From gifts and first dances, to venues and honeymoons, we take a look at how wedding traditions have changed over the years to better suit modern couples…
Weddings have changed dramatically over the past few decades, as couples go all-out to create spectacular events that they and their guests will remember for the rest of their life. Many wedding traditions have also evolved to suit the preferences of modern couples. Here The Waterfront Hotel, a premier wedding venue in Bedfordshire, take a closer look into this trend.
As you’d assume, wedding gifts have evolved over time. In the past, gifts were given for the ‘bottom drawer’. This tradition is based on the assumption that unmarried women still live at home, where they use a spare drawer to stockpile items they would need once married and living with their partner. Giving a gift for the bottom drawer usually involved giving household items, such as glasses, crockery and cutlery.
This tradition up until fairly recently was still in place, although perhaps the value of these gifts increased — as future homeowners asked for more expensive items such as microwaves, kettles and toasters.
The rise of cohabitation before marriage has meant that the bottom drawer tradition has been almost completely lost, with very few couples still upholding it. Nowadays, it’s much more common for the happy couple to include a honeymoon wish list or ask for cash directly, usually via a poem or note in the wedding invitations.
The first dance
The first dance between the newlyweds is a highlight of any wedding and of course an excellent photo opportunity. In the past, brides and grooms have selected typically slow, romantic songs to slow dance to.
However, more recently, we’ve seen a shift in first dance trends. There has been a rise in the number of couples shocking their guests with non-traditional songs, or remixes that start traditional before cutting to hip hop or dance music. Sometimes, bridesmaids and groomsmen are even in on the act, forming a flash mob of sorts.
When your grandparents got married, they may not have had a honeymoon; holidays were expensive and perhaps they couldn’t afford it. Or maybe they did enjoy a honeymoon — although it’s very unlikely it would have been to a far-flung destination like those that top many modern day couple’s wish lists. They may have spent a few days at a coastal town or countryside location in the UK, for example.
In the decades that followed, the falling cost of travelling abroad meant that honeymoons rose in popularity, with many newlyweds jetting off on the evening of or the day following their wedding. While some couples still do this, some couples choose to delay their honeymoon.
The rising cost of weddings means many couples simply can’t afford a lavish holiday immediately after their nuptials. Plus, those couples who had a honeymoon registry must wait until after the wedding before they can use guest donations to book their trip. A combination of these reasons has given rise to the mini-moon.
The mini-moon is a short break taken by couples in the days following their wedding, before they jet off on their official honeymoon later in the year.
Getting married in a church or other religious place was considered essential to getting married. While many couples still choose to marry here, there has been a rise in non-traditional wedding venues.
In addition to a registry office, couples can now be married in a host of other venues. Hotels, for example, are increasingly offering wedding packages, whereby couples can tie the knot and host their reception all in one location. These weddings are a popular choice as it eliminates the need for guests to travel between venues.
Popularised by shows like Don’t Tell The Bride, many couples are looking for unusual venues to help make their day stand out. Outdoor weddings are popular, with many hosting rustic affairs in outdoor settings using marquees and tipis.
One in four couples is choosing to marry abroad too, with ceremonies taking place on the beach surrounded by their closest friends and family. Reasons for doing so include reduced cost and the opportunity to combine a wedding and honeymoon in one.
These are just a selection of wedding traditions that have changed over time. And, while they may break from tradition as we once knew it, they have instead become new traditions in their own right.
Main image: garethnewsteadphotography.com