Weddings are often filled with age-old traditions and rituals, but that doesn't mean yours has to be. After all, your wedding day should be a reflection of who you are as a couple, so it's up to you to decide which traditions to embrace, which to re-invent, and which to throw to the curb entirely. But how can you do so without upsetting family members? Here, the experts share their best advice on how to go about breaking with tradition without making anyone mad.
Set the expectation from the very beginning.
Weddings are becoming better reflections of the couples planning them, so you have more room to include the traditions that are meaningful to you and to do away with ones that aren't. Our experts say the most important thing you can do to ensure your families aren't upset about the fact that you're skipping classic wedding elements is to set clear expectations about your vision from the start. Be direct when communicating your wishes to loved ones and your planner. If they know from the get-go that you won't be doing something they expect—like having a religious ceremony, a large bridal party, or wearing white—they have more time to come to terms with it.
Remind your families that this is your wedding, but be flexible.
If a loved one is trying to weigh in heavily on every aspect of the planning process, it's important to make your feelings known and to (gently!) remind them that is your wedding. Even so, it's worth compromising from time to time, especially on any elements you don't feel that strongly about. "Like everything else in the wedding planning process, you are blending two families together and there are often a lot of players involved so it's all about compromise," wedding planner Shannon Leahy says. "Pick your battles and decide what's really important to you and what you can decide to live with to keep the peace."
Start your own traditions.
If you feel like every decision you're making is in order to honor a tradition, take a step back and think about how you can do things your own way. Leahy encourages couples to tweak classic traditions to be a better fit for who they are. "It's our job to educate you on the etiquette and tradition and then if you want to break it anyway, go for it!" she says.
Explain the certain traditions don't feel true to who you are.
Your wedding day should be the ultimate celebration of you and your new spouse. If anyone is trying to push you towards traditions that don't feel like a reflection of who you two are, stand your ground. After all, some rules are simply meant to be broken. Bianca Hill, a planner at Estera Events, is against a couple doing anything out of obligation. "If any tradition makes you feel uncomfortable or feels disingenuous to who you both are as a couple, skip it! At the end of the day, it is your wedding," she says. "There really are no rules!"
Shake up the traditional format.
If you're getting a ton of pushback about not including certain traditions, consider ways you can include them but still make the day feel like you. One idea our pros suggest is turning the classic structure upside down. Start your day with a cocktail hour first, then have the ceremony and reception follow. Some couples are even planning to have their ceremony and reception fall on two different days, the experts add, allowing them to spread the wedding into an entire weekend. This is a great way to change up the structure of your wedding and signal to guests (and your planning crew) that your wedding won't follow every last tradition.