There are so many wedding traditions, trying to get your head around them all will just end up making it spin! How on earth do you get the time to include everything that you ‘should’ be doing? And are you going to offend or upset anyone if you leave things out?
Do you have to include all the old wedding traditions if they don’t seem relevant today?
Traditions usually start for a reason and sometimes continue for that very same good reason, or because the lovely sentiment behind the tradition still stands.
Some traditions we just seem to follow because it’s what people have always done, or what is expected of us. We might not question if these traditions have any relevance today.
You certainly do not have to include all of them. Technically, it’s your wedding, and you don’t have to include any of them. The only bits you have to include are the legal parts, which is a couple of sentences from your celebrant and from you and then signing the marriage certificate.
Considering other people’s feelings
But if you choose to chuck out traditions, some guests may be disappointed, and some may even be offended. Putting noses out of joint at your wedding seems to be a tradition all of its own!
We don’t recommend doing things just to please other people; this is your wedding after all. Consider all of the traditions, and then keep the ones that mean something to you as a couple, or mean something to the people close to you, such as your parents or grandparents. And then try not to worry too much about what anybody else thinks.
The best advice from Easy Weddings is, do what works best for you.
To help you make your selection of which wedding traditions to keep, and which ones you can toss out, we have some more details for you below.
Wedding traditions that are still relevant
Being ‘given away’
While the idea of being given away as a chattel from your parents to your partner is a bit archaic, many couples keep a version of this because the feelings behind it are quite lovely.
Your father, or both your parents very often like walking you down the aisle, as a representation of everything they have done for you up to this point, and to indicate that they approve of your partner and support your future together.
You need to work out if you want to honour your parents in this way, or if this doesn’t have the same relevance to you. Many couples now will have a ‘first look’ at each other alone before the ceremony, and then walk down the aisle together. This is lovely too.
Are you doing your own wedding make-up or are you hiring someone to do it?
Not seeing each other before the wedding
It is a bit dubious as to what ‘before the wedding’ means. It is a bit like ‘Don’t feed the gremlins after midnight’!
For most people, the couple sleeps apart on the night before the wedding and get ready separately. Some will wake up together, and then part to get ready and surprise each other, while some don’t part at all.
While it is not bad luck to see each other beforehand, for most couples the surprise when they see each other at the wedding all done up is beautiful, so we’ll keep this tradition as still relevant.
Exchanging rings is not required legally, but almost everyone will still do it. It comes from ancient times, but hundreds of years ago only the wife wore a ring, and it was to signify that she belonged to her husband, and he trusted her to look after his house and children.
Again, many of the wedding traditions come from a woman being a chattel, but in the 20th century, we have made this more relevant by having both partners swap rings and wear them. They are worn with great pride that we are married and belong to one another.
Having a wedding/bridal party
Whether or not you need a bridal party, most of us will have them in some form or another. This tradition is still very relevant today, for a few reasons:
- It honours our closest friends
- We will be nervous and need people up there with us
- We have a lot of stuff to remember and carry, so some extra hands really help
Originally the bridal party was just a married couple who were close to the couple, nowadays it can be anyone.
This tradition is still relevant because we have made it thoroughly modern and flexible; have bridesmen or grooms-ladies, have a flower man, have a ring bearing dog, have whatever you like.
Pick the people closest to you who will relax you and make you happy, and then ask them to stand up there beside you.
Traditionally guests threw uncooked rice (or grains or corn) at a newly wedded couple to wish them prosperity together. While having stuff thrown at you seems weird, having everyone wish you prosperity is nice, so most couples still consider this wedding tradition relevant.
However, we have modernised it up again; uncooked rice is not good for the birds, and kind of hurts when you get hit with it. Options are confetti, flower petals, or bubbles, but make sure that you check with the venue as to what they allow before you start throwing anything.
A bride wearing white
Originally this was to signify her virginity, which might have a lot of people at the wedding giggling behind their hands. This concept is a little dated. Nowadays brides wear all sorts of shades in the white palette, and some will wear any colour they like. Some cultures, such as Indian or Chinese, have red as the bridal colour.
We think the tradition should be; wear whatever you like.
Most brides keep the white/ivory because it’s the only time in their lives they get to wear this colour, and they stand out so much as the focus of attention. Being the focus of everyone’s attention is a great tradition, so, by all means, wear white.
Cutting the cake
Traditionally it wasn’t a cake, but a loaf of bread, and it was broken over the bride’s head to wish her luck. Over time it became an ornate wedding cake instead, which the couple slice in front of their guests for good luck. Some couples will then smash it in each other’s faces.
We vote for keeping this tradition because there is cake. What other reason do we need?
Throwing the bouquet
This one is a bit more subjective. Many single women don’t like being dragged up to parade in front of everyone, and then fight each other to catch the bouquet, so a lot of brides don’t do this anymore. Feel free to skip this tradition if you want.
But it could still be relevant. Some cultural traditions still use it, and some families and groups still love it and see it as great fun.
Another nice idea is to instead of throwing it at all the single women, present it to the next woman in the room to get married after you.
Removing the garter
This tradition is very dubious, and the decision is entirely up to you. We are holding our tongues on this one for fear they might get us into trouble!
For advice on planning your wedding and what traditions to include, speak to your wedding planner or marriage celebrant.
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