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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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