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8 Reasons You Should Consider Banning the Word "Traditional"

Photo: Jessi Casara Photography

One of our big insights and takeaways from the The Knot Real Wedding 2018 study results is the shift away from old-school wedding traditions, like the bouquet toss, the garter toss and the church wedding. Here, a deeper dive into some of the data that suggests wedding traditions need to be reinvented if they're going to stick around!

To be blunt, most couples want nothing to do with old-school wedding traditions. Even the most classic of couples are looking to reinvent the norms and infuse their personalities into the day. And the latest stats are eye-opening: 90% skipping the bride's side and groom's side at the ceremony and only 23% of weddings last year took place in a religious institution. Also, when we asked Gen Z respondents (the next big wave of couples coming your way) to answer questions about wedding traditions, they were even more progressive. Amongst Gen Z couples, 43% say they would merge traditions; 42% would take an existing tradition and put a twist on it; 23% would create their own unique wedding tradition.

1. 52% of couples live together for 2+ years before their wedding day. (That number is up from just 44% in 2010!) 

2. 90% of couples are NOT having a bride's side or a groom's side at the ceremony.

3. 29% of women and 9% of men have a mixed gender wedding party.

4. 8% of couples don't even having a wedding party. That number has doubled since 2007.

5. Only 23% of weddings took place in a church (down from 44% in 2009).


What To Do About It? Start With These 3 Tips.

1. Ban the word "traditionally" or "normally" from your vocabulary.

Unless it's a custom or tradition that is meaningful to them or their families, chances are good that your couples want nothing to do with traditional wedding elements.

In other words, saying the phrases, "Well, traditionally I like to..." or "Normally our couples..." is the fastest ways to turn off a couple who has been living together for more than two years and wants to plan a wedding that's totally them.

2. Change your pronouns.

This goes for your contracts, your websites, your social channels, your storefront on The Knot and most importantly, the words you say to your couples in person and on the phone.

Be more inclusive by simply removing the gender association with traditional wedding day elements and words. Remember, the data shows that couples are increasingly asking their best male and female friends to stand on both sides of the aisle, so you don't want to make any assumptions about males and females anyway.

Here are a few words to think about changing or finding replacements for:

Bride --> Couple

Bride's Name --> Client Name

Bride & Groom --> Couple, Name, Client, Partner, Fiance

Bridal Suite --> Private Room, Wedding Suite

Bridal party --> Wedding Party, Wedding Crew

Bridesmald/Groomsmen --> Squad, Crew, People, Your Peeps

Bridal Bouquet --> Bouquet, Personal Flowers

Quick note about the suggestions above: Our wedding planner friend and LGBTQIA rights activist Jove Meyer (Jove Meyer Events) provided us with these ideas. Feel free to make them your own!

3. Ask yourself, how can I/we be doing this differently? (Reinvent your work!) 

One of the very best parts of the trend away from the traditions is that you as the creative don't have to continue doing exactly the same thing for every couple that comes your way. In fact, you should do the opposite! Couples want to know that their weddings are unique and by no means the same as everyone else's and you get to flex those creative muscles and change up your offerings. 

So think about what it is that you offer and then ask yourself, how could we be doing this differently?

A few thought-starters:

The Ceremony: Instead of one center aisle, line up the ceremony chairs in a circle. Or, instead of having the couple walk down the aisle, have their friends walk into the room to meet them.

The Cocktail Hour: Have drinks before the ceremony rather than right after!

The Entertainment: Add in dancers or work with a lighting company to choreograph the set.

The Food: Have a strolling dinner of waiters who shuck oysters or whip up guacamole made-to-order for guests at their tables or during cocktails.

The Reception Setup: Try a new layout in your venue to mix it up. Try long tables in the shape of a square, pull in big oversized couches or chairs in lieu of the typical; make use of a new space; put the cake on a stage.

You get the picture. The more inventive, the better! (Hint: If your couples aren't willing to be as adventurous as you'd like, try a styled shoot and then use those images on your site and storefront to attract couples that are game for it!).


BTW Just in case you didn't know... The Knot Real Weddings Study is the longest running survey of its kind. We survey anywhere between 13,000 and 20,000+ couples who had to have gotten married within the past year. Once our research team has collected the results from the survey, we pore over the data to unpack it and then provide you with actionable takeaways to make it meaningful for your business. 


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