Special Report

How Weddings Have Changed Over the Last Century

Source: jacoblund / Getty Images

11. Bachelorette party

Bachelor parties may originate as far back as the fifth century B.C., but their female equivalent has much later origins, becoming popular in the 1980s. The tradition started as an alternative to the bridal showers of the 1950s and 1960s, where brides were given and opened presents that they could only show to their girlfriends, such as lingerie. It wasn’t until around 1980, fueled by the women’s liberation movement, that the parties started to become more extravagant events, sometimes involving strippers, as the guests of honor turned from “bachelor girls” to “bachelorettes.”

Source: kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

12. Elopements

The idea of elopement may seem like a modern idea, but the trend has earlier roots, dating back hundreds of years. In what could have been a reaction to the restrained Victorian Era, in the late 19th and early 20th century, a burst of young couples running off to get married was described in the press as “wrecking society,” but some of these couples were also noted as living happily ever after. Elopements again became more popular during the Great Depression to save money, and more recently are once again in style for this reason — and to reduce stress and create a more intimate or exotic event. The term has also evolved in modern times to mean more than just running off to get married without telling anyone to getting married in an extremely small, low-key ceremony, involving just the couple or a few more close relatives and friends.

Source: Goldenberg / Getty Images

13. More extravagant weddings

The wedding industry has exploded over the years. What was once a more subtle affair has become more lavish and expensive. Though some people may be choosing to save with DIY weddings or elopements, modern weddings are still more extravagant than they once were. Some couples are even choosing to have two ceremonies to satisfy both a traditional religious ceremony for family and a glamorous one for themselves.

Source: LElik83 / Getty Images

14. Getting married in a religious institution

What was once a given, getting married in a church, synagogue, or other religious institution, is not the preferred choice of couples today. Only 26% of couples had their wedding ceremony in a religious institution in 2016, according to The Knot, down from 41% in 2009. Some couples are choosing more scenic locations, including family estates, resorts, vineyards, and even barns.

Source: Olga_Gavrilova / Getty Images

15. Destination weddings

About one in four American couples who married in 2018 considered their wedding a destination wedding, which is normally a wedding that is held 200 or more miles from home, according to The Knot. Couples today who are choosing a destination wedding are looking for a special experience that would stand out among their friends’ and families’ weddings. They are not just looking for a picturesque place, but somewhere that is meaningful or tells their story as a couple.