It’s a brave new world when it comes to matrimony. From fancy to fuss-free, the modern bride has her pick of wedding settings, dress designs and all that encompasses her special day.   

According to the knot (theknot.com) the national average cost of a wedding is $32,641, but that figure fails to take into account the amazing discounts and alternatives to the expensive sit-down affair. From casual to semi-formal, there’s a scenario for every betrothed. 

In the contemporary history of weddings, never before have there been more options for brides when it comes to that special dress for their special day. From prints to backless gowns, tastefully plunging v-necks, to lace and crochet; the bridal gown offers a design for every shape in every style. 

There’s even a bourgeoning market for dresses designed for athletes and workout enthusiasts that highlight and flatter a toned, fit physique. Ashley Jade Nowak, bridal consultant at Panache Bridal, has seen a dramatic increase in many of these emerging styles.

“Brides today are really loving fitted dresses with low-backs and long, lace sleeves,” Nowak says. Off-the-shoulder gowns in a medley of soft-palettes, including cream and blush-colored hues, are also trending, as are the creative options for bridesmaids. No longer limited to frilly designs in a single style for the entire bridal party, today’s weddings often feature bridesmaid dresses or separates in varying colors and styles that complement, rather than copy, each other. Some couples even find a place for a special pet in their wedding party, and there now exists an abundance of pet fashions on the market to keep your beloved pooch looking as sharp and stylish as bride and groom.

In addition to bridal fashions, the ceremony itself has also undergone a transformation of sorts. As of late, rustic and outdoor-themed ceremonies have become favorites among many brides and grooms as they incorporate their love for nature and adventure into their big day. 

In recent years, barns have become a favorite venue for those who enjoy the earthy, minimalist charm of woodlands and open spaces, and eco-friendly and sustainable-catering weddings have also gained favor, with a recent explosion of options in organic, vegetarian and vegan cuisine, as well as an increased importance on obtaining locally-sourced ingredients. 

When it comes to flowers and centerpieces, many are choosing the simplicity of low-lush floral arrangements with potted plants and succulents in lieu of flowers — or a floral arrangement consisting of a mix of flowers, fruiting vines, or aromatic herbs and edibles, such as basil or mint, even coffee beans.