The wedding ceremony gets a lot of its gravity and meaning from a deep wellspring of tradition. From the rehearsal dinner through the reception, almost everything that happens during a wedding is at least a century-old, time-tested tradition. This means, of course, that your wedding is the perfect chance to examine those traditions and figure out which ones don’t make sense for you. There’s no need to hold on to tradition for tradition’s sake, especially in the following cases:
The White Dress
You know the rules: if you’re a virgin on your wedding day, the dress can be white. If you can’t make that claim with a straight face, it’s off-white for you, Ecru in extreme cases. What might surprise you is how recent an innovation the white dress is. Before Queen Victoria wore white to her wedding, most bridal gowns were brightly-colored. White was a color more associated with mourning than with a happy wedding day. After Queen Victoria popularized the white dress, the whole purity angle got retrofitted in. So if you’d rather wear a saucy red dress to your wedding, feel free.
This one is falling out of favor, mostly due to the (erroneous) belief that the uncooked rice is harmful for birds. Most couples are opting to be pelted with something else–confetti, pom-poms, birdseed–but why have your guests make a mess to get a couple of seconds of enjoyment? It’s better to stick with something that’s appropriately festive but doesn’t make a mess, like noisemakers or wedding sparklers.
So you’re at the reception with your beloved, that one person you want to spend the rest of your life with. You’re wearing your fanciest clothes. You’ve said heartfelt vows. So of course now is the perfect time to try to choke them with a bit of pastry, right? The tradition of feeding your spouse a bit of wedding cake is all well and good, but it’s evolved into something at best messy and at worst downright mean. You may have laughed at that YouTube video of a frosting-smeared groom or a spitting bride, but do you really want to star in the next viral sensation?
The Garter Removal and Toss
Look, we realize that the garter toss started as a kind of companion to the bouquet toss (more on that in a moment), but the whole removal process is pretty tacky. “Hold on, everyone, now that we’re married I’m going to fumble around under my new bride’s dress while my creepy uncle makes inappropriate comments about ‘checking her oil while I’m up there.’” Not only that, but the garter toss inevitably ends up with all the men standing with their hands in their pockets, a hilarious joke that is only made at every wedding ever.
The Bouquet Toss
Yes, by all means, carry a big and beautiful bouquet on your wedding day. And if you don’t want to toss that floral arrangement at a crowd of women to see “who’s going to be next,” definitely feel free to skip it. There are only two outcomes for a bouquet toss: either there’s a mad scramble that reveals the desperation of your female attendees, or everyone’s already in a relationship and they hang back. Then your 8-year-old cousin picks up the bouquet after it lies there awkwardly for a few minutes, and people make creepy jokes about when she’ll be getting married. Either way, it’s not pretty. You’d be better off having a bouquet you can put in a vase on the bridal party’s table at the reception.
Of course, if any of the above traditions appeal to you–yes, even if you want to do a garter toss–you should hold on to them. But if you’re dreading getting pelted with birdseed, would rather keep your bouquet, and want to wear a slinky black dress for your wedding, go for it! The less encumbered by silly traditions your wedding is, the more memorable and meaningful it will be for the happy couple.