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12 Wedding traditions you can skip…and 5 you should keep (part 1)

This is the first part of a two-part series

I am a bit of a traditionalist. I like the formal celebratory traditions that weddings bring with them…to a point. I do feel some of them are outdated, so my wedding was a nice mix of traditional and non-traditional elements.

Many couples today may want to mix it up a bit, and forgo some of the traditions their parents or grandparents grew up with, but may feel guilty doing so. I’m here to tell you that it’s OK. Traditions are just that, traditions, not rules. Rules are very different. Rules you have to follow or else you may face consequences. Traditions are just elements passed down through the years, so far passed down that you may not even know why or how they began.

I’ve been writing about wedding for a long time and I can tell you that in my research, many wedding traditions started centuries ago, so it’s time for a change. Here are some of the traditions you shouldn’t worry about skipping:

Wedding Tradition: The white gown

 

Photo Credit: Hannah Nicole Photography

Tradition has it that the bride wears white as a symbol of purity. While history books are unclear really how this trend started, many say Queen Victoria was the first one to popularize white wedding gowns, as that’s what she wore at her wedding in the late 1800s. But many brides, for decades after, even as late as the early 1900s wore colored dresses. So, if you want to buck tradition and go for something not white, feel free. As is, when you shop for wedding dresses, you may end up with a gown that’s not white anyway. White is a very harsh color and washes some people out. You may end up with off white, ivory, or even a blush colored dress.

Wedding Tradition: Having your father walk you down the aisle

 

This can be the cause of a lot of stress for some brides. It’s something of daydreams and the moment everyone in attendance waits for, seeing the bride walk down the aisle. However, if a bride doesn’t have a traditional “father” in her life, for whatever reason, it can be a very bittersweet walk. Every family dynamic is different and if you are a bride who, for any given reason, doesn’t have a “father” to walk down the aisle with, choose the person in your life who has been like a father or role model for you, or who helped raise you. Maybe it’s your mother, grandfather, grandmother, uncle, brother, sister, whoever. Maybe you want both your parents to walk you down the aisle, maybe you want to walk down alone or you and your husband-to-be want to walk in together. The choice is up to you, and there’s no wrong decision.

Wedding Tradition: Having bridal parties

 

Ok, here’s the sad, unromantic, real truth. The only thing that matters is that you have two witnesses to sign the marriage license. That’s it. So you don’t even have to have a bridal party if you don’t want. Some people just have a Maid of Honor and a Best Man, who serve as the witnesses and hold the bouquet and rings and forgo the bridal party. Some have massive bridal parties (which I don’t think is a good idea for many reasons). Some have Men of Honor and Best Woman (instead of Maid of Honor or Best Man). Again, here, the choice is up to you how you want to handle it, but if you decide to forgo a bridal party all together, that’s fine. Some people might actually be relieved because they don’t want the added stress or expenses that come with the responsibilities of being in a bridal party

Wedding Tradition: The wedding cake

 

Photo Credit: Myles Studio Photography

Who doesn’t love cake? Actually, more people than you think. Me for one. I’d prefer ice cream cake over real cake any day…especially with extra cookie crunchies in the middle. That being said, everyone has seen photos of family members cutting the cake and feel like they want to carry on that tradition, even if they don’t like cake. And that’s fine. However, if you want to change it up, try cupcakes, or pizza, or even donuts instead. The possibilities are endless if having that formal cake-cutting portrait is something you want to skip

Wedding Tradition: Throwing the garter and bouquet

 

In recent conversations I had with Hudson Valley DJs, they say this is one of the fastest disappearing trends they’ve seen. For a variety of factors, couples just aren’t doing it anymore. Couples are waiting longer to get married and may not have many single friends at their reception. Maybe you get embarrassed really easily and don’t want any part of it, because, as we all know, it can get a bit risqué at times. I didn’t have it because of both reasons, and honestly, no one missed it. I felt a little funny at first not doing it, but nobody cared and it gave us more time to dance. Not only that, but if you are on a tight budget, not doing this could save you money becasue you won’t have to buy a garter or a tosser bouquet.

