When you’re planning a wedding, it becomes all too obvious that the vast number of so-called wedding traditions can easily bankrupt the budget bride and groom. Every new tradition seems to come with a price tag! Many couples are fighting back against the culture of excess surrounding weddings by scaling back and simplifying, but it’s not always easy. Too many wedding planning guides are quick to say that traditions must be upheld, lest brides and grooms find themselves on the wrong side of etiquette. That’s why we want to be just as quick to counter by saying that most of what we think of as tradition is relatively new in its current form… and entirely optional.
Here are seven wedding traditions you can safely skip without offending Miss Manners or Emily Post – though you may have a few not-in-the-know wedding guests who see your omissions as inflammatory:
1. The flower girl – and by extension, the flower girl dress. While a little girl in a miniature gown can certainly enhance the look of a wedding party, whether to invite children to participate in the wedding ceremony is wholly up to the bride and groom.
2. Carrying a bridal bouquet. We love flowers as much as the next bridal accessory experts, but the fact is that a bride can walk down the aisle carrying whatever she wants or even nothing at all. Common floral alternatives include prayer books, candles, lanterns, and fans, but don’t feel like you have to carry anything.
3. Wedding favors. Surprised? While there is indeed a long history of giving wedding guests a little something to take home, there’s an equally long tradition of wedding guests tossing wedding favors right into the trash bin as soon as they get home.
4. Having a bride’s side and a groom’s side at the ceremony. Sometimes it happens that one half a couple has a whole lot of family while the other half has hardly any, or a bride and groom may share all their friends. Ushers can seat guests on either side of the aisle – or guests can simply seat themselves as they see fit, without having to take sides.
5. The garter toss. Wedding garters are so lovely these days that we personally love it when the bride decides to keep hers on her leg where it belongs. Have a toss if you really want to, but could we at least ask that your new spouse not use teeth to remove it beforehand?
6. Matchy-matchy bridesmaids dresses. Besides the fact that it’s unlikely that ALL of your ‘maids will look great in grey or green strapless sheaths, giving bridesmaids a little leeway to choose their own dresses (maybe in one color family) results in more interesting wedding pictures and a more authentic look.
7. Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue. Though a wedding guest or two may ask you to share your ‘somethings,’ most won’t, so unless you’re very sentimental yourself and truly want to take the time to choose from among the old, new, borrowed, and blue, feel free to just wear the dress and wedding jewelry you really want to wear.
What other wedding traditions do you think brides should consider tossing out?