Relationships

The Wedding Tradition That I’m Skipping

My four bridesmaids are all to the left of traditional, but their eyes popped when I made a decision about my wedding this summer…

I told them they wouldn’t be carrying bouquets down the aisle.

The news elicited a reaction akin to if I had told them they would be reciting my vows for me. Their biggest question: “What will we do with our hands???”

This made me second-guess myself — could I really nix bridesmaid flowers just to save some cash? And, seriously, what will they do with their hands? — but then I came back down to earth. They can do the same thing the men do with their hands.

In many cultures, weddings have a dizzying amount of customs from the day you get engaged to your honeymoon. The thing about planning a wedding with your partner, though, is that it’s your wedding. You don’t have to do a bridal party, something borrowed or anything blue. As one of my flowerless bridesmaids always says: YOU DO YOU. Couples can choose what they want to embrace and the traditions they you want toss like a wedding bouquet (another ritual I will be respectfully declining).

Having a wedding party is also something my fiancé and I debated. In the end, we decided to have one, but without a maid of honor or best man because we didn’t want to rank one person above the others. Lynsey, a twentysomething in New York City, is skipping bridesmaids altogether. “I want my closest friends to enjoy the day carefree, like the other guests,” she said. “You can still share those intimate experiences without having the official roles.”

When I asked my friend Anca what she’ll be opting out of when she marries her longtime girlfriend, Kayla, in the Hudson Valley this summer, she jokingly responded: “A husband!” She then explained, more seriously: “Being gay forces you into this non-traditional realm automatically, so it gives you a springboard to think about all of the other things you might want or not want.”

Anca doesn’t like being the center of attention and never wanted a wedding, but her wife-to-be has always dreamed of her big day, so they’re making compromises. “We’ve kept only the traditions that actually have meaning to us,” she says. They’re decorating with succulents instead of flowers; and rather than a first dance and father-daughter dance, they’ll be doing a family dance.

At one of the most fun weddings I have ever attended, the couple did their first dance in the middle of a huge circle of at least 300 people. However, there was no sit-down dinner to accompany it. My friends Caty and Stian are extremely social, and they wanted all their friends at their wedding. They couldn’t afford a formal reception for that many people, so they rented out a park in Northern California, where they held a ceremony followed by a BYOB picnic party that felt like a 1960s music festival.

Ali and his husband Jeff exchanged their vows privately before their wedding ceremony in Provincetown, Massachusetts, a few years ago. “I’ve never liked discussing emotions, so I certainly wasn’t going to do so in front of 150 people!” Ali said with a laugh. “Before the wedding, Jeff and I went to beautiful waterfront restaurant called The Red Inn. We got two glasses of Champagne and took turns reciting our vows by ourselves on the dock. I wasn’t nervous about how my vows would come across or if I stumbled; I loved how intimate it was.”

For Julie, who just celebrated her 10-year wedding anniversary, it wasn’t speaking in front of people at her wedding that she wanted to avoid, it was having others do so. “We decided to forgo toasts because we’d been to so many weddings where they were too hard to hear or wine-soaked,” she explains. “My husband stood up after everyone was seated for dinner to say a few words of thanks and read a love letter I’d written him early on in our relationship. It was so sweet.”

Megan and Jeff, who got married last March in Ojai, California, had speeches during dinner, but didn’t have anyone give readings during their ceremony. “We couldn’t find a poem or quote that summed up what getting married meant to us,” Megan told me. “Instead, we kept it short and simple, and the ceremony ended up being my favorite part of the whole wedding.”

This September, I’ll be a bridesmaid in my friend Rachael’s wedding. I’m going to be wearing a white dress, and the bride will be wearing pink. “I always assumed I’d wear white,” Rachael said. “But then I tried on a blush pink dress and I realized it was so much more me.”

While I’m opting out of a maid of honor, bouquet toss and wedding cake (we’re going for pie!), I will be wearing a white dress and doing a first dance — and I’m so excited for the speeches. Isn’t that the beauty of it all? Planning a wedding is about mixing and matching, compromising, and finding the formula that works for you and your spouse — exactly like a marriage.

What wedding traditions would (or did) you skip? What traditions were important to keep?

P.S. A casual New York wedding, and did you have sex on your wedding night?

(Photo from A Practical Wedding.)

  1. Emily says...

    My husband and I got married on a Thursday evening with our parents, siblings, grandparents and my closest friend. Our parents (of two very different religions) each read something they chose about marriage from their respective faiths. My grandmothers signed our marriage certificate which is still my favorite detail! And we celebrated with dinner and cake. Then Saturday we had a “traditional” reception with 750 of our closest ? friends and family.

    Our wedding day was very personal and intimate. Everything I wanted!! And our reception a few days later was a fun party!! I recommend this set up to everyone I know and have had a few friends follow suit!

  2. Sabrina says...

    We skipped the giant cake. We had a dessert table and a candy table.
    I had three bridesmaids, my three dearest friends. Since they all meant something dear to me they each had a title. Maid of Honor, Matron of Honor and Cousin of Honor.
    The day before the wedding I brought $100 in cash to the local farmers market. I purchased three huge buckets full of flowers and those were the center pieces for the tables. I saved so much money that way.
    I also made the programs into fans. I knew it was going to be a hot day so I made the programs myself and glued them to the giant craft sticks. It was perfect to cool off during a hot outdoor wedding.

  3. Tshego B says...

    ABOUT VOWS:
    – I hate public speaking
    – I’m a bit of a softie so I will most likely cry
    – I’d rather die than show emotion in public
    – I feel like couples are torn between what they really want to say and also ‘entertaining’ the crowd with jokes or whatever

    WHY HAVE I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT THE IDEA OF SAYING PRIVATE VOWS!!!

  4. Jenny says...

    It feels bittersweet to look back on our happy wedding while we contemplate lovingly going our separate ways fives years later. We had our wedding at my grandma’s ranch, under a canopy we made out of old front porch posts. Less than a year later, both my grandmother and my husband’s mom died. I look back at the things we did just the way we wanted them– like walking each other down the aisle, foregoing stuff like a bridal party or speeches or showers/bachelorette, and serving prime rib on old pie plates– and mostly I just feel happy that we included those women we love while we had the chance. I also submit that Otis Redding Ranch Wedding is a pretty great theme overall.

  5. Emily says...

    We just celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary. Our ceremony was fairly traditional, but we decided to have only a maid of honor and best man, neither of us chose siblings. Not because we aren’t close with our siblings, but I have three sisters and couldn’t choose one over another and chose my closest friend at the time who also knew us well as a couple. My MOH is a designer with her own clothing line, so I just told her the color (grey) and let her design her dress. I always felt that I wanted my friends to feel comfortable and not obligated to spend a lot on something that they would likely never wear again. Plus, part of the fun about attending a wedding is dressing up in reflection of your own personal style.

  6. Jenna says...

    I’m getting married in just a few days (!!!!!!!). We are having about 30 people at an airbnb in California, no bridal party, no centerpieces (THE OUTSIDE IS THE CENTERPIECE, PICK A GRAPE VINE IF YOU WANT SOMETHING ON YOUR TABLE), tacos for dinner, and my sister is whipping together my bouquet. Definitely no garter toss, bouquet toss, but I am excited for the first dances and speeches! It’s fun to pick what feels the most authentic for your day.

  7. I’ve been a bridesmaid 8 times, so I Have Opinions. They’ve all blended together in my memory, and I just remember my bride-friends being super stressed. So whenever I get married, I want something really chill and without all the expectations. Lately, my wedding fantasy is April and Andy’s in Parks & Rec. Have a dinner party with all the people you love, and then, surprise! Wedding!

    • Kate says...

      Haha, I LOVE this!! And yes! As much as I feel like a jerk admitting it, I hate being a bridesmaid. Even with my BFFs, everyone is always so stressed, and it always ends up costing an arm and a leg, and just…why? A sweet, low key thing is just so much better for everyone!

      PS. 8 times?! Yikes! It has only been 3 for me, but each one was memorable. :)

  8. I greeted our guests with my soon to be husband before the ceremony instead of waiting for everyone to see the bride as I walked down the aisle. I loved having already said hello to everyone pre ceremony and it set the relaxed tone for the day. My husband served everyone beer he brewed himself while I hugged all our guests and then we said our vows. We also decided not to have a bridal party, an official first dance (we just started dancing and so did everyone else), cake cutting (cupcakes!), a bouquet toss or speeches. We also spent the night before the wedding and the night of the wedding at a mountain lodge and enjoyed brunch together the morning of our wedding. It made me feel so relaxed and ready to get married!

  9. Emma says...

    Preach sista! We did a (Canadian) outdoor winter ceremony and my MoH (no bridesmaids) carried a thermos of hot chocolate. Came in handy when the bonfire smoke blew in my face and I started coughing mid-ceremony LOL. We also skipped the bouquet toss, cake, and GARTER TOSS (the worst thing of all time).

  10. June says...

    Another recent bride here encouraging y’all to do whatever the hell you want for your day. In our case:
    No bridal shower – but a spa day and champagne
    No bachelorette party – but a trip to Napa with my mom & sisters (my husband did a post-wedding buddymoon to 10 national parks with his best friend in lieu of a bachelor party since we had a delayed honeymoon)
    No bridal party – only our closest friends and immediate family at the ceremony.
    Skipped the formal reception and went straight to the dance party at a wine bar.
    Not even cake (though there were ice cream sandwiches).

    I can’t tell you how happy we are when we look back on the day, and that everything was exactly as we wanted it to be. You won’t regret it!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      how fun, june! your wedding sounded awesome.

  11. Lacey says...

    We opted out of the bridal party! I still wanted my friends there for getting ready together (if they wanted), so I invited several to the church for pastries and coffee and it was really nice to just hang out together, putting make up on and eating muffins :)

    I hear it made the rehearsal evening a breeze… I didn’t get to go because I got a 24 hour virus and threw up all over the nail salon while getting my nails done (!!!!). A girlfriend stood in for me during the rehearsal and the low-key pizza and beer rehearsal dinner was cancelled. I got a steroid shot, nausea meds, and went to bed at 7pm! How’s that for the night before your wedding? :)

    • Jenny says...

      I love your getting-ready ritual with the girls. That is the most fun part! Wow– sorry you got so sick!!!!

  12. Caroline says...

    When I got married I skipped having a bridal shower. I didn’t want people to feel like they had to get me a gift for my wedding and a gift for a bridal shower. I also had two maids of honor, my sister and my husband’s sister. Otherwise, everything was done by tradition. Getting married can feel so overwhelming as it, it’s nice to start it exactly the way you want. Good luck on your up-coming wedding!

  13. Elizabeth says...

    I love reading all these wonderful comments!!

    My husband and I wanted to celebrate our siblings and our beloved grandmothers (last grandparents alive on each side). We both walked down the aisle with our grandmas, my sister officiated, his brother stood by his side, and my bro stood by my side and held my bouquet for the kiss ;)

    Also: dope floral print dress, no dancing (but a great jazz trio for ambiance!), Sunday ceremony and lunch, traditional Greek pastries for dessert, all wrapped up by 4pm. It was perfect for us.

    • Jenny says...

      The grandmas melt my heart!!!

  14. Kate says...

    We did a lot of non-traditional things but my favorite was that we had a “Man of Honor” and a “Best Woman” instead of the other way around. My best friend is a man and my husband wanted his sister to stand by his side. It was the easiest non-decision because it felt so natural :) That and nixing the garter toss/bouquet toss. Wasn’t even a conversation, we just knew we weren’t going to do it.

  15. Vicki says...

    Love this story and relate! We didnt have a wedding cake and everyone thought we were nuts. What would we do during the cake cutting part?! Umm, keep dancing? We had local pop-sicles and other desserts, so everyone sweet tooth was still satisfied, just in a way that was much more “us!”

  16. Kristina says...

    I love reading everyone’s comments! My favorite thing my husband and I did that is not traditional at our wedding is that we had a “preception” before the ceremony. We had moved to the other side of the country the year prior so we really wanted to catch up with our friends/family that we hadn’t seen. My husband made a batch of mint juleps for everyone to sip on and it really helped set the tone for the rest of the day. Also I got to wear two dresses that day, one before the ceremony and then my wedding dress. We didn’t have a lot of money at the time so I actually wore a friend of a friend’s wedding dress that was perfect for me. Other things we did included: my bridesmaids picked their own dresses; we had pizza for the reception; and then a bonfire at night. Everything about that day was perfect and most importantly it was a reflection of us.

