When it comes to your wedding, everyone from your nosy neighbor to your great aunt Vera will have opinions on how you should–and shouldn’t–celebrate your big day. Or maybe you’re one of those rare brides who can bask in the joy and approval of everyone from the get-go (in which case: lucky you!) No matter how you plan your ceremony, keep in mind that the best traditions are those that bear personal significance for you and your groom. That said, here are few traditional “rules” you can happily ignore if they just don’t jive.
# 1. All aisle walks are reserved for Dad.
Let’s be real. While plenty of fathers out there have earned the privilege of walking their little girls down the aisle—and plenty of daughters wouldn’t have it any other way—we live in complicated times. Family trees are full of gnarly branches (read: single parent families, mixed families, and every variation in between). However, this is no reason to shy away from a role traditionally reserved for the bride’s father. Women today can share this symbolic moment with anyone who has played a strong supportive role in their life or marriage without fear of judgment or scrutiny. True familial love is not bound by gender, age, or even a shared gene pool.
#2. The groom should never see the bride before the ceremony.
While traditionally deemed “bad luck” for the wedding day, this longstanding rule has been bucked by brides, grooms, and photographers alike. For many couples, a pre-ceremony “reveal” is more candid, romantic, and adrenaline-inducing than seeing each other for the first time in the company of 200 other witnesses. The photographer often prompts the bride to stand behind her groom, and when he turns heel for his first glimpse, the reaction (and resulting images) are nothing less than magical.
#3. All bridesmaids must match!
Long gone are the days of matching Pepto Bismol parades of taffeta. Bridesmaids dresses have evolved these last few decades, and bridesmaids everywhere can rejoice in the myriad options available to them. From svelte A-Line gowns to simple cocktail dresses, there’s something for everyone…even within the same bridal party. Whether it’s a variation on cut, color, or both, brides (and legions of grateful bridesmaids) have learned that variety is the spice of life. And receptions.
#4. No wedding is complete without a bouquet/garter toss.
Unless you’re some self-professed super-singleton famed for your bouquet-catching prowess (in which case, we applaud you), chances are you fall in the same category of the other wedding guests; that is, those other singles who’d much prefer to loiter the open bar than advertise their marriage eligibility in the middle of an open dance floor. Newlyweds can spare their unmarried friends the ritual and opt for more meaningful or fun activities instead. One popular substitute? The Shoe Game!
#5. Honeymoons should always follow the wedding.
In a tough economic climate, more couples are saving—not spending—in the months following their ceremony. Sure, the prospect of being whisked away on your wedding night to a tropical resort in Bora Bora sounds amazing, but the reality is that many newlyweds need to postpone paradise in light of steep wedding costs and financial downturns. Consider saving up for a year or two so that when it’s finally time to jet away, you can travel guilt-free and concentrate on what’s most important: feeding each other strawberries in first class.