Weddings are full of familiar traditions. These traditions can adorn the day with an extra sense of excitement as you finally get to live out the iconic moments you have seen others participate in for years before your own special day (The kiss!, The ‘I do’!) Wedding traditions allow us to feel connected - both to our past and history and to our families and communities who experience them right alongside us.
But if I’ve learned one thing in all my years of photographing weddings, it’s that every single love story is unique. One of the inspiring things I love seeing is how every couple chooses which traditions they are going to use and which ones they choose to leave behind. As you plan your wedding, you get the opportunity to create a day that reflects you and your relationship perfectly by picking wedding traditions that honor you as a couple and the future you want together.
Popular Wedding Traditions
We have wedding traditions that are hundreds of years old that are still alive and well today, but wedding traditions are also always evolving. Recent years have made new traditions popular, as well as old ones. Therefore, this list of popular wedding traditions has a mix of old and new (now we just need something borrowed and something blue…).
The First Look
Strict wedding traditions dictate that the couple shouldn't see each other from the night before the wedding until they meet at the altar. Some brides prefer to keep all elements of their dress wrapped up in mystery until the moment they walk down the aisle. This sense of anticipation and surprise can feel exciting and romantic but recently, some couples have chosen to do something different.
More and more, people are going for the tradition of a ‘First Look’, where the couple meets just before the ceremony to see each other and spend some private moments together before plunging into their big day. It acts as kind of a deep breath. This is one of my favorite wedding traditions to photograph! The pure joy and raw emotion in these unguarded moments is so special.
Cutting the Cake Together
The couple cutting into their wedding cake is one moment that’s always fun. Some couples simply cut a slice together, some feed each other teeny little bites, and some go for a full-on cake in the face bonanza!
Even in weddings where the couple has chosen a non-traditional alternative to cake - like cupcakes or macarons - they will often have a special mini cake just so that they can cut into it together. No matter what your style is, this is a lovely pause in the party when everyone comes together to cheer you two on.
There’s also symbolism here that you may appreciate. These wedding traditions symbolize the new, shared life that the couple is embarking on - one where they take on their endeavors together. Feeding one another cake may feel like just a playful custom but at its root, this wedding tradition is a picture of a relationship where each partner has promised to care for the other before themselves.
Saving Some of the Wedding Cake
Another cake related wedding tradition! This is one of the older wedding traditions, and it originates from the United Kingdom. Some couples save part of their wedding cake and freeze it. Originally, they would bring the cake out to serve at the christening service of their first child. These days the cake tends to be brought out to celebrate a wedding anniversary.
Some people will save just a few slices, but some people will save the entire top tier of the cake. I can imagine that if you’ve gone for a unique decoration on the top of the cake, unwrapping it a year later on your first anniversary could bring back some serious romantic nostalgia. For some expert advice on how to freeze your cake so it will last, check out this helpful article.
In the rise of wedding traditions to supplement or replace the lack of contact before the ceremony on the wedding day, the tradition of writing a letter for your bride or groom-to-be to read on your wedding day morning came to be.
Some couples keep their first face-to-face moment to that first second on the aisle, but still want to have some romantic connection before the ceremony. A letter is such a good way to look back over your history as a couple and look forward to the future together. It’s also a memorable memento to keep forever.
A Wedding Hashtag
This is certainly one of the newer wedding traditions! The wedding hashtag emerged as a way for all the photos from the wedding day to be easy to find on social media. Couples will choose a unique hashtag for all their guests to use when posting online about their wedding. This way, all the photos and videos their friends and family took are forever easy to find.
It can be a challenge to come up with a unique and never-before-used hashtag, so couples are getting increasingly creative. This is just another little opportunity to let your personalities shine through.
Getting Pets Involved
Wedding traditions have always been designed around family, and some people’s families are just not complete without their faithful pets! More and more, couples are finding ways to incorporate their beloved animals into their wedding celebrations - from photo ops to ring bearers. I loved photographing Haley and William’s gorgeous wedding where their dog was part of the first look and even in the ceremony itself!
Your Wedding, Your Wedding Traditions
I hope this has helped you see that there is so much space to take age-old traditions and make them fresh and specific to your dream wedding! Whether you are planning something classic and elegant or you’re breaking the mold and going for a wedding outside the box, your twist on wedding traditions, old and new, will make your day extra memorable.
And if you’re looking for someone to capture those memorable moments for you to treasure, get in touch. I would love to help you celebrate your love story in a way you will remember forever!
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