  17. Shannon says...

    To keep things small, my fiance and I are having a casual celebration in Barcelona this September. It sounds extravagant, but the venue is a VRBO property, and staying there for 5 nights with friends is cheaper than a single day at most any venue I could find in our home state. We have a DJ, caterer and photographer, but are foregoing most other traditions — no wedding party, no flowers (unless we happen upon some at the market), no cake and no gifts. We’re most excited that our closest friends and family are willing (and able) to spend a few days traveling abroad together! It’s the perfect timing, too — Oktoberfest is happening at the same time, and we’ve convinced 15(!) guests to join us there for a couple days. My dad’s current project is adding some panels to authentic German lederhosen he got when he was a kid :) (“I’m going to need an entire hide!!”)

    • Emily says...

      I love this! I’m curious – did you hire a planner to help you with logistics since your wedding is overseas? I would love to have a wedding in europe but I’m nervous about planning from so far away!

    • Shannon says...

      We didn’t — we are definitely trying to keep costs low (despite it being international), so we opted out of that, though I think it could be very helpful. We’re going about the day pretty casually, and I think being very flexible helps with the planning. Overall, things have gone very smoothly! There are so many resources online now, especially thanks to blogs, and the only really difficult part for us (so far) was finding a caterer. Caterers seem to be a bit different over there, at least from what I know — they’re very “package deal” oriented, which makes them more expensive than I was thinking — and then getting money overseas is more of a headache than I expected. If you do plan an overseas wedding, try to go with vendors that accept PayPal! It’s insanely easier than wiring money.

      Oh, and if it matters to you, there’s a lot of red tape if you want to actually get married overseas. Instead, we’re doing the legal stuff at home and then a symbolic ceremony in Spain :)

  18. Sasha says...

    We got married 22 years ago (before the internet! Gasp!) And I was only 22 and knew nothing. So I let my mom decide most things :(
    I would not do that today. It was a wonderful day, but also full of so much anxiety for me as a shy person, the aisle, the vows, the toasts, the formal photography, the receiving line (full of people I barely knew who mom insisted we must invite), opening gifts for hours (in front of everyone, WHY?)…
    Days like this one helped me so much decide that I needed to start being myself, and thinking for myself. I’m grateful for that lesson. And that 22 years later, the one decision that was mine, was a really good one.

  19. Marissa says...

    I cut the garter and bouquet toss because after the first couple weddings, all my single friends were begging not to be made to do that again. And who really wants their dad to watch the garter retrieval?

    A friend of my mine did silk flowers for the bridesmaids to save on costs. No one noticed at all.

  20. Lauren says...

    Can I respectfully make a case for having bridesmaids carry flowers? :) It’s not just about the walk down the aisle — it’s about the pictures. The bridal party pictures are ones that you’re going to look at forever, likely frame, and will be most disappointed if they’re not quite right. The flowers can really make a bridesmaid photo, for some reason — there’s something about everyone holding big bunches of flowers (even if they’re from Trader Joes!) that look amazing together. It’s celebratory, it’s special, it’s bridal, it’s kinda great.

    I am, however, a lover of flowers and a editor who looks at every photo like I’m on a shoot! So obviously you totally might not care. I just think there’s less visible stuff (party favors, placecards, fancy stamps) that make more sense to skip.

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Totally, that makes sense Lauren! My bridesmaids are actually wearing floral dresses, so they’ll be the human bouquets :)

    • Lauren says...

      Oh, pretty!! Enjoy your big day :)

  21. Jami says...

    We’re doing a courthouse ceremony with close family next Friday (!) and sharing a nice lunch with our “witnesses” at a wonderful Italian restaurant in Baltimore’s Little Italy. The next day, my in-laws-to-be are throwing us a backyard picnic/pool reception so that his whole big family and as many friends as possible can come celebrate with us! I’m sooo excited and love that we’ve stuck with keeping things simple, modest and fun. It feels like us! And we get to have cake twice. :)

    • Jami says...

      Replying to my own comment, ahem, we’re skipping pretty much all the things. I didn’t want to be proposed to or for my SO to blow a bunch of money on a ring that would make me feel weird so we decided to skip that. (At that point we had found out I was pregnant and there wasn’t a question of us wanting to spend our lives together). Skipped bridal shower and bachelorette party and went to a ball game with siblings instead which was SO FUN. No bridal party, no one giving anyone away, no formal reception.

  22. I just got married two weeks ago(!!!) It felt like we skipped a lot of traditional elements. I really hate traditional bridal showers and wouldn’t have had one if it hadn’t been so important to our parents. We had a co-ed shower though we just called it a party. We don’t need to put the emotional and financial burden on our female guests exclusively. Plus those games are so silly and I hate mandatory fun.

    We had a Jewish ceremony that was not heavily spiritual but still incorporated many traditions. One thing that we updated: we decided to break the glass together. The tradition is a reminder that we should remember sadness even in times of joy but changing it to break it together made it a symbol that we will get through life’s challenges hand in hand.

  23. I hate being the center of attention, and didn’t want to be “given away” (I’m a grown and independent woman!). We had our wedding on a beach, so we had all 40 people walk down the “aisle” with my husband and I leading the way. And a friend holding a boom box over his head, playing the Talking Heads. I still remember how magical it felt to look back and see all the people we love dancing and marching along behind us.

  24. Joanne says...

    My husband has an aversion to all things wedding related so after 8 years together we decided to plan a camping adventure in an aspen meadow and invited 30 of our closest friends. Some lived far away so we had to tell them about the once in a lifetime event. All traditions went out the door, no bridesmaids, no bouquets. We all took a short trek to a large rock our photographer picked out and my sister-in-law married us with everyone gathered around us. We wanted to feed our loved ones a homemade feast made by us under the sky, trees, and twinkle lights. Of course the day of there was no time for us to do the cooking as we planned, but our friends took the reins and every belly was happily filled. My sister in law made soup and salad, a good friend smoked ribs, another grilled the Korean short ribs, and Hawaiian chicken, veggies and rice. For dessert we had an assortment of pies, fruit, and a warm bonfire with marshmallows roasting away. I don’t know how we pulled it off. I didn’t have a coordinator but everyone worked together to make the wedding happen and everything fell into place like magic. I did wear a white dress and of course we had to have cake!

  25. D says...

    If you skip bridesmaids, elect a friend or family member to be the go to person for problems or questions. My husband and I got married at city hall and then had a party in London where we live and New York where I’m from. Both were amazing, but it was really stressful having people come up to me all night to discuss the event (“the bar tab is low” “what do you want to do about music”) etc.

    My mom and I also made so much decor on our own it would’ve been amazing having bridesmaids to help set it all up before guests arrived. For some reason the venue didn’t stop guests from coming in early so I greeted a few people still in the schmata I was wearing to set up! And then had to change quickly in the loo.

    Not having a bridesmaid or maid of honour to help was a big regret for me

  26. Paige says...

    When I married by husband, the officiant asked, “who supports this couple in their decision to marry another?” All four of our parents responded.

    It felt awkward for my Dad to “pass me off,” since I was financially independent and my relationship with my now-husband (and the relationships of our parents) is egalitarian. It made much more sense to gain the public support of our family rather than a switch in patriarchal leadership.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, paige!!

    • Alexandria says...

      Love this! I’m getting married in August and we’re going to have the officiant ask my family “Do welcome Drew as a member of your family” and then my fiance’s family will be asked if they welcome me as a member of theirs. Marriage is more than just two people coming together, it’s two communities coming together, and I’m so excited to expand my family!

  27. Caitlin says...

    Ceremonies and traditions tend to make me nervous (I’m a total introvert), so my boyfriend and I are having a small family barbecue at our new home this Summer. Before we dig in to good food we’ll have a super quick “ceremony.” My brother is marrying us. Lots of food, drinks and outdoor games. No proposal or engagement ring, just honest discussions and true partnership between two people who have been together for almost 10 years :) I find such freedom and empowerment in breaking tradition.

  28. Jessica says...

    I skipped the white dress, veil, bouquet toss, garter, cake cutting, ushers, flower girl and ring nearer, and many other things. I didn’t want the bridal party paired up/women to be “escorted” and once I found out the groom traditionally stands on the right so his right hand is available to grab his sword if people come for his stolen bride, we swapped sides, which is common in Jewish weddings too. We both walked with both parents, then met At the end of the aisle and walked each other down the rest of the way. I wanted to skip the dancing but my dad would not have it! I also wore beige and regret not going even less traditional–i feel like the pull of the invisible wedding forces make you send up more traditional even if you try to resist!

  29. Lauren says...

    My biggest wedding advice is always that you should play to everyone’s strengths. Got a best man who’s an incredibly nervous public speaker? Skip his speech. Got no rhythm? Skip the first dance! You’ll hear everyone’s opinions no matter what you do, but you’ll save yourself and your closest friends and family a lot of stress and worry if you use the day to highlight all your best qualities and don’t bother trying to force everyone into the traditional wedding mold (even if you’ve always dreamed of that hilarious best man speech). The best thing we did was modify the first dance to reduce the amount of time people would be staring at us and to avoid the father-daughter and mother-son dances (these always weird me out!). We started the song just the two of us, then signaled our parents to come up to dance with us, and then anyone else who wanted to join. It was just like a fun dance party where we got to pick the soundtrack :) and it kept me from worrying for months about everyone staring at us and judging our dancing or how to choose a non-creepy father-daughter dance song. Also, we skipped wedding cake in favor of scotcharoos because peanut butter and chocolate forever (it was a huge hit and the leftovers lasted for weeks) – the bakery even made us a scotcharoo cutting cake.

  30. Kerrie says...

    I got married this past September and we skipped wedding cake/cutting, bouquet & garter toss. Those felt very traditional and old school to me and I wanted more time for our guests to party and dance :)

    I also had both my parents walk me down the aisle. It wasn’t just my dad giving me away.. it was most definitely my mom as well!

  31. Jackie says...

    Dare I say that I followed a lot of the traditions (though no garter or bouquet toss) and it gave me a sense of being part of something bigger, of being part of the community of married people. I get that it’s hip – or cost effective, which I support! – to say no to certain traditions, but there’s something really lovely about making the traditions your own. I forgot the name of those white small bud flowers that are usually mixed with roses, but I’ve seen those as bridesmaid’s flowers, and they’re very affordable and lovely.

    • Sarah Beth says...

      baby’s breath! my bridesmaids (who were just my sisters) carried giant bouquets of them, which cost nearly nothing and were gorgeous. I also feel like the traditions made our wedding part of something larger than just the two of us, which felt really special to us.

    • Oh yes, but to me that’s the point of this conversation. More than what people left out, I’m finding what they kept to be interesting. Because that’s about how they made their ceremony meaningful to them (and the spouse hopefully ;^)).
      If the bouquets are special for you then definitely keep them! The toasts, the aisle walk, the favors, the dress… everything that gives the day it’s meaning and gravitas to you should be a part of your day. No judgments!
      And if not… then not. And no judgments.

  32. Stacy says...

    My husband and I were engaged only three months prior to our wedding, and his cancer-stricken mom passed away six days before. There was a mix of emotions, but mostly gratitude and a genuine embracing of the vast range of experiences that make up our lives.
    We rented the clubhouse at his sister’s apartment complex for our small wedding of about 40 people. My husband walked down the aisle with his father and sister/her family, I walked down the aisle with both of my parents, and after a short ceremony guests helped us rearrange the room to add a few tables. We took a moment to honor my mother-in-law’s life, and my husband explained that she would have wanted us to celebrate the occasion. We ate Chinese takeout and some Filipino food cooked by one of the nurses who cared for my mother-in-law in her last days. (She was very ebullient and made friends with everyone, so when she declared, “I found a caterer for your wedding!” there was no arguing there.) I didn’t plan for flowers but a family friend surprised me with a bridal bouquet. Family and friends shared a few words, we had our first dance, and then everyone danced and sang along to YouTube videos (laptop connected to a TV that was in the room). It was perfect.
    In a few weeks we’re having a larger celebration with 200 people: a short recitation of our vows, followed by a taco truck, churro cart, photo booth, and of course more dancing.
    I’m grateful for many friends who paved the way for us to break from tradition and family members who did not pressure us to make the event a certain way. Whenever I was worried about dropping one tradition or another, my mom and friends reminded me that the wedding is a celebration of our marriage, and all the guests are just excited to witness that.

