoiding the traditional church wedding and
designing their own ceremony from the ground up.
Of course it does mean that you’ll need to get officially married on another
day with a trip to the Registry Office with a couple of witnesses, but that’s a
lovely excuse to get your wedding outfits on again and maybe book yourself a fabulous
dinner for after.
For some couples it’s like getting the opportunity to have both a big white
wedding, and a small intimate one too.
Wedding Breakfast Traditions
The Wedding Breakfast is chock-full of classic traditions, and while some of those stalwarts might feature in your own wedding, others are falling by the wayside.
Undoubtedly the worst aspect of wedding planning - so much that lots of people are
skipping it entirely!
Creating the seating plan is usually a headache-inducing process, where the
otherwise happy couple have to organise family and friends into tables, being careful
not to leave anyone without a friend, or sitting next to someone they don’t get
So, to avoid the issue entirely, more people are just inviting guests to find a seat
and sort it out for themselves, or instead of formal circular 12-person tables, having
long tables and benches.
Of course, an informal seating plan doesn’t really work if you’ve gone
for a traditional 3 course “chicken or fish” dinner option.
But this is also a bit of an outdated tradition, and lots of couples are looking for
different options instead.
Less formal food in general is a common occurrence now, with options like pizza or a
hog roast gaining popularity.
There’s also a lot more people skipping courses entirely, choosing canapes
instead of starters, or having a cake table instead of a dessert and then the wedding
Speaking of cake, the classic 3 tiered fruitcake is another wedding custom
that’s going out of style.
Traditionally, the top tier of cake would be kept by the bride and groom, and then
eaten on your first anniversary. Sounds a bit odd - but fruit cake really does last a
But fruit cake (longevity notwithstanding) isn’t really everyone’s
favourite anymore, and beyond just switching fruit cake for chocolate or vanilla
sponge, some people are taking things a little further.
A full cake table has been a popular update, where instead of one cake, you have
lots! Some people even ask friends and family to bring a cake instead of a gift to add
to the table.
Cupcakes are another alternative, and then there’s also the cheese cake (not
cheesecake, which is entirely different!).
For those people who don’t have much of a sweet tooth, a cheese cake is a fab
option, usually consisting of several tiers of different types of cheese - which is
often brought out as the evening buffet.
The most traditional of wedding traditions is of course the speeches. But even this
custom is being updated for a more modern wedding.
The standard format for speeches is the bride’s father, the groom and then the
best man - but there are lots of weddings now where completely different people give a
Brides are much more likely to give a toast (especially if there’s no groom at
the wedding!), and both partners often speak. It’s also a lot more common to hear
from the mums too.
With the tradition of the men speaking falling out of fashion, it gives you a lot
more freedom just to let people who want to speak, speak.
Some weddings even go the other way and do away with the speeches altogether!
Wedding Reception Traditions
Things tend to be a little less traditional once you get to the wedding reception, but there are still some customs that have been around for a long time that are suddenly becoming more rare.
A subject close to my heart! A recent wedding trend is to opt out of the standard
staged group photos, and just let the photographer take candid shots throughout the
This can be really nice if you’re not fussed about having any specific family
shots, but if you struggle to get your folks all together for a photo, this could be
the excuse you’re looking for!
Favours can be great, but they can also be a bit of a pain. The traditional gift was
a bag of five sugared almonds, and today people are putting a twist on this tradition
by giving sweets, popcorn or chocolates as favours.
Some couples go a bit further, and instead of individual favours, use a bowl of
sweeties or chocolates that double as the centrepieces for tables.
Other people turn their favours into a game, with special favours hidden amongst the
regular ones. For example, a wedding I went to recently gave small keys as favours, but
three of them opened boxes with gifts in - meaning after the meal guests headed to the
gift table to see if they’d won a prize!
The first dance is still quite the tradition, but what has become very outdated is
the formal pattern of dances you’re supposed to follow. Happy couple, then dads,
then mums, then everyone.
The classic shuffle around the floor often gets replaced with a funky routine, or
just something happy and upbeat that everyone can get into.
Not everyone enjoys dancing, and if that’s you, don’t feel like you need
to be Fred and Ginger in your first dance - you can always let your significant other
take the limelight with their friends, or just skip it entirely.
And as we’re talking about music, the classic wedding DJ isn’t nearly as
popular as they used to be.
Wedding bands and DJs tend to be pretty expensive, and there’s always that
fear that they’re going to play music that you don’t want to hear.
Lots of couples now create their own wedding playlists for the day. From ceremony,
through dinner and into the reception, 3 playlists can have you confident that
you’re only going to be listening to the music you love - whatever that might
Of course if you do go with your own playlist, be careful that you’re not the
ONLY people on the dancefloor! You don’t need to play the Macarena, but picking
some tracks that lots of guests are going to enjoy could stop you being up there all on
At the end of the day
So there you have it, 29 outdated wedding traditions that you can do without or put
your own twist on.
There are so many ways you can make your wedding day unique, and though some people
might want to embrace as many traditions as possible, some people might abandon them
entirely, and lots of couples will pick and choose what works for them.
Remember, you don’t need to follow custom unless that’s what you want,
and you can always modernise traditions into something that suits you and your
And who knows, maybe in ten years we’ll have a whole new set of wedding
traditions to talk about!
Have I missed any? Have questions or want to talk about wedding photography for your big day? Get in touch, I've love to hear from you.