Strip the Tradition from Your Wedding

by K M

Strip the Tradition from Your Wedding

When it comes to weddings, we hear a lot of talk about traditions. The bride traditionally walks down the aisle on the arm of her father, traditionally while she is wearing a white dress. Traditionally, she will be wearing something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Traditions come into play before and during both the ceremony and the reception, and many couples play into them without question.

The big day traditionally consists of a ceremony and a reception, the latter of which usually includes dinner, dessert, and a bar of some sort (often open). This itinerary has become so common that guests automatically assume dinner and drinks are included in the evening, while betrothed couples cringe as their bank account drops with each new wedding plan made.

Who says you have to feed your guests? For that matter, who says you have to invite anyone at all (beyond witnesses, of course)? If you find yourselves getting caught up planning a wedding that you’ve realized you don’t even want to have, take a step back. There are other, untraditional options out there for you that will cut a chunk of traditional costs. Here are a few:


Depending on the size of the guest list, dinner can be one of the biggest expenses involved in a wedding. Much like giving a mouse a cookie, once you feed your guests they’ll inherently expect dessert. And the more guests you have, the more dessert you need…see how quickly it adds up?

Everyone loves a “free” meal but the truth is feeding your guests isn’t a requirement. Instead of pulling out all the stops, cut some costs—and some stress—by opting for an afternoon reception serving tea and cake. It’s up to you whether to include some sort of alcohol (food or no food, surely there will at least be toasts!), but your guests probably won’t drink as much if a sit-down meal isn’t involved—especially if it takes place during daylight.


Can’t bring yourself to deprive your guests of a meal you yourself would expect as a wedding attendee? With a little bit of organization, you won’t have to—and you can still avoid booking that catering company!

When you send out your invitations, include your intentions to host a potluck wedding reception. Whether you assign particular dishes or courses to specific guests is your decision, but the few days it takes to get the meals straightened out are guaranteed to be less expensive than bringing a caterer on board. Just think twice before allowing your clumsy cousin to sign up to bring the cake!

Nix the Ceremony Altogether

Are you set on having a reception but uncertain about the rest of the day? Then nix the traditional ceremony and put it all towards the party. Take a trip to the courthouse before the big day, or even bring an officiant along to wed you at the reception itself. (Okay, so technically that’s not nixing the ceremony, but you can avoid typical ceremony hassles such as a program and a separate venue rental.)

If you and your hubby have a thing for adventure, meet the minister and a few witnesses near your favorite public spot and enjoy the rush of a guerrilla wedding. Let’s be honest—the real party begins at the reception, anyway!


Traditionally, couples announced their engagement in the newspaper (or their parents did it as a point of pride). While newspapers are harder to come across these days, the announcement idea still stands strong—you simply have a much wider range of platform options than before.

If you find yourself more frustrated than excited about the prospect of planning your wedding, throw your plans out the window. People can talk about traditions all they want, but traditions don’t have any bearing on how you want your wedding to look. Invite your closest friends or don’t invite anyone at all. No matter how you do your big day, an announcement can take care of those apologetic phone calls for you.

A public announcement is the easiest route to ensure that you’re truly informing everyone, but mailing announcements to those you would have invited adds a personal touch. Sharing the news directly shows the would-be guests that even though you didn’t feed them a $200 dinner, you do care about them—enough that you made sure the happy news came from your own mouth. (And if you’re humble enough about it, the announcement might prompt a few unexpected gifts, too!)

For those of us lucky enough to live in the free world, it’s important to remember that freedom applies to the look of our weddings as well as our lives. Sure, it’s traditional to wear a garter, but guess what? Someone was the first person to sport that style, initiating the tradition all on her own.

So what are you waiting for? Go start your own traditions.

Further Reading: Breaking With Wedding Traditions

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