  33. Alyssa says...

    I love seeing what non-traditional things other couples are doing at their weddings!

    My husband and I wanted a very small wedding party and only wanted to include those closest to us. Each person was equally important to us, so we had two Maids of Honor and two Best Men!

  34. We actually didn’t have any dancing at all at our reception. My husband hates dancing, especially in public so I decided to skip it and opt for more mingling so he wouldn’t feel forced to partake in something that would make him uncomfortable on our special day.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i wish i had done that!!! i am the world’s most awkward dancer :)

  35. Lo says...

    We had 6 people and 2 dogs present for my wedding! When my husband and I got engaged, we had just witnessed good friends of ours spend a year planning their wedding, and we had hardly been able to spend any time with them during that period! So we knew we didn’t want to disappear like that, and we’re also pretty low key. In lieu of a traditional ceremony with friends and family, we opted to take a short trip to Asheville, NC (where my best friend lives) for our wedding. We had my best friend and my husband’s best friend serve as our witnesses, and a mutual friend officiate the wedding. We all went on a hike in the Blue Ridge Mountains, had a short and sweet ceremony (my husband quoted “Dumbledore” in his vows!), and then had a picnic. I wore a $100 white dress from Asos and sneakers, and my husband wore a suit. We hadn’t even planned on having a photographer, but last minute, a friend of my bestie volunteered, and I’m so glad we had someone to document.

    We ended up taking a road trip as a couple to the Outerbanks for a few days for a “mini-moon” after the wedding, which was so relaxed! We planned a “real” honeymoon to Greece for our 1-year anniversary.

    Both of our families eventually threw little house parties for us, to include the people who were important for them to celebrate with, and it was so easy, joyful, and stress-free. We constantly hear how jealous others are of how we got married, because so many people feel pressured to keep traditions for the sake of their families. I’m grateful our parents were so cool about our little planned elopement. My mom always said: “It’s not about the day, it’s about the marriage.”

  36. Emily says...

    i agree that decisions on what traditions to keep and toss are so specific to the individual (and time and place)… we didn’t do a bouquet toss because we’re older and most of our friends are married – who wants to stop a party to call out those who aren’t? (and maybe don’t want to be?)

    but, i think the concept that your wedding is entirely about you and your spouse is a little bit dangerous. the ceremony itself, yes, is about you and truly magical. your marriage is yours. but i found it really helpful and calming while planning to realize that the wedding party is about your friends and your family – thanking them for lifting you up, supporting you and making you and your spouse into the people and family that you’re becoming on that day.

    this made decision making so much easier for me – does this contribute to and make my guests’ experiences better? or is this exclusively about me and therefore ok to skip?

  37. JJ says...

    Our wedding was very casual. We were camping and rented a picnic area in the campground. It had a playground too for our friends with kids. We asked everyone to come dressed for a picnic. We had catered hot dogs & hamburgers, baked beans and fruit salad. It was fun to have lunch first and mingle with our friends and family before the ceremony. After lunch we asked everyone to gather around and we held the ceremony. We aren’t religious so our brief readings were from Neil deGrasse Tyson & we played some of Carl Sagan reading his Pale Blue Dot. No bouquets or bridemaids/groomsman. Our wedding “cake” was Twinkies, Dong Dong’s & Ho Ho’s – boxes on the picnic tables. We didn’t hire a photographer but asked our guests to take photos for us. Some took video of the ceremony (so grateful). The only thing I was twitchy about was that I didn’t want our friend & officiator to pronounce us “Man and Wife” (the feminist in me just can’t take it). Instead he said, “I now pronounce you married”. It was our perfect day. June 25th will be our our first anniversary. :)

    • JJ says...

      Oh! And we mentioned in our E-vite invitation that we didn’t want gifts but if people felt that had to spend money, to donate to their favorite charity instead.

  38. Eva Medoff says...

    I’m getting married at a summer camp in September (so all of my friends can stay in the cabins for free!) and opting out of a bridal party entirely. As much as the people getting married (and their families) pay on a wedding, I feel so much is asked of guests these days—and I wanted the weekend to feel like a vacation for everyone else, too. I’ll still get ready with my closest friends and take photos with them, but they don’t need to buy a $300 dress they’ll never wear again. PS: My brother is officiating the ceremony, I’ll be the only one with a bouquet, and we are having s’mores instead of a wedding cake.

    • Sarah says...

      My experience will be very similar, Eva! I’m also getting married in September, on a farm in the Berkshires, near my hometown, and opting out of a bridal party. My closest friends and family will help me get ready though, and I’ll take pictures with them. A family friend is officiating and we’re writing the whole ceremony ourselves – secular with some Jewish traditions sprinkled in. We’re having s’mores in ADDITION to cake, haha. Actually, we’re doing a dessert buffet and having a small cake to cut symbolically. I’ll have a bouquet and my fiance will have a boutonniere.
      We will probably nix the toasts unless there are some that pop up spontaneously, and I think we’ll say a few words of thanks before dinner and dancing. Like Meghan, I actually like the speeches, but he and I both have complicated family structures with stepparents so if we let one give a toast, we’d have to let them all and we’d be there all night…

  39. Gwen says...

    We are actually going very-non-traditional, so it’s probably easier to say what we’ll keep: I will probably have a bouquet, I will wear white, we may keep our looks separate until the day of, we’ll probably be getting at least one cake from Whole Foods, and I’ll be having a bachelorette weekend trip.

    What we are doing differently: no bridal shower; no bridal party; weekday courthouse ceremony; bbq/party at our house afterwards that will be a come-and-go-as-you-please affair complete with a taco bar and keg =D; I will probably have both my parents walk me into the courtroom; just using my engagement ring as my wedding band; no speeches; no readings; no flowers; no band; no tables even, aside from the tables in our house; no paper invitations; no last-name change. =D Basically, it’s a just a larger than usual party at our house.

    Biggest difference of all is that, since all of the above is going to cost us around <$1K, we are actually doing a friend honeymoon in Belize three weeks after, where 20 of our closest friends and family will join us for a beach vacay that is comped in part by us! =D

    • Cazmina says...

      Oh my goodness, that sounds perfect! I love the idea of spending the cash on the holiday with your nearest and dearest instead.

  40. mary says...

    We skipped favors and made a donation to a nonprofit that we love instead. Otherwise, our wedding was VERY traditional (Catholic Mass). A lot of that had to do with appeasing family. However, I loved our wedding so I have no regrets about that.

    • mary says...

      One thing we did do that was a little non-traditional is that we booked the church and the reception venue BEFORE we were engaged. ;)

  41. Diana says...

    Maybe the bridesmaids can dresses with pockets! That way, they can do what men do with their hands ;)

  42. katie says...

    Everything from the proposal to our upcoming wedding in September is mostly non traditional and I’m so happy about it! Including:
    Engagement earrings in lieu of a ring.
    No bridal shower.
    Intimate, family-only ceremony followed by a brunch.
    No aisle or wedding party, we’ll all just gather on a balcony that overlooks Lake Michigan and Millennium Park.
    A party with friends at our condo later with a keg, local eats and Spotify.

    That about sums it up. I did buy a pretty, white satin dress, but it’s fairly sleek and there is no train. And I’m not doing much with my pixie haircut. He’s wearing a navy suit. We also hired a photo journalist. That’s about as traditional as we our wedding will be.

    I lot of people tell me I’ll regret not having something more traditional, but I don’t think so. It’s not me, or us. We’re low key so I always wanted something laid back. The important part is that we’ll be married!

  43. Vaish says...

    Love this, and I absolutely agree! I think weddings are meant to be an expression of a couple’s personality! My husband and I are an interfaith/cultural couple and we decided we didn’t want to have a fusion wedding. We realized as we were trying to plan one ceremony that it was so important to us to honor the traditions of both Jewish and Hindu wedding, so we made our guests sit through two ceremonies haha!! We were definitely nervous about it while planning, but everyone had a blast (and our wedding party got to wear traditional Indian outfits!). We also decided we wanted to try to minimize as much waste as possible so we had compostable plates and cutlery (we ended up finding the coolest bamboo plates that fit perfectly with the rest of our decor) and I made bouquets for myself and my bridesmaids out of flowers made from recycled materials! It was so much fun and we now still all have our bouquets!

  44. Kate H says...

    Our wedding service was pretty traditional, but for our reception, I wanted it to feel like a big party that a bride and groom happened to stumble upon. Our wedding was at 11 and our reception was at noon, so we had brunch food and a jazz trio. No first dances, no bouquet or garter toss or cake cutting, no big arrival or departure – just my new husband and I hanging out with 150 of our closest friends and family. If I hadn’t been wearing a white dress, you might have never realized that it was a wedding reception.

  45. Katherine says...

    We had a beautiful, full Catholic mass, but then a very casual reception. My husband and I met our guests at the door of a historic home. We skipped the cocktail hour and instead hosted a three hour cocktail party. We had lots of food, drinks, and dancing! At the end of the night, our guests lined the cobblestone street outside and waved white handkerchiefs while my husband and I walked to the after party at a local bar. There, we enjoyed a drink together before most of our guests joined us. The whole event was stress free and fun!

  46. Jessica says...

    My then-fiancé walked me down the isle to become my husband. I loathed the idea of being “given away” but didn’t want to walk by myself, so it was the logical natural choice for us! We also had the fastest ceremony EVER….it was maybe 10 minutes at most. No one is there for the ceremony…just the party afterwards! ?

  47. Carrie says...

    I wonder- did any of you do wedding favors? That’s something you don’t hear much about anymore. Was that ever considered a tradition?

    • We did favors, though I don’t think they’re necessary. I wanted something that would be a keepsake for everyone who came and do double duty as decor during the reception. My family and bridesmaids helped make 300 felt feathers sewn to a loop of delicate ribbon. I had seen something similar on Pinterest and came up with the idea myself. They laid across the napkin on each plate, and could be an ornament later (I like having ours on a doorknob).

    • Jessica says...

      I’ve seen a lot of food ones – homemade jam, cookies from grandma’s recipe, treat that represents your cultural background, etc. Always appreciated :)

    • karla says...

      We did not do favors – and honestly, I don’t think anyone even noticed! Definitely not needed.

  48. Thanks for sharing Meghan.

    For my wedding I ditched the traditional “bachelorette party” concept. The stress of wrangling everyone together and planning all the activities was just too much. Instead, my mom, sister, and I spent a weekend at a beautiful spa in the Austin Hill Country. It was relaxing, rejuvenating, and the perfect last hurrah with my family before my husband and I set out to form a family of our own.

    Best of luck planning and congrats!

  49. Cassi Whitney says...

    Hi! This happens to be my wedding photo. It was recently posted on the @bryrclogs instagram page so I’m guessing that’s how you got access? I loved seeing it on your blog but would like you to give credit to the photographer. It was taken by Paige Green Photography and her instagram handle is @paigegreenphoto. Thanks so much!

    Also, in response to your article, my husband and I had a pretty unconventional wedding. We decided not to have a wedding party and instead, had our immediate families gather around us at our ceremony. We still were able to get ready with our friends but it took the pressure off and nobody felt obligated to do anything. It was such a great day because we didn’t feel pressure to do anything traditional. It felt very genuine and truly about us and our marriage. Thanks for reading:)

    • Jeannie says...

      Paige is AWESOME; so sweet and hard-working, talented photographer! That’s great your photo is featured on this post.

  50. Congrats on your upcoming wedding!

    Deciding which traditions have meaning for you as a couple, which you like because they’re fun (or tasty!), and which you don’t even want to consider is good practice for marriage. Not just because you are making decisions with your future spouse, but because there’s no way you can do so without other people offering input, welcome or not! For me, planning a wedding that was right for us but also generous and respectful of our families was exactly how I wanted to think of my marriage too.

    We did our own flowers the day before, with the help of an aunt who used to be a florist, and skipped a big cake in favor of seven smaller ones that my mother made ahead of time and stashed in various neighbors’ freezers. But we also opted to keep some very traditional elements, like handwritten invitations and a receiving line at the beginning of the reception. The invitations ended up being beautiful keepsakes, for us as well as parents and grandparents. And the receiving line was wonderful — we had a chance to personally say hello to every guest as they arrived at the reception, as well as introduce them to any of our parents that they didn’t know. It made it much easier to just socialize and enjoy the rest of the day (and eat a full dinner!) without wondering if we had missed speaking to any of our guests.

