15 New Wedding Traditions for the Ultimate Comeback [+ Printables]

Looking for something new with something blue? Check out our exciting list of new wedding traditions to make the ultimate comeback this year.

bride covering the groom's eyes during their wedding photoshoot
Photo by Zola

For years, societal norms and traditions have ruled weddings. The pandemic of 2020, however, flipped many of those norms and traditions upside down. As a result, several new wedding trends emerged, and couples have never felt freer. So, when it comes to planning your wedding, why not embrace them?

By creating new wedding traditions, you can let go of expectations and make your day memorable and unique. Remember, there is no wedding rulebook. If you’re ready to put a remix on matrimony, we've compiled a list of several ideas worth your while.

Keep reading or jump to our free printables:

1. Micro Weddings

If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, it’s that tomorrow isn’t promised. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and financial strains, many couples ditched their original large weddings for smaller, more intimate ceremonies of 50 guests or less. Now, micro weddings are a prime option!

No more stressing over guest lists, budgets, and logistics. Small ceremonies make it so that you can invite close family and friends without obligation. The best thing about micro weddings is that they allow couples to save money and focus on what really matters—marrying the one they love.

2. Gender-Neutral Wedding Parties

Who said bridesmaids should do this and groomsmen should do that? As society becomes more accepting of nonbinary gender identities, weddings are hopping on the same train (LGBTQ+ weddings were already on board). Also, some women may want their brother as their “man of honor,” and vice versa a man as his “best woman.” The solution? A gender-neutral wedding party!

Mixed-gender wedding parties can be fun and liberating but may require extra thought during the wedding planning process. To make your wedding more inclusive, a good place to start is using gender-neutral language on wedding invites and programs. For example, swapping “bridal shower” for “wedding shower,” and “husbands and wives” with “couples or partners.”

bridesmaid proposal card

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3. Registry Cash Funds

Couples who already live together before the wedding may already have enough cookware, linen, and other house essentials. Instead of having a traditional wedding registry, this is where cash funds come in handy. In place of gifts, you can have guests donate to your honeymoon, home down payment, or favorite charity.

With cash fund registries, you can put the money towards things you and your fiance need and care about. No need to feel strange or guilty asking for money as a wedding gift. Cash fund gifts are gaining popularity, and are quite common in weddings of different cultures, including Indian and African cultures. In consideration of guest budgets, you can create fixed fund amounts, insisting that no gift is too small. After the wedding, apply the cash towards airfare, home upgrades, and more!

4. Wedding Ring Alternatives

Diamonds may always be a classic choice for engagement rings, but today’s couples are open to other options. Rubies and birthstones such as sapphire and emerald are increasingly popular wedding rings. Couples planning a charity-themed or eco-friendly wedding may feel comfortable forgoing diamond rings, which have ties to unethical labor and environmentally harmful mining practices. Non-diamond rings are also generally more affordable for couples on a budget.

Not a fan of jewelry? Many couples are going for matching tattoos instead! Whether it’s your partner’s initials or a symbolic design on your ring finger, couples can choose something creative that fits their personality and style.

new wedding tradition wedding ring alternatives

5. Live Streamed Ceremonies

To abide by social distancing measures, many couples opted to live stream their weddings, such as via Zoom or Facebook Live, for their friends and family. What began as a safe alternative for wedding guests during the pandemic progressed into a trend, especially for micro weddings. If you have loved ones who can’t make it or prefer a smaller ceremony, live streaming allows those near and dear to still view your special day.

Quick Tip: To protect your privacy, avoid posting the live-stream link publicly. Instead, send the link information via guest invitations.

Like general tech features, streaming your wedding live will require advanced preparation and a preferred backup plan. Consider necessities beforehand, such as internet connection and tents for an outdoor wedding venue.

new wedding traditions zoom backgrounds

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6. Revamped Unity Ceremonies

To symbolically solidify a marital union, some traditions include jumping the broom or lighting a candle. Modern and nonreligious couples, however, may prefer a new spin on their unity ceremony to make it their own. You can explore fun and creative ways to tell your love story. Where was your first date? What are you and your partner’s favorite hobbies? Whether it’s sharing a glass of beer or a choreographed dance down the aisle, your wedding, your choice.

