Five Wedding Traditions You Can Totally Skip

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The times, they are a changin’!

Even if you consider yourself a traditionalist at heart, I’m willing to bet there are some wedding traditions you’d prefer to do without. I always find that my clients sometimes just need “permission” to do their wedding, their way. My opinion is as long as it’s legal and doesn’t hurt anyone; couples should be able to make their wedding ceremony, reception, and any other wedding-related event unique to who they are.

If you’re planning a wedding and have been looking for the nod to do things a little differently, consider this your permission slip.

 

Not Seeing Each Other Before the Ceremony

It’s true, couples have successfully skipped this tradition and have managed to avoid the curse of bad luck. In fact, many couples are opting to ignore this tradition for a “first look” session, where the photographer is on hand to capture the moment the couple sees each other for the first time before the ceremony begins.

Why skip this tradition?
We love first looks because it’s an opportunity for the couple to have a private moment before the ceremony to share together, and I suspect it also helps ease any pre-wedding anxiety and jitters.

Where did this tradition come from anyway?
This tradition is rooted in wedding history where women were considered property, and nearly all weddings were arranged by the family. Historically, the bride’s father would select a partner for his daughter, and the arrangement was treated as more of a business transaction: the father of the bride would choose a groom that was successful, wealthy and had the ability to provide for his daughter. Out of fear that the groom would not approve of his future wife, he was forbidden from seeing her until the ceremony began to minimize the risk of him fleeing.

 

Serving a Formal Dinner to Your Guests

I’ve seen a lot of wedding food in my time – it’s a huge piece of the planning puzzle and takes up a considerable portion of the overall budget, and for good reason – caterers spend a crazy amount of time focusing on the details of your wedding day cuisine, guiding you through menu selection, plating and then working hand in hand with clients during a tasting to perfect your first meal as a married couple. Recently, however, I’ve had a lot of couples take a more casual approach, from garden weddings with tapas-style food at various stations to food trucks.

Why skip this tradition?
Let’s face it, not every couple wants to have a traditional wedding. This is your day, and you should do what makes you feel comfortable – if food isn’t the most important consideration when it comes to your wedding, and you know your guests would be just as happy with more casual fare, by all means consider an alternative to traditional catering – but do consider your guests – many weddings span the length of more than a couple hours, and if you’re serving liquor, you absolutely should provide some form of nourishment for your guests. There’s nothing worse than not having anything to snack on after a couple of vodka sodas!

Where did this tradition come from anyway?
Originally weddings were a way for the social elite to demonstrate their wealth and prove their status in the community. Providing food to guests is not only the responsible thing to do as a host, but offers another opportunity to prove wealth.

 

Having the Wedding on a Saturday

People get married every day of the year – there’s no hard and fast rule that states weddings can only happen on Saturday evenings. Although it’s the most popular day of the week to be wed, many couples opt for Sunday weddings (especially if the following Monday is a holiday) or Friday evening celebrations. Others plan in conjunction with holidays, or on dates of significance.

Why skip this tradition?
The incentive that immediately comes to mind when considering a non-Saturday wedding is financial. Often venues (and even some vendors) will cut their rates for weddings that aren’t on Saturday, to book their calendar. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Other incentives include sentimental reasons if you’re choosing to get married on a date of significance.

Where did this tradition come from anyway?
Saturday weddings aren’t rooted in any history or tradition. In fact, according to English folklore, Saturday is the unluckiest day to wed, which is ironic considering it is the most popular day of the week to exchange vows. Instead, English tradition states Wednesday is the “best day” for weddings – but also consider Monday for wealth, or Tuesday for health. Most couples who choose to get married on a Saturday do it out of consideration for their guests: most people do not have to work on Saturday, if the wedding is in the evening it allows for travel time, etc.

 

Tossing the Bouquet and Garter

Flowers are expensive – you probably put a lot of time thinking about the types of blooms, the colors and the variety you wanted in your bouquet. It has always been a little strange to me that despite the effort you put into designing your arrangement, plus all the energy your floral designer puts forth to make your vision come to life, you would just toss the bouquet into a crowd.

Why skip this tradition?
There’s some fun in tossing the bouquet – it can offer some great photo ops, and it adds a layer of interaction with your guests beyond just greeting from table to table. Your floral designer can also create a smaller, “toss bouquet” for you to throw so you can keep the “real” arrangement you carry down the aisle. But if throwing something into a crowd of your friends and family members to playfully determine who will wed next is a little offputting to you too, consider the alternatives. Recently I saw a wedding where all married couples were invited to the dancefloor. The DJ would “eliminate” couples by the length of marriage throughout the song, so in the end, only one couple (the one married the longest) remained on the dancefloor. The bride gave her bouquet to the couple. Another option is to preserve your bouquet, keeping it as a special memento. Others like to press the flowers and make several mementos.

Where did this tradition come from anyway?
Wedding traditions are dark. When it comes to tossing the bouquet, it’s especially dark. Tossing the bouquet is a tradition rooted to our friends across the pond in England. Historically, people would try to rip off pieces of the bride’s dress for good luck as she exited the wedding ceremony. To keep the guests at bay, the bride would throw her bouquet as a distraction and make a run for it.

 

Making Sure the Wedding Party Matches

It’s a long-standing joke that bridesmaids are often forced to purchase an ugly dress they’ll never wear again. Brides are believed to put their maids in giant bows, shoulder pads, and shades not even Crayola would dare. While this may not be true for the vast majority of brides, there has been a tradition of putting all maids, regardless of fashion preference, in the same dress, or at least in the same color.

Why skip this tradition?
Consider skipping this tradition if you want your wedding party to have the freedom to wear something they’d be comfortable in, or wear again. Many couples are now simply telling their wedding party to wear a particular color – I always tell my clients to find a fabric sample they can give to members of the wedding party to help reduce stress – remember, there are many different shades of gray, navy, etc. so offering a swatch will help guide your wedding party. Another reason to opt for mixed attire is to allow the wedding party to show off their personalities. Finally, if you do like a more unified look, but don’t want to match exactly, opt for dresses that can be worn multiple ways – this guarantees the same color but still allows the flexibility for the wedding party to wear something they’d be comfortable in. For those in suits, try playing with different patterned shirts of the same color – you can also put some in bow ties and others in regular ties, as well as folding the same color pocket square in a variety of ways so that not everyone in a suit is matched exactly.

Where did this tradition come from anyway?
More darkness: back in the day, families believed weddings had the potential to attract evil spirits and bad luck. Add to that the men who desired to have the bride for themselves who may attempt to sabotage the wedding to stop the vows from happening, and you have the perfect reasoning for decoy brides. That’s exactly where the idea of bridesmaids came from – back in Roman times, bridesmaids’ attire was identical to the bride’s, to keep the couple safe from demons and rejected men, confusing the would-be wedding crashers long enough for the couple to exchange vows successfully.

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