Life at Home

18 Wedding Traditions I’m Skipping

In case you missed it, I’m engaged! Colin and I got engaged in October 2020 and we’re starting our wedding planning. I’ve always wanted a small wedding or elopement, so it’s probably not a surprise to anyone who knows me that I’m skipping a lot of wedding traditions.

Below I’m sharing 18 wedding traditions or wedding “must-haves” that we are skipping. If you’re also planning a wedding, or thinking about one for the future, I hope this gives you the permission you need to plan your wedding. There are no wedding planning rules and there’s no wrong way to have a wedding. The day should be about you and your partner and what’s important to the two of you – not what Emily Post or your mom wants you to do.

PS: I know this is a bit of a departure from my usual topics (travel and books) but I thought it’d be fun to include a little wedding planning on the blog too, since that’s what I’m up to. Plus, you know I’m mostly in this wedding for the eventual honeymoon (when we can travel again!), so really, this is travel-related! 

18 wedding traditions I’m skipping

All right, before I start slicing apart the typical and traditional wedding you know and love, remember that these are choices my partner and I have made for our wedding. This is by no means me telling you what to do with your wedding – beyond telling you to do what you want.

I have been to many weddings that had these traditions and really enjoyed them, so this isn’t me judging you and your choices. If you had/have all of these things and more at your wedding, that’s awesome. It’s just not awesome for us.

No wedding planner

As mentioned above, Colin and I are planning a small wedding (like 20 guests small) and it will be a relatively casual affair. Because of that, I don’t see the need for a wedding planner. Working in the wedding industry (I create content for some wedding vendors), I absolutely understand the value of a wedding planner so I’m sure if we did hire one, it would be great. But I can’t justify the cost and my mom is helping so much a planner would have nothing to do!

No big guest list (or big price tag)

The average Canadian wedding costs $30,000 and invites 150 guests. I’m looking to do about 10% of both of those numbers for our wedding. For us, the cost isn’t worth it. It’s one day and we’d rather put that money towards a honeymoon, our future family, retirement savings and maybe even buying a house again one day.

As for the guest list, while I’d love to celebrate our marriage with everyone in our lives, it’s just not practical. A larger guest list means a larger budget, and we’re not comfortable allocating that much money to a one-day celebration. It also changes the vibe of the wedding. Colin and I want to have conversations with our guests and spend time with them, which is much easier with a smaller group.

No pre-wedding parties

We are not having an engagement party, a wedding shower, a bachelor or bachelorette party or a rehearsal dinner. We’re not doing any pre-wedding parties. Is it because we are old and hate fun? Partially. But besides the fact that parties would mean I’d have to put on a bra and change out of leggings, they’re also a lot of work and a lot of money. We don’t want to ask friends and family to plan something for us and we don’t feel like we need any of those parties.

A lot of those pre-wedding parties just aren’t practical in covid times. This clearly isn’t the time for large functions, especially when half our guest list lives on the other side of the country. Plus, these parties aren’t really my style. A few drinks with friends the week of my wedding? Sure! Sitting around in a circle while I open presents at a shower or downing shots at a pool party in Vegas for my bachelorette? Hard pass.

No registry

As much as I’d love to run around a Bed, Bath and Beyond with one of those price guns (or the covid equivalent: sit at home and add things to my Amazon wish list), we’re probably going to skip the registry. Like many modern couples, Colin and I have lived together for years and currently reside in a cozy one-bedroom apartment. We don’t need anything and we don’t have space for anything.

wedding table

Not spending the night before apart

Cue the gasps of shock and horror. Yes, it’s true: My future husband and I plan to spend the night before our wedding…together! Just like we’ve spent almost every night since we moved in together in 2017. We’ll wake up together, walk our dog, eat breakfast, do some wedding prep and probably even get dressed in the same room. When my mom asked if Colin was going to see my dress before the wedding I answered, “Probably. He’ll have to zip me up!”

I love the idea of spending my wedding day – my entire wedding day – with the person I’m going to marry. I enjoy waking up next to him so why wouldn’t I want to do that on this very special day?

No limo

We’ll be walking to our venue!

No wedding party

That’s right, we will not be having a wedding party (also known as a bridal party, but I prefer the less gendered term). There will be no bridesmaids, groomsmen, wedding attendants or people of honour standing up with us at our wedding.

I could go on for a while about this but it pretty much boils down to us just not needing anyone else up there. It’s Colin and me getting married and, as much as we hate being the centre of attention, we’d like the focus to be on us. I love my family and friends dearly, but don’t need them two feet behind me as I say my vows.

I also wanted to avoid all of the hassle that comes with wedding parties. I don’t want to “propose” to my “bride tribe” (I hate that term!) or have to rank my friends by giving someone the maid of honour title. I don’t want to force my friends into expensive matching dresses they’ll never wear again. I don’t want to coordinate fittings or parties or speeches on a Whatsapp group no one ever responds to.

