As the perpetual bridesmaid in my large group of friends (and a "professional bridesmaid" by trade), I’ve had a front row seat at more weddings than I can count.
But the one thing I started to question — and found myself unable to keep my mouth shut about — was how so many old-school wedding traditions just don’t make sense anymore. When it’s time for you to plan the wedding of your dreams, ask yourself one question: Why? If you don’t have a reason for a tradition or even a racing heartbeat to go for it, consider skipping it altogether. Don’t be afraid to kick old-school traditions to the side and, instead of having something old, pair your something new with something that’s you. I know a few we should all stop saying "I do" to as soon as possible.
1. Choosing bridesmaids
The act of looking at your roster of friends and picking out a handful to zip on matching dresses has roots in ancient Roman times when the bride and the groom needed a certain amount of witnesses to make their marriage official — and we’re not talking about Facebook official here.
I’ve been in a bridal party of 13 and of three — either way, it can be super stressful. The truth is, even if you have the greatest group of friends in the world, it may benefit you the most to have them support you as wedding guests instead. Since weddings come with all kinds of baggage (heightened emotions, family drama, unpredictable hiccups with wedding vendors, etc.) it may be more relaxing to surround yourself with just one or two key people; whether that means a close family member, a best friend or just your wedding planner.
You’ll also allow your close friends the freedom to wear the dress, hairstyle and accessories of their choice. So instead of asking close friends to stand by your side at the alter, consider asking them to dance by your side all night long. You can’t go wrong with that!
2. Tossing the bouquet
What started off as a symbol of good luck and the promise of future love, has evolved into a moment for single girls to claw it out.
I’ve been lucky enough to catch the bouquet 13 times (and proud of it!), but instead of true love, I've gotten bruises, a sore rib cage, bloody shins and, even once, a $20 bribe from a fellow singleton who asked me to let her catch the bundle of flowers. I can vouch that not only is this tradition going out of style, but it’s also lost its luster for the single gal. It’s become a mid-reception brawl between wedding guests that all of us girls without a plus one wouldn’t mind skipping.
3. Having a Champagne toast
Raising a glass of bubbly is a universal sign of celebration. It’s done at birthday parties, at dinners with friends and, of course, at the wedding reception. But not everyone is a fan of this sweet drink.
Instead of having a Champagne toast, I’d fancy something creative — like a signature cocktail that the couple ordered on their first date or a favorite wine they tried on a trip to the vineyard. Choosing a beverage with a story behind it makes a toast to the future all the more personal and special.
4. Registering for fine china
One of the main things that differentiate weddings from any other party is that you can hand pick the gifts you want ... right down to the actual SEQ number. It’s about time that couples took advantage of this and registered for things they actually want.
I already have a blender, coffee-maker and a dinning set for eight, so when It’s my turn to tie the knot, I want to register for things that won’t just sit all nice and pretty in the back of my kitchen cabinets. Nowadays, there are plenty of other options: registries to help fund your honeymoon, gift certificates for a hobby they share, like guitar lessons or a painting classes, and more. To me, activities that the couple can bond over or items they can make use of are much more practical than saving fancy soup bowls for when the pope comes to visit.
5. Thinking diamonds are forever
Using diamonds as the stones for your engagement ring isn’t an age-old tradition. It’s actually fairly new; something that only exploded onto the wedding scene in the late '30s.
I’ve tried on my fair share of engagement rings, thanks to my married friends, and I never liked the way diamonds look on my finger. When it's my turn, I may opt for a more colorful stone or skip the tradition altogether so that my fiance and I can use that money to plan our honeymoon or a future trip somewhere that shines brighter than a diamond ring.
Jen Glantz is a "professional bridesmaid" and the founder of Bridesmaid for Hire. She's the author of "All My Friends Are Engaged" and frequently wears old bridesmaid dresses to the grocery store ... and on first dates.