When I was brainstorming ideas for a new blog post, I thought “what do I hear most often from my couples?”. The main phrases that kept popping into my head all had a common theme. They all started with “Can I…” or “Should we…" followed by a question concerning some sort of wedding tradition. I realized there is a great deal of confusion surrounding what is considered “acceptable” wedding behavior. Many couples fear offending a parent or grandparent and are often intimidated by the thought of putting their own spin on things. While I don’t think you should go overboard and do something that is going to send your grandma into tears, I strongly believe that most wedding “rules” were made to be broken! In the end, your wedding day should be an expression of the two of you and two families joining together. What do you like? What do you not like? What’s important to you on your wedding day? If you don’t like cake, (gasp) you don’t need to serve cake! Instead, do mini cupcakes, a cheesecake station, a sundae bar, or my personal favorite a Smores toasting bar! As you plan your wedding, so many opinions will be thrown at you…seriously SO many. Trust your instincts, plan the day you want, and remember a wedding is just the fun party before the real journey begins!
1. The bride should wear white.
While many brides still opt for a white wedding dress, there are so many options when it comes to what to wear on the big day. Ivory, blush, champagne, and even pale pink are all close enough to white that they can still be considered traditional while giving brides a few more options. Some brides opt to really make a statement with bold colors and the results are amazing! Case in point - Jaymie's absolutely stunning Joelle by Vera Wang gown below.
2. You must get married on a Saturday.
Cameron Diaz got married on a Monday night and Jennifer Aniston on a Wednesday, so who says weddings have to take place on Saturdays? Saturdays are traditionally the day people get married – mainly for the convenience factor. Most people are off work and can party wee into the night and sleep in the next day. However, Friday night and Sunday weddings are becoming more and more popular as many venues and vendors will offer a discount to those having a wedding on a day other than Saturday. When it comes to setting the date, also take into consideration time of year. Sure it’s somewhat risky to plan a wedding in Pittsburgh in January or February, but again – you can get some great discounts and won’t have to fight for your top choice vendors. And wedding pictures in the snow?! Gorgeous.
3. Dad will walk you down the aisle.
I’ve mentioned it before. There are two times I cry at almost every wedding: when the bride walks down the aisle and the father – daughter dance. You hear it all the time in movies. Father’s can’t wait to “walk their daughters down the aisle.” I think it’s great and beautiful and momentous…but it’s certainly not the only option. I absolutely love when both parents walk the bride down the aisle. They both raised you – why not let mom get a moment in the spotlight as well? I’ve seen brides walk with both their dad and step-dad. I worked with a bride who’s father had passed away and her brother walked with her. She incorporated her father’s memory into the moment by cutting up one of his old suits and using it in her bouquet. Some couples will meet half-way and walk the aisle together – or some don’t even walk the aisle at all! It’s all up to you!
4. The bride must toss the bouquet and the groom will awkwardly remove her garter...with his teeth...in front of her grandparents.
Some couples still want to do a traditional bouquet toss and garter removal. I can say that none of my couples this past year did either...and I was happy about that. Maybe it's because I am older and most of my friends are now married, so I can only picture how empty that "single girls" section will be by the time I tie the knot. And honestly, I love Beyonce more than anything in this world - but if you think you are being cute by playing "Single Ladies" during the bouquet toss - so did the last 10,000 brides that did the exact same thing. I can't even get into the garter toss without totally turning up my nose. I just think it's dated and uncomfortable. Ok, I'm done being grumpy about the whole thing. Just consider other options.
5. You must have a sit-down dinner.
While most guests will expect some sort of food to be served at your wedding (and some came a long way, you should feed them), a traditional sit-down dinner is only one way to go. Stations have replaced the traditional buffet. With stations you can incorporate so many different foods – for example a “Pittsburgh station,” a comfort food station, slider station – and my personal favorite – a dessert station! Many couples are going even further and not assigning seats to guests and instead allowing people to grab food as they want while mixing and mingling with other guests. And of course – food trucks as well as “late night” snacks have become extremely popular over the last couple of years.
6. You have to leave for the honeymoon right after the wedding.
I don't know about you, but I absolutely hate packing. It's extremely stressful for me. So the last thing I want to be doing a few days before my wedding is trying to pack for a honeymoon. I know, I know - the honeymoon should be an amazing, relaxing getaway - what am I complaining about?! I think if you are a "go with the flow" type of person, then leaving the next day for your honeymoon is no big deal. However, for the rest of us, I would rather sleep in, visit with my out of town guests for an extra day, and take a moment to just exhale before another big adventure. Postponing the honeymoon also allows you to save a little extra spending money for the trip. Many couples also now opt for a "honeymoon" fund in lieu of the traditional gift registry. Because honestly - would you rather have some ceramic cake platters or go snorkeling in Fiji?
7. Save your first look for the altar.
I used to have mixed feelings about the concept of a “first look.” Isn’t that bad luck? Won’t it take away the magic of walking down the aisle? I get it. However, my mind has since changed and I am now a big proponent of the “first look.” Here’s why: It absolutely does not take away from the whole walking down the aisle moment. If anything, you get two moments. You can have this very private, intimate moment where you both take in the enormity of what you are about to commit to. You can talk, hug, cry, pray…whatever it is. Look at the pic below – his face is the reason I love a first look. Beyond the sentimental piece of it, doing a “first look” helps tremendously with wedding day logistics and timing. You can get all the bride/groom/bridal party photos out of the way while everyone is still sober and presentable. Instead of spending an hour after the ceremony taking photos, you can actually go and join your own cocktail hour. Yes, you are allowed to do this!! It truly baffles me when a bride and groom choose to miss their own cocktail hour – you paid for it, planned it for months, and the day already goes by so quickly! Get in there, grab a drink, and toast to your new life together!
8. Your bridal party needs to be even.
I get it – I really do…I love symmetry as much as the next person. However, contrary to the popular belief, the wedding party doesn’t have to be even. Now let’s not get crazy, the bride shouldn’t have twenty bridesmaids while the groom has one groomsmen. However, if the bride has three sisters and two best friends and the groom just has three best friends – that’s totally fine! This is a hard one for people to accept, but I promise you it’s fine. In my mind, I would rather have an uneven bridal party of your absolute nearest and dearest than to throw in a bunch of randos that you kind of like just to make the bridal party even. These are the people standing up with you – promising to support you in this marriage. Choose wisely.
9. You must have a wedding cake.
False. I don’t want to upset my bakery friends because there are some gorgeous, delicious wedding cakes out there. However, just like everything else, there are so many other dessert options if cake just isn’t your thing. And here’s my personal opinion – cake gets wasted. I’ve seen it more times than I can count. There are massive cookie tables (at least if you’re at a Pittsburgh wedding), cupcakes, late night snacks…and by the time the cakes comes out – people are stuffed. If you still want to participate in the traditional cake cutting, I always recommend buying a small cake to cut and then serving sheet cake to the guests. It will save you money and no one is ever going to know the difference! Don’t want cake at all? Consider a mini cheesecake station with various toppings, a cupcake food truck, a S'mores bar, or a late night cookies and milk station.
10. Guests sit on a bride's side and groom’s side.
This one always makes me chuckle. Guests will arrive for the ceremony and like clockwork will ask myself or one of my assistants where they should sit. People – a wedding at it’s very core is the combining of two families. Please sit where you want! Make new friends! The other more logistical reason to do this is that perhaps one of you just happens to have a huge family and one of you comes from a small family. You don’t want one side with two rows filled and the other with 20 rows crammed with people. It’s awkward and your photos will be equally awkward.
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