Image by White Lane Studio
Around this time each year the wedding trend articles appear…with bated breath I click to see which colour palette I’ll be seeing each weekend from here on in, and how the white dress (aka wedding uniform) has been reinvented once again.
‘Who cares’ is what my cynical, burnt out wedding professional mind screams at me.
‘Stop perpetuating the cycle of wedding consumerism’, is what I feel like shouting from the rooftops.
Image by Nina Hamilton
So let’s take a different approach to wedding trends.
I’d like to share some recent experiences that were actually completely heartening, where couples questioned wedding traditions and made the day their own. Where the meaning of the day was front and centre. Where there was so much love in the air, it was an energising experience, even after being on my feet all day.
Breaking the rules:
Google the origin of wedding traditions, I dare you! Before you put together your wedding checklist, take a moment to consider WHY we actually have some of these wedding traditions:
- Flowers – to cover the scent of the bride and to ward off evil spirits
- Wearing white – Started by original wedding rebel Queen Victoria
- Bridal party – to disguise the bride who was at risk of kidnapping
- Photo booths – um dunno, but would it be a wedding without one?
As you might have gathered, I ADORE it when couples shake things up a bit.
Image source: PA
Walking down the aisle:
When Meghan Markle walked down the aisle by herself, and was then greeted halfway by Prince Charles, I could have cried happy tears. Yes! A strong independent woman, who understood that being ‘given away’ was not for her, and yet she incorporated tradition as she was welcomed into the family by her future father-in-law.
I’ve seen a few variations on this approach since, let’s call it the “I’m not property people!” feminist twist on making your entrance.
Image by Sandra Henri Photography
At Georgie and Angus’ wedding, Angus was accompanied by his Mum and Dad walking down the aisle, followed by Georgie and her mum and the remaining bridal party. Georgie and Angus has already taken some moments together in a ‘first look’ prior to the ceremony, getting their jitters out of the way, and then heading towards their future together as the team that they are.
Pat and Kate’s wedding (pictured above) was even more relaxed, with them mingling with guests prior to the ceremony, and then casually taking their places as the celebrant began the ceremony. Also the perfect solution to avoid the typical ‘everyone’s looking at me’ moment!
Bridal parties with a twist:
Gone are the days where you must have matching numbers, with matching attire, on each side. Groom’s girls and Bride’s boys are totally ‘now’. Why not have some fun with it?
Image by Sandra Henri Photography
Or simply go without a bridal party, an easy way to cut back on time, stress and expense from your wedding day.
Micro Luxe Weddings….spare no expense for the special few:
Holistic and boutique celebrant, Sarah Tolmie, from Life & Love Celebrations, has noticed the trend towards micro luxury weddings. This means a very small and intimate guest list of just the couple’s inner sanctum of people at an exquisite getaway or resort. It could be an exclusive private dining experience with no scrimping on the surrounding experiences, and still with a real sense of a wedding aesthetic – a wedding dress, rings and honeymoon.
Image by White Lane Studio
“There is definitely an emerging trend for couples to not deny themselves the grand experience but in order to do that, it is limited to a very small, special group of people. It may also come with a very deliberate rejection of doing what is expected and traditional and truly doing something just for themselves. Quite often it is the more ‘mature’ couples who can afford this on their own and often second marriages.”
Handfasting ceremony – Image by Sandra Henri Photography
Meaningful ceremonies and more personalised vows:
Sarah Tolmie, from Life & Love Celebrations, shares “what I have observed of late is a greater confidence and knowledge from my couples to ask for and bring to the ceremony planning a clear idea of what they want and how to express themselves. There seems to be a growing ‘ceremony literacy’. I’d like to think that is the result of a very strong celebrancy movement over the last decade of professional, creative and diverse practitioners”.
These unique and expressive elements of ritual and ceremony could be things like a Welcome to Country, Handfasting, Warming and Blessing of Wedding Rings, Crystal Bowls, Chanting & Meditative moments and a new assertion of spiritualism, religion and even political beliefs sensitively curated within the structure of the ceremony.
