01/27/2014 03:25 pm ET Updated Mar 29, 2014

The Truth About Wedding Trends

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The word "trend" is used to describe something moving in a specific or new direction, and other than on Twitter (where things are always "trending") the word is most frequently applied to fashion. What are this year's fashion trends? What are next year's trends going to be? And like the fashion world, the wedding industry loves its trends. But should we?

Where do wedding trends come from? How do they start? Well, sometimes it happens organically. Once in a while, a bride will embrace something uncommon and incorporate that special something into her wedding. Via photos of the event, or word-of-mouth chatter, other brides-to-be then envision that same special feature at their own wedding. The process repeats itself, and as more and more brides warm to the idea, a trend is born.

Other trends are fueled by wedding book or magazine writers, editors and bloggers. Everyone in the business has opinions, likes and favorites, and when a person has a platform from which to share those personal preferences, influence can follow. Hence, trends can be birthed by wedding writers.

But, the biggest source of trends comes from manufacturers with a monetary interest in launching a new product. And some of those wedding fashions and accessories may or may not be a grand idea. For example, a recently touted trend is the bridal pant suit. Is that really a trend, or did that idea stem from a certain designer's wish to launch a bridal pant suit line? It's a little like the chicken and the egg. Which came first? Were brides lamenting the lack of bridal pant suits to bridal shop owners, or discussing their desire for bridal pant suits on message boards? Did such conversations lead designers to answer the call? Or did the designers who created the newest lines of bridal pant suits simply begin telling everyone that those pant suits are the latest trend?

Bridal pant suits can certainly be lovely, and for brides who prefer the look of pants to a traditional gown, having a selection of stunning pant suits to choose from is wonderful. But does the mere existence of those pant suits qualify as a trend? Or is it simply the telling and retelling of the story that "Pant suits are the newest bridal trend," that makes us believe that they are indeed the hottest new thing?

Pant suits are just an example. I certainly have no objection to them. I personally think a bride should wear whatever makes her the happiest, whether it's a flowing gown, a pant suit, a moo-moo, a bikini or aluminum foil. Every bride is entitled to indulge her own dreams. But trends can sometimes get in the way of that. What if the latest trend is the heavy application of ruby red blush? Would having bright red cheeks in the wedding photos stand the test of time, or would there come a moment when you would one day say, "I wish I hadn't done that. Why did I follow the trend?"

Trends, a.k.a. fads, come and go. Wedding photos are forever. If whatever trend of the day can pass the "anniversary test", so be it. If you can anticipate looking at your wedding photos on your 35th wedding anniversary and feel comfortable that you will have no regrets, then perhaps the trend of the moment is indeed right for you. But if you opt for a pant suit or bright red cheeks just because it's trendy, then later wish you hadn't, that's a regret that could have been avoided. When the perfect choice is made, the wish for a do-over never materializes.

Trends can be helpful when they highlight something we perhaps haven't before considered. But acknowledging trends doesn't mean that we have to follow them just to consider ourselves modern and enlightened. Brides-to-be often have their perfect wedding in mind, and that's the wedding they should have, one that comes to pass without a naysayer's, or a trend-starter's, undue influence encroaching on the vision.

Trends should be viewed with a critical eye. Some are fabulous. Some are horrible. But no one should literally buy into them if the only purpose in doing so is to follow someone else. Individuality in this world is shrinking all the time. You can go anywhere in this country and eat at the same restaurant chains. You can walk into stores from coast to coast and see the same items on the shelves. You can park in a parking only to lose your car in a sea of similarity, because it's indistinguishable from scores of others that were painted the same "trendy" color that all cars of that same year were painted, regardless of what the make or model may be. If there is ever a time to break out from all of that "sameness", perhaps that time is one's wedding day.

Like everyone else who writes about weddings, I have my own opinions, likes and favorites. But if I had to pick just one idea to trend, it would be...never allow yourself to be led down the rabbit hole by current trends. Trends are just one tool available to brides. And one thing is certain: One day in the not-so-distant future, "current" trends will simply be nothing more than bygone fads.