  51. Hayley says...

    My dad offered my husband and I a check to forego the actual wedding hoopla and just go get married. My (now) husband and I were living in London at the time, so we figured, invite immediate family over, have a small wedding, and then let my parents throw a party in the US when we moved back. However, I’m an only child, so my mom insisted on the traditional wedding, so we went through with it. His mom is also very Catholic, so even our traditional “church” wedding wasn’t what she would have preferred. Whatever. It was fine, but it wasn’t really what my husband and I would have planned for ourselves (2 elephants topped our cake, because my mom was obsessed with elephants – I think I was to the point where I was like, whatever mom, ugh.)

    Now that I have 3 kids of my own, I’m going to always try to remember how I felt about my wedding and go along with whatever they want to do – my only preference is that if I’m able, I want to be there.

  52. Jillian says...

    I got married a month ago and didn’t want a bridal party. We decided to go with one because we didn’t want to hurt my sister’s feelings (they had lobbied for bridesmaid status before we were even engaged). The one tradition I nixed was the bridal bouquet toss. My husband and I are Mormon, and in our culture people get married in their early 20’s. I didn’t get married until I was 31, and I was so sick of having to go out to try to catch a bouquet just because I was single. I feel like it perpetuates a culture of marriage as status, and the need to be married. A few of my high school aged wedding guests were disappointed, but other than that, no one noticed!

  53. Would love to see pictures of how she does this! What a chic, effortless idea.

  54. Emma says...

    A friend of mine selected cheap, polyester, royal blue, backless, long-pant jumpsuits for her bridesmaids “dresses”. Think slutty Hillary Clinton. Everyone had camel toe and wedgies, bras were showing in the back as the women walked down the aisle, and all the tall girls were flooding. The outfits were atrocious and all the bridesmaids felt very uncomfortable and ugly all night long. I can’t help but think that some insecure brides want their maids to look bad.

    • Sasha says...

      Slutty Hillary Clinton! Omg, I spit out my water at that one!

      Not a good look, nope.

  55. Courtney says...

    Ah I didn’t have a cake either and we got pie!! There was the amazing (and good-looking) pie guy from the Farmer’s Market that made all our pies.

    This is becoming more trendy now, but when I got married I didn’t have any bridesmaid dresses. My sister wore an awesome full sequin dress and my best friend wore a soft, floral, whimsical dress. It all somehow looked cool. I just told them to get whatever they liked as long as it had a bit of navy in it.

  56. Jessica says...

    We skipped the church wedding! Got married at City Hall instead. That meant we skipped the traditional walk down the aisle. There was no aisle for my dad to walk me down!

    Instead my husband and I were at the front of the room at City Hall, and we watched everyone walk in. Sort of the reverse of a traditional wedding. It was so sweet to see each person we loved dearly walk in.

    We also skipped a wedding cake – dessert was included in the menu from our venue, and cake cutting was an extra fee.

  57. Kirsten says...

    You do you is right! Our wedding a couple of years ago was a mish-mash of us capitulating to things our parents really, really wanted (white dress: my mom; fancy catering: his parents) and things we wanted to do our way (no wedding party, just siblings standing with us, no DJ just an iphone).

    We asked a bunch of our friends to bring some homemade desserts instead of a formal wedding cake, though I did pick up a couple of different cakes from a local cake shop because I adore cake. One of my favorite wedding memories was the catering head coming up to me looking completely mortified/terrified to gingerly tell me that a group of my husband’s elderly Indian uncles had busted into the cakes like, right after the ceremony when people were just having drinks and snacks before dinner. She must have thought I would be furious, but I found it hilarious. Good thing we weren’t so invested in the cake-cutting anyway.

  58. I love posts like these as it’s a reminder of just how “us” our big day was and that the only advice I ever give to friends is to just do what feels best to them, not what everyone else expects.

    We ditched the speeches, didn’t have special vows (just the legal Italian version of “I do”), and got rid of all superfluous decorations. No bridesmaids/groomsmen, and only had a maid of honour and best man because we needed official witnesses. I wore emerald instead of white and my husband wore burgundy. We stayed together the night before, and I was in charge of the rings not the best man (and promptly left them at the hotel!).

    The best compliment I’ve ever had about the wedding was from one of my friends who said she regards it as the best wedding she’s ever attended, because it felt like exactly what we wanted to do and we were so relaxed about it all.

  59. We also did pie instead! And black and white cookies (ode to both of us being Native New Yorkers). I actually loved and still have my bouquet – my mother and mother in law made it out of antique brooches they collected for a year. We only had a best man and maid of honor (our siblings). We also didn’t do favors because but we did have temporary tattoos for guests in our Bourbon Saloon.
    I also weirdly really loved our ceremony. My father in law, who is a retired judge, officiated and we pulled together small things from Jewish and Catholic customs, and readings were from our favorite pieces of literature. I always thought I was going to cry either walking down the aisle or during the ceremony, but I was SO EFFING HAPPY I had a giant cheshire cat smile on my face the whole time.
    Wedding planning can be so stressful but I hope you are having some fun! Do whatever feels YOU. Your friends and family will remember it.

  60. Lauren says...

    You do you 100%! Make your day your way and enjoy :)

    We did a reading from “Gift from the Sea” by Anne Morrow Lindbergh that really resonated with us and still does 18 months later…

    When you love someone, you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity – in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern.

    The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now. Relationships must be like islands, one must accept them for what they are here and now, within their limits – islands, surrounded and interrupted by the sea, and continually visited and abandoned by the tides.

  61. I just got married in May and we skipped several ‘traditional’ things:
    – my sisters picked out a navy dress, the guys all wore gray suits that they already owned.
    – we didn’t have ‘matron of honor’ or a ‘best man’. It would have been hard to choose as I just had my 2 sisters and my husband had 2 close friends. They were equal in our eyes. They all gave speeches but we told them that they could all opt out of that.
    – We didn’t have a wedding dance. We had so many out of town guests so we wanted to spend time talking with them instead of feeling like we had to be on the dance floor. We did a first dance together when we sat down for dinner and a combined mother/son and father/daughter dance after dinner and then the night transitioned into ‘cocktails, conversations, and confections’ instead of dancing!
    – We didn’t have wedding cake. I have a gluten intolerance and GF baked goods can be awful. So instead we had a dessert table. Some of it was GF, some of it wasn’t. But we had macarons which was important as that is my favorite dessert!
    – My husband is having his bach party AFTER the wedding. ha. He really wanted a golf weekend with his guy friends, but we had a short 5 month engagement with a wedding in May and that is not the right season for a golf weekend! So they are going in September. Some have told me this is weird but it’s not like anything happens at the bach party that shouldn’t shouldn’t happen, regardless of whether you are married or not. He was going to forego the bach party but I really wanted him to get some time with his guy friends so I am glad he’s doing it afterall!

  62. txilibrin says...

    I’m just signing a paper 2 or three months after I give birth. I’m a romantic :) :) :)
    (I’m just waiting cause I don’t want to be fat at our wedding!)

  63. Maire says...

    We did a variety of non-traditional things. I wore an off the rack blush maxi dress from ModCloth. We didn’t have a wedding party, nor did I have a bridal shower. I made my own bouquet the morning of by walking to the drugstore and picking up whatever flowers looked nice, and for the reception I did candles in lieu of floral centerpieces. We had our ceremony with just family and then went back to our house and had pizza and hot wings and kegs and invited everyone over to celebrate. Then, the next night, we had a formal reception (this way we could have longer for dancing!) Also, and perhaps my favorite thing was that although my Dad did speech welcoming everyone and did a toast, when he was done, my husband and I each gave a toast honoring all our friends and family and thanking them for coming to celebrate with us all weekend. I don’t remember really what I said though because it was after cocktail hour… ;)

  64. Sanaa says...

    When planning our wedding, my husband and I struggled with the fact that, while we were absolutely THRILLED to have all our loved ones coming together, neither of us (we’re both introverts) particularly wanted to be the center of attention during the ceremony. While we didn’t want to sacrifice conveying any of the deep feelings of that moment, who wants to mess with all the fun of the day by having to recite memorized vows?? Fortunately, we have a deep bench of friends who are actors, teachers, performers and general lovers of the spotlight- so we instead enlisted our dearest ones to read our vows out for us! We were worried it would seem impersonal but it was so the opposite- Natalie saying my vows for me gave me all the space I needed to stare right into my husbands eyes the whole time as the tears and laughter flowed.

  65. Loved reading this! I’m also getting married this year and I’ve never loved the idea of all the flowers at a wedding. I’ve never liked cut flowers–it seems like such a shame to cut something so beautiful and then watch it die in just a few days. I don’t really want cut flowers at the wedding, and on top of that, I don’t want to pay for them. I still haven’t decided if we’ll do bouquets — my sister is weirdly insistent on it — but I am pretty sure our centerpieces will be something different. We’ll see how it goes!

    • Kayla says...

      A friend of mine ordered bouquets made of paper flowers. They were actually super pretty and will last forever as keepsakes. It might be a good option if you decide you want them!

  66. Vicki says...

    I didn’t throw my bouquet either (it was MINE and I loved it and wanted to keep it for myself)! And we thought father-daughter and mother-son dances were awkward, but figured our parents would be offended if we skipped them, so we asked the DJ to cut the song short (one verse, one chorus). It was perfect — just enough tradition, but it also kept the party moving!

  67. I love these wedding posts! Hmm, where do I start?
    -Off-the-rack dress
    -Regular cake/not wedding cake
    -No bridesmaids/groomsmen
    -No first look. We’re getting ready together at home.
    -No engagement party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner. The wedding IS the party.
    -No registry or soliciting gifts
    -No dancing
    -Daytime/not evening wedding
    -No engagement ring
    -No bouquet toss
    -No wearing ‘something blue’
    -SO and I are paying for it ourselves
    -Honeymoon will be months later

    Actually, now that I think about it, it sounds like I’m basically having a regular party, not a wedding. But I swear it all is better in real life!

    • Ashley H. says...

      That sounds like a perfect day. :)

    • Anita says...

      That’ s pretty much how we did our wedding and it was perfect and still very special and festive.

  68. My dress was pale blue, we didn’t have a wedding party. We also served really good pizza baked in a brick oven on site and had a potluck dessert instead of cake (best idea ever — good dessert is very important to me). We had not planned toasts so our guests took matters into their own hands which was sweet but dragged on much longer than I would have liked, especially since we were paying for a band during that time. I am so glad we chose to do things the way we wanted to and I highly recommend everyone take that approach, don’t do things just because it is tradition or someone else wants you to.

  69. k says...

    YOU DO YOU is so right.
    After I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27, did chemo, double mastectomy etc, my then-boyfriend and I knew we wanted to have a super intimate and meaningful ceremony. We had just endured a year of hell and the last thing we needed or wanted was any wedding drama. I bought a white lace dress online from j.crew and he wore his best suit and his brother married us in a tiny ceremony on the cliffs overlooking the ocean in our favorite spot in Orange County. My good friend and I made bouquets with flowers from the LA flower market. (super affordable and gorgeous!) I still remember the car ride on the way to the ceremony feeling SO NERVOUS and excited!!! We were SO looking forward to start a new chapter of our lives (post-cancer shit).
    Months later, we had a HUGE party with all our friends and family in attendance. It was celebrating so many things – our new life together and my good health. We didn’t have a wedding party, but all our closest friends were there (they flew in from all over!) and were were just overwhelmed with how fun the reception was. (I also opted out of a shower, or registry, or … hmm yes anything typical!) We threw all tradition literally out the door … and I had to convince my mom through the whole process it was what I wanted, but turns out it was so “us” and ridiculously fun. :)

  70. Laura says...

    We also opted out of toasts. Hearing the bride and groom’s drunk friends describe their past relationships and embarrassing teenage moments have been some of the most uncomfortable moments I’ve experienced at weddings! Instead, we both gave a speech we had prepared that was basically about why we wanted to marry the other person. It was very sweet and surprising. Even though we also wrote our ceremony, many people either can’t hear or don’t pay attention at that point (and we wanted to keep it short), so it was lovely to be able to say those things when everyone was more relaxed–and to hear them from my spouse.

  71. Emilie says...

    Can we just declare a general moratorium on the bouquet and garter tosses?

    I didn’t like the symbolism of being “given away” at my wedding, but my husband and I both are very close with our families and wanted to honor that. We decided we would both walk down the aisle with our parents. A lot of people might have thought it strange to see the groom arm in arm with his parents strolling down the aisle, but I thought it was such a sweet moment!

    • Verena says...

