You really couldn’t call us a ‘conventional’ couple. Ever since Ben and I got together 11 years ago, we’ve pretty much done the opposite of what has been expected of us. We sold all our possessions, picked up and moved abroad for three years. We both left our secure jobs for the self-employed life. We’re running away from having a mortgage and keep finding reasons to avoid buying a car. So when we started planning our wedding, there was no way that we were going to have a traditional shebang. We like to do things our own way and pick and choose what feels right to us, not do things because ‘it’s just the way it’s done’.
When I sat down to write this post about all the wedding traditions we skipped, I had no idea it was actually THIS MANY! I love that we planned the wedding of our dreams and did things our way. These are the traditional wedding conventions that just didn’t feel right to us (and what we chose to do instead).
23 wedding traditions we chose to skip (and why):
1. Permission wasn’t asked from my Dad
Asking the father’s permission before proposing to his daughter is a tradition that stretches back hundreds of years but is one that Ben opted not to follow (read our engagement story here). While it is a sweet gesture that many people like to do, Ben’s never been a traditional guy that follows the herd. He knows that I am my own person, capable of making my own decisions and that I didn’t ‘belong’ to anyone. With all due respect, I wasn’t a possession being passed around from man to man and so he didn’t need approval from anyone other than me. Our marriage would be our decision and ours alone.
2. I hated the idea of a bridal shower or kitchen tea
If you know me, you know that I hate fuss and with weddings, there just seems to be SO MUCH FUSS. Just the thought of having a bridal shower or kitchen tea made this introvert so uncomfortable. Pay attention to me! Shower me with gifts! Play silly games! Yeah, let’s skip that.
3. Our hens and bucks were tame
To be honest, a boozy night on the town, nightclub hopping with a sprinkling of male ‘entertainment’ just made me cringe. I’m 31 and not in the slightest bit embarrassed to say that messy nights on the town are now behind me. My bridesmaids of course know me too well and so planned the most delightful day winery-hopping down on the stunning Mornington Peninsula. It was just the best.
Ben, like me, just wanted a chilled night too. No planned ‘activities’, silly games or strippers. His friends planned whiskey and cheese tasting followed by a nice dinner and they then hit a few bars afterwards. It was all very tame!
4. We saw each other before the ceremony
Tradition says that it’s bad luck to see each other before the ceremony but for us, it would have seemed weird NOT to! We’d planned a destination wedding and were staying in the same house with our family and bridal party so it was only natural that we were together on the morning of the wedding. And actually, waking up together in the same bed was really special. I’ll always remember looking at each other after we’d just woken up, big grins plastered on our faces, and saying, ‘Eek! Today we get married!’
We also did a ‘First Look’ before the ceremony began. This is one of the best wedding decisions we made. Seeing the one you’re going to marry for the first time standing there at the end of the aisle would just be too overwhelming. Everyone’s staring at you and the moment is just so intense!. We wanted to take the pressure off a little by having a secret little meeting beforehand where it was just us and our photographer to capture the moment. It made us both a lot more relaxed and calm and took a few of the nerves away.
5. We set a date that wasn’t a weekend
For most couples, it’s most logical to set a wedding date on a Friday or weekend. Us? We chose a Wednesday! We purposely set a mid-week date for two reasons. Firstly, it was a lot cheaper to book our venue mid-week rather than across a weekend (we saved thousands). And secondly, we figured that since our guests would have to take time off work to fly up anyway, it wasn’t such a big deal to plan it mid-week. Having our wedding on a Wednesday also allowed people to extend their holiday if they wanted to and potentially arrive the weekend before the wedding and stay until the weekend after.
6. I didn’t walk down the aisle to a traditional piece of music
Wagner’s ‘Bridal Chorus’ or Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D’? No thanks. It just wasn’t us. The Beatles on the other hand? That was more like it. I walked down the aisle to ‘Here Comes the Sun’ – much more our kinda jam.
7. I wore nothing old, borrowed or blue
Just because it’s tradition doesn’t mean you have to do it. Sure, some people see these things as fun and all part of the celebration. Not me. It was so freeing to just say, You know what? Let’s not do that. So everything I bought for my wedding outfit was new and I was able to style it exactly as I wanted.
