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 I do feel some of them are outdated, so my wedding was a nice mix of traditional and non-traditional elements.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
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
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.
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
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.
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