BOSTON ( MainStreet) -- Weddings have always been steeped in tradition, with rules and logistics that have been culturally ingrained decade after decade.
Time will tell how the increasing legality of same-sex marriages will influence the institution. But brides and grooms have already been adding wrinkles to the longstanding matrimonial blueprint, ranging from the quaint to the unusual.
The changing face of ceremonies is worth paying attention to for anyone in a business related to weddings. Each year, there are approximately 2.5 million weddings in the U.S., and more than $70 billion is spent on them.
"I think that the idea of a cookie-cutter wedding is a passe concept," says Lori Stephenson, co-founder of Lola Event Productions, a Chicago event and wedding design firm. "Everything is about your preferences, customizing it and making it feel like your day. Every single bride I work with now is saying, 'I want it to feel like us.' There no, 'I have to throw the bouquet or do the garter or the cake cutting.' There is no 'have-to' anymore; it is all about whether you want to do something."That has meant, for example, that once-forbidden black is starting to show up with bridesmaids dresses. The dowry-inspired tradition of the father of the bride footing the bill is becoming more of a shared responsibility among families. The fact that many, if not most, of couples live together at some point before the big day is also a catalyst for change. "I've even had a few couples who, instead of