8. I ditched the veil
Wearing a veil as you walk down the aisle is another tradition I skipped. Although veils are much less common nowadays, some brides still choose to wear them. Each to their own, but this is why I didn’t want to wear one: In ancient times, wearing a veil was supposed to safeguard a bride as she walked down the aisle from demons and witches (if they couldn’t see her, they couldn’t curse her). Veils were also worn in arranged marriages to hide the bride from the groom who might not have ever seen her before. Her face was hidden until the very last minute, in case her soon-to-be husband didn’t like what he saw! So yeah, not really my thing. I wore a cute little flower crown instead.
9. Both of my parents walked me down the aisle
I’ve always thought it a bit one-sided that traditionally it’s the father that walks his daughter down the aisle. What about Mum, sitting quietly on the sidelines? I was just as much of a daughter to my Mum as I was to my Dad so I felt that it was only right to ask both of them to walk with me. I knew that it would mean a lot to both of them to be equally part of the ceremony. When I asked Mum if she would, she teared right up and said that she would love that.
10. There were no ‘sides’ at the ceremony
I always think it’s awkward how traditionally you pick a side – either the bride’s or groom’s – to sit on at the ceremony. Doesn’t this seem like you’re playing favourites? Our celebrant perfectly set the tone for not having sides by having our parents sit on the opposite sides of where they were traditionally meant to. This way, she said, they could actually look into their son or daughter’s face rather than at the back of their head! This just makes so much more sense to me. Our guests followed suit when they arrived and just sat wherever there was space.
11. We didn’t let guilt get in the way of the guest list
A lot of people feel the pressure to invite ALL of their extended family, relations of relations and friends they don’t even really keep in touch with anymore. But we wanted our wedding to be a tiny, intimate celebration with only our closest people. Of course we didn’t want to offend anyone but in the end, it was our day and no one elses and that was what mattered. We kept our guest list very small (21 in total) and it was honestly one of the best decisions we made. We never felt torn, like we couldn’t get around to chat to everyone. Also, because it was such a small group, most of our guests knew each other, which made for such a relaxing time together.
12. I kept my maiden name
Giving up your maiden name to take your new husband’s surname is probably the most widely accepted wedding tradition of all time, right? I just wasn’t cool with it. To me, it would feel like giving up a part of my past and my identity which I was not okay with. I wrote a whole post about it here.
13. My bridesmaids wore different colours
I said to my two beautiful bridesmaids right from the very beginning that I didn’t care one bit whether their outfits matched, just as long as the colours complemented one another. I’ve never really liked the tradition of making bridesmaids wear the exact same dress. Everyone’s body and skin tone is different and most bridesmaids end up in a dress that they don’t feel comfortable in and would never wear again. I didn’t want that for mine. All I asked was that the colour palette matched and then I let them have free reign. The funniest thing was that they ended up picking the exact same dress (just in different colours) and the same shoes! I guess they have very similar taste!
14. We didn’t need rings to show our commitment
We were super unconventional with our rings in SO many ways. Let’s go right back to when we got engaged. Ben proposed to me in Tokyo with a simple gold band that he had designed himself. He had it 3D printed and moulded in the USA and it was posted to him. How thoughtful and sweet is that? He knew that I didn’t want a diamond. Let me count the reasons why: I don’t like doing something just because everyone else does it. Ethical and conflict-free diamonds aren’t the norm. The price tag is exorbitant and something we could never justify.
Then there’s the practice of having two rings: an engagement ring and a wedding band. This just seems crazy to me! Having just one band to signify your commitment just makes so much more sense to me. The ring Ben gave me when we got engaged was just gold-plated as he wanted to make sure I liked the design before getting the ‘real’ one made. I did like it, but there were a few tweaks I wanted to make including making it thinner and more rounded. He was totally cool with this and wanted to make sure I was 100% happy with it since I’d be wearing it forever. We re-designed it together in 18ct gold and I wore it right away.
I did want to do something that would mark the occasion of our marriage though. So a few weeks before, I had the date of our wedding engraved on the inside of the band and I stopped wearing it until the wedding.