RELATED: WEDDING RECEPTION TRENDS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT

Wedding Tradition: Not seeing each other before the wedding

 

By now we know this is a tradition that many couples skip and opt for the First Look instead. It has many benefits, but is not for everyone, especially if you love tradition. Doing a first look gives you and your spouse-to-be a private moment alone away from the crowd to quietly see each other before the festivities begin. It helps a lot of couples relieve some of the stress and anxiety they feel prior to the ceremony and lets them relax a bit more once the actual ceremony starts. It has a practical function as well. It allows you and the photographer to get some pictures done and out of the way before the ceremony, freeing up time later in the night.

Wedding Tradition: Bachelor/bachelorette parties

 

I feel this tradition slips by the wayside the older the couple are. For example, some couples feel it’s their last “Hurrah” before being “tied down” and do want a big celebration. However, most of my friends, who are in their 30s, have all forgone that tradition or changed it up. If they do have parties, they are more like a round of golf for the guys and a spa day for the girls.

Wedding Traditions: Wedding registries or bridal showers

 

Photo Credit: WCHV

Many couples are living together before they get married, and therefore have everything they need. They don’t register for gifts and will sometimes even ask their guests to not even bring a gift, or instead, ask them to donate to a Honeymoon Fund or a local charity instead. Showers are great for couples who really need a lot of stuff, or perhaps are moving in together after the wedding and want new items that they can call their own.

RELATED: 7 PRACTICAL WAYS TO CREATE YOUR AWESOME GIFT REGISTRY

 

Wedding Tradition: Having a flower girl or ring bearer

 

Just like you don’t have to have a bridal party, you don’t have to have a Flower Girl or Ring Bearer either. Do they make for a cute photo op, absolutely, but you need to look at your guest list, and your family, and see if it’s something you can even do. Maybe there are no kids available or young enough to be given that role, and that’s ok. Maybe you want to have both your grandmothers be the flower girls…that would be so cute. You don’t even have to have both. Maybe you just have someone who can be the ring bearer, maybe you just have someone who can be the flower girl. It’s best to always check with their parents first to see if they think their child could handle the pressure. Sometimes, it’s too much, so don’t stress about this. If you want it, and can make it happen, great. If you can’t that’s OK too.

Wedding Tradition: Dancing a formal first dance

 

First dances always make for a great photo op, but many couples struggle to find “their song”, and unless they’ve been a dancer their whole lives, can’t really do much more than what I like to call “the 8th eight grade shuffle”. Many couples choose to take lessons to choreograph a dance, but if that’s not for you don’t worry. The first dance is a great way for the couple to showcase their personality. Everything from the song choice to the type of dance you do. However, It doesn’t have to be a rehearsed, choreographed dance. It can be an upbeat dance to a modern song or even a flash mob. Whatever you choose people are going to love because your personality will shine. Dancing doesn’t come easy for some people, especially when all eyes are on them, so if you are more comfortable doing something fun or even inviting all your guests to dance with you, you can do that. There are no rules.

Wedding Tradition: Getting married on the half-hour

 

There is an old superstition that says getting married on the half-hour brings good luck as opposed to getting married on the hour. I have no idea where this superstition comes from, but I remember freaking out a bit when we were told our ceremony at the church had to be at 2 pm because they had confession and mass later that evening. The truth is, you should be getting married at a time that is convenient for you and the venue…half hour or not.

