Weddings have been celebrated for centuries with each culture cherishing its own unique traditions. While some customs have stood the test of time, others may be outdated or not relevant based on how we live in the world today. With weddings bringing people of all walks of life, ages and backgrounds together, it’s impossible to please everyone with the wedding traditions you choose to include and which ones you choose to exclude. Which means, the only traditions you need to include are the ones that you two want to include. And if you don’t want to include any typical wedding traditions, you don’t have to either! I’m going to give you permission right now that you don’t have to include any of these wedding traditions if you don’t want to.
You Are Not Obligated to Reciprocate A Wedding Invite
Everyone puts together their guest lists differently. I feel like at some point in time, everyone gets invited to a wedding that you’re surprised you were invited to because you didn’t think you were that close to the couple. If you’ve been to one of those, you absolutely do not need to reciprocate and invite that couple to your wedding. And you don’t have to invite anyone you don’t want to even if you are friendly with them and were invited to their wedding. Your venue may hold less people, you may have a more refined budget, you may want a smaller guest list, or you might just not want to invite them.
You Can Invite Kids
Your wedding does not need to be a family friendly event although it totally can be. You know the kind of wedding you want and the guests you’re inviting. If you are having a casual wedding outside with lots of fun lawn games, maybe that’s the perfect environment to include kids. Or if you’re having a fancy ballroom black-tie affair and you want the adults to get a night away, then it sounds like that might be idea for an adult only wedding. This is absolutely your choice and you don’t need to feel pressured one way or another.
It's Not Guaranteed Mom + Dad Are Paying
The very traditional way was that the bride’s family would pay for the wedding. That meant the invitation would essentially say that the bride’s parents are inviting the guest to a wedding of their daughter and the fiancé. The groom’s family would pay for the rehearsal dinner. The bride’s mom would also throw the bridal shower sometimes with help from the groom’s mom but usually it would fall on the bride’s mom to pay and plan everything.
As time has passed, so have these traditions. There’s no rule about who pays for the wedding. I feel like nowadays, it’s usually a combination of all of the above. The engaged couple pay for some things, the bride’s parents pay for some things and the groom’s parents pay for some things. Because it’s not implied that mom and dad are going to pay for the wedding, it’s important to have this conversation before you start any planning. You can’t have a clear budget defined if you don’t talk to mom and dad first.
You Do Not Have To Have A Traditional Bridal Party
It’s traditional to have a bridal party, men on the groom’s side and women on the bride’s side with an equal number of people on both sides. There is usually a best man, a maid of honor, a flower girl and a ring bearer. You can include some of this, a mix of it or none at all. You can skip the ring bearer and have a flower girl. You can have a best man and maid of honor and no one else. You can have men and women on both sides, according to who’s friends with who. You can skip everything altogether.
The Bride Does Not Have to Wear A White Expensive Dress + Veil
The bride’s attire used to be very common: an expensive white wedding gown and a veil. Now, there is so much more variety if the tradition isn’t your style. Your wedding dress doesn’t have to be expensive with so many options at every price point. It also doesn’t have to be a wedding dress! It could be a pantsuit, a romper, a skirt and top, or some other combination. You also don’t need a veil that covers your face. You absolutely can if you want, or you can rock a veil behind you or skip the veil altogether. Oh and did I mention, you don’t have to wear white? Whether you stay in the ivory, champagne family or want color in the form of blush, black or some other beautiful color, whatever outfit you want to get married in should be what you wear.
Dad Does Not Have To Walk The Bride Down the Aisle
The tradition of the father "giving away" his daughter stems from an era when women were considered property to be transferred from one man to another. While most view it as a symbol of love and trust between father and daughter, it can inadvertently perpetuate patriarchal ideas about women's agency and independence. Modern couples can instead consider an inclusive alternative, like having both parents walk the bride down the aisle or having the couple walk together, signifying their mutual decision to marry. Or if you want to keep the tradition because you love your dad and you want this special moment just the two of you, you can absolutely do that too.
You Do Not Need To Use The Canned Vows
Traditional marriage vows often contain phrases like "obey" and "honor and obey," which reinforce outdated power dynamics within a relationship. Marriage is based on love, mutual respect and partnership rather than submission to one partner's will. You may want to consider updated this language to reflect equality, respect and shared responsibility. Or you can throw out the traditional vows altogether and write your own.
You Can Change The First Dances
There is a series of first dances: the new bride + groom, father + daughter then mother + son. You can choose to include all of these dances, some of them or none of them. Or maybe you want to add some additional dances, like one with your brother or the groom with his grandma. It’s your day so you can dance with whoever you want!
You Can Skip The Bouquet Toss + Garter Toss
The bouquet toss and garter toss have been a form of entertainment at weddings for forever. Although these tosses may be fun for those participating or watching, it may make the single guests uncomfortable with the implied pressure they must participate. You know the guests at your wedding and if you think this will be a fun activity, go for it! If you believe your guests are going to shy away from it, then don’t include it. Also, if you plan on preserving your flowers (LINK), then you might want to think twice about tossing your beautiful bouquet. Maybe you can toss a bridesmaid’s bouquet instead so you can preserve yours later. Or you can totally skip these activities altogether and focus on inclusive activities that celebrate love and friendship without singling out those who are not in romantic relationships.
You Don’t Have To Take Your Honeymoon Right Away
I can’t believe that there was once a time where couples ended their wedding day by getting into a limo and going to the airport for their honeymoon. I’m not sure if there was less to do post wedding then or they just worked magic so everyone else took care of everything that needed to get done but I feel like this is less and less common now. It’s not uncommon now for couples to postpone their honeymoon for a couple weeks, months or even years. If you’re getting married in the summer and would rather have a tropical beach vacation in November, you may want to postpone your honeymoon for a couple months. If you are going to postpone your honeymoon for more than a couple weeks, I highly recommend going away for long weekend, like a minimoon. There is something magical about talking about your wedding as a couple in those first couple weeks after it’s happened. It’s a blissful time that is not meant to be missed because you went back to work and dove into regular life again.
I know wedding traditions may hold sentimental value and cultural significance to some which is why I’m not saying to completely ditch all the traditions off the bat. Instead, evaluate each tradition and see how it appeals to you. If you don’t like original intention of dad walking the bride down the aisle but you still want to have that special moment with your dad anyway, then you should absolutely do that. The traditions are just a guideline because at the end of the day, it’s about making your wedding authentically you.