And what about Ben? What did he do for a ring? Nothing! He hates jewellery of any kind and has even always felt weird wearing watches. He didn’t want to wear a ring and I couldn’t have cared less. We don’t need to ‘mark’ ourselves as being married. Wearing a ring doesn’t reflect your feelings or commitment; you show it in other ways.
15. We weren’t ‘received’
You know how, traditionally, at the start of the reception, all the guests line up to ‘receive’ the bride and groom and the married couple greet each person individually and thank them for coming? Well, we skipped that too. How formal and awkward! Our wedding guests were comprised of only our closest family and friends who we are always super informal with, so it just would have been weird and unnatural to do this. Instead, after our photos, we just casually entered, grabbed a cocktail and started chatting to everyone. SO much better.
16. We kindly requested no gifts
As we were planning a destination wedding, the cost for our guests to attend was high. It’s a lot to ask someone to take a week off work and pay for flights and accommodation. To expect presents on top of this just seemed so greedy. So on the invitations we kindly requested no gifts. Their presence alone was gift enough.
17. There was no way I was wearing a garter
Did you know that the garter is the oldest wedding tradition in history and dates back all the way to the Dark Ages? So what did it look like back then? After the wedding, the guests would accompany the couple to their chamber and assist them in preparing for the next step of married life. Ahem. Yep, I think we all know what that is. So they would help undress them! The garter would be tossed out the window as proof of consummation.
Nowadays, some couples make a show out of it. The bride will sit on a chair and the groom will dive in between her legs and retrieve the garter with his teeth, tossing it out to the single guys. Uggh. It’s always so awkward to watch. So yeah, we thought we’d skip that bit.
18. I didn’t toss my bouquet
Traditionally, towards the end of the night, the bride tosses her bouquet into a group of competing single women. Whoever catches it is said to be lucky enough to be the next to marry. When you don’t look at this tradition too closely, it can be a bit of fun. But when you actually research the history of the bouquet toss, it’s totally another story.
In medieval times, women used to chase the bride to rip pieces from her wedding dress for good luck. To keep these crazed women at bay, the bride would toss things at them as a distraction, including her bouquet. So even though the bouquet toss has lost its relevance, people love keeping with tradition no matter what the origin or meaning. Some women even purchase an additional bouquet to be used just for the toss. What an unnecessary expense!
19. We ditched the wedding cake
Sure, wedding cakes look beautiful, but honestly, we’re just not that into cake. When we go out to a nice restaurant, we never order cake for dessert. Post-dinner cheese on the other hand? That’s what I’m talking about. So instead of ordering an expensive, fancy cake that probably would hardly have been eaten, we had our private chef prepare some delicious shared cheese boards instead. Best decision ever.
20. We didn’t feed each other
The idea of feeding each other just seems forced and awkward. Here comes the choo choo train. No thanks.
21. We had no guestbook
Instead of having a traditional guestbook, we bought a Polaroid camera instead. We bought a bunch of film and had every guest snap a picture of themselves and write a little note at the bottom. We’re planning to stick all of them in a book. I think it will be so fun to look back at the photos – there are some hilarious ones in there!
22. There was no ‘send off’
Seeing as though we held our ceremony and reception at the same house we were staying at, we didn’t have a ‘send off’ at the end of the night. There was nowhere for us to be sent! So we were actually the ones to send off our guests when the bus arrived to pick them up and drop them back at their accommodation.
23. The wedding ended but the party didn’t
11pm is a freaking crazy early hour to end the best party of your life, don’t you think? We were bound by our contract which stated that all guests not staying at the house had to be off-site by 11pm, which totally sucked. But we still had our family and bridal party staying with us so we kicked on for a little while longer. The Kahlua and some crazy dance moves may have come out!
Looking for more posts about weddings? Read these next:
- Our Wedding 02.08.17
- I Got Married But I’m Not Changing My Name. Here’s Why.
- Dreaming of a Destination Wedding? Here’s How to Pick the Ultimate Location
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Would you skip any of these wedding traditions? Tell me in the comments!