Wedding Tradition: Walking down the aisle to Wagner’s Bridal Chorus

 

Wagner’s Bridal Chorus (AKA Here Comes the Bride) has been a traditional wedding song for decades and is usually the song countless brides have walked down the aisle to. However, it does have a sinister context, which, for those in the know, may have an aversion to having it played at their wedding. My mom couldn’t have it played at her wedding. It was in a church, and they forbade it from being played because of where it came from. So what’s the story? It basically boils down to the plotline in the Opera it comes from, Lohengrin, which has elements of paganism, infidelity, murder and tragedy. Yikes! In recent times, the Bridal Chorus is not always used, not for the reason mentioned above, but because brides just want a fresher take on this tradition. Many brides are opting for other traditional classical pieces or more modern songs.

What wedding traditions did you skip or change? Join us next time when we talk about the 5 traditions that you should consider keeping.

Featured Photo Credit: Majestic Studios

 

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Wedding Reception Trends You Need to Know About

I may be really dating myself here, but I remember attending weddings back in the day when the Electric Slide, Conga lines, and the Chicken Dance were the hits of the night. Everyone looked forward to those group dances. Didn’t you?
 

I also remember being dragged out onto the dance floor, despite not wanting to be there, for the bouquet toss, then stealthfully hiding in the back and slinking away so I was nowhere near that thing when it landed.
 

More recently, though, I can’t even remember the last time I saw a group dance at a wedding, and I think it was 2009 when I last saw the bouquet and garter toss thrown. This made me curious: Is this just coincidence or is this a trend? What other traditional elements of the receptions are staying or are seeing a decline? So, I decided to ask Hudson Valley DJs what trends they’ve been seeing. You might be surprised by the answer:

 
RELATED: THE ONE MISTAKE COUPLES MAKE WHEN HIRING THEIR DJ

 

Group Dances
 

It’s unanimous with all DJs we spoke to: Group dances are almost dead. Some couples do the Cupid Shuffle, as that’s a newer song; but the Electric Slide, Conga lines, the Macarena, the Chicken Dance – all that. Gone. So, if you didn’t want one, but were thinking that you needed to include one of those dances at your wedding, you don’t. Unless you REALLY want to have one.
 

Bouquet and Garter Toss
 

This, by far, is the fastest-disappearing trend. I didn’t do it and actually felt enormous guilt not doing it, because it’s tradition. It’s not a wedding without it, right? But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t find any justifiable reason to do it. I knew I would feel very uncomfortable with my husband putting his hands up my dress in front of our family and friends, plus, we had maybe five single friends at our wedding which would have made it really weird.
 

David Fischer, DJ and president of M. C. Fish Entertainment, Inc. in Fishkill, gives a little history on this tradition, as it was originally just the bouquet toss, but then the garter toss was added so that both the bride and groom had something to do. Today, he says, the bouquet and garter toss are rarely done. “I offer options,” says Fischer. “If you only want to toss the bouquet, you don’t have to throw the garter.”
 

Richie Schneider (DJ Richie Styles), DJ and manager of Music Speaks Volumes in Wappingers Falls also says more commonly, just the bouquet is tossed, but he tells couples, “If you feel that you don’t have many single people, don’t do it,” explaining it can become embarrassing when you get only two or three people. “If it’s going to be awkward, don’t do it” he says, which is exactly what we did. Just scrap it!
 

Donnie Lewis, owner of Your Event Matters and Illuminate Event Lighting in Hopewell Junction, says, “That (the bouquet and garter toss) tends to be a nightmare, trying to get people to come out on the dance floor and participate in it because they just don’t want to.”
 

Plus, it takes away from dance time, and Joey Garcia (DJ Joey G.), owner of Jade DJ Entertainment in New Paltz, says couples want fewer interruptions in the night and more time to dance and party.
 
RELATED: WHY HIRING AN EXPERIENCED DJ FOR YOUR WEDDING IS A BAD IDEA

 

Other trends that may be fading

Lewis says the traditional cake cutting may be the next trend to fade away. “I think the cake cutting is making it’s way out,” he said. “We’ve had more and more couples decide not to stop the party to do the cake cutting.” That doesn’t mean it going away completely. Lewis says “I’ll advise them to come in during the cocktail hour and do a mock cake cutting, so at least they’ll have a picture.” Cake will still be served after dinner, but by cutting it early, they don’t have to disrupt the party and cause a break in the action.
 

