Many wedding traditions—from the bouquet toss to the diamond engagement ring—have been around for decades. But the meaning behind these rituals has shifted over the years, and many aren't relevant in modern times. Here are 10 outdated wedding traditions that brides can safely abandon if they so choose.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
As the Old English saying instructs a bride to carry "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" on her wedding day for good luck in married life. Something old represents continuity as she leaves her old life behind, while something new signifies fortune and optimism for her married life. Something borrowed should come from another happily married woman, in hopes that her happiness will carry onto the bride, and something blue represents loyalty, love, and faithfulness in the relationship.
Some superstitious or old-fashioned brides may wish to uphold the tradition by carrying these four items on her wedding day. But for many, finding something old, new, borrowed, and blue becomes an inconvenient task on an already long to-do list. Feel free to skip this tradition and believe your marriage will be full of love and fortune on its own—no good luck charms needed.
Garter Toss and Bouquet Toss
In the past, wedding guests used to rip off a piece of the bride's gown as a token of good luck. Eventually this strange ritual transformed into the modern garter toss and bouquet toss. Although these traditions may seem harmless, most women probably aren't keen about jumping around in their high heels to catch the bouquet, just as most men aren't enthusiastically diving onto the floor to retrieve the garter. If you do decide to have a garter or bouquet toss, emphasize the silliness of the tradition with fun, upbeat music. Above all else, don't let your DJ embarrass your unwed guests by highlighting their "single" status in front of everyone.
Smashing the Cake
Sure, smashing cake into the bride's face makes for silly photos and memorable moments. But most brides won't be too happy with frosting-stained hair, smeared makeup, and cake crumbles on her expensive gown. Skip this ritual altogether, or at least make sure the bride approves of the cake smashing beforehand.
The Bride's Family Taking on the Financial Burden
Tradition states that the bride's family should handle the bulk of the financial burden for a wedding, which includes the dress, venue, vendors, rentals, photography, and floral arrangements for the ceremony and reception. Today, the cost is often split based on the financial situations of the two families, and some couples even take on all or a portion of the cost themselves.
Thanks to the long-standing association between diamonds and weddings, many couples believe that an engagement ring must be made of diamond. Nowadays, brides should feel free to divert from the outdated tradition—which stems from an early 1900s advertising campaign—and choose a ring she absolutely adores. Stones of ruby, sapphire, emerald, pearl, amethyst, garnet, and many other materials can be equally as striking as diamond.
A White Dress and Veil
Long white dresses look inherently bridal, but you don't have to opt for an ivory-colored gown at your wedding. Many women prefer the muted look of champagne-hued gowns, and some opt for dresses in an unexpected color like blush pink, beige, and even black. With the right stylist, even a short cocktail dress or tailored pantsuit can become bridal. Women can also experiment with their fashion by sporting a headband, flower crown, or hairclip instead of a traditional tulle veil.
Not Seeing Each Other Before the Ceremony
Back in the time of arranged marriages, the bride and groom never saw each other before the wedding ceremony, which prevented a groom from backing out based on the bride's appearance. The ritual morphed over time, and people started to believe it was bad luck for a groom to see the bride in her wedding dress prior to the processional. Today, however, many couples decide to do a "first look" after getting ready. The romantic moments together help ease pre-wedding jitters, and they make for excellent photographs!
Everyone knows the recognizable tune of Richard Wagner's "Bridal Chorus." The old-fashioned classic march makes for an ideal processional song, but brides can always choose a song they prefer. A sweet-sounding instrumental performed by a string quartet is a unique alternative, while a recorded version of the newlywed's favorite tune brings a little sentimentality to the processional. A bride and groom should feel free to choose music that works for their wedding theme and preferences.
Matching Bridesmaid Dresses
In the Roman times, bridesmaids wore the same gown to confuse any evil spirit who might try to crash the festivities (creepy, right?). People nowadays aren't as superstitious, and it's silly to assume that one dress will perfectly fit your entire bridal party. To prevent discomfort and wardrobe mishaps, consider letting each bridesmaid choose her own gown based on a few color and style requirements. You can also select a handful of different gowns and let each bridesmaid choose the option she wants to wear.
One-Gender Bridal Parties
If you're close with your brother or have a male best friend, they should absolutely get a leading role in your wedding as a groomsman or man of honor. Brides today shouldn't let years-old gender roles get in the way of celebrating with their nearest and dearest.