Love comes in all shapes and sizes, and so do weddings: nothing speaks so clearly about how beautifully diverse the world is than wedding customs and traditions.

Yet, many couples nowadays find the tradition to be too restrictive, or fear that a conventional wedding might feel too formal, or too boring. Many of them want something different, and tiered wedding cakes, white linen, and lavish white bridal gowns just won’t cut it anymore.

If you’re not a fan of conventional weddings, you can find plenty of inspiration in the wedding traditions around the world, as well as in some hot wedding trends.

  • Dress to express, not to impress

More and more couples decide to ignore the standard wedding dress code, choosing to wear matching clothes reflecting their own style that can be repurposed or worn for other occasions.

Japanese brides traditionally go into several costume changes, from a white kimono with a long white hat to a Western-style dress. Switching through clothes can be fun, and it will allow you freedom of movement during the dancing part of the reception.

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In Russia, film-themed weddings have become quite a hit, allowing the participants to dress in costumes of their choice. You can set a general theme for your wedding and have your bridesmaids and groomsmen dressed as Star Trek crew.

The latest wedding trends in Italy are more romantic, featuring long, flowing, Renaissance-style bridal dresses with leaf and floral embroidery, beautifully complemented with floral hair crowns to give the bride a fresh, natural look.

  • Say it with food

Whether you’re celebrating in a restaurant or at home, sticking to standard menus no longer cuts it. Modern couples prefer to create their own customised menus, including their first shared meal, or some of the interesting dishes they’ve tried while travelling together.

Cocktail and pub weddings are becoming increasingly popular due to an intimate, more relaxed vibe, while food lovers use the opportunity to, well, enjoy more food by organizing rehearsal dinners, pre-wedding parties, and after parties with less formal dishes and light snacks.

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Europe’s culinary masters, the Italians, are an endless source of inspiration when it comes to food. Their wedding ceremonies often include up to 14 different courses, and in some regions, such as Naples, guests are given cakes baked by the bride as a sign of gratitude for attending the ceremony.

  • Make a difference

A game akin to the Ribbon Pull might be an interesting addition to your wedding. This involves putting silver charms in your wedding cake so that single female guests can guess which one would be the next to get married.

Couples in search of excitement resort to some quite original ideas. In Australia and New Zealand, it’s all the rage for couples to be photographed while holding smoke bombs and coloured flares, which gives for some really atmospheric images. If you’d rather not go that far, look for the inspiration in wedding photography in Sydney to find the type of setting that would better reflect the mood of your wedding.

Romantic couples might prefer the Australian tradition of unity bowl, which is an ornamented bowl filled with decorative stones held by the guests during the ceremony. Stones are kept in the bowl as a memento and later displayed at a prominent spot in home.

If you want something different decor-wise, transparent elements are a big hit, from organising weddings at bright, large, glasshouse-like venues, to using transparent glass plates and printed notes on semi-transparent paper.

  • Take care of the details

Incorporating DIY elements in weddings is a huge current trend. This is nothing new: an old Welsh custom demanded that a man gave a hand-carved spoon to his beloved as a sign that he would provide for her, and her acceptance would confirm the engagement.

Exchanging hand-made gifts might be a nice touch, especially if the guests join in. In Japan, couples are presented with 1,001 origami cranes that are supposed to bring them good fortune, longevity, and prosperity.

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A popular trend dictates sending customised or hand-made invitations to the guests, sometimes even with added cookies. Some couples extend it to gifting their guests with hand-made chocolate or other small tokens of gratitude, similar to the old Italian custom of bestowing guests with confetti bomboniera, that is, sugar-coated almonds in lucky quantities of five and seven, wrapped in small pouches.

  • Make or break the pattern

Some couples prefer large ceremonies and rituals. Traditional Chinese weddings are the most impressive in that regard, including a full procession in red, with the bride carried in a sedan chair and shielded by a red umbrella to encourage fertility.

But even the smallest symbolic gestures can make the wedding memorable, whether by couples breaking bread together as in Armenia, or by toasting each other from a special, two-handled cup in the French tradition of La Coupe de Marriage.

French brides used to take long baths on their wedding day so at to wash away their past, and modern couples sometimes extend this to having lake weddings. If that’s too much for you, you can opt for a beach, or a simple backyard wedding.

Destination weddings in local style are gaining in popularity, with couples “eloping” with a small circle of family and friends, sometimes even for an impromptu, improvised wedding.

  • It’s your party

Whether you’re dreaming of a huge wedding party or prefer something simpler, remember that it’s your wedding, so you can do whatever you please. You can follow or break the tradition by changing or rearranging the order of the events. You can embrace or completely disregard the popular trends, and create something of your own ­– something that will make the most important day of your life truly memorable.

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