Say "I don't" to these overdone big-day décor elements and rituals.
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Credit: Getty Images/ Shaw Photography Co.

Not all wedding trends are timeless—just look at your grandmother's 1970s bridesmaids' sun hats or your mother's 1980s puffed lace sleeves. Ultimately, the trend cycle is natural: Every generation of couples invests in big-day details that don't stand the test of time. With that said, here are 11 decorations and rituals to officially sunset—and what to replace them with.

Custom Signage

Some wedding signs are helpful—one that lists the ingredients in your signature drink, for example, or directs guests toward the portable restrooms set up out of sight of your tent. But incorporating printed or neon signs throughout your day is ultimately a waste. "Signs have gotten out of hand," says Kelly McWilliams, founder of Kelly McWilliams Celebrations, Weddings & Parties. "Signs are meant to inform—if something is obvious, you don't need a sign for it."

One particular type of sign to steer clear of? "Absolutely get rid of any sign that says you are the bride or the groom," says McWilliams. "They're totally unnecessary, because every person at your wedding realizes this." 

Jacqueline Hallgarth of Jacqueline Hallgarth Events recommends replacing your welcome sign and easel with a more personal touch: "Instead of having a large sign guests see once, I would spend the money on having your guests greeted with a glass of Champagne or rosé," she says. "It's a much warmer welcome." 

Meaningless Favors

If you've come up with a truly creative and useful keepsake, then include it as a memento for your guests—otherwise, ditch the favors and invest in your guests' experience instead. "First of all, nobody notices when you don't have [favors]—they aren't missed," says McWilliams. "Rather than spend $3 to $6 per person on something guests may not even take with them, how about you spend the money on something they will enjoy or remember—like a photobooth or passed desserts on the dance floor?"

Guest Books

Traditional guest books have long since been replaced by creative, personalized options—coffee table books with friends and family signing in the margins or Polaroids surrounded by notes from well-wishers—but even those don't always capture your guests' attention. "Have you ever seen one filled out in recent years?" says Stefanie Cove, creative director of Stefanie Cove and Co. "The idea is thoughtful, but most people are focusing on their cocktails while socializing and enjoying the party."

If you're married to the idea of a guest book, but want to take this tradition into the 21st century, consider an audio iteration: Many couples are opting for "voicemail" style messages, which allow attendees to pick up a phone—often placed on lounge furniture during the cocktail hour—and record their warm wishes.

Sparkler Send-Offs

When you're ready to make your big-day exit, Laura Ritchie, principal designer at Grit & Grace, says to skip the sparklers. "We are officially calling an end to sparkler send-offs!" she says. "As a planner, it's a nightmare to gather drunken guests and line them up to light a long sword of fireworks for just 'one final shot' from the photographer."

Other alternatives to consider? "Ending the wedding on a high note, with a great song and a late-night snack as guests head out the door, is a much lovelier send-off!" Ritchie says.

Artificial Hedges

Faux boxwood backdrops lined with shelves of Champagne at your cocktail hour or reception entrance aren't making the elegant impact you envision. "This is unnecessary and cheesy wedding décor," says Hallgarth. "Instead, spend the money on a real hedge wall with real blooms." (While you're at it, forget the entire concept of a Champagne wall: Who wants to drink warm, no-longer-bubbly bubbly when they could have a cool, crisp fresh glass?)

Individual Wedding Party Introductions

Putting each of your bridesmaids and groomsmen on display while they are individually introduced into the reception—and requesting that they perform a creative dance move while entering the space—is just too much to ask of your best friends (haven't they done enough already?). "Let's face it: Very few people love being called out and forced to dance into a room of 200 people," says McWilliams.

Instead, honor your wedding party by introducing them as a group. Try, "Ladies and gentlemen, here is the wedding party!"—and then they can all enter at once, adds McWilliams. "This also saves the band leader or DJ from messing up their names and saves a few minutes from this portion of your evening, allowing for one more song during open dancing," she says.

Palm Leaves, Pampas Grass, and Dried Florals

"Palm leaves and pampas grass had their moment, especially with the influx of destination weddings," says Ritchie. "However, it's time to put them to bed and think out of the box when it comes to tropical or boho décor."

Hallgarth agrees: These florals, which were an unexpected alternative to fresh blooms, are a trend worth skipping. "When this trend first emerged, it was used for a different and unique floral approach, specifically for the boho or desert wedding," she says. "In lieu of pampas grass, you can incorporate greenery or stems from your floral blooms to organically complement the event space."

Geometric Ceremony Arches

Squared-off ceremony backdrops were once a popular design choice, but consider a more natural look. "Geometric ceremony arches rode the boho desert wedding trend, too, and will sadly date a couple's wedding photos," says Hallgarth.

Think beyond geometric arches, and "incorporate floral ground treatments to create a lush and beautiful ceremony setting," Hallgarth says.

Oversized Bouquets

When designing your bouquet, think timeless and elegant—not oversized and wild. "This tends to swallow and overwhelm a bride's look," says Hallgarth. "I would love to bring back a petite bouquet that complements the bride's body and gown, so that the bride is wearing the bouquet—not the other way around."

"More Is More" Design

Maximalism is out and minimalism is in, says Layne Povey, principal designer at The Lynden Lane Co., so keep your décor subtle and organic. "Don't gild the lily," she says. "The design of your wedding should speak to the natural environment and your aesthetic. Don't think more is always better, and instead, look for ways to make intentional design choices."

Feeling Pressured to Follow Tradition

More than ever, couples should surrender the idea that their wedding day has to fit anyone else's vision or follow any certain trends. You don't have to serve a morning-after brunch; you can calligraph guests' names onto menus instead of making place cards; and you can serve pie for dessert instead of cake.

"You don't have to throw a bouquet or toss a garter to feel like your wedding day is complete," says Povey. "If certain traditional wedding elements are untrue to you, then give yourself permission to do away with them—or start your own new trend that feels more aligned with your love and the celebration you envision!"

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