Wedding Traditions You Can Ditch - Oregon Coast Elopement Photographer
Old school wedding traditions you can leave behind to create a wedding day that is actually what you want.
Weddings have turned into a grand event where you follow a strict schedule that thousands of weddings before have followed. Your guests know exactly what to expect and honestly, the schedule largely revolves around their entertainment. We dance for the guests, we serve food for the guests, we make sure the ceremony is the perfect length for the guests, and so on into forever. The day about you is suddenly about the guest experience. How did your very personal commitment to your spouse turn into a party for everyone else?
I want you to think back to the last wedding you attended. Now think about the couple. How different are you from that couple? I assume very different, so why are you planning an identical wedding? Just because you added a few of your own interests to the same template doesn’t mean you’ve planned your perfect day.
The ideas I’m bringing to the table are pretty unconventional. I specialize in elopements which is the definition of throwing out the usual wedding structure. Eloping empowers you to create YOUR day without the restricting template of a traditional wedding. Even if you’re not eloping, I think we can draw a lot of inspiration from those who have.
It’s your wedding so lets stop letting people tell you how to live your best day. Let’s get started!
Inviting Everyone You Know
You are not obligated to invite ANYONE to your wedding. This is a super important day that celebrates the relationship you’ve built with your partner and the commitment of a lifetime together. Literally no one has an obligation to that relationship you’ve built together. Sure people have helped you along the way but that still doesn’t give them rights to your very personal commitment.
Don’t be afraid to slash your guest list. You don’t have to pay for your 3rd cousin’s date to have a catered meal. You don’t have to say heartfelt vows in front of that uncle that hasn’t spoken to you in a decade. You don’t have to invite your mom’s coworker to try not to offend anyone. You don’t have to invite anyone that invited you to their wedding.
There’s one criteria for who you invite: who do you want there to celebrate the start of your marriage? Maybe it’s just the two of you. Maybe it’s just some friends. Maybe it’s just your immediate family. Whatever that list is for you, is the perfect guest list.
A Physical Venue
You don’t need to get married on a designated wedding venue property. This is another rut that more traditional weddings get stuck in that elopements have pretty successfully gotten past. You don’t have to have to get married in a barn, church, or any other building. Public lands is an incredible option and the permits to get married there are often much cheaper than whatever wedding specified venue. You can pick a landscape that means something to you and your partner or make it an adventure to a new place you’ve wanted to visit. Have your guests bring lawn chairs and enjoy the epic altar that nature provides.
Traditional Wedding Schedule
First there’s the ceremony, then cocktail hour, then dance, and blah blah blah. Every wedding can be aligned with one of three schedule options and they do not show much variety. For me personally, a party with that schedule sounds awful. I’ve spent my whole life avoiding large social gatherings with random people I kinda know and dancing. So why would I plan a wedding like that?
This may shock you, but your wedding is a blank slate. Want to go hiking? Go for it. Want to get coffee at your favorite shop at some point during the day? Why not? Want to say your vows without another soul hearing them? That’s totally your call. Nothing is off the table for your day.
So if anything is possible, how do you even start planning? Start by thinking about what your perfect day would be. Once you have that, you can begin to structure a day that actually represents what you enjoy.
Pro tip: I highly recommend scheduling a purposeful moment with only the two of you. Ditch everyone including your photographer and just be together. Your marriage is about the two of you and none of this other event fluff. You don’t need an audience or photos to prove it was a special moment. Even if it’s jut 15 minutes, take time for just the two of you to enjoy each other and celebrate your new marriage.
Traditional Wedding Outfits
Just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you have to wear a white dress and just because you’re a man doesn’t mean you have to wear a black tux. What’s comfortable for you? What represents your personality? Unfortunately, there’s not many options for men (and fashion industry, can we fix that? Can we stop pushing the men of weddings to the side?). But ladies, the options are endless. There’s so many colors of dresses, stunning suits, and jumpers. My favorite wedding outfits are the ones that break tradition while making you more comfortable. Some people are more comfortable in one outfit than another so why are we all wearing the exact same wedding outfits?
Saying Your Vows With a Crowd
Your vows are very private and personal and you’re in no way obligated to share that with an audience. Even if it’s a small group for your elopement, you may want to keep that private. You can even ask your photographer to capture the moment from a ways back. You can then opt to do the normal, scripted vows in front of your friends and family. Imagine writing your vows without being worried about if you’re going to be uncomfortable saying them in front of everyone. You’ll have complete freedom to write from your heart directly to your spouse.
Food is SO expensive. Catered meals can be the largest chunk of your budget, I know it was for us. Don’t feel obligated to pay for everyone to have a super fancy meal. Have a BBQ, switch to a potluck, have only cake, a donut bar, ice cream, or a breakfast buffet. There’s so many options that will cut down the cost. You can even just have snacks or just have your wedding between meals. It’s YOUR celebration and I’ve always been confused how you’re somehow obligated to feed people on your day.
I love flowers so much but for me personally, it wasn’t worth it when it came to my wedding day. I made my own fake flower bouquet and I use it as decoration for my house now. I spent $8 per bouquet for my bridesmaids. Flowers can be so stunning and awesome if they’re important to you. But I’m here to tell you to ditch the huge expense if they aren’t important for your experience.
Old School Traditions
Have y’all looked up the basis of some of these wedding traditions we cling to? Most of the origins are super weird. For example, a veil was used to symbolize purity and ward off evil spirits. It was also used in arranged marriages so the groom wouldn’t see the bride’s face until they were legally married. Doesn’t that just give you the warm fuzzies? Then how about wedding bouquets. They were to ward off bad luck with the fragrance or cover their BO because they couldn’t shower very much back in the day. Yum. Giving away the bride also has originated from the concept of the woman being property. The father (current owner) gives his daughter away to her new husband (new owner). There’s a reason that usually the dad only gives the daughter away as the “leader” of the household. That was also one of the original intents of wedding rings. It was a symbol of who the woman was owned by. *feminist blood boiling*
Now granted, a lot of these traditions have evolved. Veils are a beautiful addition to your outfit, flowers are stunning, and your dad walking you down the aisle is now sweet (and I personally had my dad AND mom walk me down). If you love those things, keep them. If you think it’s all a bit weird, ditch them. If someone bugs you about ditching tradition, horrify them with the origins of that tradition. It’s fun.
Congrats if you’re a dancing queen and love to jam. More power to you! Even if you’re eloping with only a few people, keep that dance going! Now if dancing makes your palms get sweaty, don’t push it. First and foremost, it’s not your job to keep your guests adequately entertained. This is your wedding not a rock concert. If you want something to do with your guests though, there’s so many other options! Lawn games, just plain music, or just let people hang out.
There may be only 8 points above, but the whole goal is to tell you that you can ditch whatever you want. Go beyond this list and think of other stuff that you’re not 100% excited for. Think about what you love and craft a day that is true to that. Maybe a full on, traditional wedding is what that is. That is totally fine! But for many people, they’ve been forced into this mold because no one has ever
told them there’s another way.
Want to learn more about breaking the mold for your wedding day? Here’s more resources to keep you going.