Remember the mean girl in high school who ridiculed classmates for carrying a handbag that was “so last season?” Well, she grew up too, and she just wrote an anti-wedding tradition piece for Vogue.
In her Vogue declaration, Molly Guy urges you to ‘say “I don’t”‘ to ten popular wedding traditions. I say, not so fast. It’s worth taking a look at these time honored traditions through the lens of an experienced wedding pro before we just toss them aside for something more “of the moment.”
According to Molly, “they were there to let the world know you were the property of your big strong husband…”. Most often, my clients’ selected ceremony text points out that the ring is a symbol of eternity, with no beginning and no end, representing the eternal commitment of a marriage. Just remember: the key to avoid feeling like “property” is choosing the right partner, not skipping the rings.
2. Girls, Girls, Girls
Whether you ask your girls to wear traditional matching dresses and be escorted by groomsmen, or select their own unique frock (in a cohesive color palette!) and sit in the front row, tailoring the tradition of Bridesmaids to suit your style is a “do.” Molly says, “And did someone say “maid of honor”? Let’s not even go there.” But, I say: if you want three maids of honor or zero, do what feels right for you. Don’t be bullied into excluding a tradition that you find meaningful.
3. The Registry
There are variations on the traditional registry that could work for you, as long as you tactfully communicate your wishes with your guests before wedding day. But if you take Molly’s suggestion and, ‘Send one of the flower girls around, holding a big basket with an adorbs sign around her neck that says “Accepting contributions,”‘ it will be too late. Your collection of ugly picture frames and toasters will already be waiting for you, piled on the guest book table since you didn’t plan for a gift table. Yikes.
4. Hiring a Professional Photographer
The great wedding photographers aren’t just photographers. They’re artists, acrobats, focused professionals in endless pursuit of the images that will allow you to relive the emotion of your wedding day for years to come. Your friends may capture some great party pics, and the instant gratification of scrolling your Instagram hashtag is fun, but don’t confuse your friends with photographers. Even the iPhone picture with the most carefully selected filter will never replace the quality of a professional image. Plus, save yourself the heartbreak of attempting to enlarge and frame your friends’ cell phone pictures. The term “hi res” will start meaning a lot to you. Trust me.
5. The Big Reveal
Molly’s words: “I totally get the appeal of the big rom-com moment when the groom sees the bride in her dress for the first time, but honestly, you have been spending every single day together since you first met at Lit Lounge in 2001 . . . is this really necessary?” Tell that to my clients who met in Greece and dated long distance for five years before they got married! Whether you see your future spouse daily or you’re part of a long distance love story, the choice of whether to see each other pre-ceremony is yours to make. There are pros and cons to both options.
6. Something Old, Something New
Chances are, you’re going to follow this tradition at least partially, whether you intend to or not. If your wedding dress is new and a piece of family jewelry is passed down, you’re already halfway there. Don’t feel obligated to follow it, but if you want to honor this tradition, chances are your family and Bridesmaids will help you select what you need without unnecessary stress.
7. Walking Down the Aisle with Daddy
Is nothing sacred?! I can’t imagine a Bride telling her dad that she fully intended for him to escort her down the aisle until a magazine article advised her that it’s no longer on trend. If you personally prefer to enter your ceremony in a non-traditional way and need some good ideas, that will work well, that’s what your wedding planner is for. But breaking dad’s heart because Vogue said so? No.
8. First Dance
For some couples, the first dance is one of their favorite memories of the reception and an opportunity for some of the most beautiful images of the evening. For others, it’s a tradition they dread and would rather skip. Both are fine in my book, and it’s up to you to make the choice. Just know that you don’t have to take dance lessons or stress over an appropriate song. Want to dance for just one minute to the theme song of your favorite TV show? Go for it.
9. Feeding Each Other Cake
The traditional wedding cake cutting hasn’t been considered a must-do for years. With the rise of dessert bars, then cupcake bars, then Krispy Kreme cakes, there have been plenty of memorable weddings with no cake cutting. Recently, though, wedding cakes are back in style, and those cake cutting images? Timeless.
10. The Elaborate Honeymoon
Molly advises you to, “book a suite at a nearby hotel and hole up for a couple days with some board games and champagne, and call it a long weekend.” Sounds riveting, and a perfect opportunity for the groomsmen to stop by and extend their party for a week. Planning a wedding can feel like you’re in a relationship with your groom… and your family, and his family, and your wedding planner, and your vendors. Post-wedding week is best spent in your own version of paradise with your phones turned off and no visitors. Trust me.
Don’t throw out a wedding tradition so hastily that you miss an opportunity to tailor it to your personal style and reinvent it a bit. After all, it’s the personalized details that make your wedding memorable to your guests and to you! If you do choose to skip traditions, be sure you’re staying true to your vision and not the perspective of a wedding-hating mean girl.
Featured image by Angela Winsor Photography