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Top Five Traditional Wedding Elements Tossed by Millennial Couples

Traditions are often the backbone of nuptials, but as the next generation ties the knot, new trends continue to sprout while longstanding practices are left by the wayside. A population that now exceeds the baby boomers, millennials cherish new ideas, customization and authenticity, which is further exemplified through their wedding decisions.

Diane Tighe, who plans events for father and son properties Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club and the new JB Duke Hotel on the campus of Duke University in Durham, NC, details five elements transitioning traditional to trendy in 2017. With more than 15 years of experience at the property, Diane is a Certified Professional Catering Executive (CPCE) and active member of NACE since 2001.

Washington Duke outdoor ceremony Brian Mullins

Brian Mullins Photography

1. Off-the-shelf décor

From décor to photography, couples are tailoring details both big and small throughout their big day to their personalities and unique stories. Monograms are more popular than ever, appearing on napkins, souvenirs, center pieces, photos and more, and photo booths are supplementing professional photography. At the end of the night, guests are swapping in glow sticks, sparklers and even tambourines to hype up excitement to send off the newlywed couple.

Wedding Tabletop Inspiration of Lace Menus with Monogram Napkins and Rose Textured Linen La Cosa Bella Events Southern Love Studios

Southern Love Studios

2. Formal dances and the toss itself

Traditionally, the bridal party enters the reception followed by the bride and the groom, leading into the first dance, then the father and daughter dance and finally the mother and son dance. But these days, there is less investment in these pivotal points; the bridal party no longer makes a grand entrance, less people line up for the first dances and toasts open the reception rather than a featured anecdote part way through. Similarly, the bouquet and garter tosses are being tossed out the window.

3. The chicken or the beef

Couples are taking food and wine decisions into their own hands. Rather than feeling obligated to select what is listed by the caterer on a pre-determined list, the wedding menu is turning into a longer conversation about the personal food preferences. Couples are becoming increasingly more savvy and know that chefs have flexibilities with sides and sauces, too.

Groomsman holding hors doeuvres, casey rose photography
Tuna Tar Tar special hor devours for wedding ceremony, wedding food, casey rose

Casey Rose Photography

4. Playing with the food

Don’t worry: cakes are still large in proportion to the guest count, but the dessert is there for its beauty rather than activity. Smashing the cake in the bride and groom’s faces is being phased out, as well as hoopla around the cake cutting. Colors like cream, white, gold and blush are being incorporated into the color scheme for a romantic feel.

Beautiful white and floral cake by Maxie Bs in Raleigh Missy Loves Jerry Photography_1

Gold glitter cake and monogram by Winde Jackson Cakes in NC with Congrats topper by Moon and Lola, JAmie Blow

Miss Loves Jerry Photography & Jamie Blow Photography

5. Receiving lines

Traditionally, the bride’s parents head the receiving line at the reception and are first to greet guests, followed by the bride and groom and the groom’s parents. These days, receiving lines are being omitted for a less formal set up. Guests simply enter the reception and the bride and groom make their way around the room informally to greet their guests.

Washington Duke ballroom purple uplights Brian Mullins

Brian Mullins Photography

“During my time planning weddings for over 30 years, I’ve seen a shift from conventional ideas to modern innovations and a renewed investment in planning the perfect wedding individualized towards the couple,” said Tighe, director of catering & conference services at Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club and JB Duke Hotel. “Distinctive venues interested in helping couples plan their unique weddings are becoming increasingly more crucial. We treat each wedding like it’s our biggest event and are flexible to unique ideas. For example, while both our Durham hotels elicit southern hospitality, couples can choose to host a welcome happy hour at the new contemporary JB Duke Hotel and their wedding at the more traditional Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club.”


Diane Tighe, who plans events for Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club and the new JB Duke Hotel on the campus of Duke University, detailed five elements transitioning traditional to trendy in 2017 below. Diane is a Certified Professional Catering Executive (CPCE) and active member of NACE since 2001 with more than 15 years of experience at the properties alone.

About The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club

The Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club is located on the campus of Duke University, only twenty minutes from Raleigh-Durham International Airport and ten minutes from Research Triangle Park. The Washington Duke Inn is the original AAA Four Diamond hotel in Durham, North Carolina. Nestled on 300 acres filled with tall pines and hardwoods, the Inn is known for its beautiful facility and grounds, 271 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites, marvelous cuisine in the Fairview Dining Room — winner of the AAA Four Diamond Award, Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Award and Wine Spectator Award of Excellence — the Bull Durham Bar, the Robert Trent Jones-designed 18-hole championship Duke University golf course, and its convenience to local points of interest. It is set apart from other area hotels and conference centers by unparalleled service, a gracious staff, luxurious interiors and attention to detail. The Inn is owned by Duke University and is managed by WDI Hospitality, LLC of Durham, North Carolina. For more information or reservations call (919) 490-0999 or (800) 443-3853, or by visiting, Facebook, Twitter at and Instagram

About JB Duke Hotel

The JB Duke Hotel is a AAA Four Diamond contemporary hotel located on the campus of Duke University, conveniently near both athletic and academic facilities, as well as only 20 minutes from Raleigh-Durham International Airport and 10 minutes from Research Triangle Park. It features 198 guestrooms and 25,000 square feet of meeting and event space and is home to a full-service restaurant and two bars. For more information or reservations call (919) 660-6400 or (844) 490-7100, or visit Follow JB Duke Hotel on Facebook at, Twitter at, or Instagram at

Request more information about the Durham wedding venues and packages at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club or JB Duke Hotel, or contact our wedding specialists to arrange a site visit at 919.313.9618 or 919.660.6400.

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