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Personalize the Traditional
When it comes to incorporating cherished wedding rituals into your big day, it's important to keep things personal. We've rounded up fresh takes on timeless traditions for you to adapt as you please, in a style that feels natural and meaningful to you.
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The Tradition: Cutting the Cake
Dessert is a high point of any party, but at a wedding, it literally takes the cake. This is the most iconic moment in the reception, and a guest favorite. The couple and the cake often take center stage after the dinner plates are cleared. The bride places her hand on the knife, and the groom places his hand over hers. They cut a slice and feed each other—a gesture symbolic of their promise to always provide for one another—with plenty of encouragement from guests.
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These days, many couples offer a dessert buffet instead of cake, with an array of pastries and bite-size sweets; or they may create a cake like arrangement of frosted cupcakes on tiers. It can be hard to cut such small confections gracefully, so just offer your partner a bite of a whole one.See More Dessert Tables from Real Weddings
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It's a suspenseful moment when the single women gather behind the bride for the bouquet toss, to see who will be the next to get married. To get the blossoms to the wallflowers, she stands on a balcony, the top of a staircase, or a chair, her back to the crowd.See More Wedding Bouquets
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The Update: Call on Good Fortune
Save your bridal bouquet and throw a special "fortune bouquet" composed of a dozen or so small clusters of flowers bound together with a ribbon that you untie before you throw. Each mini bouquet is bundled with a different romantic fortune, allowing all of your female guests to get involved in the activity.
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The Tradition: Throwing Rice
Tossing rice is a custom from the ancient world that has long been popular in the United States. Everyone can happily participate in the post-ceremony practice that symbolizes the showering of abundance and fertility on the bride and groom.
If you don't want to use rice, you can borrow other ideas from around the world. In France people throw wheat, a symbol of bounty, after the ceremony. Italians rain candy and sugared nuts over couples, for sweetness in marriage.
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For a less conventional display, consider giving loved ones flower petals or mini paper airplanes. Or, choose biodegradable confetti, which is eco-friendly and easy to clean up.
If you prefer that guests not toss anything, use decorative paper to make banners attached to long, thin dowels, for waving in the breeze. Guests can also blow bubbles, or serenade you with little bells or other noisemakers.Get More Ways to Liven Up Your Ceremony
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The Tradition: Wearing a Wedding Veil
Once a symbol of purity and subservience, veils are now popular simply because they're beautiful, and because nothing else says "bride" nearly as powerfully. Queen Victoria, who was married in 1840, is credited with being the first bride not to cover her face with a blusher. But many modern women still wear them out of love for romantic tradition. Blushers can be worn alone or as part of a two or three-layer veil ensemble. The longest piece is usually worn for the ceremony only, and it is detached before the reception.
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The Tradition: Decorating the Car
It's great fun when the wedding party surprises the newlyweds by adorning the getaway vehicle with items that declare "just married" as loudly and proudly as possible. Tin cans make a particularly noticeable clamor and a happy sight on the street when they're combined with a handmade sign and paper streamers. The display can be further embellished with paper fans, garlands of tissue paper pom-poms, or flowers (silk ones, since real flowers won't hold up well on a moving automobile).
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Turn the tables on your guests: Have valets decorate their cars during the reception. For example, you might surprise them with a memento tied to the rearview mirror, such as a card thanking them for coming, or a sachet of potpourri. Or, skip the car idea all together, and make your great escape in an alternative getaway vehicle. Don't shy away from the unconventional. Today couple's choose everything from his-and-hers bikes and boats to vintage taxis and carriages drawn by miniature horses.See More Wedding Getaway Vehicles
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The Tradition: Something Old, New, Borrowed, Blue
Tokens for good luck from a charming old rhyme, these items a woman carries on her wedding day are typically small personal treasures. They are unique to each bride and rarely obvious to anyone but those closest to her. They can be as modest as a scrap of her future mother-in-law's wedding dress, sewn to the inside of her gown with blue thread, or her own mother's wedding ring, borrowed for the day, on her right hand.
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The groom can get involved, too, by wearing his father's cuff links or carrying a keepsake blue handkerchief that the bride has embroidered with his initials. For the guests, you might put blue silk butterflies in the floral centerpieces. Or offer them petits fours cloaked in blue fondant and favors wrapped in blue paper and bound with vintage ribbon.See More Groom Ideas
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Other Traditions to Consider
Don't feel you must include every custom. Just choose your favorites—as many or as few as you like. Here are some others to consider.
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Giving the Bride Away
The loving act of "giving away" is not a relinquishment, but rather a symbolic walk from the old life to the new, led by one or both of the bride's parents, or another relative or close friend.
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When the service is over, guests break their silence to heartily applaud the couple's first kiss as husband and wife. This ritual dates back to Roman times, when newlyweds had to kiss in front of a witness to make their union official.
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