Breaking With Wedding Tradition
Ever get the feeling that planning a wedding means answering to some unseen wedding gods, who long ago decided everything that is “supposed to” be done on the big day? As you sort through the stack of supposed to’s, you might find yourself wondering: who decided all this stuff anyway?
Vicky M., a fall 2019 bride from Atlanta, GA, agreed that the pressure to keep up with tradition was a real part of wedding planning. “Pressure came from all over – first and foremost from the wedding industry, second from parents, even though they tried very hard to not impose their preferences.”
Despite this type of pressure, today many traditions are being yanked to reflect modern sensibilities. For example, the custom of the bride wearing a veil over her face is an ancient one of uncertain origin – perhaps to conceal the bride from jealous old boyfriends, to keep her hidden from a groom she had never met, or to confuse evil spirits. Needless to say, many traditions are throwbacks to long-ago times when lifestyles were much different than they are today.
Wedding Traditions in 2023
Today’s brides typically wear the veil away from the face, and some are skipping the veil entirely, choosing to wear a wreath of flowers or adorned hairpins instead. The manner of walking down the aisle is changing with the times as well. Some brides aren’t fond of the symbolism of their father walking them in, feeling that the idea of being “given away” is ill-suited to an independent woman. Many brides now walk arm-in-arm with both parents – capturing the sentimental spirit of the father-only tradition while avoiding what some perceive as its negative aspects. There’s also nothing that says the groom can’t be by your side as the two of you walk in together, or that you can’t be escorted by a friend or sibling, or simply make a solo entrance.
One of the more storied wedding traditions is that of tossing the bouquet and garter. To replace a tradition that some suggest inappropriately that single men and women are anxiously awaiting marriage, you might instead present a single flower to each of the women in the crowd, or give small bouquets to guests who aren’t otherwise recognized, as a special aunt.
Wedding Traditions – Old&New
Picking and choosing your personal combination of old and new is fun. Vicky and her new husband, Robert B., included some traditions in their ceremony while excluding others. “We did keep a lot of traditions because we thought they were fun and because we knew the guests would enjoy them too,” Vicky said. On the other hand, Vicky said, “Some traditions we simply ignored because they didn’t make sense to us.”
Examples of new twists on old themes abound. Consider greeting your guests at the door rather than remaining unseen before the ceremony. Let the members of the wedding party select their own outfits rather than having each dress the same. Speak at the reception rather than letting the best man do all the talking, or ask others to give a toast as well – someone like a favorite old teacher or the best man from your parents’ wedding. Dream up an alternative to a traditional wedding cake – select a new style rather than the traditional multi-tier variety, choose an edible decoration like fruit or candies rather than the customary flowers, or include an entirely different dessert altogether, perhaps one that reflects your cultural background.
The Non-Traditional Wedding
Joanne K. and her fiancé Frank S., planning July 2023 in Twin Lakes, CO, have kept traditions in mind while planning a non-traditional wedding. Joanne says she appreciates the value of tradition, calling it a “common vocabulary” that can unite the couple with their guests. Still, she and Frank are planning an outdoor ceremony without an officiant, choosing instead to marry themselves. In another new-decade twist, the couple is sending family and friends on their invitation list an e-mail with a link to their detailed wedding web page in lieu of printed invitations. Guests can RSVP online. The couple is also planning a “multi-day event”, complete with an organized raft trip and a barbecue.
This is all not to say that old traditions aren’t worthy of inclusion in weddings in the new decade – if you’ve spent years looking forward to the bouquet toss or can’t imagine not having your dad walk you down the aisle, then go for it! …Wearing a Black Wedding Dress at your wedding become more and more usual these days. Consider the personalities involved. If you know your happy clan will find the garter toss an absolute riot, then you should definitely stick with it. Just know that you don’t have to conform to traditions.