bride and groom sunset portraits on edge of the cliff in the mountains in NSW after elopement

Wedding Day Traditions – What if I Don’t Want to do Them?

Wedding Day Traditions – A Thing of the Past?

Why do we freak out if the bride sees the groom on the morning of the wedding? Why do we need to wear something new, something borrowed and something blue? And why does the Groom always give a speech at the reception? These are wedding day traditions, and so many people stick with them as though they were legislated law.

So why do we do it? Why do we follow some old school tradition, for which there is no punishment (well bar your aunty Karen being “very disappointed in you” for not following them)?

Wedding day traditions have been deeply engrained in weddings for some time now, and if you dig deep enough, you will find that some of them haven’t aged well. So what if you don’t want to do them? Well, if you’re questioning wedding traditions and whether they are right for your wedding day, let’s dive into some of the big ones.

wedding day traditions are dying, two brides get married on a cliff at sunset

Wedding day tradition #1 | Asking the father for ‘permission’ to marry

This is where it all starts! Let me tell you my story. For me, I just didn’t feel right asking permission to marry my wife. I also didn’t feel like her father was any more important than her mother. It definitely crossed my mind, because you know, it’s one of the most commonly seen wedding traditions.

So what did I do? I sat down with both of them, and explained what my plans were. I didn’t ask permission, I told them what I was going to do, and expressed my hope that they would be happy with this (they were).

What’s nice here is that your wife or husband to be is no ones property. The only person you need to ask if you can marry them, is that person. It is a nice touch to speak with the parents, but rather let them know your intentions, let them get excited for the both of you, but you don’t need to ask permission.

Bride and groom don't do wedding traditions and get married in a forest

Wedding day tradition #2 |Bride being given away by father

One of the first traditions that comes to mind. Unfortunately, it hasn’t aged well. The actual tradition dates back in history to a time when women were considered property of their father. At the wedding, the father would exchange his daughter for a dowry or gift, at which point, the daughter now belongs to the husband.

Look, don’t get me wrong, it’s cute, and I don’t for one second think that is what fathers and daughters alike are thinking when they do this wedding tradition, but I want to propose an alternative. Why not have both your parents walk you down the aisle? There is no reason why one parent is more valued than the other, right? So walk the aisle with them both, and instead of having the line “who gives this bride away” in your ceremony, try “who brings this bride today”. It’s subtle the difference, but it feels a lot more modern.

Captured at Criffel Woolshed on 25 Oct, 2019 by James White Photography

Wedding day tradition #3 |Not seeing each other before the ceremony

Ahhh this one just sucks. It is such a superstitious thing, rooted in arranged marriages, where you had never seen the person you would be marrying, and as such had to wait until the alter. I often see brides or grooms so crippled with anxiety about the upcoming ceremony, that I am almost certain they are hating their day…all to appease some stupid tradition.

I will say for this tradition, most people do it for both the wedding tradition aspect, as well as the fact that it helps build excitement and intensity, both of which are great. My suggestion to you though is, why not do a first look? If you aren’t ready to get ready in the same room and totally do away with this wedding day tradition, why not have your cake and eat it too?

A first look will allow you the opportunity to get ready separately, and build the intense emotions. But will also allow you to unleash and realise those intense feelings, in a private, intimate scenario with just your partner, not your entire guest list to see. It will increase the intimacy of your day, the emotional bond of the ceremony between you two, plus, it makes for some amazing shots!

Bride and groom do a first look, despite the wedding day traditions in the pine forest before wedding ceremony

Wedding day tradition #4 |Having Bridesmaids & Groomsmen

There really isn’t much need to go into this. It’s 2020, I would like to think we are all a little more progressive than we were back in the day.

Back in the 70’s, or 80’s, or heck, even the 90’s, if the groom had a sister whom he was very close to, there was no way to get her into the wedding party unless the bride offered her a spot, usually at the expense of one of her close friends. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from this…I think.

I still get it when people tell me about their wedding. They say it like it’s taboo. “So, I’m having my best friend, who’s a guy on my bridal side”. They often pause, almost as if they are waiting for me to laugh or question them. But in this day and age, I like to think you can have anyone on your side. We try not to refer to bridal party or grooms party, rather the wedding party. It’s much more inclusive, and feels better.