      I so agree with that! How in the age of feminism women are ‘given away’ is a mystery to me.
      In German and there’s no such thing as being given away. But I married an English man and I’m sure half of the congregation found it really odd. But there would have been absolutely no budging on my part. It’s a day for the two of us and the focus at the start of the ceremony should never be on my appearance!!!

  72. Beth says...

    No showers, no veils, My dad didn’t walk me down the aisle, no father/daughter or mother/son dance, the only toast was us, and no cake- I don’t like cake, so we didn’t have one. We did a dessert bar instead. We paid for the wedding ourselves, and chose to do only traditions that were important to us.

  73. Erica says...

    we skipped a lot of traditional things at our wedding as well (no bouquet toss or first dance). I only have one regret, that we didn’t have a live band and open bar. my husband’s grandmother threatened not to show up if we had either.

  74. Cynthia says...

    Oh man…ALL THE THINGS. My biggest thing is I wanted it to be convievent for my immediate family (aka my nuclear family and the groom’s nuclear family). As a result we’re having it on December 21. Which is a Thursday.

    I also didn’t want to spend a lot of money. So it’s just going to be 16 of us. No friends, since it’s before Christmas and it’s on the other side of the country. I am wearing a $150 dress, not having cake or a first dance.

    Whatever makes you happy I say! And for me, happiness is having this event and moving on to what matters…the marriage!

  75. Anna says...

    We are having a big ass wedding.. the whole enchilada.. all the traditions, all the Pinterest ideas. I’ve loved planning every minute of it and cannot wait til the big day! After 6 years together (all post college) I have been imagining it for quite a while & my FH just wanted to pick the honeymoon spot so we both get our big, extravagant dreams come true! Money will come and go but this wedding has brought me joy for the past year and a half to plan and will bring me joy for years to come when I remember it. :):)

    • Kate Z. says...

      yasssss!!!!!! Me too! I love wedding planning and I wanted all the traditions! Hope yours is great!

  76. Katie says...

    We skipped the long engagement period and got married just under 4 months later. Plus our late booking got us 40% off the venue! Our wedding was exactly what we hoped it would be. We had BBQ and s’mores for dinner and all ages loved that! My bridesmaids all helped make their own bouquets with flowers from Trader Joes. The groomsmen wore their own white shirts and grey pants and I gave them bow ties and suspenders. After my husband had to rent a $300 tux for a friend’s wedding, I didn’t want to put that burden on his friends.

  77. Carolyn M says...

    I wanted to get married at City Hall, but my husband really wanted a traditional weekend, so we compromised. We had a ceremony and reception with about 70 guests, but didn’t do the following traditional things: bridal party, speeches, cake cutting, first dance. We also didn’t have a rehearsal dinner. Instead we called it a Welcome Dinner and invited all 70 guests to a BBQ joint (we got married in Austin) for a laid back evening of BBQ & beer.

  78. Daniela says...

    I got married 2 months ago and didn’t do many tradicional things from brazilian weddings. My husband and I are wedding photographers and always hated the moment when the couple poses “cutting the cake”. It’s so fake and we just don’t get the point of it! So we skipped that and also the champagne toast photo with the bridal party, since we ofter feel it is and weird moment as well and all the other guests don’t now what to do during it.
    We also entered the ceremony together, since his parents are divorced and can’t be in the same room, so his mother watched everything from the porch (yeah, sucks, i know) and we entered together, only us.

    Ah, and we also had a bonfire under an ox skull surrounded by flower (mom hated hahaha) so we danced death cab for cutie in front of it and it was very quirky but cool, since everyone was around us laughing and holding sparkles.

    • Daniela says...

      you can watch a little bit of it here: https://vimeo.com/216105714

      (yes, i`m in love with my wedding!)

    • Laura says...

      I love it!!! You go girl :)

  79. Lauren E. says...

    I’m tearing up at the idea of reading vows alone to each other. That is one of the most beautiful, intimate things I have ever heard of.

    My husband and I got married in a very small celebration, nixed the wedding party, and had a big family style meal (which is, admittedly, a lot easier when you’re only feeding 25 people). One thing I was surprised that I wanted but am so glad we did was a reading. I stumbled on this one day and just knew it was perfect (we’d dated 6 years before getting married and have not had the most conventional courtship):

    “You have known each other from the first glance of acquaintance to this point of commitment. At some point, you decided to marry. From that moment of yes, to this moment of yes, indeed, you have been making commitments in an informal way. All of those conversations that were held in a car, or over a meal, or during long walks – all those conversations that began with, “When we’re married” and continued with “I will” and “you will” and “we will” – all those late night talks that included “someday” and “somehow” and “maybe” – and all those promises that are unspoken matters of the heart. All these common things, and more, are the real process of a wedding.

    The symbolic vows that you are about to make are a way of saying to one another, “You know all those things that we’ve promised, and hoped, and dreamed – well, I meant it all, every word.”

    Look at one another and remember this moment in time. Before this moment you have been many things to one another – acquaintance, friend, companion, lover, dancing partner, even teacher, for you have learned much from one another these past few years. Shortly you shall say a few words that will take you across a threshold of life, and things between you will never quite be the same.

    For after today you shall say to the world –
    This is my husband. This is my wife.”
    Union by Robert Fulghum

    • Anna says...

      We are using the same reading!!! Jo posted it! I’ve had it saved in a file on my phone since the day it was posted. I LOVE it!

    • Christina says...

      Oh, Lauren, this is lovely. I’m copying and pasting and saving forever. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Danielle says...

      This is so beautiful– thanks for sharing!

  80. We skipped a lot of the traditional stuff too (bouquet throwing, favors, enormous cake), but added one special thing to the ceremony that I’ll never forget: a ring warming. Basically, before my husband and I exchanged our rings, they were passed among all of our family and friends in a little pouch and “warmed” by their love, prayers, etc. while the cellist played. It added a spiritual, meaningful component to our non-religious wedding, and now whenever I glance down at my ring I think of not just my husband but also the people who were there, rooting for us.

    • Leeney says...

      This is beautiful! I love the idea :)

  81. Maria says...

    I wish I would’ve read this almost a decade ago when I got married! I made soooo many decisions without any thought whatsoever – just doing things because that’s how things were done. I don’t even look back at my wedding day with much fondness, sadly. But! My husband and I are going to renew our vows in a couple of years with just us and our two kids serving as our best man and maid of honor. There’s always time and room for a do-over!

  82. Noelle says...

    We skipped a dance! We planned a morning wedding with a lunch reception, and everything wrapped up by 4pm. Neither of us are into dancing and weren’t huge fans of the first dances in general, so we were happy to opt out of it. We got to go home and relax alone with each other that evening, and our guests still had Saturday night do do whatever!

  83. Caroline says...

    My husband and I decided to forego bridesmaids and groomsmen, which elicited more of a reaction from traditionalists than I expected, but worked well for us. My brother and my husband’s two best friends gave toasts at our reception, one of my good friends diligently studied how to tie my dress’s French bustle and helped me get ready, and our immediate family members walked down the aisle with us. No one matches anyone else in our photos, but I kind of love that. We also had no flowers, other than the bouquet my sister-in-law and stepmother feverishly constructed for me in my tiny apartment kitchen, with flowers bought last minute at a shop down the street, while my wedding makeup was being applied (I put that detail off and ran out of time – the bouquet looked shockingly professional and I laugh a little to myself every time I look at pictures of it, thinking of how haphazard its creation was). No one cared – people still tell me, two years later, that they loved our wedding. The tradition that I almost skipped, but am glad I did not, was having my father walk me down the aisle. I had sworn I wouldn’t do it because, despite being very close to my father, I was bothered by the symbolism of being handed from one man to another. A few months before the wedding, when I was ranting about other peoples’ unsolicited wedding opinions to my dad over the phone, I noted that it was insane that people were upset I wasn’t having him walk me down the aisle, and said that he didn’t seem to care about that anyway. There was a silent pause, followed by “actually…I would love to walk you down the aisle, but that’s not my decision. I’m very proud that you’re so independent and I think it’s pretty cool that you guys are having the wedding you want.” I suddenly felt very sad about the idea of not having him by my side on my wedding day. Ultimately, I ended up walking down the aisle with my dad, and my husband’s parents walked him down the aisle.

  84. SN says...

    In this day and age you can really do whatever you want for weddings and people more or less, are just happy to be there to celebrate you.

    One tradition I wish would go away? The low-key judging of other people’s weddings and wedding choices. If we tell brides it’s just a day, I wish guests would feel the same and not make negative, or even passing comments about what people did or didn’t do… They had 12 bridesmaids?
    Had a giveaway you never use? No cake? Whether they stick to every tradition under the sun or try to ‘out unique’ themselves… it’s like — who cares?

    It’s just a day : – )

    • Anne says...

      This!

  85. Kristen says...

    I’m getting married here in Brooklyn next month, and we’re skipping the bridal party, the first dance, the cake, the favors, the DJ… We’re starting with cocktail hour and we want to be there to greet all our guests as they arrive! I have a red silk qi pao that my colleagues had made for me when I finished my Peace Corps service in China, so I’m going to wear that, and then go change into a white and gray evening gown just before the ceremony. My guy is going to walk down the aisle with his parents –
    in sneakers, because he’s never not – but I’ve always thought I’d like to walk by myself, and greet our parents at the end of the aisle before we stand up in front of everyone together. Dinner is going to be a huge Chinese buffet (we’re basically putting in the biggest Chinese delivery order ever) followed by an Ample Hills Sundae Bar late night. We’ve got an unlimited photobooth for the night in lieu of favors, and a dear friend who DJ’s on the side is going to babysit our play list for us to make sure the dance floor stays hopping. Because the wedding’s on a Friday, we’re hosting a big “Family” dinner the next night for extended family and our oldest and dearest friends… pies on pies with pizza and Four & Twenty Blackbirds!… and brunch in the park on Sunday before people head home. I cannot, cannot WAIT to wrap ourselves in our communities and celebrate this life we’re choosing together.

    • Mine is in Brooklyn as well. Sounds like yours will be super authentic to you guys. I’d love it if I went to one that had Ample Hills and Four & Twenty Blackbirds!

  86. My favorite thing we skipped was gifts. No registry and no cash gifts and no bridal shower (!!) which I loved not having. :) (We put a link on our website to a charity for those who truly wanted to give something and to emphasize how serious we were about this.)

    We also had no cake or bouquet toss. In my opinion, in wedding planning, less truly is more! :) Excited to see your wedding pics, Megan!

  87. We walked one another down the aisle. We walked arm-in-arm up to the minister. It didn’t seem weird at all but it was something I’d never seen before at a wedding. My father passed away when I was a teenager and aside from my now-husband, I couldn’t think of anyone else I’d rather walk me down the aisle. So that’s what we did!

    For a brief period, while planning our wedding, I thought about having it in the morning and having a brunchy reception–my mom would make her world famous cinnamon rolls. Ultimately we decided not to go that route but I couldn’t get the idea of cinnamon rolls instead of cake out of my mind. So we did that! It was delicious.

  88. SKIPPED: flower girls/ring bearers, traditional head table – we sat at a round table (table 9 3/4!) like everyone else in the middle of the room with the partner of each person in the wedding party, flower toss, father/daughter or mother/son dances, and cake (we did a dessert table with variety!).

  89. My parents never got engaged – they’re two of the most practical people I know, and instead of spending money on a ring, they eventually just started planning their wedding. :)

  90. i love this post! i just came from a meeting with my florist where we also agreed we didn’t need bridesmaid bouquets. i’m having gender-neutral “brides-mates” anyway (it didn’t make sense to leave out my brother or my male best friend!). my mum is growing our flowers at our farm on the niagara escarpment, ontario & we’ll be taking a bouquet-making lesson to figure out how to make centrepieces. flower crowns might be non-negotiable, though. weddings are so fun when you do them your own way & involve all the people you love!

  91. Hallie says...

    We skipped a Bridal Party, Flower toss, parent dances, traditional cake. I didn’t have to second guess not having any of things because it felt forced just thinking of planning for them. You do You!

  92. Christy says...

    I bucked tradition as much as I could! I got married in an art gallery and had my brother walk me down the aisle despite having my father and stepfather in attendance. We didn’t have any bridesmaids/groomsmen and we had a big morning wedding with brunch and then partied that night away in Denver bars. It was so perfect and it felt like we enjoyed the festivities all day long and still were in bed by midnight!

    • Christy says...

      I said big but we had 50 people…so not big….but it was BIG. Ya know?