I know not all wedding parties are like that. I have been in wedding parties and really enjoyed the experience. I felt honoured. But it is a lot of work, money and time for the party and for the couple. It can turn into drama and I’m not convinced the tradition makes much sense. So we’re opting to skip it.


I’m not being given away

I love my dad very much but I do not love the wedding tradition of the bride being “given away” by her father. I’m not property. And while I know the symbolism of this tradition has evolved over the years, I prefer to skip it all together.

I did think about having my parents (mom, dad and stepmom) walk me down the aisle, but then our aisle would need to be four-wide, which just isn’t practical. So instead, Colin and I will walk in together or skip the aisle walk entirely. I love the idea of us walking in together – of the spotlight being on both members of the couple and not just the bride. And I love the symbolism of us both walking together freely into our marriage.

No veil

This is another practicality one for me. I’m not going to wear a veil. The veil is usually only worn for photos and the ceremony, and then taken off for the reception. I don’t need to spend money on something I’ll wear for an hour. And with our venue being outdoors, I don’t want to worry about the wind doing wild things with my veil.

No wedding ring

So this is a wedding tradition we’re half skipping. I won’t have a wedding ring but Colin will. And that’s simply because I don’t want to wear two rings. I already have my engagement ring (you can check it out in my engagement post – it’s pink sapphire and rose gold!) and don’t feel like I need anything else. I love how the engagement ring looks on it own and I already don’t wear much jewelry. So instead of buying a second ring, I’ll simply take my engagement ring off and Colin will give it back to me when we exchange rings during the ceremony.

wedding rings

Next to no decor

And by that I mean we’re not putting up lighting, we’re not draping linens, we’re not making centrepieces, we’re not renting lounge furniture, and we’re not putting up cute chalkboard signs or candles in tall vases. We don’t have a colour scheme and the theme of our wedding is “get married.” We’re not even going to have flowers!

And all of that is because our venue is beautiful on its own. The main highlight of our venue is the view, and we don’t want to take away from that. Any decor we bring in would just be an added and unnecessary expense. While I know some couples love to go all out on decor and DIY projects, it’s not a priority for us.

No bouquet toss or garter toss

Well, since we’re not having flowers, it’d be pretty hard to do a bouquet toss. But even if I was planning to have a bouquet, I would definitely be skipping this tradition. I hate the idea of singling out the single people so they can fight over being the next person to get married – as if marriage is the one great prize all single people covet. And I really hate the garter toss, because on top of being horribly condescending to single people, the groom is also going up the bride’s dress in front of everyone.

I get that most people who do the bouquet and/or garter toss just do it for fun and not because they hate their single friends. I’ve participated in many a bouquet toss with a smile on my face. But why not question the tradition a little more? We’ll be skipping this wedding tradition and I’m sure no one will miss it.

No seating chart or place cards

With our small guest list, these are unnecessary. We’re going for more of a “family holiday dinner” vibe where you fill your own plate and find a seat wherever you’d like. If we were having a larger wedding, I’d definitely do a seating chart as I think they’re helpful, but it’s just not necessary for 20 people in our space.

place cards

No wedding cake

I love cake but we’re planning to skip it. And not because the wedding cake symbolizes virginity and all that awful jazz, but because wedding cakes are horribly expensive! I’m talking $500+ to feed 50 people. Of course, you can get cheaper cakes. I know a lot of couples opt for grocery store or Costco cakes. But I think we’d prefer to spend that money on something more fun and to completely eliminate the possibility that we’ll have to take a photo holding a knife and slowly cutting into cake together. Donuts, anyone?

No DJ or band

Small wedding with “dinner party” vibes means no dance floor and, therefore, no need for a DJ or a band. Of course, we could hire musicians for our ceremony or a DJ to play music while we eat, but we’re just going to stick to a Spotify playlist.

No videographer

I can definitely see the upside of hiring a wedding videographer. I love the idea of getting to relive some of the moments from the day, hearing the speeches and vows again, and getting footage of loved ones to keep when they pass on. I think it’d be very sweet to sit down and watch that video with my partner every year on our anniversary.

But I can’t justify the price. Videographers cost thousands of dollars and, to me, that’s not worth it for a few minutes of footage I will watch once a year. Instead, I might hand my brother my phone to record the speeches.

wedding video

No favours

I think wedding favours are unnecessary. They’re usually things no one wants, like engraved matches or keychains, and most of them get left behind or thrown out. If they are something people want, then they’re either expensive (so not worth it) or edible (in which case I’m already serving my guests food).

I’m (probably) not changing my name

I have no immediate plans to change my last name. Growing up, I was not a fan of my last name. I thought it was too long and no one could ever pronounce or spell it. As an adult, I still think it’s long and hard to say and spell, but I love that my parents hyphenated not just my last name, but their last names too. That was such a cool, feminist move that you didn’t see often in the 90’s.

