How Millennials are changing the wedding game

Something old, something new-aged.

By: Mahalia Chang

Ever since the millennial generation was old enough to take out bank accounts and get jobs, we've been shaking things up. 'Cause we're not really into following in our parents' footsteps, we've been accused to killing off every industry from the movie business, to fast food chains, to… the wine cork trade?

And, of course, the wedding scene is no different.

In days gone past, weddings were super formal affairs, with staged photos, garish colour themes and cringey wedding traditions that always made things a bit stiff. But Millennials, bless us, aren't about that life.

Data and industry experts have both confirmed that now, more than ever, Millennials are choosing to go their own way when it comes to nuptials – from their venue choices, to their décor.

We spoke with wedding stylist Melissa Murray of Ashdown and Bee about how the times are a'changing.


As Millennials are "moving away from religious ceremonies and gravitating towards civil ceremonies," Melissa says alternative spaces like warehouses, barns, cottages, or even caves, are becoming more and more popular as venue choices.

Outdoor spaces in more rural options are also taking over from the churches and reception halls our parents used. Standing outside in a field, or in a garden, makes the ceremony feel more natural.

"Garden weddings are very popular right now, as well as industrial spaces like warehouses where you can transform the space with candlelight and flowers," says Melissa.

But the traditional element of the church altar hasn't been completely lost for our generation. "For outside ceremonies, lots of couples will have a custom arch or altar for their ceremony — whether it's a curved arch, or a square, or something more unusual — to frame that magical moment in the same way."

Where before weddings used to have two separate locations — a ceremony and a reception — Millennials are all about rolling everything into one to minimalise hassle. "Most couples don't want that wait and the travel between the ceremony and the reception, so they're looking for spaces that can do both."


Following a time where you could literally pick out most of your wedding elements from a catalogue, most Millennials are interested in personalising their wedding as much as they can.

"People still want the traditional element of the union, but now with more personalised touches. Couples want their guests to walk away saying, 'Wow, that was so them.' You don't have to do the same thing as everyone else," says Melissa.

These personalised touches can be everything from the décor ("One trend we're doing a lot of at the moment is having a custom neon sign. Neon's very in, and it allows the couple to keep a part of their décor after the wedding") to the ceremony itself ("Walking your pet down the aisle, having completely personalised vows, or having a special person like your grandmother as witness are big right now").

For our generation, making sure every aspect represents the couple is important. "All the little details — the signs, the cake, their postcards, their gift bags — they want to be personal and sentimental. No one really wants their signs to be printed from a font now."


If you looked at the wedding album of a 1998 bash, you'd probably see your fair share of identical bridesmaids in matching taffeta lined up with their groomsmen.

But Melissa says that younger brides are letting go of the idea of huge bridal parties in favour of smaller groups.

"I've seen a lot of brides choose just one bridesmaid, or forgo bridesmaids altogether and just have you and your spouse at the altar."

But if multiple bridesmaids are involved, you can almost guarantee an absence of identical dresses.

"Millennial brides like going with a certain style or a certain colour, but then having different dresses to suit each bridesmaid. Even just having a broad theme, like each maid being in a different floral dress, so they're all individualised but there's still a sense of cohesion."


With everything becoming more personalised, it's no wonder that Millennials are stepping away from old traditions. Things like the bouquet toss, the garter toss, the 'giving away' of the bride by her father, or even the 'something old, something new' customs are being updated or left out completely.

"Millennial brides aren't really doing the bouquet toss, the garter toss, the farewell circle, or the guard of honour. That traditional grand exit is not as popular, either — now couples are hanging around, or going and coming back to continue partying."

But where we're shirking an old trend, we're bringing a new one in, too.

"A lot of couples are choosing to do a 'first look,' where the bride and groom see each other for the first time in private before the ceremony. Having that special moment photographed is very popular."

"Another trend is having either both parents walk you down the aisle, or just your mum, or maybe your father and your step-father — it's not just about the bride and father-of-the-bride anymore."


With outdoor spaces and industrial venues comes a shift away from cookie-cutter décor. Couples are forgoing precise florals, towering cakes and standard table decorations in favour of something a little more natural.

"We're not seeing the big fondant cakes as much. It's about that rustic style, with buttercream, edible flowers, gold leaf. That sort of thing," says Melissa of desserts. "Sometimes the couple will just have a small cake from their favourite bakery to cut, and then assorted desserts for their guests."

Brides are loosening the reins on florals, too.

"The other major trend is having these wild, oversized, untamed florals. Huge branches hanging overhead, big installation arrangements, wild and free bouquets… as opposed to the more traditional 'roses in a round bouquet' style."

"People want it to look like they've just picked them themselves, or that they're just growing naturally in the space. It's a little bit more wild and free."