  93. Jane says...

    Romantic that I am, I always dreamed of being a bride, planning a wedding, seeing my dad cry tears of joy, the whole thing. But my partner of 10 years does not want to get married. I’ve chosen to stay with him as an unmarried life partner, and in doing so opted out of the marriage thing altogether.

  94. Sarah S. says...

    My husband and I did not want to do a first dance. I’m as awkward of a dancer as awkward can be (and self-conscious about it) and he hates being the center of attention, plus, at no other time as a couple did we ever dance, so we were both totally happy to skip that tradition since it really wasn’t very “us”. Except then my mother-in-law went and bought us dance lessons, which basically forced our hand. When the day came we danced to Amos Lee’s Seeet Pea (which clocks in at about 2 minutes) and it was fine, but it still feels like something that absolutely doesn’t represent any of who we are as a couple. I truly believe my MIL meant well, she probably thought we’d feel better about it if we at least knew how to waltz, but I wish she’d respected our wishes.

  95. Bianca says...

    We skipped a lot of traditions. In fact, we were close to just eloping to avoid the pressure of having a wedding that would really be more about what our family wanted than what we wanted. But we knew it wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t celebrate with our family and friends so we planned a surprise wedding. We set it up to look like my husband was throwing me a fancy surprise birthday party. We invited about 40 people to a sweet neighbourhood restaurant and told them to show up at 8:00 for the surprise. We showed up at 8:30 dressed in our wedding attire and got married right there in front of our family and best friends. No first dance, no formal dinner, no bouquet toss, only one speech, but lots of dancing, champagne, and most importantly–happiness!

  96. Marnie says...

    I skipped the whole wedding! Didn’t even elope, since that would have upset people who wanted to be there. There are so few wedding traditions that I like that the whole thing would have become emotionally fraught – for everyone. Living together and having kids without marriage was the path of least resistance (and definitely the least expensive!). Oh, except for the part where my mother-in-law was too embarrassed to speak to my mother because her son had gotten me pregnant (at very-adult age of 36 – and as if I had nothing to do with it!) She got over it – haha!

  97. Kari P says...

    We skipped lots of traditions — no readings, no cake, no bouquet toss, no favours — and we customized a lot. Instead of signing the registry and the officiant reciting the usual “With the power invested in me…” during the ceremony, we did it beforehand so we could customize and shorten the ceremony. Instead of a sand or candle ceremony, we planted a tree with our moms. Instead of a buffet or plated dinner, we opted for shared family style platters. We wanted the night to feel like the coziest 170 person dinner party!

    In the end, no one noticed any of those things were missing and the day felt so personal and “us.” As was said, YOU DO YOU!

  98. Meagan says...

    Love this! I don’t like flowers due to the amount of time I’ve spent in funeral homes and at funerals. I associate the smell with death. So I’ve always wondered what I could do instead of flowers when I get married, and I think your choice to do without is perfect!

  99. Toni says...

    I am totally in agreement with all of these things!!! I’m getting married this fall and am on the same page as you. My bridesmaids are renting dresses and I’m paying for a glam squad to make them all feel their most beautiful. No bouquet toss. No garter business. No going down the DIY Pinterest rabbit hole and stressing out. Just a simple day with delicious food, great tunes, and our favorite people surrounding us.

    I’ll also be walking down the aisle solo. My dad passed away so no need to make it a sad moment for my family, especially my mom. Instead I plan to channel my inner Beyonce and have my moment walking down the aisle like a queen.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      I’m so sorry about the loss of your father, Toni.

      AND YET THIS IS AMAZING: “I plan to channel my inner Beyonce and have my moment walking down the aisle like a queen.” YES!

    • My father passed away, too. I had my groom walk me down the aisle. I loved the way that we presented ourselves to be married instead of being handed off or given away or something like that. :)
      I hope your wedding day is the very best day.

    • Natasha says...

      My mom passed away before my wedding. And so in her memory, I made it all about me and my husband (the advice she always gave us). We had a small wedding and got a house with the money we saved!

      I also used her old clutch from when she was a little girl as my bag for that day and carried a picture of her in it.

      It doesn’t have to be sad. In fact, they’re there with you even more.

      Have an amazing weekend! Your dad will love watching you glam down the aisle.

    • Abesha1 says...

      My brothers walked me down the aisle. It was funny and sweet, because we were laughing alll the way! They wore tuxes… with big chains and a cross, and sunglasses. It’s a great memory in place of what could have been a sad moment, without our dad.

  100. Kara says...

    We spread our wedding celebrations out over multiple parties, so we could include all of our extended friends and family without having to host a large formal wedding. I would highly recommend it! We started with a casual co-ed bridal shower, mainly for extended family and family friends. The night before our wedding, I enjoyed a small dinner party with close friends as a bachelorette party. We got married at the courthouse with just our parents and siblings in attendance, but we incorporated many elements of a more traditional wedding: dressing up with full hair and make up and a bouquet, a professional photographer to document the day, a dinner reception at a restaurant afterwards with professional flower arrangements and a beautiful wedding cake. A few months after our wedding, we celebrated again with friends in Chicago by hosting a big cocktail party. I loved spreading the celebration out in this way – it much less stressful, less expensive, and hosting multiple smaller parties made it possible to actually spend quality time with our guests at each one.

  101. Christine says...

    Megan, do you mind if I ask where you’re getting married? I’m getting married next fall at The Hill in Hudson, NY and totally in that phase of loving to talk about plans with anyone else who is in the midst of planning, ha. We are also skipping the cake in favor of pie, being as minimal as possible with flowers and opting not to give favors. We’re foregoing a bridal party altogether, as we ultimately felt like having one would be too stressful, and we know our close friends will still be close by and supportive that day. Anyway, how exciting! I wish you all the best and not-so-secretly hope to read more about your day. As someone who has yet to pick a dress and many other things, I love COJ’s wedding coverage :)

  102. At our wedding in 2001 we didn’t do a bouquet toss. Instead we invited couples who had been married 50+ years to the dance floor for a dance and then we gave each of the women a bouquet. There were 4 couples who danced together! (200+ years of marriage represented.) I loved that moment of our reception.

    • Toni says...

      That is so beautiful!!

    • This is such a great idea.
      ***A million heart emojis. ***

  103. Sasha says...

    My now-husband and I were married back in March of this year. The wedding took us less than a week to plan, and it was just the two of us – We contacted the officiant on Tuesday, and were married in our favorite downtown square under beautiful live oak trees on Friday (we live in Savannah so everywhere is a perfect backdrop) :) He took his favorite suit and my cream-colored dress (I wore to my sister’s wedding 2 years prior) to the dry-cleaners, he picked up some grocery store flowers I used as my bouquet, we grabbed two cupcakes from a local bakery as our “cake”, and splurged on dinner and drinks at a nice restaurant we’ve always wanted to go to, but couldn’t afford on a whim, we figured this occasion was special enough ;) We took our own photos with a camera, a tripod, and a timer! No frills, no stress, it was amazing and we wouldn’t have wanted it any other way :)

  104. Jennifer says...

    My husband planned a Las Vegas elopement for us IN SECRET after I professed by desire to get married and my strong distaste for planning a wedding. I suggested we go to City Hall for a ceremony with two friends and then walk up the street to a pub for beer. He wanted to do something more exciting so he planned a 1960’s themed wedding (yes, our officiant was Elvis) complete with a vintage car rental and three vintage style dresses for me to choose from when we got there. So basically, we opted out of almost every wedding tradition there is. But I kept joking about that. My best friend drove us to the airport and when we stopped quickly so my husband could jump out to buy a newspaper for the flight, we took a selfie of us car-dancing and I called it my bachelorette party. Then when we arrived in Vegas the night before our wedding and went out for veggie burgers at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville I said, “I think this is our rehearsal dinner!”

    I know this kind of thing isn’t for everyone, but oh, I loved it so much. :)

  105. Sharon Murray says...

    We skipped it all! No engagement either! We’re together 15 years so it seemed unnecessary. We picked beautiful & simple wedding rings & booked a city ceremony with family only, I wore a floral dress & a floral crown & had a bouquet, my husband went for converse and jeans! We had a photographer snap a family photo, nudged our parents into a nearby hotel for a glass of champagne and then just the two of us took a walk through the city with the photographer. It was just before Christmas & the light was almost starting to fade. It was quite romantic actually! Then we joined our parents in a beautiful wine cellar filled with candles & feasted on cheese platters & very nice wine! Friends joined us later for cocktails in our favourite bar. Simple as that! No fuss or politics

    • Lindsay says...

      I’ve been engaged for six months now and haven’t planned anything and this sounds like the perfect day!

  106. We skipped the bridal party, bouquet toss, garter toss. We also stayed together the night before!

  107. cooper says...

    I love remembering my wedding! My husband’s church had a large reception hall that provided a free venue (including tables, chairs, linens, and a commercial kitchen) that was just too good to pass up, even though it meant we would have to forgo alcohol (boo!). Limitations breed creativity, however, and we planned a casual Saturday afternoon wedding, with a loose carnival theme – yards of colorful bunting strung from the rafters, lots of hors d’oeuvres on a stick, a yummy mashed potato bar, infused lemonades, DQ Dilly Bars in lieu of cake, cotton candy centerpieces instead of flowers, and best of all – an outdoor bouncy castle! The bridesmaids wore self-selected yellow dresses and I gave them matching coral shoes and earrings. I literally said “yes” to anything the bridesmaids wanted to wear – any shade of yellow, a belt, a colorful cardigan, their natural hairstyle – and I’m so glad I did! My friends look like themselves in the photos and make such a beautiful eclectic bunch! We also skipped any traditional music – my husband walked out to “Here Comes Your Man” and Meagan Smith and I walked down the aisle to “Stuck on You” by Meiko, which was perfect!!!

    We skipped toasts / speeches because we wanted an informal reception without any “programming”. Instead we asked close friends and family to write a little toast for us to include in the ceremony program.

    We also skipped a “forced” receiving line but instead hung out by the entrance after the ceremony thinking most people would come say hi. Most people, however, made a beeline to the food, and it felt awkward to stand around – and without a receiving line or other system, there were a handful of guests that I didn’t get a chance to talk to or thank for coming, which I still feel bad about!

    • Kari T says...

      We had a DQ ice-cream cake for our wedding lol It’s my absolute favorite so why not right?!

    • cooper says...

      @Kari – Hooray for DQ!! I also really love that we can get our wedding “cake” every year on our anniversary and it tastes exactly the same, haha!

  108. Ashley says...

    Both my parents walked me down the aisle. It was less “one man giving a woman away to another man” and more “my parents are standing by me as I expand our family”. We also had two people each in or wedding party, so they were “best men” and “best women”. One of the best men was deployed overseas at the time, though, so the one remaining got to walk both my best women down the aisle. He’s a ham, and it was by far the funniest part of the ceremony. We also didn’t do many of the reception things: no dance or bouquet throwing, just speeches and cake cutting. We had the reception in a lodge, so people were seated all over, on the decks and inside and it felt more like a big party than a reception. We also kept it really low budget: under $9,000 for everything, including the splurge on the lodge (about a third of the budget!), which the whole wedding party stayed in all weekend, since we all are scattered across the country and wanted to spend some extra time together. It was perfect. I do wish we had spent more on a photographer. We got someone who was just starting out at a super cheap rate, but it was clear she wasn’t as practiced and I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted, so the pictures were just meh. But otherwise, out was a perfect weekend!

  109. ALV says...

    I had a pretty traditional wedding, but no bridal party. Just my best friend. She wore a dress she already owned, which I loved. My husband wanted a big group of his guys involved, so we just made them all ushers and he had his best friend as his best man.
    I bought my dress for $250 at an online vintage store and had my friend who is a clothing designer adjust and add to it for me.
    My mother made an endless speech and my father never said a word- my mom wouldn’t stop talking!

  110. i skipped having anyone walk me down the aisle. it seemed not me to have my father walk me down, our relationship is cordial at best. so all the guests sat around in a semi-circle and we stood in the middle with our closest friends beside us and we said a few words. done.

  111. Mara says...

    We opted to go to a park with our immediate family and grandparents and have our friend, who pretty much introduced us, perform the ceremony. It was intimate because of the amount of people but also because the person who performed our ceremony was our closest mutual friend. Instead of a party we went to the restaurant we had our first date at and everyone ordered whatever they wanted! No set menu for us! No catering food! Everyone drank and laughed and ate! Instead of a cake we also had donuts bc Im not a fan of cake but who doesnt love donuts!

