Recently, Molly Guy over at Vogue wrote an article in reference to ten wedding “rules” she thinks should be broken. It’s always interesting (and more often than not, infuriating) to see what top trendsetters like Vogue, Style Me Pretty, The Knot, etc., are advising brides + grooms to do and not do on their wedding day.
Normally, I brush articles like these off fairly quickly. Chances are, the author is not employed in the wedding industry and doesn’t spend forty to fifty of their summer Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays watching couples tie the knot. Sometimes they just don’t get it like wedding pros do, and that’s okay.
The main issue I had with this article wasn’t that Guy wanted to inspire new traditions amongst couples who are making it official in 2016. I am all about creating new customs and recycling the old ones; weddings should be crafted uniquely for the people who are celebrating.
What bugged me more was that it was that Guy seemed to berate each of her ten traditions (see below) simply for the sake of being sassy and critical. The tone was very shameful. What’s wrong with exchanging rings? Having bridesmaids? Cutting the cake?
The internet is full of listicles encouraging you to do this, say this, wear that. In this day and age, we (women, especially) are subjected to pressure coming at us in all directions. It can be overwhelming, especially when you and your spouse-to-be are trying to plan a wedding that makes everyone happy.
I hope you know that — regardless of what your friends say, what Pinterest says, and what these online articles say — you can do whatever you please for your wedding day. In the end, Bernard Baruch got it right: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
Guy goes on in her article to talk about ten tips to break the mold for your wedding. Let’s take a look at what she is urging you to say I don’t to, with a view from the other side presented by an experienced wedding photographer, yours truly.
What Guy says: “Not to get too Stevie Nicks here, but the psychic bond you share is what’s important—not the jewelry.”
What we think: Rings are, without a doubt, traditional and hugely popular forms of wedding jewelry. I don’t think this is under fire here. If you’re a little on the nontraditional side and would like to skip the rings, go for it! I’ve seen necklaces offered as an engagement token and I’ve seen couples do the matching tattoo route — which Guy suggests — but ultimately, it is up to you. Ring or not, choose something that fits you as a person and you as a couple.
2. Girls, Girls, Girls
What Guy says: “After the proposal, sit your bitches down and be all: “Listen, I’m not going to torture you with the popularity contest of a bridal party and the engagement party and the shower and having to pedestal-ize me for the next year in your crappy $400 crinoline monstrosity. Just pick some gorge dress and strut down the aisle at my wedding.””
What we think: Other than the fact that this is a bit sexist (where’s the same sentiment towards groomsmen in her article?), it seems to downplay how utterly cool it can be to be in your dear friend’s wedding as a member of the bridal party. Let’s also not forget that the terms bridesmaid and groomsman are evolving: weddings where men walk on the bride’s side and vice versa are becoming more and more popular. My take? Pick your best mates to walk down the aisle with you, and be as low-key or as high-energy as you want about it. It’s your wedding day, after all.
3. The Registry
What Guy says: “Send one of the flower girls around, holding a big basket with an adorbs sign around her neck that says “Accepting contributions.” Now you can do with it what you want: kitchen items, paying off student loans, a charity of your choice.”
What we think: I totally understand that feeling of opening an 8-pack of white socks on Christmas morning. Getting gifts that you don’t necessarily want or need can be a downer. I actually agree with Guy here, in that registries are becoming a bit out of date. I love the idea of an online registry for your honeymoon where, for example, guests can donate cash towards a scuba diving lesson, a hiking expedition, couples’ massages on the beach. However, if you do go this route, be prepared for a bit of backlash from guests who weren’t born in this internet era. Some guests might not understand how this will work, and some might find this downright rude (especially if you follow Guy’s advice on collecting cash at the wedding itself). Best-case scenario? Go with what you’re comfortable with, whether that’s a Bed, Bath & Beyond registry or something different.
4. Hiring a Professional Photographer
What Guy says: “…why not scatter some disposable cameras around the party and let your drunken guests go to town? You’ll end up with hilarious and candid pictures without the pressure of “likes.””
What we think: Okay, the gloves are coming off for a minute for this one. The overall premise of Guy’s article was to weed out the traditions that “detract” from the wedding day. I get it; Pinterest and other wedding-heavy sites have influenced our culture and have raised wedding expectations to sometimes unbearably lofty heights. But that doesn’t mean you should skip out on some of the traditional must-haves of the wedding day, like photography and videography. Simply put: do you want high quality, emotive, frame-able and timeless photos of your wedding day?
Then hire a professional wedding photographer.
5. The Big Reveal (also known as the First Look)
What Guy says: “I totally get the appeal of the big rom-com moment when the groom sees the bride in her dress for the first time, but honestly, you have been spending every single day together since you first met at Lit Lounge in 2001 . . . is this really necessary?”
