Planning a Wedding in 2022
So you're planning a wedding (intimate, large, elopement, etc.) and you've hit the stage where you're asking yourself "why are we including this; is it just because it's tradition? Or is it really what WE WANT?" This is a crucial part of the process when making your wedding celebration truly your own. It is not uncommon to see the same old timelines and lists of activities appear at a standard American wedding. Things that your parents and grandparents, and probably great grandparents did as well. But we're seeing such an amazing shift, as couples are choosing to break away from stale expectations that have no meaning, to cultivating a day that encompasses exactly what you want it to!
Wedding traditions have some unexpected roots and origins, and most often we don't realize how far back they go and how little meaning they actually hold in modern times. The most commonly known of wedding traditions is wearing a white dress because Queen Victoria started the trend around 1840. But there's a whole slew to the other common wedding day traditions that really do not make sense to keep around (and some are just downright WEIRD!) I want to challenge you to reconsider following what is expected or "normal" and dig into what is right for you.
Now I totally get the pressure that comes from family and friends when it comes to the planning process. Some people may even get upset when you ditch an event or exclude a common practice from your wedding. Whether that's around the guest list, the timeline, or if you want pie instead of cake! But remember, this day is yours to design, and staying true to your vision and value as a couple is what's most important.
Alternatives to Common Wedding Traditions
As you begin to plan your unique wedding day, no matter how big or small, I want you to know there are other directions you can go in. When it comes to the traditions, let's talk about how you can put a spin on them, or remove them all together. No matter what, do what feels right to you and no one else. Sure, listen to the unsolicited advice from others, but just remember that this is YOUR wedding and no one else's.
1. Not staying with one another the night before
You don't have to worry about avoiding your significant other leading up to your wedding day. Some couples choose to not see one another until they're at the altar (or at a first look); but this is a tradition you can easily pass up on! Whether it's for convenience sake (living/staying together) or a choice to add in more intentional time alone together before the festivities; know that either way you should do what brings you the most peace.
To be quite honest, I've seen too many couples who keep this tradition and are an absolute mess the entire morning. The anxiety and nerves is uncontrollable, and until they see their person, they can't even enjoy the moment. If you tend to get anxious, think about this tradition and remix it that fits your personality. You can simply just kiss eachother goodbye in the morning, go on a walk, or go grab coffee together. Then get ready separately and keep the tradition of seeing eachother in your attire when you're ready.
2. Trying to stay away from each other all morning
Similarly, some couples may choose to part ways in the morning and get ready separately. However the tradition of not seeing your spouse hours before saying I do is no longer a necessary formality. You have the option to enjoy a slow breakfast, get ready together, help each other get dressed - whatever you want! You can even go for a wedding morning adventure like Breanne + Britt did below!
3. Having a wedding/bridal party
One of the most common traditions at a wedding is including bridesmaids and groomsmen in the celebration. While excluding this may ruffle some feathers, it makes sense for a lot of couples! Whether that be due to stressful friend dynamics, or the decision to prioritize quality time with your partner or family instead; there is no wrong decision! Alternatively you can have just a maid of honor or best man, instead of the large group. Or if you want to pass all together but still include your friends: get ready together, still include a group photo with your closest people!
4. Reception traditions
You know; the garter toss + bouquet toss, first dance, cake cutting, etc. ALL OPTIONAL. I know dancing in front of a crowd is some peoples worst nightmare (while others love to dance all night long!) And there are so many alternatives to cutting an obligatory cake (churro bar, ice cream truck, you name it!) The reception portion of your day should include things that you love with the people you love! So don't tack on the traditional events just to fill a timeline, but look outside of the norm and design a day that you love!
5. Engagement and bridal parties
I know I won't have everyone on my side when it comes to this, and some people may fully disagree. In my opinion, when you decide to get married, you all of a sudden put a lot of pressure on everyone in your life. Engagement party, bridal party, bachelorette/bachelor party, rehearsal dinner, then the wedding. All of those basically require some type of gift, time, and effort from our loved ones. I get that a lot of people want to celebrate you, but can't we do it once?! lol.
Some couples have been looking forward to this time and all these get togethers forever, but others feel like they have to put all these on. The wedding industry has made us all feel like we need to do all these things because guess what? It gets us all to spend money...
Instead, sit down and really think about the traditional parties that truly get you excited. If it's all the above, then great! But if you're really only jumping for joy for certain parts of your wedding experience, then focus your energy on those get togethers.
How to Customize Your Day
This is where a wedding or elopement planner can come in really handy! They are experts and creative problem solving and have an abundance of options for designing the perfect day based on your vision. In the beginning stages of planning some helpful thoughts for getting started:
- Dream it. Set aside time as a couple to think about how you want to feel, look, and experience the day you get married. Think about the mood (casual, extravagant, adventurous?) And what's most important (good food, activities, dancing, the venue?
- Map it. Start creating a list of the mutual ideas you share that align with your vision. Traditions that you love and do want to include, and things you specifically want to exclude. Not only that - I recommend writing down 5-10 things that you two absolutely love. That could be food, activities, adventures, and more. How can you include some of these to truly personalize your day to not feel like everyone else's?
- Communicate it. To your planner, coordinator, vendors, friends, family. Don't be shy about what you want and how you want it to happen.
Alright - I've let it all out. Now it's your turn! Leave me a comment on what you think. Any traditions and ideas you have? Anything I said you agree or disagree with?!
Want more elopement planning resources and ideas for wedding alternatives? Head to my resources page! And be sure to follow me on Instagram for behind the scenes of real couples' experiences and stories!
A New Hampshire + Vermont based adventure elopement and intimate wedding photographer team for the adventurous souls. We specialize in New England and destinations worldwide, empowering you to create the most beautiful, adventurous day and give you the memories you'll be able to look back on for all the years to come.
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