However, it’s made the whole name change thing a bit tough. I don’t like the idea of completely dropping my given name and just taking my husband’s name. But I can’t hyphenate, or else I’ll have three last names! I could move some of those last names to my middle name, or drop one of my original last names, but then things just get messy.

So my current plan is to keep my name the same. Less paperwork! When we have kids one day and have to figure out their last name, I may revisit my decision.

Let’s see if I change my mind on any of these 18 things before the big day!

Our engagement in Penticton, BC

And the 10 wedding traditions I’m keeping

All right, now that I’ve totally stomped all over traditional weddings, I have to remind you that it’s not all bad. We’re not getting married in garbage bags under a bridge and serving our guests cans of beans. Believe it or not, there are actually some wedding traditions I’m holding onto!

I will be wearing a white dress. I don’t love the symbolism of the “pure” white dress but I figured: When else will I get to wear white? I like dresses, and walked into the store open to any colour. I happened to really like a white one, so forgot about the blue one I had seen in the window. I’m also planning to get my hair and makeup done, because I have no skills in doing my own.

We will be writing our own vows and asking a few people to give speeches. Being a writer, words are very important to me. The vows and the speeches are probably the two parts of the wedding I am most looking forward to. Of course, thank you notes are also a wedding tradition I’m on board with!

Another wedding tradition I’m a fan of? The first dance! It’s cheesy and we won’t have a dance floor or a DJ, but I kind of want us to do one. The romantic in me wants that special moment, even if it’s just the two of us dancing back at our hotel room at the end of the night. We’ll also have a photographer, because that’s another aspect of the traditional wedding I think is pretty important.

Even though I think both of these things are totally optional, we’re planning to have them: a guest book and save the date cards. Instead of a traditional guest book, we’re planning to have our guests sign a frame that we can hang in our house – much more practical than a book we’ll never look at. And save the dates became a thing when we found a cute free design on Canva. Since we’re only inviting a small group, sending them out won’t cost us much.

Lastly, we’ll definitely be going on a honeymoon whenever we can. That’s the tradition I am most looking forward to!

Okay, who did I offend? I’d love to hear what you think of the wedding traditions I’m skipping. Did you skip any traditions at your wedding? Or will you, if you get married in the future?


Inspire someone else to ditch the wedding traditions – Pin it! 


  • Emma

    I loved reading this. I guess you don’t think about some of the roots of many traditions but they really are weird to just think “yep, sounds like that’s the way it should be”. I wouldn’t change my name either, and I also don’t see the point in spending a huge sum on one day. I also hate the bouquet throwing. Mostly because at the last wedding I was at I was the only “single” person (not married but in a relationship). Everyone joked they would just give me the bouquet. It was so embarrassing, but also the expectation that single women would want to beat people out the way just to get a bouquet. So good for you for skipping that one.

    • Riana

      Aw thanks so much, Emma! It was super fun for me to write. Glad to see we’re on the same page about a lot of things. Yup, bouquet toss is definitely not for me!

  • Renee

    No one should be offended. This is your special day. You plan for you and Colin. It will be a day filled with love, I just know it. I am curious, will Ellie be on your small guest list? And, when’s the date? Wishing you a day and lifetime of love and happiness.

      • Tiffany

        We skipped some of these traditions, too! No sense in spending money on certain things for a day. I personally just wanted a large engagement party and then do a super small wedding in the Caribbean. I didn’t get my wish, but our wedding was small (50 people), we had an outdoor wedding with no flowers or music (my friend played the wedding march on her iphone) and we had a dinner party at a Mexican restaurant with our choices of wine (we are foodies and wine lovers!). As my father said, the wedding is for you, the reception is for everyone else”. We also didn’t have a registry. We just asked for cash for aour Asia honeymoon (which we took 4 years later). Have a great day for YOU!

        • Riana

          Thanks for your comment, Tiffany! Sounds like you still had such a lovely wedding. We’re all about saving for the honeymoon too!

  • Gustavo A Feliciano

    So one big thing we are doing for our wedding is not doing a traditional registry since lets be honest we dont need more things from Target LOL. But we are hoping to setup a plan for people to support our travel abroad fund post wedding! For instance maybe they can purchase our National Park Pass for a year!

  • Colleen

    This special day is about the two of you! However you want to celebrate your dream wedding is up to you two! It’s a special day there’s no question in that! So carry on as you wish! Enjoy your special day as you wish! May all your dreams come true! 💖🌺 Much love to you both!🌷

  • Lisa

    Firstly, huge congratulations, that’s such exciting news! And I absolutely love that you’re choosing to skip so many of the usual wedding traditions in favour of styling your own. As you say, it’s your day, it’s about the two of you, and that’s how it should be. Exciting times!

