Weddings are full of traditions and superstitions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t choose which ones you want to do or not do any of them at all. Its your wedding and you can follow some of these traditions if they are meaningful to you or start your own traditions that reflect you and your future spouse.
The Groom Can’t See the Bride Before the Ceremony
This antiquated tradition dates back to the time of arranged marriages. Fathers would negotiate advantage unions for land, money, or prestige. Often, the bride and groom would not meet until the ceremony. The bride’s family may have been fearful that if the groom saw the bride before the ceremony, he might back out.
Nowadays, the tradition is more about wanting to surprise the groom with the sight of the bride in her dress for the first time. You can still go the traditional route and let the groom see the gown along with all the guests at the same time. The other option is to plan a first look where the bride and groom see each other for the first time before the ceremony. The first look gives the couple an opportunity to connect before the ceremony and the photographer can get some special pictures of the couple seeing each other for the first time.
Something Old, New, Borrowed or Blue
This Victorian rhyme is a time-honored tradition that is supposed to bring the bride good luck. Wearing “something old” expresses the couple’s desire to retain connections with their family after marriage. Wearing “something new” conveys that the couple is creating a new union that will endure forever and looking to the future for health, happiness and success. “Something borrowed” is an opportunity for the bride’s friends or family to lend her something special as a token of their love. And finally, “something blue” is a symbol of fidelity and constancy. This custom began in ancient Israel, where brides wore a blue ribbon in their hair to symbolize this promise to their new husbands. What you may not realize is that the rhyme actually ends with “…and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” Story says that placing a penny in the bride’s shoe will bring her a life filled with good fortune.
If you choose to follow some or all of this tradition, and you don’t have your grandmother’s wedding veil or your style doesn’t lend itself to something blue or borrowed, use your creativity. Maybe your dress is the something new, but it uses a classic “old” design. “Borrow” a style tip, shop vintage, or wear blue undergarments.
Someone Has to Walk the Bride Down the Aisle
You can handle your walk down the aisle however you want. Some women have dreamed about their father walking them down the aisle. Other women are independent and want to avoid the felling they are being symbolically given away. If you do want to walk down the aisle alone, you can walk with both your parents, just your mom or your best friend. You can even have walk in with your future spouse or meet each other halfway down the aisle.
Bride’s Guests on One Side and Groom’s Guests on the Other
You are joining two families together so why would you make them take sides during the ceremony? These days, couples are shaking up ceremony arrangements. They’re getting married in the round where guests encircle them with love or having guests sit down at the reception tables for the ceremony. If you’re having a more traditional ceremony with chairs on the left and the right, you can have ushers tell guests or display a sign that lets them know to pick a seat, not a side.
You Have to Have Attendants
You do not have to have a bridal party if you don’t want to. But if you do want to honor people with a role in your wedding, remember to make it your own. Bridesmaids don’t have to be women. Groomsmen don’t have to be men. Choose your wedding party based on friendship and support — not gender stereotypes.
You Have to Have a Cake
There’s no rule that says you have to splurge on a three-tier white cake. I attended a wedding where the family served seven different cakes including some vegan options from Whole Foods so that everyone could get their favorite flavor. If cake isn’t your dessert of choice, try something unique like a cheese tower, an ice cream sundae bar or a buffet of all your favorite treats.
You Have to Register for China and Household Stuff
You shouldn’t feel pressured to register for any household goods. You and your spouse may already live together in a fully furnished home or each have a houseful of gadgets and appliances that you already have to figure out what to keep and what to give away. Don’t feel weird for asking for something different. My daughter and son-in-law planned their honeymoon on a registry and requested different experiences as gifts.
You Have to Mail Hand Addressed Invitations
I know professional calligraphers need to make a living, but most of us do not have the budget for hand written invitations. A lot of us do not have the budget for even pre-printed invitations. You can create your own printed invitations using your any number of available fonts. You can also email out virtual invitations and save on the postage.
You Post Office Has to Hand Cancel Your Invitations
Wedding magazines love to tell you invitations must be hand-canceled. This means that a postmaster literally stamps the envelope instead of processing the mail through a machine. It’s all about presentation and if mail is hand-canceled then it won’t have the little barcodes running across the envelope. That’s all well and good, but if you live in a larger town or city, most postmasters will tell you they can’t do that anymore or won’t without a fee. This was a big etiquette rule when machines weren’t as sophisticated and could crumple envelopes, but these days it is absolutely fine. If you are worried about the appearance, you can minimize handling by dropping off your wedding invitations at the post office instead of dropping them in the mailbox.