10 Wedding Ideas We Never Would Have Seen Coming 18 Years Ago

Weddings have come a long way since The Knot was founded 18 years ago!
by Rachel Torgerson
  1. Weddings then vs. now. A 90s military bride and groom cutting their traditional pillar cake topped with red flowers with a traditional sword and a modern Brooklyn couple setting off Roman candles in their Oreo cake.
    photo by MG Photography, Chellise Michael Photography

    Let me paint the picture for you: It was 1997 and there was no such thing as a wedding website. A wedding book and your older sister or mom would have been your planning guides. And while a bridal magazine might have inspired your wedding colors and flowers, the more likely scenario was that your florist or hotel manager walked you through your menu of options and you simply chose your favorite. As a result, weddings looked a lot alike: Most involved over-exaggerated pointy stilettos, flower girl dresses with dainty pick-ups, tiaras and spaghetti-strap bridal gowns. Let's just say, classic reigned.

  2. Wedding images collage from the 1990s
    photo by Photos: The Bushnell, Karina Marie Diaz Photography, Wedding Photojournalism by Rodney Bailey, Sarah Bork Hamilton, Stella Alesi Photography

    Fast-forward to today and bridesmaids wear jumpsuits, wedding cakes can be made of Oreos, temporary tattoos are the new Jordan Almonds -- and the list goes on and on. Practically every wedding we see (and trust us, we see a lot of weddings) is a unique expression of that couple -- a stand-alone fingerprint of their style.

    And we're really proud of that. Over the years, we have written thousands of articles and slideshows that dispelled all the old-school wedding "rules" and provided sound, modern advice on wording wedding invitations for couples that didn't necessarily have two sets of married parents. We cultivated a community and made it possible for couples like PumpkinJay and her partner from Columbus, Ohio to cope with an unsupportive mom and tycourt to get ideas for her adventure honeymoon. We conceptualized the first-ever (free) personal wedding websites to help couples spread the news to friends and family. And, we decided that instead of over-the-top bridal photo shoots, we'd feature real weddings from all across the country that truly celebrated the uniqueness of the modern American wedding.

    For The Knot, the mission is and always was to help connect couples -- no matter where they lived, what they believed in, or how much they had to spend -- to one another and to the people who could help them plan their weddings. Our original tag line, "The Knot: Weddings for the Real World," wasn't a silly marketing ploy. It was genuine.

    Okay, enough soapboxing.

    We can't possibly name all of the modern, genius wedding ideas and trends that have come out of the past 18 years in one article, but we can tell you about a few of our favorites. Here, 10 new takes on wedding traditions that prove weddings can (and should) be done differently.

  3. 1. Wedding Dresses That Are Anything But White, Crop Tops, And More

    It's not to say that white wedding dresses are out. They're just not the only option and more women than ever are reinventing what it means to look like a bride -- from Heather's bright, 70s-inspired column dress, to Deenie's crop top combo and Jeannine's blush mermaid wedding dress and matching hot pink ombre hairstyle.

  4. Bright coral and blue embroidered wedding dress by Temperley.
    photo by Casey Clark


  5. Bride in bridal separates -- a crop top and high-low skirt.
    photo by JBM Weddings
  6. Bride wearing a blush wedding dress with matching hot pink ombre hair and a pink veil.
    photo by Tara Beth Photography
  7. 2. We're-Not-Taking-Our-Wedding-Too-Seriously Color Palettes

    Listen, we love ourselves a blush and ivory wedding, but color -- as in lots of vibrant colors -- is more than okay too. From Carissa and Adam's funky hanging floral decor, to Kristy and Mike's DIY altar decor, weddings have never looked brighter.

  8. Hanging vibrant paper flowers at indoor ceremony site.
    photo by June Bug Company
  9. Vibrant paper flower wall at ceremony.
    photo by Sarah McKenzie
  10. Vibrant pendant-themed invitation suite in blue, yellow and red.
    photo by Jen Fariello Photography


  11. 3. Barns, Air Streams, and Typewriters

    We're going to guess that your grandparents didn't get married in a barn, your parents didn't use an airstream as a chic backdrop for their wedding cake, and it didn't dawn on anyone older than you to use a typewriter in lieu of a traditional guest book. (That's okay. They don't have to get it.)


  12. Air stream vintage trailer in pink and silver decorated with string lighting behind a rustic dessert table.
    photo by Braedon Photography
  13. Vintage typewriter guest book.
    photo by Carla Ten Eyck


  14. 4. Bridesmaids Dresses That Are Anything But Boring

    Bridesmaids don't have to match the tablecloths. Each attendant at Sara and Jonathan's Texas wedding was able to walk down the aisle in any pink and blue outfit they wanted -- including patterned jumpsuits and color-blocked shift dresses.

  15. Color blocked navy, powder blue and coral pink bridesmaid dresses and jumpsuits
    photo by N. Barrett Photography
  16. Mismatched maxi blue bridesmaid dresses and a standout, patterned maid-of-honor dress
    photo by E.C. Campbell Photography
  17. 5. Funky Socks, Suits and Suspenders (Grooms Got Style)

    Dan from Michigan, encouraged his groomsmen to go bold with their socks. Adam from New Jersey, wore a bright, expertly tailored purple suit and stood out from his gray-suit groomsmen. And groomsmen in jeans? Sorenne and Matt did it and accessorized with some throwback suspenders in Austin, Texas.

  18. photo by Dan Stewart Photography


  19. photo by Caroline Frost Photography
  20. photo by Q Weddings
  21. 6. Next-Level Reception Dancing, Flash Mobs, and More

    Step aside chicken dance and electric slide. Choreographed flash mobs with special arrangements have practically reinvented the wedding dance. Brian Green and Christina McGinnis's surprise wedding flash mob at The Mall of Georgia, Isaac's lip-dub proposal video, and Edwin and Marcelino's wedding party's wedding cheer (complete with back flips) are all perfect examples.


  22. 7. Let Them Eat Cake...Or Not!

    Sure, white wedding cakes are still a thing -- but so are upside-down wedding cakes (thanks in part to The Big Bang Theory's Kaley Cuoco's out-of -this-world New Year's Eve wedding), deconstructed wedding cakes (aka, "naked cakes"), pie towers, doughnut displays and even Belgian waffle wedding bars.

  23. photo by Cory Ryan Photography


  24. photo by Allison Maginn Photograph


  25. photo by Ben Sasso


  26. 8. Souped-Up Cocktail Hours

    Everything -- even the cocktails -- are styled. A few of our favorite seriously creative cocktail bar setups: whiskey tasting tables, moonshine in Mason jars and create-your-own champagne cocktails.

  27. photo by Keepsake Memories Photography


  28. photo by RHM Photography
  29. photo by Brian Dorsey Studios
  30. 9. Weddings Gone #Viral

    Breeze through 8000+ dress photos using our Lookbook app, find and chat with prospective venues using our planner app, and make sure you've captured all the details from your proposal and the day with a wedding hashtag. One of our most recent favorites: this proposal-turned-gif.


  31. Love Me Do Photography


  32. photo by Katelyn James Photography


  33. 10. Giant Jenga and Temporary Tattoo Parlors

    Wedding photo booths were just the beginning. Cocktail hour lawn games (anyone for corn hole?), wedding day BINGO and even temporary tattoo wedding favors (like Krissy and Mickey did at their Minnesota celebration) are big.

  34. photo by Anne Marie Photography
  35. photo by Liz Banfield
  36. photo by Rebekah Murray Photography
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