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Modern couples opting for personalized ceremonies

Death of the traditional wedding?

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Wedding staples of yesteryear — lavish ceremonies in ornate venues — are becoming less and less common, as modern couples increasingly opt for nontraditional affairs.

Many couples now choose to elope or marry at local courthouses, and even for those who decide on more time-honored gatherings, the venues, ceremony proceedings and wedding buildup are often vastly different from the traditions of their parents and grandparents. 

Here are some of the ways modern couples are changing the way knots are tied.

The venue

For many, gone are the days of the traditional religious wedding. According to the 2019 Newlywed Report by the wedding marketplace company Wedding Wire, only 25 percent of 18,000 couples surveyed in 2018 held weddings in a religious institution and only 17 percent incorporated customs related to their race or religion.

In Colorado, a hugely popular venue alternative has been the great outdoors, with the state’s natural beauty providing an ideal backdrop for less formal, but equally majestic, ceremonies. 

Colorado.com, the state’s official tourism website, lists some of the state’s most unique wedding destinations: dude ranches, state landmarks, ski resorts, state parks, historic hotels, campgrounds and museums.

The wedding party

It was formerly common practice for the bride and groom to separate their wedding parties by sex, with men as groomsmen and women as bridesmaids. In modern weddings, that’s no longer guaranteed. The Newlywed Report found that more than one-third of couples are having gender-fluid wedding parties, choosing members based on their relationships to the couple, rather than their gender.

The ring 

It used to be a given that when it came time to buy an engagement ring, a diamond was the girl’s best friend. But many modern brides-to-be are choosing different stones, both for affordability and to ensure the stones they wear aren’t tainted by conflict. 

Alternative stones used for engagement rings include sapphire, morganite, ruby, quartz and tourmaline. 

But while the norms around diamond rings are changing, the diamond is still, by far, the most popular choice, as the Newlywed Report found 71 percent choose diamonds as the primary stone.

Who pays?

The bride’s family still foots the ceremony’s bill for some partners, but that tradition has been going out of style. The average couple, according to the Newlywed Report, currently pays for roughly 45 percent of their wedding costs. The average cost of a wedding in the U.S. sits just below $40,000 and, in Denver, the average cost is about $28,000. 

Forty-two percent of couples cited in the Newlywed Report said they dipped into their savings to pay their portion, while 30 percent said they had to find ways to make extra cash, and 20 percent said they incurred credit card debt to cover their share.

The gift registry

Wedding registries largely used to consist of household items the couple would need in their new home, living together for the first time. Nowadays, the vast majority of married couples (a whopping 72 percent) cohabit prior to their nuptials. So instead of toaster ovens, blow dryers and vacuum cleaners, many modern wedding registries request charitable donations, or serve as fundraisers for the couple to use on their honeymoon, make large purchases, or build a nest egg for starting their lives together. 

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