It started with what was hopefully a really great first date…or a date that went so horribly awry that it’s now one of the funniest stories the two of you tell tag-team style at parties. Whichever it was, something special began that night and now, well now you’re throwing the biggest party of your life to celebrate the fact that you’ve decided to commit yourselves to each other officially and forever.
This is what weddings are supposed to be: really great parties that celebrate who the two of you are as individuals as well as who the two of you hope to be as a team. And that’s how you want to approach the planning process but, suddenly, out of nowhere all of your relatives start coming out of the woodwork screeching about traditions and family obligations and before long you’re ready to just toss the planning guide at your Mom and say “you know what? You do it. Just tell me where to be and when.”
Instead–and not just because nobody wants the mother of the bride (or groom) to have a shiner on the big day–it might be helpful to share some of the ways that wedding traditions have been changing…and to show them that some of the things we insist are traditional (like that giant poofy white dress) aren’t necessarily traditional at all. Here are just a few examples to keep in your back pocket.
The Engagement and Wedding Rings
Unlike wedding rings, which are steeped in lengthy traditional rules, did you know that the diamond engagement ring only came into fashion about a hundred years ago? It’s popularity now can be traced back to a seriously aggressive marketing campaign by a jewelry company who wanted to move the stones (while turning a hefty profit). If you love diamond engagement rings, great! But if you’re into a simpler style, that’s great too!
Of course, just because there is a strong tradition behind that single, simple gold band (the wedding ring) doesn’t mean that you have to adhere to it. Many couples don’t anymore. A quick glance at the Front Jewelers men’s wedding rings page, shows most wedding bands aren’t simple gold bands anymore. They are bands made of titanium, bands that are black, silver, gold and some that are even fancier than Super Bowl rings.
Some couples don’t buy rings at all but get matching tattoos (now that’s commitment) around their ring fingers instead.
Some women love spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on their wedding gowns. If that’s you’re style, rock on. But if you’re on a budget, don’t sweat it. There are lots of great options out there including vintage dresses, dresses that you make yourself and dresses that aren’t meant to be wedding dresses at all but that you love enough to wear on your special day. There are even dresses made out of toilet paper…though we’re not sure you’d really want to wear them.
That white dress with which we are all so familiar was a trend started by Queen Victoria, at a time when red was all the rage in bridal fashion. After 175 years it’s hard to argue that it isn’t actually traditional, at least as far as western culture is concerned.
image from a & be’s stylebook – view full feature
Still, in today’s contemporary culture, many women are opting for dresses that not only aren’t white, but aren’t fancy or ornate. In fact, according to the Daily Mail, only half of the women getting married these days choose to wear the traditional white dress. They’re choosing simpler lines, less frill. Our advice is to choose a dress that you love and that you will feel comfortable wearing for at least a couple of hours (though likely more). Or, hey: why not go extra rogue and opt for a suit if pants are more your style and let your husband to be wear the dress?
The fact is that there are a lot of wedding traditions that are now old and outdated. For example, having a bride’s father “give her away” is seen by most as an antiquated and sexist ritual. Many are threatening to mutiny if the chicken dance isn’t pulled out of reception rotations. Receiving lines are thought to be more rude than expedient. Couples are writing their own vows and having their friends marry them.
The point is this: your older relatives (and those who are particularly traditionally minded) might get screechy but this day is not only about them. It’s good to find a way to honor them, maybe during the ceremony or a special moment during the reception. But the day is mostly going to be about you. How do you want to remember the day?