• Kevin Holland

What's Trending?

We wake up and check our Twitter and Instagram feeds and we’re usually greeted with “what’s trending”. From the new Color of the Year (Living Coral, in case you didn’t know!) to wanting to know whether geometrics are in or out, the wedding world is no different. But what about the most important part of your wedding day – your ceremony? Speaking as someone who has performed hundreds of ceremonies over the years, there definitely are trends that come and go when it comes to ceremonies.

Contemporary couples have a tremendous respect for tradition but they don’t feel bound by it.

A couple of decades ago no one questioned the traditional wedding ceremony or any of its wording but as more and more weddings were being performed outside of churches and synagogues over the last several years, couples (and officiants) began shaking things up with completely personal vows, more relaxed wording, non-traditional unity rituals, etc. What I’m seeing now is that the pendulum is swinging back to the middle. The majority of the couples with whom I work are requesting traditional ceremonies but with a very personal touch. Contemporary couples have a tremendous respect for tradition but they don’t feel bound by it. Here are three specific examples.

Non-Gender-Specific Wedding Parties

More and more couples are recognizing that they don’t have to limit themselves to the use of only females standing with the bride and males standing with the groom. Most brides and grooms have close friends and family members of both genders and it’s perfectly okay to include anyone on “either side” regardless of gender identity.

Hybrid Vows

Your vows don’t have to be “either/or” when it comes to using so-called traditional vows vs. personal vows. More and more couples are taking the traditional vows (“for better or worse, for richer or poorer, etc.”) and changing the words to make them more personal. The cadence and rhythm and repeat-after-me format are the same but with their own words. While many couples like this option, most of them are somewhat intimidated and don’t quite know where to start. That’s where an experienced officiant comes in handy (shameless plug intended!).

Unity Rituals with a Twist

As recently as 3-4 years ago I rarely performed unity rituals (e.g. Unity Candle, Sand Ceremony, etc.). They were considered old-fashioned and passé. In the past year a majority of my couples include some sort of unity ritual but with an updated, personal touch. This ranges from a Unity Candle ceremony in which the groom used a very ornate candle that was given to his parents at his infant baptism and the bride used a handmade beeswax candle to represent her roots in Appalachia. I’ve also done handfasting ceremonies in which family members (parents, children of the bride and/or groom, etc.) presented cords or ribbons during the ceremony and these were used to “tie the knot” during the handfasting.

A beautiful handfasting ceremony from Leah and Mike's wedding in October 2019. Photo courtesy of Amelya Jane Photography.

So – what’s the takeaway? As fun as it may be to find out what’s popular and what’s trending, the important thing to remember is that it’s YOUR ceremony. Never do something in your ceremony just because it’s trendy or you think it’s expected. If something has meaning and significance to you, include it in your ceremony.

Kevin Holland - Wedding Officiant and Minister serving Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the surrounding areas

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