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Your Wedding… 20 Years Ago!

With Guides for Brides reaching its 20th birthday, it’s great to step back and see how much the business has transformed, alongside the wedding industry. As our Guides turned from yellow booklets to visual, glossy publications, weddings have made a similar transition. The question is, what did weddings really look like 20 years ago?

Alison wedding photo

Your Ceremony 

Then: Most ceremonies would have taken place in your local church, with a religious service as the socially accepted norm. For those who didn’t have a church ceremony, the civil service would have been followed by a blessing in a church.

church ceremony PINTEREST

Photo credit: Pinterest

Now: With the growing popularity of civil ceremonies, and the introduction of civil partnerships and humanist services, churches are becoming a less obvious choice. Many couples now choose to exchange their vows in a registry office or hotel. As more and more venues obtain the correct ceremony license, couples have more choice than ever before.

ceremony wedding PINTEREST

Photo credit: Pinterest

Your Venue

Then: With ceremonies held at your local church, this didn’t leave you much choice for the reception venue. They were typically held near your home, in close proximity to the church. A marquee in your parent’s garden or a buffet in the village hall were popular options.

PINTEREST village hall wedding

Photo credit: Pinterest

Now: The sky’s the limit. Whether you’re looking for a hotel, golf club or beach reception – these days, anything is possible. Choose between a three course wedding breakfast or upmarket catering such as a hog roast or BBQ buffet.

wedding reception PINTEREST

Photo credit: Pinterest

Your Dress

Then: The 1990s was heavily influenced by Princess Diana’s wedding dress, which she wore in 1981. The new romantic style featured puffed sleeves and a dramatic train. Even though the 1990s began to see a decline of the puffy trend, sleeves were still the height of bridal fashion.

Alison wedding dress

Now: Popular modern trends include the sophisticated A line gown or figure hugging fishtail dress. Sleeveless dresses are now more popular than ever before. Whilst many brides still choose a more traditional dress, others are opting for something a little more daring. From feathered trains and backless gowns to plunge necklines and embellished detailing, dresses are more varied than ever before.

modern dress styles

Your Cake

Then: Fruit tiered wedding cakes were the popular choice for many brides in the 1990s. Covered with white icing, there wasn’t much variation. The decade also saw the rise of the sponge cake and the introduction of chocolate sponge.

traditional wedding cake tiered

Now: From naked cakes to chalkboard designs, your wedding cake is now open to the wonders of modern creativity. Savoury cakes are also an increasingly popular choice, with couples choosing cheese cakes or pork pies as an alternative to a sweet cake.

naked cake PINTEREST

Your Bridesmaids 

Then: Sleeved dresses were the popular attire for bridesmaids, with many in puffy sleeves. Floral head garlands were also fashionable in the 1990s, alongside the distinctive burgundy trend.

alison wedding bridesmaids

Now: Anything goes!  Bridesmaids are styled using a variety of colours and themes. From grecian gowns to vintage tea dresses – bridesmaid dresses are more varied than ever before. A popular current trend is the mix n’ match trend; give each bridesmaid a different colour dress, depending on their personality or what best suits them.

real wedding bridesmaid dressesPhoto credit: Plum Tree Studios

Your Favours 

Then: The traditional favour was sugared almonds, presented in embroidered linen bags. Typically five, which were said to represent health, wealth, happiness, fertility & longevity.

PINTEREST almonds favours

Photo credit: Pinterest

Now: From retro sweets and disposable cameras to unique plant-your-own seeds and personalised macaroons – favours are less traditional than ever before (and more exciting than sugared almonds!). Favours can now be something that your guests will really appreciate.

wedding macaroon favour PINTEREST

Photo credit: Pinterest


Then: Before digital photography, there was a genuine fear that the photos would not develop properly. Photographers usually carried two cameras as a precaution. After your wedding, you were usually presented with a large photo album which used oval framing to display your wedding photos.

Now: With the invention of digital photography, photographers can now check the photos throughout the day to ensure the required shots are taken. Drone photography is also an increasingly popular option at modern weddings. With various filters available and the wonders of Photoshop – photos can be altered to create the perfect wedding album, which is often created online. Photo books display the photos on glossy pages without framing, creating a chic modern look.

drone photo PINTEREST

Getting married today allows you to create the wedding of your dreams with a wide range of venues, dresses, cakes and great ideas available. New technology and the increasing room for individuality allows for unique weddings which can be tailored to your every requirement. Instead of balloons, you can hire lanterns, light love letters and photo booths. The industry has advanced so much in the last 20 years – and we’re so proud to be a part of that.

Happy Birthday Guides for Brides! We wonder what weddings will look like in 20 years time…


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