Wedding traditions: the ones to keep and skip

Jamie BallardData Journalist
July 07, 2021, 5:00 PM UTC

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen in much of the country, weddings are filling up the social calendar of many Americans. New YouGov data shows that many people are fond of the more traditional aspects of weddings. 

A poll of more than 700 U.S. adults who have been married shows that majorities approve of the couples exchanging rings (79% think this tradition should be maintained), sending thank-you notes after the wedding (75%), and having a first dance (73%). 

One tradition that proves less popular is for the bride to promise to obey her husband, something that originates in religious texts. Among married US adults, 50% think this tradition should be dropped, while about one-third (32%) think it should be preserved. Men (42%) are more likely than women (22%) to say this tradition should be preserved.  

Another tradition some Americans are willing to get rid of is the tradition of the bride’s family paying for the wedding: 43% think this tradition can be cast off, while 25% think it should be maintained. 

About two-thirds of married Americans also think the tradition of the bride tossing her bouquet (66%) and the tradition of the bride having her father or other male/family friend give her away (64%) should be maintained. 

Several other traditions prove relatively popular with Americans, such as the guests throwing rice/confetti as the couple exits (44% think this should be preserved while 31% think it should be eliminated), the couple not seeing each other beforehand (44% say preserve/28% say drop), and the groom doing a garter toss (45% say preserve/26% say drop).  

Men and women differ in their opinions of a few wedding traditions  

Women who have been married are considerably more likely than men who have been married to say that some traditions should be dropped from modern weddings.  

The largest difference between men and women is around the tradition of the bride promising to obey her husband. While 61% of women think this tradition should be dropped, only 38% of men agree.  

Women (52%) who have ever been married are also more likely than men (38%) who have ever been married to say that the tradition of the bride’s family paying for the wedding should be cast aside. Similarly, women (38%) are more likely than men (24%) to say the tradition of throwing rice/confetti as the couple exits should be eliminated.  

See full results here.  

Related: Wedding dos and don'ts, according to Americans

Methodology: 1,295 US adults, including 759 who have ever been married, were surveyed between June 21 - 22, 2021. The responding sample is weighted to be representative of the US population.