    • Mara says...

      the tradition we kept was staying apart the night before. This gave us both time to relax and reflect on the next day. We also gave eachother letters to read the day of the wedding <3 my favorite part.

      We read traditional vows bc I felt there was something romantic about that and finally we got married pretty quick so we opted not for an engagement ring.

  112. jenn says...

    As the bride are you going to carry a bouquet? I’m getting married this fall and plan to give bouquets to my bridesmaids (who were instructed to find a navy dress they love — any dress, any length) However, I don’t want to carry a bouquet myself and distract from my dress (which I’m crazy about). Is that weird?

  113. Amy says...

    At my first wedding (and the wedding was the best part of that marriage) instead of a bouquet toss, we did a family dance where all the married couples danced and the DJ had everyone wouldn’t been married less than a year sit down, less than five year, ten ,etc…until the longest married couple was left (50 years–my stepmom parents!) and got the bouquet. My mom was super pissed but everyone else thought it was sweet :)

  114. Marrying someone from a different country meant we completely cherry picked the things we liked from each culture — and skipped everything that didn’t feel us. Lots of hand-holding with family leading up to the big day (“why are you doing it this way??”) but afterward everyone unanimously declared it was THE.BEST.WEDDING.EVER :)

    Also, since it was an international destination wedding for half the guests, we ended up going on a “group honeymoon” with about 25 family & friends to Santorini after the wedding in Athens just to extend the festivities!

    • Natalie Shear says...

      Hey Rachel! My fiance and I are actually considering something very similar – I would love to hear more about your experience! He is from Tunisia, and I am from Ohio, so we are considering a new destination (Spain? Morocco?) where all of our closest loved ones can join us for an awesome vacation. But I’m worried about trying to plan it from so far away! Any suggestions? It sounds dreamy, I just hope I can pull it off!

  115. I love this, it makes me so much more confident in my less traditional decisions while I’m beginning to plan my wedding! One of the first things I said was “I can’t imagine us spending money on flowers for one day!” I really want to do tons of local greenery instead, it’s much more ‘us’ and I think it’ll be beautiful.

    • Christy says...

      Go with what you want! The flowers will all die whether you spend $100 or $10,000 on them.

  116. Jennifer says...

    By the time I got married at 31, I’d been a bridesmaid in a dozen weddings (and mostly wedding parties of a dozen-plus girls and guys) which left me with a dozen dresses I’d never wear again. It kind of felt like we were all over the big wedding party thing and all the obligations that come with it. I had my two maids of honor (my only bridesmaids) pick out their own dresses, and then I bought them. We also skipped the bouquet toss and the garter belt. Couldn’t do without a cake though- wedding cake is one of my favorite treats!

  117. Jennie says...

    I love when couples do something non-traditional! I skipped the engagement ring. I just really don’t love the tradition behind it, and preferred to put our young-married-people money toward something we could enjoy together, like an amazing honeymoon and house down-payment. And also, asked my husband not to call my dad for his “blessing.” I can make that decision on my own, thank you!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, jennie! love that!

      similarly, when my dad walked me down the aisle, and the officiant asked, “who gives this woman to be married to this man?” my dad said, “she comes of her own accord, with the full support of her mother and me.” my mom had come up with that line, and i loved it! (still do!)

    • Lindsay says...

      Joanna, I am definitely stealing the line for my dad :) I love it!

  118. Betsy says...

    We had a pretty traditional wedding, but rather than tossing the bouquet, I gave it to the next couple to be married in a special, private moment. The last wedding we went to before our own wedding, the bride did that for me and it was one of the sweetest things anyone ever did.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so sweet, betsy.

    • cgw says...

      That’s such a neat thing to do. I did have a toss, and it turns out my friend, who caught it, got married a year later -her boyfriend had decided earlier to pop the question (later that month) so it was totally not planned, but so, so serendipitous!

    • Kate Z. says...

      Love this! What a great idea!

  119. Holly says...

    Can they carry a (full) champagne flute? What better way to get the party started.

    At my wedding, guests arrived a grabbed a drink first thing.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, haha, what a fun idea!

    • Carrie says...

      I like that- starting off with the festive mood right away!!

    • Robin says...

      One of my best friends was looking to save money, so she had each of her bridesmaids carry lanterns (from Ikea!) with lit candles. It was beautiful, and she still has those beautiful lanterns in her living room!

    • Emily says...

      one of my favorite photos from my wedding is with my bridesmaids and all of their spouses after we’d traded bouquets for champagne – so festive (and delicious)

  120. shashi says...

    I feel like I broke a lot of the traditional wedding rules when I got married. For instance, I wore a red dress because it symbolized the Indian part of my heritage. We didn’t have a wedding party but all our friends just took it upon themselves to organize various events and help out the day of. We also didn’t have a cake – and did donuts from the doughnut plant (go there if you haven’t).

  121. Rachel says...

    I’m skipping the big walk down the aisle in front of hundreds of people when I get married this fall! My fiance and I are inviting just our closest friends and family to witness our private ceremony, and inviting everyone to a big party after (but no dance! We both hate dancing).
    I find the biggest struggle in all of this is getting soooo many opinions from absolutely everyone, and it’s made us second guess our decision more than once. But this set-up is a perfect compromise for us both, as I only wanted a small city hall wedding and my fiance wanted a big church wedding. This way the most important, and also most vulnerable part of the day is witnessed by the people who play the biggest role in our lives, but we still get to have a party and celebrate with everyone!

    • Katelyn says...

      We are doing almost exactly the same thing next year when we get married. I agree- the opinions (from SO many people) can be overwhelming! The biggest thing that annoys us is when people say “but what if person X doesn’t want to come because you aren’t really having a wedding?” Oh boy, that one gets me. It’s an invitation… to our reception… not an obligation or requirement. If they don’t want to celebrate with us, that’s on them.

      We are also doing it as a compromise – I always wanted to elope, but my fiance and I are only children, so there was quite a lot of resistance to that. We are getting married on a Thursday with just our parents at the courthouse, and then having a large reception with dinner (and dancing) on Saturday.

      Best wishes to you Rachel!

  122. Holly says...

    Can they carry champagne flutes? As a bridesmaid, I’ve always wanted a drink.

    • Megan Cahn says...

      I like your style :)

  123. Nectar says...

    My best friend skipped the engagement photography all together. She didn’t really see the point of it since they captured so many moments during their relationship.

    For her wedding reception, she planned for passed hors d’oeuvres all night (they were pretty filling) instead of a sit down dinner. It made everyone wander around and really talk to each other instead of being assigned to a table.

  124. Lindsey says...

    We skipped so many traditions and I wouldn’t change a thing. We skipped cake. He didn’t put his head up my dress to find a garter. We didn’t pretend to leave the wedding only to pull back around to get pictures (why does this happen?) We did fireworks, hand pies, and a hot dog bar – it was so us and I loved every second.

  125. Megan L. says...

    There were many offbeat things about our wedding, but my favorite has to be that we rented a big house near the site (Moonstone Beach in Cambria, CA — gorgeous!) and stayed there with our wedding party. Yup, even on our wedding night! It was so much fun, and I’ll always remember sitting around the living room with our best friends after the ceremony, reading sweet cards and drinking champagne.

  126. kayla says...

    love this! i am so adamant that you should never feel obligated to do something at you wedding just because everyone else has done it.

    we didn’t have any of our parents give toasts at our reception because they’re all criers and none of them would’ve been able to form a coherent sentence among their tears. really. ;) so we had both sets of parents write a message to us that we edited together into one card that sat as part of the centerpiece at each table. we didn’t do a receiving line because we always thought they were so boring and forced, but our plan to mix and mingle didn’t go so well either. we missed greeting a lot of people during dinner.

    i do feel strongly through that bucking any traditions at the expense of your guests isn’t the best strategy. they’ve spent time and money to be there to support you– don’t skimp on the food or alcohol. also, please do a seating chart! making it a free-for-all will for sure leave some people in an awkward situation or maybe at a table that’s not even full. it’s worth the effort for sure!

  127. We skipped the whole groom-doesn’t-see-the-bride bit. It is happening less and less anyways these days. The “first look” moment that happened instead was such a special moment. You are surrounded by so many people during the day- dear people to you, but still. It was nice to have a moment to just focus on each other. Plus, my dad is a wedding photographer and my best friend’s dad is a minister, so growing up we heard All.The.Time. how rude it felt to them for the couple to make everyone wait around for an hour or more while they did photos (plus, my dad disliked the rush. He would do after-the-ceremony photos, if it was important to the couple, but charged more). And instead of a unity candle or some-such, we just had our marriage license signed by the witnesses.

    We did however, keep the first dance. We had started taking dance classes when we started dating as something fun to do, so it felt very us and something many of our guests (and fellow dance classmates) liked to do.

  128. Celeste says...

    Yes girl, yes!
    I got married right after the economic downturn, so nobody was in a position to pay for a big wedding, which helped us let go of so many traditions that neither of us wanted. Instead, we opted for a small ceremony in a church, followed by a BBQ in the park under a pergola. I wore a skirt suit instead of a dress (like my thrifty grandmother who got married right after WWII!), went without the bouquet toss and cake, didn’t have speeches or a dance floor. Instead, my sister who is an incredible singer performed some pop standards, we chatted with our guests, and enjoyed the lovely day. Casual, simple decorations of twinkle lights and small floral arrangements went a long way since the venue was so beautiful.

    Because there wasn’t much of a program, we really *enjoyed* the night and got to speak to each one of our guests for sufficient amounts of time. That is such a treasure!

    • Celeste says...

      Oh! And no wedding party. We didn’t need it, couldn’t afford the extra costs, and didn’t want to put that burden on our friends, either.

  129. jd says...

    Just got married in April, the idea of skipping some of the “supposed to’s” gave me anxiety beforehand, but in the end we ran with it and I have no regrets. No bridal shower, no formal bridesmaids or groomsmen, our ceremony was immediate family only at the courthouse followed by extended family party (~100 people) at a brewery. No first dance — no one ended up dancing really at all — but we did have a game of trivial pursuit going into the evening. We kept the toasts, which turned out so great and one of my favorite parts of the evening. Ultimately, I felt if the usual stuff you see at a wedding or the tradition has no meaning to me or my husband, why bother. Who’s tradition is it anyway? As one who didn’t really relish planning a wedding, I was annoyed at the expectations surrounding the whole process. But I can happily say we did it as we wished and it we have beautiful memories spending time with friends and family we don’t see often.

    • Shayna says...

      Beautiful! And wise words. We’re getting married in September, and I am not relishing the planning myself. However, knowing and remembering we can just do us along with envisioning celebrating with the ones we love is so much fun. The prize we’re keeping our eyes on, if you will.

  130. Kara says...

    I am all about making the wedding your own! I’m getting married in October and while we have a maid of honor and best man, there are no bridesmaids or groomsmen, and we’re having them each sit during the ceremony so it’s just the two of us up there. Funny enough, I’ve also debated whether my maid of honor needs flowers! Still up in the air on that, as well as her dress since I don’t want her to look like a bridesmaid (waiting to see what dresses come out for early Fall). My fiance and I attended a wedding last year where just the dad’s gave speeches at the wedding and it was really touching and simple. It was actually one of the best wedding we’ve ever attended – the evening focused on everyone enjoying the night and creating an intimate vibe. We’ve decided to do the same and just have our dad’s speak. I also decided I most definitely do not need a veil!

  131. L says...

    Would love to see pictures of Caty and Stian’s wedding party!!

    • L says...

      So fun! Love it! Thanks for sharing!

  132. shannon says...

    Oh I hope we get to see photos of Meghan’s wedding, if she’d like to share.

    We skipped…wedding guests(!). It was just our parents and 2 siblings there as witnesses. We also skipped music, decorations, and having a photographer for the ceremony. My father-in-law set up a video camera, and our pastor and brothers took some photos afterward. We met up with the rest of our extended family and friends at our restaurant reception an hour later.

    I was a bit sad about not having my grandma and my closest aunt there, but there was no way to invite just them without having everyone else come as well. Instead of starting down the slippery slope (guests mean you need music, parking, directions to dinner afterward, programs…the list grows so fast!), we kept it ultra-simple and haven’t regretted the stress it saved us one bit!