7. Colorful Wedding Attire

Tired of the same ole white gown, black tux pair? Consider a pop of color to add some flare. The best thing about wedding colors is the plethora of palette options. To celebrate pride, same-sex couples may even choose to have rainbow wedding theme, where each member of their wedding party wears a different color attire.

colorful wedding attire

8. Unique Wedding Programs

Looking for something to keep guests engaged before the procession? Ditch the simple plain wedding programs for something artistic and fun, such as an infographic or newspaper ad. You can also incorporate crossword puzzles, illustrations, and even include wedding coloring pages and crayons for the kids. For couples who prefer to save on paper, have the wedding program written on a mirror or chalkboard.

new wedding tradition programs mockup

new wedding traditions download button programs

9. Unique Wedding Themes

There’s no right or wrong wedding theme, so tailor it to your heart’s desire! While not mandatory, wedding themes can help you decide on essential elements such as decor, attire, and venue options. You and your partner may want something outside of the box, such as a costume party. Are you passionate about sustainability or giving back to the community? With a charity or zero-waste wedding theme, you can donate your wedding dress and provide other ways for guests to donate to the cause.

10. Wedding Cake Alternatives

As weddings evolve, why settle for the classic cake? From donut walls to colorful macarons, couples are instead choosing their favorite desserts as a tasty alternative. For those maintaining social distance measures and prefer portable treats, consider easy-to-go cupcakes or cake-pops. Your wedding theme can also inspire the dish or dessert choice. Having a brunch wedding? Imagine warm maple syrup rolling down a tower of fluffy pancakes or waffles. Your wedding, your way!

11. Ditching the Wedding Gown

Who says anyone has to wear a dress? If you’re down for breaking all the rules, fashion has your back. Unorthodox wedding skirts and jumpsuits are all the rage in today’s wedding show runways.

Wedding attire “separates” are great for summertime and tropical destinations. The best part about them is their versatility--you can mix and match to create a style that’s uniquely you. Pair a flowing maxi skirt with a crop-top for a boho look, or add a sheer wrap-around to your jumpsuit to create a train. Rocking a tux? Make a statement down the aisle with a sleek cloak or lace cape. Add some accessories and you have a killer ensemble for your wedding photos!

ditch the wedding gown

12. Unconventional Venues

For the couples who envision their wedding as more of an experience than an event, the venue choice is a good place to start. This is where you can truly personalize the decor, details, and activities to make it one to remember. With a nontraditional venue, you can incorporate creative ideas in the location, such as your favorite hobbies or bucket list activities.

Are you and your partner bookworms? A library may be the perfect large and enchanting venue idea where you can share your nuptials surrounded by thousands of books! If you’re looking for adventure and thrill, why not have it at an amusement park or casino? For those who prefer to save on money and have a small ceremony at home, backyard weddings are now more popular than ever. Unconventional venues are all around, and may even be right under your nose.

13. Unorthodox Reception Activities

Piggybacking off the venue idea, your reception activities can be just as creative based on the location. Now that weddings are back, you’re probably brainstorming unique and exciting ways to celebrate the special day with your loved ones. From entertainment to daring wedding games, the ideas are endless.

As an exciting way to kick off the festivities, you can hire a killer DJ and throw a dance-off for the wedding guests. If you’re getting married in Texas, a reception party at a rodeo may be right up your alley. Are you and your partner into punk rock or are part of a biker club? A cool tattoo station is an activity your guests won’t forget! Set up a seat and tattoo artist to provide temporary (or real!) body art for guests.

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download button to reception activities

14. A Modern Spin on Reciting Vows

Writing your wedding vows is one thing, but actually reciting them aloud is another. Some people have stage fright or can never really find a way to put their thoughts down on paper. Do you sing? Perform your vows as a song to your partner. Poets at heart may love to perform the vows as spoken word poetry. Whichever you decide, there are always alternative ways to say your vows in a manner that’s creative and comfortable for you.

15. Surprise Wedding

No one would have predicted a pandemic canceling their wedding plans in 2020. Traditions went out the window, and many couples decided to elope with the one they love. With that idea in mind, you can keep the spontaneous and unpredictable train going by throwing a surprise wedding!

With a surprise wedding, you can avoid the pre-wedding stress of guest list politics and external opinions. Keep every detail under wraps by planning it under the guise of an engagement party, birthday party, or other family celebration. It may require some intricate planning, but can be the ultimate wedding comeback for the books.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping some wedding traditions you hold near and dear, and neither is it to add a few new tweaks in the mix. In the end, the wedding is about you and your partner. And from unique inspiration or finding spectacular vendors, Zola can help you do just that.