Wedding Traditions – The old, the new, what’s good for you?

In the world of weddings, the holiday season is often synonymous with ‘Engagement Season’. From December to February, we always see the highest number of engagements compared to the rest of the year. This is probably because the holidays are quite a romantic and exciting time of year, and usually there are already lots of gatherings happening with family and friends. Whatever the reasons may be, it is probable that someone you know is starting to think about planning a wedding, and newly minted brides-to-be are starting to think about what traditions they want to have as part of their big day.

In the last five years, we have seen a significant transition in the wedding industry. The pervasive power of social media, the always present need to “keep up with the Jones”, coupled with a desire to be unique and authentic are the driving force behind changes in wedding traditions.

Some traditions have changed more than others, like the large wedding party. Couples these days are opting for a more intimate group of individuals to stand beside them on their wedding day. This makes the planning experience slightly less stressful for the wedding couple. Co-ordinating a larger group of people for wedding related activities such as fittings, appointments and events is much more difficult and time consuming for a larger group.

Speaking of fittings, brides are choosing bridesmaid dresses in a variety of colours, styles or tones, or not even making the choice at all. More often brides are letting their bridesmaids choose a dress. We’re seeing a wide variety of styles, lengths and colours within the same bridal party.

To peek or not to peek? As recently as ten years ago, it was virtually unheard of for the couple to see each other before the ceremony. The ‘first look’ always happened at the altar. This tradition probably originated from the days of arranged marriages, when it was believed to be bad luck to see each other beforehand. Now, many couples choose to have a ‘reveal’ or ‘first look’ with their soon-to-be spouse before the ceremony. This gives a little extra time for photos and the opportunity to spend more time together!

The tradition of tossing the bouquet and the garter rarely happens these days. Extra bouquets tend to be used as décor instead of for throwing. As for the garter, in the more than 50 weddings we have been a part of in the last five years, we’ve seen this done once. That should give you an idea of what modern couples think about this tradition.

Couples today are more focused on the wedding ‘experience’ for everyone involved. They’re opting for more time to dance without interruption; they’re using planning professionals to carry
out their vision because they lead busy lives; they’re hiring ‘day-of’ co-ordinators to ensure their bridal party and family have time to experience the precious moments with them.  Couples want to enjoy every minute of their wedding day, and sometimes that means abandoning some of those old imposing traditions.

We love the way wedding traditions continue to evolve yet some things are staples: the bride wearing white or off-white will never go away, as well as that first dance together. Encouraging couples to make their wedding day their own is a modern tradition we should all get behind!

by  Jackie Penner & Becky Dumais

Jackie Penner is an event and wedding planner based in Hamilton, Ontario. She works with clients all over the GTA.  jackiepennerevents.ca.

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