What we think: Depending on your wedding day timeline, yes, this is really necessary. If you’re having a ceremony that’s later on in the evening, it’s advisable to do a first look before walking down the aisle, so that you can still get some portraits of the you, your spouse-to-be + bridal party before the sun sets. Moreover, I have heard from many couples who have done a first look feel much less stressed, less nervous and more at ease afterwards and throughout the ceremony and evening. The truth is that you won’t be spending that much alone time together on your wedding day. Getting a few moments with just your photographers and videographers before the ceremony can be relaxing, memorable, and much-needed.
6. Something Old, Something New
What Guy says: “Ew. Doesn’t that stress you out? What’s the point? Why add another thing to your checklist? Let it go and move on.”
What we think: As I’ve stated time and again, your wedding should be about you. Are you sentimental and nostalgic? Then maybe “something borrowed, something blue, something old, something new” is a fit. Are you interested in staying away from more traditional wedding ideas? Feel free to skip this one! I’ve had many couples blend these cornerstones into their wedding days and I’ve seen many go without. The beauty? Pick + choose which ones you’d like to incorporate into your wedding day and go from there. Emily, below, did a wonderful job with the “something old” by crafting her gown from her mother’s dress.
7. Walking Down the Aisle With Daddy
What Guy says: “…don’t even walk down the aisle at all. When your guests file in, be there to greet them, then, as they take their seats, proceed to the altar hand in hand with your betrothed, ready to get the show on the road.”
What we think: I don’t know about you, but when I get married, my corgi Sherman is walking me down the aisle. This isn’t because I think having my dad walk me down the aisle is unnecessary. My biological father passed away in 2009 and I no longer have a strong relationship with my stepdad. Sometimes, it makes sense to not have your dad walk you down the aisle. While Guy also suggests walking down with your spouse-to-be (I actually really love this), her idea of greeting guests as they come in before the ceremony is a logistical cluster. This is the equivalent of a receiving line, and saying hello to a guest list of anywhere from 125 and beyond will take at least thirty minutes to an hour. If you go this route, just make sure you add in plenty of time to have those mini-conversations with everyone beforehand.
8. First Dance
What Guy says: “Am I the only person who finds this really bizarre? Twirling around to a waltz as if you’re in a Viennese ballroom circa 1932?”
What we think: First dances are the perfect way (like the first look) to have a bit of “alone” time with your spouse-to-be, father or mother. The history of the first dance tells us that this was used to “open” up the dance floor to guests, and I would have to agree that it’s a fitting way to get your guests ready to cut a rug. I don’t find it to be bizarre; more so, it seems like a seamless transition to close the dining portion of the evening and open the party portion. Ultimately, however, it is your choice and yours alone.
9. Feeding Each Other Cake
What Guy says: “That awkward rigmarole where the two of you hobble up to the dessert bar and playfully feed each other a slice amid a barrage of blinking flashbulbs? Why? Being hand-fed cake in front of an audience is disgusting.”
What we think: This one definitely boils down to personal choice. I’m hugely introverted and would much rather skip the cake-cutting spectacle and just starting serving slices to guests, but that’s just me. The cake-cutting part of the evening can be a chance to goof off and have some fun (if your spouse-to-be is okay with a glob of cake on their face). If you’re not into cake, I’ve seen couples use ice cream sandwiches, donuts and cake pops as their treats. It’s all up to you.
10. The Elaborate Honeymoon
What Guy says: “Try out the staycation alternative instead. Book a suite at a nearby hotel and hole up for a couple days with some board games and champagne, and call it a long weekend.”
What we think: For couples who might have a tight budget (especially if they’re paying for the wedding on their own), I think this is a fabulous idea. I’m also a huge fan of saving up and going on the honeymoon at a later date. I’ve heard so many times from couples that they weren’t able to fully enjoy their honeymoon because they were simply exhausted from the wedding a few days before. When I have something on my calendar in the future, I can get excited over time and have something fun to look forward to. The honeymoon is a great way to keep those romantic matrimonial flames going, but if you need time to plan it out so that it’s every bit amazing as you want, there is nothing wrong in holding off for a later departure date. There’s also nothing wrong with an elaborate honeymoon. A ride down a gondola in Venice? Mountain-hopping and snowboarding for days all over Colorado? Climbing to base camp at Mt. Everest (from a real bride!)? All of these are fabulous. Go with what you and your spouse-to-be want to do.
Overall, my main message is to simply do you. Your wedding day isn’t about what someone wrote on the internet (myself, included). Vogue, wedding blogs, and Pinterest all may have some ideas for stepping away from nontraditional wedding customs, but in the end, never feel shamed for doing something, or, conversely, for not doing something on your wedding day.