So if you’re the groom, feel free to include your sister or best friend, and if you’re the bride, ditch the wedding day tradition of only having girls and invite your father or brother to be in your party. It’s going to make your day so much better.

bride and groom pose on a clifftop overlooking the ocean, no wedding day traditions

Wedding day tradition #5 |Father Daughter dance

It’s the end of the night, everyone is loving life, but now it’s time to dance. If you’re anything like me, I bailed on that tradition, I hate dancing, as does my wife. So we completely rejected this wedding day tradition. But for most people, they want to do a dance, which is awesome. But why is it only ever father and daughter? Perhaps yet another throwback to when fathers owned their daughters, and the last time they will get to dance with their daughter before the husband takes ownership?

Regardless, as a now father, I would love to dance with my daughter on her wedding day, should she choose to marry. But it would only be because I love her so much and am so proud (I’m sure this is why 99.9% of dads out there do this dance). So why not dance with your mother? Why does the groom not get a chance to dance with her parents? Why is the brides father more important than any of them? Newsflash…he isn’t.

My solution here is to have both partners hit the dance floor with both mothers for example, and then half way through the song, switch out and bring the dads onto the floor. This way no parent misses out, its a beautiful chance for each partner to share with loving parents, and again, it makes for some powerful and tear jerking photos, every time.

Stunning new zealand lake and mountains backdrop for elopement portraits of bride and groom

Wedding day tradition #6 |The Garter Toss

Probably the darkest of all the wedding day traditions, so strap yourself in for this one. Most people think this one is just a bit of fun, and it is…now days. Whack on some ‘Pony’ and make it happen. But back in the day, when it was assumed that all brides were virgins, they were expected to ‘consulate the marriage’ almost immediately after the wedding. They would go into the bridal room, get down to business while family and friends waited outside. The groom would then come outside with the Garter, and throw it to the crowd to indicate that the marriage was consummated.

Now of course these days, this is more of a fun thing. It is supposed to spread the good vibes and good fertility, but the tradition is rooted in the past. As it currently stands, about 75% of couples are opting not to have their partner stick their head up their dress in front of their parents…so this one is definitely a thing of the past.

two grooms sit outside cute little chapel after wedding ceremony, surrounded by green tropical trees and a waterfall - wedding planning tips

Wedding day tradition #7 |Only the groom may speak

It’s just tradition, right? You get the token speech from the ‘Maid of honour’, but the rest of the speeches come from the grooms father, brides father, best man, and groom. Pretty male dominated, which surely is starting to look a trend here.

I’ve shot many weddings where the bride has been the more confident public speaker, and the groom hates it, yet he is the one delivering the extremely underwhelming speech, while his wife sits there in silence. Doesn’t this seem ridiculous? Shouldn’t the person who wants to, and feels confident doing so deliver the speech thanking everyone for coming?

So what to do? Well this one is simple, determine who is the better speaker, and who actually wants to speak and get them to do it. If it’s both of you, then both of you speak, share the mic. If one of your mothers wants to speak because dad hates public speaking, go for it. Throw this wedding day tradition out the window, you won’t regret it.

Bride and groom standing against the ocean as they elope | forgetting all about wedding day traditions

Wedding day tradition #8 |The Brides wedding party must all wear the same dress

Let’s face it, no two women have identical bodies. Now add into it that we are bringing men into the brides party, chances are they are even less likely to fit a standard dress. So why do so many people try to force everyone to fit one dress?

This wedding tradition is really interesting actually. It stems from ancient Roman times where the bridesmaids main duty was to confuse evil spirits before a wedding. If the evil spirit wanted to curse the bride and the relationship, the bridesmaids would confuse them as to who was whom (what a stupid ass spirit am I right?). Hence, they all had to look as much alike as possible.

Thankfully these days we are a little less superstitious, and a bit less concerned about bride hating spirits. So be aware of your party, they will all want to feel comfortable up there with you on your big day, so don’t force them into the same outfit, give them a colour scheme, a theme, and let them work within that.

bride and groom under the sunset at estate tuscany captured by james white photography AT THE BEST HUNTER VALLEY WEDDING VENUES

So are you up for all these traditions?

Look, it’s totally up to you. I am not saying all traditions are bad, hell, I did a few of these on my own wedding day. Why did I do them? Well because it was my big day and we thought they would be fun, not a chore. Those we thought sucked, we didn’t do.

So you need to make up your own mind for yourself. Don’t blindly follow wedding tradition, what your parents, friends or movies tell you that you have to do. If you ditch the traditions you hate, and keep the ones you love, you won’t regret it.

Want to talk more about how you can plan the ultimate wedding for yourself? Get in touch with me and let’s chat!

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