New Trends
 

Anniversary Dance –
 

One of the biggest newest trends is something called the Anniversary Dance. This dance, which has several variations, is basically a way to acknowledge those invited guests who are married, especially those who have been married a long time, and celebrating the one couple that’s been married the longest.
 

Fischer says one variation is the elimination process. “You invite married couples up,” he says, “and begin eliminating them based on how long they’ve been married — one year, five years, 10 years, 15 years,” then the couple still left standing gets a gift and recognition from all your guests. “So now, not only did you honor that couple that’s been married 30, 40, 50 years, which is awesome,” he says, “you honored all the married couples that got up.”
 

A variation he’s seen includes a bride and groom writing down the names of the single men and women in attendance on a piece of masking tape and sticking the tape to the bottom of their shoe. The bride writes the women’s names; the groom writes the men’s names. At a certain point at the reception, whoever’s name is still pronounced and legible gets a bouquet.
 

Lewis has a different approach. He asks everybody to make a big circle and asks the crowd who’s married. Once the couple who’s been married the longest has been identified, they then dance together in the middle of the circle of guests, in front of their closest family and friends, recreating their first dance. He says it’s usually always a tear-jerking moment. During part of the song, he has the bride and groom join in to recognize the oldest and newest married couples, then has all the married couples join them.
 

Bridal Party Introductions –
 

Two interesting trends have been happening with this. Lewis has seen bridal party introductions becoming less of a “thing” because couples are focusing on themselves as a couple, realizing the five minutes it takes to introduce the bridal party could mean an extra song or two could be played.
 

On the other hand, Garcia says introductions are getting more personalized. “Introductions are huge,” he says. “I always tell people that (the introductions) sets the tone for the party. You want fun, upbeat high energy music. I’m getting more where they tailor the music to the people coming in where they do a song for every couple.”
 

What dance trends are you doing or not doing at your wedding? Is there a trend you miss? What traditions are you skipping? What new ones are you creating just for your special day? We’d love to know.

 

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jade DJ Entertainment

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What Is It Really Like To Be a DIY Bride?

When it comes to weddings, the “Do It Yourself” trend is here to stay. With more and more couples wanting to incorporate personalized aspects into every part of their day, DIY weddings seems to be the way to go. In addition to making their wedding personalized, many couples are planning weddings with limited budgets or at non-traditional wedding venues, and so, DIYing elements is a perfect fit.
 

Let’s not forget, too, that for the bride or groom who just have a knack for crafting or making things, a wedding in the perfect playground to let your creative juices flow. It was for me.
 

However, DIYing your wedding is not always as easy or as “perfect” as you think it’s going to be. While, what we see in magazines or on sites like Pinterest are beautiful and are great for inspiration, when it comes to actually recreating what you see and doing it yourself, it’s not always that easy. We asked two Hudson Valley DIY brides – Michelle from Suffern, and Lauren from Poughkeepsie – to give their real, first-hand experience on what it was like making their wedding come to life.
 

RELATED: DIY WEDDINGS: 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW
 

Why did you DIY?

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Michelle – “DIY has always been in my blood. I am a crafter at heart, and absolutely love to create things and be able to put my own personal spin on it. If I can make it, why buy it? It means so much more when you can personalize things. Plus, it gives a sense of empowerment and gratification. Creativity is so important to me; it keeps my sanity! After finishing a project, what’s better than admiring it and saying ‘WOW!!! I did that!’ ”
 

Lauren – “The biggest thing that inspired me to go DIY with our wedding was seeing all of the amazing ideas on Pinterest and thinking, ‘Why spend all that money when we can do most of this ourselves?’ I knew finding a stylist for the ideas I liked would cost an arm and a leg and I figured, I’m great at copying ideas, why not do it myself?”
 