  • Kelly

    I would love to have a small wedding like this too, or even elope just my partner and I. We do have large family’s but feel that the expensive of a huge wedding is so unnecessary. I think we would book a nice hotel for the evening and spend a night or two away from home, but definitely wouldn’t be splurging out thousands of pounds for just one day. Like you, we’d love to save the money for a fabulous honeymoon instead x

  • Jenny in Neverland

    Loved reading this! Weddings are so person and so important that you create your wedding exactly how you want it! There are some traditions I would probably want to do but others I wouldn’t bother with. Definitely wouldn’t book a wedding planner – I want to do it all myself!

  • Jen Ambrose

    We also skipped just about all of those! We had an elopement ceremony at a B&B in Vermont, so it was pretty easy to skip them 😀 We did have a cake as part of our package through the B&B, and the owner baked it. I also have a separate wedding band, but it’s soldered to my engagement ring, and I really like it that way – I’m not sure I would want to wear two separate bands. I’m glad I kept my last name too – the incredible nuisance my friends have gone through changing their names is reason enough not to do it, honestly! Oh, I did my own hair & make-up, but I think the photos would’ve come out so much better if I’d had it done professionally, so that’s definitely a good choice! 🙂

    • Riana

      Aw your elopement sounds so perfect! And definitely agreed about skipping the paperwork of name changing. Thanks for telling me more about your choices!

  • Mel

    I’ve thought the exact same thing about a lot of these wedding traditions for a very long time. It’s your day – spend it the way you both want to, not the ways in which anyone else says you should because of tradition. And I’d also want to spend all the money I’d save on a wedding on am extra long honeymoon. 😉 I hope you have an absolutely wonderful day celebrating your love! 💟


    I agree with Emma and Renee. You don’t question something because it has ‘always’ been this way, and I asked a lot of questions, based on tradition, but never questioned why it was done this way and how outdated they may be. And true, no one should be offended, it’s yours and Colin’s wedding. I always loved the practical side of you (you guys), so I knew I wouldn’t have a problem with it, and it will be a beautiful day, just the way you plan it. Excited and happy! 💖

  • Charity

    Congratulations on your engagement! And I love how you are doing things your own way! That’s how a wedding should be. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Samantha Byers (formerly Jandl)

    No one should be offended by what your choices are for your wedding! I do have three considerations I would give you, but wouldn’t be offended if you ignored all of them!

    1) Registry: think about making a small one. There are going to be a few people who don’t get the message of not needing stuff, and they will buy you some random something you REALLY don’t want. Better to have it be something from a registry so it’s something that you actually need/want to upgrade. Also Bed Bath and Beyond gives you 20% off everything in the store after your wedding, and that includes all the brands that are normally excluded. (We bought a Dyson for 20% off at ours)

    2) Cake: if you love cake, think about getting a small one. There’s no other time you’re going to be able to justify spending that much on a professional cake. Le Gateau on Hastings by the PNE was amazing and we had two flavours – chocolate banana and strawberry prosecco. I sometimes dream about that cake. It was also under $500, even though it was 3 tiers and included a $100 delivery fee to Squamish.

    3) Videographer – the one regret I have/thing I would do over was deciding that I couldn’t justify the cost of a videographer. We splurged on our photographers and love our pictures, but wish that we had that video to rewatch each year, show our future kids, etc.

    • Riana

      Hey Sam – so nice to hear from you! Thank you for checking out the post and for your great advice. You make some good points and I’ll definitely think these over!

  • Lynn Mejia

    Great post, Riana! I don’t think you offended anyone at all and if they were offended then that’s on them haha! Each and every wedding should be tailored to what you want. I did a big wedding on a budget and it worked. Lots of my friends have just eloped or didn’t get married at all or had a grand wedding and all works as long as its what you and your partner want! Super happy for you and I hope you both have an amazing day <3

    Lynn |

  • Kenny

    I can’t remember if I congratulated you on your engagement already. I probably did. xD Anyway, congratulations. 😀

    I have to be honest, I was with you until you said you weren’t going to have cake at your wedding. I was like :O BUT THERE HAS TO BE CAKE DAMN IT. I don’t care for the tradition of cutting the cake at a wedding or anything. I just like cake. :p

    • Riana

      Thank you! Haha I’m definitely a cake fan too so if there’s not a traditional cake, there will definitely be cake at some point around the wedding weekend.

  • Sophie

    Congratulations!! Weddings are so personal and different, I’m glad we can all pick and choose which traditions we want and don’t want. I wasn’t too surprised by the majority of these other than the cake and the rings. Although I don’t wear any rings and I’m quite minimal with my jewellery too so I feel you on the not wanting to wear two thing. I hope there’s A CAKE even if there’s no traditional wedding cake? x


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