When you sit down to plan a wedding, the huge array of wedding traditions to choose from is overwhelming. When it comes down to it, almost every part of a wedding ceremony and reception is based on some obscure tradition, whether you know it or not. Traditions vary based on your culture, region, religious beliefs and other individual factors. And finally, to make it even more complicated, during the wedding planning process, you’ll often find out that many of your nearest and dearest have very strong opinions about which traditions you absolutely must include in your wedding… whether you like it or not. And while it’s important to be respectful of family, including the family you’re about to acquire when you say “I do,” it’s also key to remember that your wedding should ultimately be about what is meaningful to you.
Let us know how you feel about the wedding traditions on this list:
1. PAPER INVITATIONS
If you have the budget, splurging on beautiful letterpress invitations will dazzle your guests and create a lovely keepsake of your wedding day. But if you’re tight on money, want to host a truly green wedding or just prioritize other details, there are lots of alternatives to traditional paper invitations.
Alternatives: Try an online invitation instead. Joy makes it easy to invite guests and manage online RSVPs from your free wedding website or your phone.
Wedding veils can be beautiful, but they also have an interesting history. Some say veils were worn in ancient times to protect brides from evil spirits… Others say they were insurance in arranged marriages to make sure a groom didn’t call of a wedding based on the brides’ appearance.
Alternatives: If a traditional veil just isn’t your style, remember that you have a whole world of accessories to play with. Skip a veil to show off a tiara, decorative headband or flower crown instead.
3. FLOWER GIRLS AND RING BEARERS
Listen, I’m the first to admit that there is nothing cuter than a toddler in a puffy dress or a tiny tuxedo. But if the rest of your wedding is adults only, or the kids in your life are prone to meltdowns, or you just can’t decide which special child gets a starring role, you can skip flower girls and ring bearers altogether.
Alternatives: Ask your best man or another trustworthy attendant (with pockets) to carry the jewelry. Or if you prefer furbabies to real babies, dress up a dog! (But maybe use decoy rings.)
4. UNITY CANDLES
Lighting a unity candle is one of the most popular way to symbolize the joining of two families during a wedding ceremony. But just because it’s become common in the United States, it’s definitely not a requirement.
Alternatives: Keep your ceremony short and sweet and skip straight to the vows, or consider a less common alternatives, like hand fasting, blessings of the rings, a sand ceremony, or jumping the broom. Or get creative – I once attended a wedding where the couple blended two bottles of whiskey to age in a small barrel, and they celebrate every anniversary with a round of shots.
5. PROFESSIONAL OFFICIANTS
If you aren’t religious or just don’t have a pastor or other religious official in your life, you aren’t doomed to be married by a stranger who marries people for a living. Nowadays, just about anybody can get ordained to marry a couple.
Alternatives: Reach out to a close friend or family member, preferably somebody with some public speaking experience, to get ordained online.
6. SEATING CHARTS
If you are serving a formal, multi-course plated dinner with multiple entree options, assigned seating is pretty much required. But seating charts can get stressful, and there are lots of catering options that don’t require assigned seating. If you are doing heavy apps, serving stations, a family style meal or a buffet, you can skip the seating chart altogether and save yourself a lot of time (and people pleasing).
Alternatives: Trust guests to find their seat, and reserve a few VIP tables at the front for your wedding party and immediate family.
7. CAKE TOPPERS
The days of one-size-fits-all plastic brides and grooms sitting atop a tiered white wedding cake are a distant memory. These days, there is an entire cottage industry dedicated to creating tiny versions of you and your beloved on top of your cake in any style or theme you want. But that doesn’t mean that you have to shell out another $100 just because it’s a trend.
Alternatives: Decorate your cake with whatever you want! You can DIY some decor, or even steal a few fresh flowers from a centerpiece to do double duty. And don’t forget that if you’re team pie, or any other dessert, you can skip the cake altogether.