What did you DIY?

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Michelle – “I wanted to carry a unique bouquet that would last forever. That’s when I came up with my brooch bouquet idea. I had asked my friends, family, and patients to donate their favorite pieces just to make it THAT much more special. Another thing that I made were my invitations.
 

“The theme of the wedding was ‘rustic-vintage,’ so there was a lot of lace, doilies, burlap, wood, and chalkboard that was used. I made all the menus, the fans, the place cards, the ‘table numbers,’ the takeaways and had my centerpieces bought from Bed Bath & Beyond with Shoprite flowers in the vases.’
 

“I decided to have each table with ‘Love’ in different languages in the center. The ‘Love’ phrase took place of the table numbers. For the place cards, I had small honey jars with squares of lace on top, complete with twine wrapped around. They held little tags with my guests’ names and the ‘Love’ phrase in whichever language their table had on it.
 

“We had a ‘photo area,’ in front of the fireplace mantle where the reception was held. I had made all sorts of props on long dowels complete with eyeglasses, old-fashioned mustaches, chalkboards, and large picture frames for people to hold up in front of them…I wanted to have a cute takeaway for the end of the night, so we went with milk and cookies.”
 

Lauren – “Personally, I made the bridesmaids’ bouquets, I did my own makeup, I made all the signs and decorations, set the tables and their settings up myself, I made all the decorations for the centerpieces. We had my husband’s aunt make all the desserts and the cakes and his friend make all the food (taco bar). We set up the ceremony area and decorated an arbor with a lot of things we found around my sister in law’s house (we had the ceremony and reception there).”
 

What does DIY really mean in terms of saving money or invested time?

 

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Lauren – “While we didn’t spend nearly as much on a wedding as most people do (in the end we spent about $9,000-$10,000 total including attire on a 100 person event), it was still a lot when all was said and done. Every time you turned around you’d be spending money on more things. When you hire someone to do something, like the centerpieces, you just pay money and it’s there looking beautiful. But when you’re doing it yourself, every little piece you envision has to be purchased or found on some crazy scavenger hunt. So it takes a lot more time than you would think.
 

“In addition, I think because we were doing it all ourselves and didn’t really have “deadlines” other than the day of the wedding, procrastination ran high and we spent a lot of the morning of the wedding running around trying to set everything up, finish decorations, run out for last minute items, and just worried about the little things (like not having a tap for the keg!).”
 

RELATED: 3 EASY WAYS TO DIY YOUR WEDDING WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE THE TIME OR CRAFTY GENES
 

What advice do you have for those interested in DIYing their wedding?

Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

Michelle – “Although being a DIY bride was stressful, and tough, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. As long as you prioritize, and plan things out, you’ll be fine! Lists were my best friend. And get friends to help put things together! Not only does it save you money, but it really puts a sense of self into your wedding. And people will notice. Do not have a cookie-cutter wedding…get your creative juices going!”
 

Lauren – “Don’t be discouraged if things don’t turn out exactly how you envisioned them. Some of the items you see in pictures are nowhere to be found, or crazy expensive! So improvisation can be key in this regard. Just go with the flow. Also, don’t procrastinate! Things will go wrong or not turn out right, but you can eliminate a lot of that if you set a deadline to get everything done, like a week before the big day so you can just relax until the ‘I do!’ ”
 

What advice do you have for those who love the DIY look but don’t have the time or know they don’t have crafty genes?

 

Lauren – “Employ your crafty friends and family! Show them the picture of what you want and ask them to help or bring any creative ideas to the table (even though everyone will already be throwing ideas at you). In terms of making things from Pinterest, don’t expect it to look exactly the same. Go into your crafting knowing it won’t, but that you’re also making things for your own, unique wedding. If you’re determined to have everything looks the same to a T, expect even more money or investing in the help of a professional.”
 

Featured Photo Credit: Susan Pleiman

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