Lately I am seeing that many of my friends and family are getting engaged and planning weddings. I am constantly hearing the question, “Should we have a traditional wedding?” I hear comments that Grandma will have a heart attack if the unity candle is not in the perfect spot, or that Aunt Jo’s stepsister will be so offended if she is not seated with the family. Granted, I am not a people pleaser, but I really don’t understand why a couple’s wedding is so often dictated by what others want. When my husband and I began planning our wedding my very first thought was to avoid worrying about what others want and focusing on what we want as a couple. I am so thankful we made that decision because when I look back our wedding was so perfectly “us.”
So what traditions did we break? Well… probably more than I can count, but here are the top 10.
1. There was no rehearsal or rehearsal dinner.
We discussed the vows with the minister, my grandfather, on the phone the night before the wedding. When we arrived at the wedding site, we quickly went over with our wedding party where to walk and where to stand. Isn’t the whole walking down the aisle thing pretty self explanatory? This way people from out of town did not have to come a day early or make special trips for us. We chose not to have ushers or escort family in. Everyone was seated wherever they chose to sit and with whom they chose to sit by.
2. My husband saw me in my wedding dress before the wedding.
Let me explain. The evening before our wedding we were watching TV in our new apartment that we would soon make our home. We had a good friend of ours over with us. I started talking about how I was nervous I would get up in front of everyone and blank. The solution? We decided to practice. I put on my dress, he put on his suit, and we stood in our future bedroom with our friend “officiating” and practiced saying the words “I do” over and over again. We laughed so hard we cried. This is still one of the most special moments I remember throughout our relationship. No, I do not regret not seeing “the look” that a groom gives his bride when she walks down the aisle. Why you ask? Because I am lucky enough to have a husband who gives me that look every day.
3. We did not stay separate before the wedding.
We chose to have our bridesmaids, groomsmen, and family all get ready in the same house. We were lucky enough to have family that was willing to open their home up to our wedding party. The girls got one bedroom to get ready in, and the boys got another bedroom. I was able to talk to my future husband while I got my hair and makeup done. He was able to hold my hand as I stepped into my shoes. He told me how beautiful I looked so I didn’t have to wonder. Then we climbed in his car and rode together to the wedding. GASP! We rode the 30 minutes to our wedding location holding hands and talking about our excitement to get to spend forever together. Another one of my best memories of that day.
4. We didn’t “hide” backstage until the ceremony.
This is probably the biggest “no, no” of all in the wedding tradition handbook. When we arrived, we parked in the field beside the barn that we would be married in. I saw all of my friends and family visiting and decided that I didn’t want to miss out on the fun. So we hopped out of the car and visited. Yes, I talked to everyone, hugged, kissed, and laughed with all of the special guests that had set aside their day to spend with us. If I had any bottled up nervousness, it was gone in a heartbeat.
5. We didn’t dance.
My husband refuses to dance. Period.
6. Friends and family provided the reception food.
We asked each of our family members and close friends to bring a desert that we loved in leu of a wedding gift. We were able to enjoy a family friend’s homemade 12 layer chocolate cake. I got to enjoy a dear friend’s lemon cookies that has been my all time favorite treat. We sipped the best homemade lemonade made by my amazing wedding planners. Everyone contributed and ended up switching recipes throughout the reception. And thankfully, we didn’t end up with 12 toasters. Instead we had the money that we would normally have spent on food to be able to purchase our own super amazing toaster. Brilliant.
7. I didn’t throw my bouquet.
8. We didn’t have a bride and groom table at the reception.
I was able to sit by my cousins and closest friends that I rarely saw and visit. I mean, I had my whole life to sit at the table with my husband.
9. My bridesmaids didn’t wear the same dress.
This is more common now than it has been in the past. I decided to give my bridesmaids paint samples from the store and let them choose their own dress. They had only one rule: Keep it under $30. Forever 21 proved to be my best friend. Two of my three bridesmaids found their dress there for the reasonable price of $24. I didn’t want to break the bank so why would I ask my bridal party to? And every bride says that their bridesmaids can wear their dresses again, but most of the time this isn’t true. In this case, my bridesmaids were able to select their own dress and it was casual enough they could honestly wear it again. And they have.
10. We didn’t have a Maid of Honor, Best Man, Flower Girl, or Ring Bearer.
We discussed this and decided that the six people standing beside us were all of equal importance in our lives, so we did not feel the need to single two of them out. We had the bridesmaid and groomsmen closest to us hold the rings and give them to us at the appropriate time.
We were not necessarily out to break traditions, it just happened that way. We have had so many people tell us how much the wedding suited us as a couple. I have had many people tell me that they wished they had not tried to people please and instead go for a more simple wedding. I know that traditions are important to many people. Sometimes it’s because they have been passed down for many years. Some people feel that these traditions are in place to make the wedding day special. I know that weddings are not “one style fits all.” I always encourage people to do what makes them happy. I do want to stress, however, that a wedding can be successful and special if you follow your own style and make your own rules.