Culturally-ingrained traditions are an important part of any wedding, and so are customs derived from our ethnic and religious heritage and our individual families’ long-held beliefs. They can help give meaning and context to the ritual and ceremony of marriage, and are often meant to provide guidance in matters of etiquette. As you plan your wedding, however, you will undoubtedly come across a number of traditions that you’re not sure if you want to adhere to, or break. Here are some of the ones that we think aren’t necessary to follow anymore, unless you want to.
Just remember: social norms are always changing, and you should definitely make the choices that make the most sense for you (and your partner, and your families). Why worry about what other people might think?
1. It’s customarily considered bad luck for partners to see each other before the ceremony, but feel free to ignore this superstitious rule if logistics require, or if you just want to spend a little time alone with your partner-to-be before the chaos and bustle of the wedding descends.
2. A generation or two ago, it was common for the bride’s family to pay for the bulk of the wedding expenses. Now that we are getting married later in life and also embracing less rigid gender roles, the rules have definitely shifted. Having a conversation about expectations with your partner and families is the best way to sort out budgets and contributions.
3. Western wedding dresses are traditionally white; but these days, many fashion-forward brides are choosing to wear off-white, pastel and pale grey gowns even for first weddings (women getting married for a second time have embraced tints of colour much more widely). Depending on the aesthetic and formality of your wedding, making an unexpected choice might make the most beautiful sense.
4. Depending on the formality of your nuptials, tradition dictates that brides should wear a veil or blusher, and gloves with sleeveless gowns. However, these rules have been largely relaxed in recent decades. In fact, some chic brides are even walking down the aisle in pantsuits!
5. These days, your bridesmaids don’t need to wear identical dresses; in fact, they don’t even have buy slightly-different frocks in the exact same colour if your nuptials are going to be a more relaxed affair. As long as there’s a flattering colour palette at play, consider allowing them greater style liberties.
6. Generally, the guideline is that the number of bridesmaids should match the number of groomsmen in the wedding party, but feel free to have as many (or few) of each as makes sense for you and your fiancé. Also, we’re increasingly seeing couples include a “Man of Honor” and a “Best Woman” at weddings, instead of hewing to traditional gender divides.
7. While tossing your bouquet and garter to single female guests—and often destroying the delicate blooms in the process—remains a popular wedding-closing activity, many brides are also opting to skip this custom completely, and either preserving the bouquet as a dried-flower memento, or gifting it to a member of the bridal party at the end of the evening.