  133. Sarah Beth says...

    There weren’t many traditions that we skipped (bouquet toss, I guess…), and regularly describe our wedding as very traditional. I know that many people really value putting their own unique stamp on their wedding, but for us, it was meaningful, comforting, and very special to take part in the same traditions that people had celebrated for generations before us. We had a traditional jewish ceremony, danced the horah, signed a ketubah. Both ways of celebrating a marriage are equally great! It just depends on what you value– I have never regretted a single part of my big, traditional wedding, and know that something creative or unique wouldn’t have been the right fit for us.

  134. Leanne says...

    When we planned our wedding, we kept bringing everything back to why we were doing things. We had a ceremony because we wanted to bring together people who contributed to making us these people, to raising us and helping us in our past and future life together. These are the people who are tasked with holding us accountable to our vows when times get hard and we need a reminder. We both hard large family reunions growing up and wanted our day to have that kind of a feel, so we provided drinks and appies and lawn games and board games for the time between the ceremony and reception so people could catch up and enjoy each others’ company. We skipped out on cake. It was rare that we had been at a wedding with a truly amazing cake; usually it was dry and flavourless and went uneaten as everyone was so full by the time it was cut. As our caterer already included dessert in the meal, we had a delicious selection of incredible cheesecakes to choose from instead. No one missed it.

  135. We skipped programs and wedding favors (total waste of time!) and also the father-daughter dance (not to mention, I skipped having my dad walk me down the aisle in favor of walking alone, which was a whole other drama, I mean, story!). We also skipped having kids at our wedding. In a FB group I’m a part of, that came up this week and it got very heated! A lot of the women were saying that a wedding is about a community, and kids are part of that community, while others were saying what you said: a wedding is about the two people getting married, and their preferences and personality. We didn’t want babies crying during our romantic, sacred ceremony under an oak tree. We didn’t want to have to pay for a sitter or have activities planned for kids. We also didn’t have many kids in our lives at the time…my best friend had a baby and of course she brought her, but otherwise it was acquaintances who had kids, and we figured they could have a romantic, fun night out!

    Oh, also? We skipped the garter toss. I have so many issues with that tradition!

    • BNicole says...

      Was it awkward walking alone? (And, of course, did you carry flowers?!)

    • Carrie says...

      Yea! No offence to anyone here who did it, but the garter toss is gross and frankly I just don’t get it. We didn’t do that either, and in fact never even took a moment to make that choice- it just never “was”.

    • It actually wasn’t awkward walking alone! I did have an amazing bouquet that I was holding, and I just remember a sea of faces all beaming at me. It was wonderful. If I had walked with my dad I would have felt uncomfortable and it would not have been authentic to my story. Also, we got married outdoors at a nature center in Southern California, and I entered from the side (because of the way the area was set up…it was like an outdoor classroom/amphitheater), so it just wasn’t the traditional “here comes the bride with her father down a church aisle” kinda moment. :)

      Also re: the garter…I once attended a wedding where the father put the garter on his daughter (just at the calf, but STILL) and I was so horrified by all the implications of that act and the toss afterward…uuuuuggggghhhh.

    • Kelly says...

      Oh my gosh! We also had a kid-free wedding and it caused a fair amount of drama on both sides of the family. It was an evening wedding and we offered to find babysitters for anyone who had kids in town with them, but many relatives expressed disbelief that kids couldn’t come. Two relatives changed their rsvp and didn’t come b/c their kids couldn’t come to the wedding. I was really surprised. I thought people would enjoy a kid-free date night, as you said. And, even if it’s not what they would choose to do, I was shocked that they felt like they needed to tell us as the bride and groom how they felt about our choice.

  136. Anna says...

    YOU DO YOU. This reminds me of the phrase from Tina Fey on breastfeeding: “Whatever you do breastfeeding-wise—great. Great. Whatever.”

    We had donuts instead of cake!

  137. Jessica says...

    Love this post! Especially since I just got married a few weeks ago and skipped a lot of the traditions.

    We opted for popsicles instead of cake, pretzels & beer instead of a formal sit-down reception and no bouquet or garter toss.

  138. I totally agree with the “you do you” sentiment of wedding planning. I just wish my parents (who paid, so had a lot of pull) had agreed! I HATED the garter toss so much, and wasn’t a fan of the bouquet toss either. Our speeches were SO GOOD, though and I still love watching that part of our wedding video! Our best man was on all the debate teams/speech clubs etc in high school and he’s a priest, so the dude can talk…and he’s hilarious!

    I can kind of see why your bridesmaids might feel awkward without something to hold (but I totally agree that flowers are kind of a waste of money). What if you had the groomsmen walk them down the aisle? Or give them something else to hold…a candle, parasol, basket of puppies (ha), just to keep their hands busy?

    • Megan Cahn says...

      Haha, love the puppy idea ;)

  139. BNicole says...

    My fiance and I are staying together the night before our wedding. It’ll be fun to lay in bed and gossip about the family dinner that will occur earlier in the evening.

    It’ll also be fun to wake up in the morning together and share the excitement of our “big day” to come.

    I can’t wait.

    We also decided against bridesmaids and groomsmen. For me in particular, I don’t want to sit in a room for 8 hours waiting for everyone to get their hair and makeup done. Instead, I’ll do brunch.

    • kayla says...

      love this! probably would’ve eased my nerves to just be together that night before and to wake up together on the big day.

  140. Madeleine says...

    I wish you a wonderful wedding, Megan!
    We got married almost 13 years ago, and opted out of several traditions: no seating plan (four divorced parents = nightmare top table so we decided not expend energy on trying to guess who didn’t want to sit next to who at all) no wedding favours (who ever left a wedding saying “those favours were so great!”?. No one. Ever.) no bridesmaids, no wedding cake (we had a tower of cheeses) and we walked down the aisle together. What I wish we had also left out: all the flowers (SO expensive and so forgetable- love the succulent idea) and several speeches (should have asked my mother to make a speech).

    • Megan Cahn says...

      I’m still deciding about gift bags, you have a good point!

    • Megan, we decided against favors and instead donated the budgeted amount to Mercy Corps and put up a sign at the reception saying “in lieu of favors….” No complaints :)

    • Lauren E. says...

      Love that note about favors. I was debating, and my sister in law had to remind me that she and my brother didn’t do favors at their wedding because I had no memory of whether they did or not. Most people could not care less.

    • Kate says...

      We were also not going to do favors but then a very close family friend (who happens to be a chocolatier!) offered to make homemade chocolates for everyone as a party favor. I loved that it was a consumable gift and it was special because she made them. Can’t say I’ve ever fondly looked back on party favors in the past but my friends STILL talk about those chocolates to this day.

  141. cgw says...

    Been married for 20 (!) years, we didn’t have groomsmen, I had a cousin be my attendant (but not officially a maid of honor or bridesmaid, basically someone to hold my bouquet when we did our vows), I let her choose her own dress, no toasts or speeches (we did thank everyone), no reading or song, and everyone tells us that we had the shortest but sweetest ceremony ever (walked down the aisle, said our thing, kissed, and walked back up the aisle in 15 minutes flat). We had a wonderful lunch reception after and really, that’s what it was all about: to have fun with the people who wanted to celebrate our day with us. Weddings are about you and your partner, so doing it the way that best reflects who you are as a couple only seems the proper way to approach it, not because a book says that’s how it’s always been done.

  142. Emily says...

    I let my bridesmaids pick their own floral dress and we had macaroons instead of a cake. I wish I hadnt done a maid of honor!

    • Megan Cahn says...

      My bridesmaids are picking their own floral dresses too!

    • I’m doing this, too! We’re also skipping:
      – cake (in favor of pie)
      – party favors (no one actually cares unless you spend an arm and a leg on them)
      – bouquet and garter toss
      – any other games that a DJ might play
      – formal invitations (we’re having invitations but I’m not addressing them formally and they indicate that our wedding is not a formal affair)
      – subdued guest attire (we’re asking people to dress fun, funky, and colorfully and to not think they’re somehow going to outshine us)

    • Carrie says...

      I TOTALLY regret letting my bridesmaids (my two sisters) pick their own dresses. They were such nags about looking fat, etc. that two days before the wedding they still didn’t have their dresses!! It was awful

  143. We eloped 11 years ago and have no regrets. Neither of us ever wanted a wedding. We needed witnesses, so we each invited a best friend. It was a perfect day. No drama, no stress, just happy tears and a big apple pie afterwards. If a introverted weirdo like me can have the day I wanted, surely anyone can make the day their own. Oh, and I was the one to propose!

    • Katharina says...

      Yes!
      We didn’t even need witnesses. So it was just the two of us and the official. We didn’t dress up much and we don’t have rings. We loved it.

  144. Carrie says...

    Skipping or keeping traditions is what makes each wedding unique! We decided to skip the cake cutting and the toasts- but we were surprised when several people stood and toasted to us. My sister-in-law from NZ and brother-in-law who lives in AU couldn’t make it so both had written speeches which were read aloud by our minister (who is family). It was so special and moving! During the reception we found out that two of our wedding attendees had kept them and their families on Skype the whole time, watching from their respective countries. My husband and I saw them holding their phones up during the ceremony but just assumed they were filming. When we realized they’d been watching the whole time I cried like a baby! It was one of the most special moments of the whole day.

  145. Deborah says...

    I opted out of floral centerpieces once I realized that all the centerpieces that fit my budget were decidedly “meh” and forgettable, so I’d be spending thousands on a detail that no one would remember! My wedding was in a beautiful old mansion, and the staff was able to put out antique candelabras (for free!) that fit the vibe of the space and gave a nice cozy ambiance for a December wedding.

  146. Jess says...

    I think the wedding couple should always do exactly what they want on their wedding day! I’m Indian, and in the past 10-15 years South Asian brides have been incorporating Judeo-Christian / western aspects of weddings into their own ceremonies, including having bridesmaids, carrying bouquets, and having Dad walk them down the aisle instead of the traditional female relatives and friends. Personally, I thin it looks really awkward and silly (if you’ve seen a South Asian non-Christian wedding, i.e. Sikh, Jain, Muslim or Hindu) you’ll understand. I think bouquets look beautiful against a simple white dress and bridesmaids dresses, because they ‘pop’ but again – the wedding couple should do whatever they want!

    • Jeannie says...

      I’m with you! I think people should do whatever they want for their wedding but it is a little silly that western expectations seep into weddings for folks of different ethnic backgrounds. I’m Vietnamese (born in US, parents immigrated here), and my dude (also US-born Viet) and I are going to do a strictly Vietnamese wedding.

      I loved one commenter’s story above of having their brothers walk her down the aisle though!! I’m close with my two younger ones and we’d definitely be a bunch of goofballs walking down…it’d calm my nerves :-P I get married at the start of 2018 so I have some time to seriously consider that idea!

  147. Marni says...

    My fiance and I stayed together the night before the wedding. All of our friends had stayed apart the night before, but we wanted to spend that last night together talking and getting excited for the next day. It was really romantic.

    • Shay says...

      We did too! It made for some of my favorite memories of our wedding. I wouldn’t trade anything for the memory of waking up, looking at each other and saying “we’re getting married today!!!”

  148. Sarah says...

    I opted out of having a bridal shower. With our family being so widely spread throughout the US, inviting everyone to a shower felt too much like a grab for gifts since I knew most of them would not be able to make it but would send a gift in their place. I know a lot of people enjoy giving gifts (I do!) but it just didn’t feel right. I also hate being the center of attention, and avoiding an awkward day of small talk and gift opening was a stress relief when I realized I didn’t have to do it!

    • Megan Cahn says...

      I’m actually skipping a bridal shower, too! I’m going to have an dinner with my three best friends in New York the week before the wedding instead :)

    • Meghan says...

      We did a girlfriends’ day in NYC too and no bridal shower! Also, no veil, no bouquet or garter tossing- I was not about to interrupt dancing and conversation for anything except cake. Also, I had BOTH my mom and dad walk me down the aisle. They are my forever twin pillars and it made my dad so much more comfortable that my mom was there too. Break those traditions!!

  149. Sarah says...

    Congratulations on your upcoming wedding! I hope we get to see some pics! I’d love to see a post about what you’ve loved and loathed about wedding planing.

  150. AB says...

    I opted out of the bouquets for my bridesmaids as well, and no one minded. Or at least they didn’t say anything to me :D
    Since our ceremony was outside in the sun, I provided parasols for them. The guests thought they were adorable, and I don’t think the bridesmaids minded having something to shield them from the sun. Plus, they were able to hold onto them after the wedding.

    • Carrie says...

      That sounds so cute!