The Average Wedding in 2018 Was More Personal and Less Traditional

Forget the old "something old, something new…"

Updated 01/12/19

Photo by Heather Waraksa

If you attended or planned a wedding in the last year that featured customized vows, a unique take on the usual multi-tiered wedding cake, and—gaspno bouquet toss, you're not alone. In 2018, couples continued the trend of moving away from long-standing wedding traditions and toward meaningful personalization, according to the Brides 2018 American Wedding Study.

The tradition most often excluded in 2018 won't come as much of a surprise: Per the study, only 32 percent of couples did or planned to do the traditional throwing of the garter, compared to a full 50 percent in 2017—probably because it's become increasingly seen as anti-feminist. Another major drop came courtesy of the bouquet toss, included in less than half of 2018 weddings. Additionally, fewer couples bought into the idea that it's bad luck to see your spouse-to-be before the ceremony, with only half of respondents abiding by that old superstition, versus 61 percent in 2017.

First-look photo sessions, apparently, are more important.

Other traditions going out the window include having a separate groom's cake, reciting classic wedding vows, wearing old, new, borrowed, and blue things, and making a big to-do over the cutting of the cake. Plus, only three quarters of the brides surveyed said they were planning on taking their partner's last name, down from 82 percent in 2017. Of those traditions included in the survey, the only ones still going strong, and which actually increased in popularity, are first dances and wedding toasts, both of which were included in almost every ceremony surveyed.

Instead of partaking in old-fashioned traditions, the study showed that couples are introducing more customization to their big days. Nearly half of those surveyed wrote their own vows, up from 2017's 42 percent. Almost as many served a favorite food or drink at their wedding and handed out personalized party favors, while 38 percent came up with a signature cocktail. D.I.Y. decorations and nontraditional wedding cakes (think: cupcakes, pies, and doughnut walls) were other ways in which couples spiced up their weddings.

And about one in five brides said they incorporated their or their partner's ethnic or cultural traditions into the ceremony.

It makes sense: After decades of following traditions, couples are slowly but surely making the wedding ceremony their own, while still hanging onto a few of their parents' customs—a savvy move, since, according to the study, most weddings in 2018 required quite a bit of financial help from the 'rents. Baby steps.

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