As someone who’s in the midst of wedding planning, I can tell you there are some really confusing parts of getting married, like how a cake made of sugar, flour, and eggs could possibly cost over $500. Beyond the sticker shock, and the unsolicited opinions from well-meaning family members, there are also a slew of surprising outdated wedding traditions that you may want to totally skip.
"Couples who are not working with a planner will spend between 200 to 300 hours planning their wedding," professional wedding planner, Amy Nichols, told Martha Stewart Weddings. That’s equivalent to about 37 days of (unpaid) work, and if you're going to spend that kind of time and energy, you want to make sure your day is reflective of you and your partner. That means doing away with any tradition that doesn't match your values as a couple.
There's a chance my fiancé and I will walk down the aisle together, and I think I'm going to skip the veil, but I do like the idea of incorporating something blue into my outfit — just because you eschew one tradition doesn't mean you can't keep another one that feels right to you. So if you want to skip down the aisle in a pink pant suit while a Lizzo song plays, then that’s exactly what you should do. Of course, you're more than welcome to honor any and all traditions that are important to you, but don't let anyone pressure you into following traditions that don't serve you.
1. The bride stands on the left
I've heard that the bride typically stands to the left to be closer to her partner's heart, but it turns out this tradition may have more sinister roots. Legend has it that the bride stood to the left, traditionally, in case someone tried to "capture" the bride and the groom needed to grab his sword quickly with his right hand, according to The Knot. I mean, even I have a wild card ex or two, but it should be fine to stand wherever you're most comfortable.
2. You have to wear white
You don't have to limit yourself to only the dresses in a bridal boutique. Wedding dresses are gorgeous, but after trying some on recently, I was shocked by how heavy and itchy they can be. You should feel like your outfit reflects your taste and makes you feel like the best version of yourself, and if that means a blue, pink, or sequined dress (or pants), then you do you.
3. You need to carry a bouquet
The bridal bouquet is a tradition dating back to the 15th century, where allegedly, brides would carry flowers to mask their body odor, according to The Huffington Post. Now we have deodorant for this reason (and I hope my natural one holds up during my wedding), and you may not want to carry fresh flowers at all. You could try dried or silk flowers instead, of just go hands-free.
4. Put a piece of wedding cake under your pillow
This is a weird one, but I didn't make it up, I promise. An old tradition says that single guests at a wedding who sleep with a piece of wedding cake under their pillow will dream about their future spouse, according to The Spruce Eats blog. Keep in mind, fruit cake used to be the typical wedding dessert, which is a bit less crumbly than today's fluffy, frosted confections. This tradition just sounds like it will be annoying to clean up and more likely to attract bugs than a mate.
5. You have to have a bridal party
Roman law, apparently, used to state that ten witnesses needed to be present at a wedding, which is where the idea of a bridal party idea is said to have originated, according to Mental Floss. If you're concerned about hurting feelings by choosing one friend over another, or you just don't want a bridal party, then skip it! And if you do opt for a bridal party, they don't necessarily have to wear matching outfits.
6. You and your spouse should have matching rings
Many couples do decide to get similar wedding rings (the same color metal, for example) but there's no rule that you have to do that. If you're into gold jewelry and your partner wants platinum, that's totally fine. They even have silicone rings now that look like metals, which are perfect for people who work with their hands (or who are known to regularly lose things).
7. You should walk down the aisle to "Bridal Chorus" by Wagner
Wagner's "Bridal Chorus" is the typical song that you hear at so many weddings (here comes the bride...), but if this song doesn't speak to you, then feel free to choose another. The only thing that matters is that it's a song that has meaning to both you and your partner. You can even pick a fun, upbeat song to make you feel at ease if you're worried about tearing up and ruining your makeup (which is so far my number one wedding jitter).
8. Your guests should be divided by whose side they're on
Traditionally the bride's family and friends will sit on one side of the room and the groom's on another. But one of the beautiful parts of weddings is the blending of families, so why keep the guests apart? I love open seating at a wedding because it takes away the stress guests may feel about accidentally sitting on the "wrong" side.
9.The bride's father needs to give permission
Asking a bride's father for his permission to marry his daughter may seem antiquated, (and it is, really) but some people see this gesture as a sign of respect. Whatever you feel about it, don't feel obligated to ask for permission if it doesn't feel right to you, or if you want to the engagement to be a surprise.
10. The bride's family pays
In not-so-breaking news, weddings are expensive (the national average wedding cost in 2018 was $33,931 according to The Knot). That's a lot for any one person to pay, and there should be no guilt or hard feelings if a brides' parents can't (or don't want to) foot the whole wedding bill. In fact, 58% of couples surveyed said they contributed money to their own wedding, according to the 2018 Brides American Wedding Study.
11. The bride should wear a veil
I feel like I look silly in hats, which is why I'll probably skip the veil, but the lacy covering is “the oldest part of the bridal ensemble,” wedding historian, Susan Waggoner, told Brides. Brides were fully wrapped in veils to show off a "modest and untouched maiden,” which... ok. You can, of course, wear a veil if you love the look, and there are tons of really beautiful options out there, but feel free to wearing a fascinator or another hat if that's more your style.
12. You should avoid statement jewelry or red lips
Often people getting married are told that "less is more" when it comes to jewelry and makeup. While that may be true for some, if you're a "more is more" maximalist of a person, then wear those chandelier earrings or statement necklace, and by all means, rock a bold lipstick. I, personally, have my eye on NARS lipstick in shade "Jolie Mome".
13. You have to get married on a "lucky" day
A Celtic tradition goes, "Wednesday are the best day of all" for a wedding and Saturdays "bring no luck at all," per Martha Stewart Weddings. While getting married on hump day is sure to spice up your week, it's also logistically complicated for everyone attending. The plus side though, is that venues are going to be much cheaper if you get married during a weekday as opposed to the weekend.
14. You should get married on the half hour
You may have heard that it's best to get married on the half hour (4:30 p.m., for example) so that the minute hand is rising upward (some say ascending to heaven) at the moment you officially wed. This is a sweet Chinese tradition explained on the i-do website, however it if makes for sense for you to get married on the hour, then by all means.
15. Wearing a used wedding dress is bad luck
I actually love the idea of wearing a "pre-worn" wedding dress. There is store in Portland where all dresses are donated (many of them still have their original tags on them). All the proceeds from these wedding dresses go to charity. Not only does this save money, buying a used dress is an environmentally-friendly choice, and in this case, benefits a great cause. How could that be bad luck?
16. The couple needs to exchange gifts before the wedding
Sure, if you want to exchange gifts (big or small) before the wedding, it can be a sweet tradition, but there's so much going on, it's easy for a thoughtful present to be overshadowed. Instead of spending money on a thing, you could share handwritten letters before your ceremony, or save the gifts for a few days after the wedding, when all the excitement has calmed down.
17. The bride must be "given away"
You can talk to your officiant about whether or not you want them to ask the question, "who gives this person to be married?" You can skip the question all together if the concept of being "given" away makes you feel odd, or you can have the question rephrased to sound more modern, as suggested by The Spruce.
18. You need to register
So I personally think registering sounds really fun, but there's no need to register for stuff you won't use, and that just may include fine china, an immersion blender, or that blush pink air fryer. There's nothing wrong with not registering at all, or asking guests to contribute to a honeymoon or new house fund. You do it your way, and skip the gifts that will end up collecting dust.