Through the years, wedding tradition has been defined and maintained. Think about the whole “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” tradition. Or the traditional wedding vows (“with this ring, I thee wed..”). They were once trends that became tradition— someone came up with an idea and it caught on. But while some wedding trends repeat themselves, others are meant to die.

These days, weddings are less about holding to tradition and more about personalizing things, and I like it that way. It’s still fun to look at weddings of the past and see what they were like, sometimes even stealing some inspiration along the way. Here’s a little glimpse into wedding trends of old (tacky photos ahead!) compared to present day (spare the tacky and go glam).

And if you’re looking for more wedding inspiration, head on over to our Pinterest for all sorts of knockout suggestions. Be wary of cuteness overload!

The Bride and Groom Photo

Then: In the late 1800’s, photographs were rare and considered a luxury. Here, the bride and groom are barely smiling, probably because of how long the exposure time was back then. It took around 15 minutes to snap the photo!

CoupleThen

Now: Photos are a part of everyday life, and an expected part of a wedding. Because photographs can be taken in an instant, simply edited, and shared, you can expect hundreds of photographs to remember your Big Day. There’s a lot more personalization involved too.

CoupleNow

The Cake

Then: Tiered wedding cakes began in the early 1900’s. The tiers between each layer represented prosperity, and the white frosting represented purity.

CakeThen

Now: Your wedding cake can be whatever color and shape you want. Heck, it doesn’t even need to be a cake anymore. You could have pie, cupcakes, or even a pile of doughnuts. The sky is the limit.

CakeNow

The Wedding Dress:

Then: In the 70’s and 80’s, wedding dresses were all about those high necklines and puffy sleeves. They usually had a long train and long sleeves, and looked very much the same.

DressThen

Now: Strapless, backless, lace, vintage beaded, mermaid style, even mid-length.. whatever fits your body type and personality is on trend.

DressNow

The Rings:

Then: In the early 1900’s and before, diamonds were for royalty. If you were like most people, who simply couldn’t afford a diamond, both wedding rings were a simple band, sometimes with words engraved on the inside.

RingsThen

Now: Diamonds are still expensive, but love makes a way. It’s all about the bling. But once again, the cut of the diamond and style of the ring is all about personality. Or whatever your fiance chooses for you.

RingsNow2

Wedding Hair

Then: In the 1950’s – 1980’s, it was all about those accessories, baby. And lots of ringlets if your hair could jive with it. Veils were traditionally worn.

HairThen

Now: Flower crowns and hair any color of the rainbow. Again, whatever showcases your personality.

HairNow

The Guestbook

Then: Guestbooks were originally used to testify the reality of a marriage. Everyone in attendance signed their name on the line.

GuestbookThen

Now: Photobooks are super popular for weddings. Your guests take a photo, tape it into a book and sign a message next to it.

GuestbookNow

The Reception:

Then: Up until the 1990’s (and even still today), everything was matchy-matchy and very formal. Guests were served by wait staff.

ReceptionThen

Now: Family-style is more of a trend for wedding receptions. Guests serve themselves.

ReceptionNow

Music:

Then: In the 1920’s, big bands played your wedding reception. If you couldn’t afford a big band, some other form of live music was played for people to dance.

MusicThen

Now: Music at a wedding reception is typically played by some sort of DJ, even if it’s DJ MacBook.

MusicNow

The Grand Exit

Then: Pelting the newleyweds with rice on their way out was a sign of prosperity, fertility, and good fortune.

ExitThen

Now: Sparklers are a huge trend for weddings of today. They make for great photographs and are used to light the path for the lovebirds.

ExitNow

The Getaway:

Then: Cans were tied to the back of whatever car you owned. The couple would sit in the back and have a friend drive them off.

GetawayThen

Now: Renting a snazzy vehicle for the getaway car is the norm. If you really want to make a scene, you’ll rent something totally ridiculous like this stretch Hummer limousine.

GetawayNow

By Whitney DePaoli