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The Best New Wedding Trend? Doing Whatever You Want.

Societal expectations for “the perfect day” have shifted, making way for underwater ceremonies, pre-reception haircuts—even beer-toting donkeys.

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Weddings are changing. Even before the pandemic, people were staying single longer, and couples were delaying marriage and weddings. When the pandemic hit, couples went small—for obvious reasons—and then stayed small, perhaps because of inflation or changing expectations, or just general ease.

Going small has also meant going against tradition, making for a far more interesting wedding industry landscape. Solo bachelorette parties, sans bridesmaids? Check. Weddings without a bouquet toss? Check. Brides hacking off their hair between the ceremony and reception? Check. A “mini moon” before the wedding and honeymoon? Check and also: Yes please!

It’s an exciting time to be a bride or a groom, don’t you think? No expectations, just what makes you feel good and feel loved. Here, we survey the many ways the industry is changing and anything goes.

Image by vernonwiley/Getty Images

The Era of Over-the-Top Weddings

Erica Pandey and Carly Mallenbaum

“The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. ticked up from $28,000 to $29,000 from 2022 to 2023, according to the wedding planning website Zola. Experts credit the popularization of TikTok and other forms of social media that show infinite possibilities as being a big contributor to rising costs.” -Samantha Leal

Are Weddings OK?

Heather Schwedel

SL: “‘The wedding industry’s emotional hold on people, and its “If you don’t do it perfectly, you’ll regret it forever” messaging, just isn’t working anymore.’ says Sara Margulis, the CEO of Honeyfund. Now say it louder for those in the back! No one needs that kind of pressure at the start of their marriage.”

In a TikTok World, Many Wedding Traditions Don’t Stand a Chance

Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins
Business Insider

SL: “I loved this quote: ’Many don't want to be defined by the overly romanticized, traditional, and costly expectations of their wedding. So it is time for us in the wedding industry to expand the definition of what a perfect day means.’ This is from the CEO of a wedding planning app—here’s hoping other leaders are thinking along the same lines."

The Average Wedding Just Hit $29,000

Parija Kavilanz

SL: “While personalization has become a core component to how and why weddings are changing, alternative weddings have also been a big hit. In this article, Pinterest notes searches for alternative weddings—especially underwater weddings—have jumped 305% on its platform.”



SL: “Ah, the horrors of the amount we pay to go to a wedding. My hope is that brides and grooms are becoming more cognizant of the financial pressures of attending a wedding, but honestly… I think it’ll take a lot longer for this legacy to change.”

4 New York City Hall Weddings

Kaitlyn Teer
Cup of Jo

SL: “Am I the only one who swoons over City Hall weddings? (Clearly not.) While this isn’t a ‘changing’ reality of weddings, per se, the acceptance, aesthetic, and extras (like pricey photographers) have changed. And they’re marking a big change for this type of wedding.”

Just Married. Now Pass the Scissors.

Allison Duncan
The New York Times

SL: “Brides asking their new spouse (or a friend) to cut their hair between ceremony and reception is definitely a trend I didn’t see coming. But turns out it’s a pretty cost-effective one: A dramatic ‘second look’ for the reception for free? Talk about getting a lot of bang for your buck.”

The Joys of a Solo Bachelorette Trip

Stephanie Cain
The New York Times

SL: “Who says you need a big bachelorette? And who says you need to bring friends? Solo vacations are super popular, so it’s really no surprise to me that solo bachelorettes are gaining steam. ‘Instead of turning it up, some women prefer dialing it down, swapping shots of Fireball with those of wheatgrass juice.’”

Samantha Leal

Samantha Leal is a travel and lifestyle writer and editor, currently based in Los Angeles. Formerly the deputy editor at Well+Good, she’s also held editorial stints at Marie Claire, Latina magazine, and The Knot. You can find her writing about—well, lots of things—at places like Travel+Leisure, VinePair, Parade.com, Byrdie, Elle.com, SELF.com, and more. You can find her pretty much everywhere @samanthajoleal.