When to break with wedding traditions

When to break with wedding traditions

At one time in the not-so-distant past, weddings were as predictable as clockwork

At one time in the not-so-distant past, weddings were as predictable as clockwork. White dress. Black tux. Standard ceremony and vows. Rice throw. Clanking cans tied to your car. All topped off with a white-icing cake and the hokey pokey/funky chicken/hava nagilah/insert traditional song here.

No longer is this the case. Weddings now run the gamut from very traditional and orthodox ceremonies to getting hitched while base jumping or snowboarding. Because there is now so much possibility in how you can plan and personalize your wedding, it makes it difficult to know when to break tradition and when to stick to what people know. Here are a few things to consider when deciding how traditional you would like to be in your wedding planning.At one time in the not-so-distant past, weddings were as predictable as clockwork

Who will pay for your wedding?

Up until the recent past, in many cultures the brideís family shouldered the burden (or had the privilege, depending on your point of view) of paying for the wedding. Although some cultures still recognize traditional modes, this is no longer a hard-and-fast rule in the U.S. Who pays can be a very sensitive topic, as some parents may take offense if they are expected to shoulder the debt, especially in these hard economic times. However, before the topic of who will pay is broached, it is best to establish a general wedding budget so everyone involved is on the same page.Who will pay for your wedding?

If parents are going to pay for the wedding, its good to sit down with both sets of parents and discuss who wants to or is able to pay for what; this can alleviate any misunderstandings or resentments down the road. Conversely, more and more brides and grooms are paying for some portion of their wedding, if not the whole show. If this is your path, its best to develop a savings plan along with your budget and start banking that money ASAP.

Who plans the wedding?

Again, in the past the bride has usually been the one who mails out the invitations, chooses the theme, picks the vendors and generally plays wedding planner and overall wedding czar. But this is also changing in many quarters, as grooms now are pitching in and sharing the wedding planning load with their brides. A good rule of thumb here is to figure out what discreet tasks are required in planning your wedding and then divide them up evenly, making sure one person isn’t stuck doing all the boring stuff. In essence, your each a wedding planner.Who plans the wedding?

What will you wear?

White dresses and black tuxedos are still fairly popular, but many engaged couples are now choosing a different path in what they will wear on their big day. Some are scaling it back, going with regular suits and ties (in a variety of colors) and more modern wedding dresses with less lace and cleaner lines. Yet others are going more casual, especially for outdoor and destination weddings. And even others are opting for themed weddings. Whats right for you? Thats completely up to what you and your spouse-to-be prefer.


Historically, the type and formality of a wedding ceremony was often dictated by your religious preference and the orthodoxy of your church. Some religions and denominations still have fairly strict standards for a wedding ceremony, while others allow you to customize your ceremony and write your own vows. In a growing trend, more couples are choosing to wed outside of a church setting, with some sticking to a religious ceremony and others choosing a legal or secular ceremony.

How orthodox or informal your ceremony should be is up to you, but remember that this is your day and should reflect your personalities and values as a couple. And although your families and friends will certainly influence your decision, make sure the decision is based on what you want and not solely on what others want.


The reception is your time to celebrate and share your joy with family and friends, so it should be as much an expression of you as a couple as you can make it. Donít feel bound to old traditions if they dont fit you. For example, if you feel awkward tossing a bouquet or garter or you have only a few unmarried guests, then drop these from the activities. If you want to include more people than just the best man and maid-of-honor in giving a toast, then by all means ask them. If you want a DJ that plays country music or a band that only does Grateful Dead covers, then book them. Its your night live it up and have fun, and everyone else will follow suit. Remember, itís your party, and everyone will take your lead.

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