With modern couples valuing authenticity and uniqueness, today’s weddings have introduced new spins to many age-old traditions. From digital RSVPs to custom hashtags for social media, plenty of these recent trends are here to stay.
But in recent years, we’ve also seen long-held practices fade from the spotlight. Some have departed for good reason (goodbye, heteronormative patriarchal customs!), while others have simply fallen from favor as couples embrace other trends.
Still, plenty of traditions have dropped in popularity that can—and perhaps should—still have a role in weddings as a way to preserve the timeless nature of saying “I do.” However, the industry is long overdue for an updated approach that breathes new life into classic traditions for a fresh take on modern weddings.
We asked wedding experts about the traditions they’d like to make a comeback in 2024 — here are six to consider reviving for your big day.
Tiered wedding cakes
We’ve seen cookie bars, donut walls, ice cream trucks, and cupcake displays filling Instagram feeds and wedding blogs for years. And while all are fit to fulfill a sweet tooth, Twickenham House and Hall’s Sarah Jobe argues that it’s time to give the old-fashioned tiered wedding cake the recognition it deserves.
“The wedding cake is an integral element of the reception, a centerpiece of decor, and a focal point for the space,” she asserts. “By having a large tiered cake, the couple can fixate less on decorations to fill the space and enjoy a show-stopping dessert after the cake cutting.”
That’s not all. Jobe also notes that a tiered cake allows couples to “partake in the tradition of freezing the top layer until their first anniversary,” providing a sweet and sentimental way to celebrate your one-year with a piece of your big day.
Who decided that one wedding cake was enough? A tradition that dates back to Victorian England, groom’s cakes are still seen in the American South but have mostly fallen off the radar.
“Some prefer to spend the additional money on a nicer wedding cake instead of having two, but this homage to the groom is a sweet gesture from the bride and offers a bit of personality to the celebration,” explains Kimberly Sisti of SISTI & CO.
Groom’s cakes offer another sweet treat at the reception (nobody will argue with that!), but they also provide an opportunity to add a personal touch to your celebration. While traditional cakes are typically designed to match the wedding’s aesthetic, groom’s cakes are often decorated with fun colors, themes, and shapes to honor the groom.
“Over the years, it has been fading out of existence when, for so long, it was one of the highlights that was as entertaining as the imagination could take you and the baker’s ability could go,” adds Jacqueline Vizcaino of Tinted Events Design and Planning.
You can pull inspiration from your partner’s beloved movies, sports teams, hobbies, pets, vacation spots, and more. This is your chance to celebrate your other half, so get creative and have fun with your baker!
Over the years, garter tosses have earned somewhat of a bad reputation. Many couples consider the garter removal cringe-worthy, as it feels too intimate to display in front of loved ones. Nobody needs a preview of your wedding night!
The Garter Girl’s Julianne Smith confirms that “lots of brides don’t want to do the garter toss and might feel uncomfortable stopping the fun during the reception.”
But skipping the awkward garter toss tradition doesn’t mean you have to forego a garter! Bridal garters are beautiful keepsakes to commemorate your big day — and you can always save it as a private post-wedding surprise for your partner.
“Just because you have a wedding garter doesn’t mean you have to do the toss,” Smith assures. “Think of your garter as something special just for you that you can save for your daughter someday!”
So, if you love the idea of having a secret token of your love on your wedding day, wear a bridal garter but don’t feel pressured to participate in anything that makes you uncomfortable.
Something borrowed, something blue
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue — one of the most popular traditions thought to bestow good luck upon a bride who wears all four items.
“A lot of times, the ‘something borrowed’ is a family heirloom that you can incorporate into your wedding day,” explains Dee Lee of Dee Lee Designs. “The ‘something blue’ was meant to ward off evil on your wedding day, and the color blue stood for love, purity, and fidelity.”
Incorporating these elements into your wedding day attire often means accessorizing with sentimental items from loved ones, as well as those that will become lifelong keepsakes. “This tradition is very meaningful and adds thoughtful moments to your wedding day,” Lee says.
Alicia Igess Jones of Urban Tangles Textured Hair Extensions agrees, sharing that “something old, new, borrowed, and blue will forever be a tradition on my list.”
While brides have traditionally collected items from women in their families, there’s no need to limit yourself. Pick items that will mean the most, whether it’s your grandfather’s handkerchief, your bestie’s necklace, or even your pup’s collar. (And don’t forget the sixpence in your shoe!)
While the first dance and parent dances haven’t gone out of fashion, it’s a shame that anniversary dances aren’t as popular as they once were. It’s a great way to get guests on the dance floor while also honoring the very thing you’re celebrating at your wedding: lifelong love.
“The anniversary dance is a way to cultivate a sense of community, respect, and appreciation for the wisdom and experiences that older couples bring to the table,” shares Mary Angelini of Key Moment Films. “It also provides an uplifting beacon for newlyweds and younger couples. Reintroducing this tradition can serve as a symbol of hope and aspiration for couples embarking on their lifelong journey together.”
Anniversary dances are a great way to dedicate a special moment to parents, grandparents, and other long-married couples, showing admiration for their enduring love. Just make sure to schedule it earlier in the evening in case your elderly guests leave early!
Will you bring back any of these time-honored traditions for your wedding? Whether you love all things classic or prefer to make your own rules, embracing your authentic self is the only way to plan a wedding that rings true for you and your partner!
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.