According to a study released this summer by Bowling Green State University’s National Center for Marriage and Family Research, the U.S. marriage rate has hit a new low at 31.1, or 31 marriages per 1,000 previously unmarried women. In 1920, that percentage was 92.3.
Meanwhile, the average age at woman’s first marriage is 27, its highest point in over a century.
Other differences in wedding style are the direct result of changing social mores, from gay marriage becoming legal in 14 states to a gradual decline in religious commitment (roughly a third of U.S. adults under age 30 do not identify as “a religious person,” according to the Pew Research Center) likely contributing to more secular ceremonies as well.
So, which customs have millennial couples decided to preserve, rewrite or throw out for their nuptial day?
Here’s just a sampling of 13 wedding trends that stood out in 2013:
1. Public proposals.
While I’m fairly certain that I would die of embarrassment if proposed to in this manner, the recent spate of viral proposal videos has only escalated in cuteness over the years. For example, this flash dance proposal, filmed at a Salt Lake City Home Depot in September and now amassing over 10 million views on YouTube, proves that the fad is here to stay—at least for now.
2. Creative photoshoots.
If unmarried folk must suffer through a barrage of lovey-dovey Facebook albums come wedding season, then they might as well be interesting. Kudos to this duo for going full movie nerd in their engagement photos, and to this wedding party for staging a “bloody awesome” zombie-inspired shoot.
3. Slow motion.
After the footage from this couple’s Brooklyn reception went viral, the clamoring for slow-motion video booths at every hipster wedding from Austin to Portland began in earnest.
4. Wedding movies.
Professional videographers who can make any wedding ceremony look like “The Notebook” or an Instagram-filtered version of Taylor Swift’s “Love Story” are in high demand these days. Some of these mini-movies might be a little too high on the schmaltz factor; but in my opinion, beautiful videos like this one are reason enough to keep the trend alive.
5. Out with the garter and bouquet toss.
These centuries-old customs have fallen out of favor with many a modern couple, because let’s face it: throwing a bouquet to a rabid horde of single ladies is so 1950s, and reaching under your wife’s skirt in front of 100+ guests is more than a tad bit awkward, not to mention tacky.
6. In with mint green.
From bridesmaids’ dresses to floral arrangements to trendy ombre cakes, the thousands of Pinterest boards devoted to this popular shade don’t lie: a mint vogue is upon us.
7. Foot your own bill.
With more partners choosing to marry later in life (i.e. when they are more financially stable), the old rule of the bride’s parents paying for the wedding has fallen by the wayside. Considering the not-so-subtle ties to fathers selling their daughters back in dowry times, this update is a decidely welcome change.
8. Live-stream it.
Can’t make it to an out-of-town wedding? No problem. In the age of all things digital, you can virtually attend a loved one’s ceremony via Skype, FaceTime, or a streaming company devised for this very purpose, I Do Stream.
9. More desserts.
Why buy just one or two very expensive wedding cakes when you could have a more cost-effective candy table, cupcake tower, platter of cronuts, bouquet of cake pops, an ice cream sandwich bar, or my personal favorite, wedding pie?
10. Food trucks.
Forget the fancy catering service. All you need is a food truck of delicious tacos, barbeque or In-N-Out burgers to keep your hip and hungry guests thoroughly satisfied.
11. Spectacular sendoffs.
Throwing rice may be the old standard for departing newlyweds, but modern weddings have kicked the tradition up a notch with sparklers, flower petals, bubbles, and even glowing lanterns released into the sky for extra drama.
12. No bridal party.
Back in March, Today.com reported “the death of the wedding party,” citing a trend of more couples deciding to scale back financially and skip the stress of bridal parties altogether. Apparently, “the days of having 15 bridesmaids are over,” although no word yet on whether the amount of bridezillas will also decline as a result.
13. Mason jars.
In case you hadn’t heard, mason jars are the new wine glasses.
What other wedding trends have you noticed this year?