Sarah is also noticing couples relishing the task of writing their own vows with confidence to affirm and speak of their love.
“Definitely there is less demand to keep the vows ‘short & sweet’ by shy brides or grooms, rather I am loving my new, brave and confident couples who are relishing their moment in the ceremony to give strong testimony to the love they feel and the union they want to create with their beloved”.
Image by Lina Hayes
Some couples go even further to create their own personalised wedding ritual. Rach and Ed who were married in the remote Kimberley, overlooking the Pentecost River, shared their experience:
“We started off by writing our own ceremony script because the stock standard script that you usually experience at weddings felt really impersonal and outdated. Our celebrant highlighted the legal requirements of what she was required to say, and that was all we asked of her. We requested that she step back (literally!) from conducting the ceremony as much as possible, and just act as a guide to keep things running smoothly. We wanted the ceremony to feel like it was a group effort and not a performance put on for a crowd. We especially wanted everyone (although there was only six of us!) to feel a part of the ceremony, not just an observer.
Jed and I started by acknowledging our relationships with our parents, and what love and marriage means to us. Then we asked both sets of parents to talk about how to maintain a successful marriage and what marriage means to them. One of the most loveliest parts was when Jed’s Mum finished her part by singing a little bit of the lyrics she had adapted from a John Denver song. Both sets of parents “presented” us to each other, as we really didn’t like how the father only presented the female in more traditional type weddings.
Our vows were kept a surprise from one another and we wrote these ourselves before the ceremony, with no rules about how they should be done. When declaring our intent, we used wording that was relevant to us, such as trustworthy, loving, supportive and genuine (instead of “sickness and health” and “death do you part”).
Overall, I think we aimed to have a ceremony that was realistic and genuine, that didn’t indulge in the fairytale trap that weddings can sometimes fall into. It felt honest and sensible”.
Image by Lina Hayes
Greater gender equality:
Grooms, we see you and applaud you! You are the ones sharing the wedding planning load, making enquires and arranging appointments, right alongside your partners.
“It’s always bothered me that wedding planning predominantly falls to the female, doesn’t this just reinforce gender expectations from the get-go?” Photographer Ellen Tang from Folk and Follow puts it so well;
“When I speak to brides who are like “lol I’m doing everything cause I’m just more into planning and styling” I want to yell “It’s a trap!! Planning is work! Share the load!” Cause they’re setting themselves up for an unequal marriage where suddenly they’ve got a family and she’s responsible for the relentless family admin “cause she’s just better at it”. It also seems like a good way to future-proof the marriage, nothing kills joy quicker than an exhausted resentful partner!”
Image by Nina Hamilton Photography
Going one step further with gender equality, we love the emerging trend of guys taking the female partners surname, or both partners creating their own unique surname!
More consciousness around the relationship, not the wedding:
Finally, perhaps most importantly, (and hopefully it is not a trend but a permanent evolvement), is that couples are realising the wedding is simply the ceremony and ritual that creates and celebrates the marriage. It is not the end goal; rather it is the pathway into a lifelong fulfilling relationship. In other words, less stuff and more meaning!
Sarah Tolmie is also finding an increasing uptake on her other professional offerings, as a love & relationship coach and marriage mentor.
“My couples are carving out time before the wedding to undertake specific marriage preparation and enrichment education. I have a mini couple workshop “Creating a Miracle Marriage” and I also have this as a complete online course too. I see couples now investing in the skills, knowledge and practices to prepare them for lifelong loving”.
Image by Ben Wyeth
So go on, be a wedding rebel. Throw the ‘shoulds’ and other people’s expectations out the window. Make your wedding experience meaningful and authentic to you.
How liberating does that feel?!
By Sandra Henri,
Founder of Less Stuff – More Meaning.
For more inspiration, grab your complete and comprehensive guide to all things mindful for your wedding and beyond, Mindfully Wed.