Bucking tradition when it comes to your wedding can quickly become a very contentious issue. Whether your mom always dreamed of you in a flowing white gown or your future mother-in-law is appalled by the idea that you intend to keep your maiden name, you are almost inevitably going to be faced with some push back if you choose to shirk the expected.
I love my little grandma more than words can express, but the amount of times I had to repeat, “Nana, you continue to operate under the assumption that I give a shit,” was more than I care to admit. Fortunately, she knows and acknowledges that I am strong-willed and cannot be motivated by emotional blackmail; unfortunately, it doesn’t stop her from trying to guilt me into doing things every chance she gets. I can’t blame her, really, because it works on every single other member of the family. I’m the only one resistant to it; some would say it’s because I’m an asshole, but I like to think it is because I am confident in my ideas and unwilling to compromise them. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.
Master of Manipulation. She’s lucky she’s adorable.
A common argument you may hear is that people “expect” certain things at a wedding, whether it be the “for better or for worse” wedding vows, the perfectly matching bridal party, the outrageously expensive wedding cake or not providing people with booze before the ceremony (ridiculous, I say!). Your wedding day is a celebration of you and your partner, not a celebration of other people’s expectations. Everyone is going to have different deal breakers, but what follows are some of the items people tried to insist we did that we did not.
As I mentioned in an earlier part of the series, religious differences abound between my husband’s father (who was performing the ceremony) and us. To avoid bible readings and me promising to obey Jon, we wrote our own ceremony – though we did allow space for non-religious ad libbing from Jon’s dad – and focused our vows on promising to make each other laugh and always continue to grow together. I think some people use the standard ceremony readings because it can be overwhelming to come up with something different, but the internet is your friend here. Google “non-traditional wedding vows” and go crazy. As long as you don’t intend to sell copies of your wedding video, I don’t think you have to worry about people coming at you for plagiarizing. Also, the easy format led to this occurring:
which I know I’ve shared before, but it is just my favorite, and who doesn’t love being spontaneously semi-flipped off by their husband-to-be halfway through the ceremony?
Flower girls and ring bearers are often the most adorable part of a wedding. My nieces and nephew are epically freaking cute, so their inclusion was necessary. However, as anyone who has spent any time with a 2-, 3-, and 4-year-old can tell you, they can be incredibly excited to participate one minute and then refuse to partake the next. How many times have you seen a terrified kid inch up the wedding aisle with a look of horror on their face at being stared at by a mass of adults cooing over them? We batted around various ideas should one or all of them get cold feet at the last minute, but decided the best way to get them up without incident was to have them escorted by their parents.
It worked like a charm. There is no way Patrick would have made it up the aisle on his own, if we were to judge solely on the abject terror on his face in all the photos, and the girls’ confidence soared knowing their mom and dad were with them. Plus, it is a great way to include more family members in the actual wedding, if that’s your thing.
One thing Nana tried to force was the matching bridesmaids. She could not get behind me having the ladies choose their own dresses from wherever they wanted as long as they were in the right color family. However, I had four bridesmaids with incredibly different styles, bodies and financial situations. I couldn’t ask my best friend, who had been unemployed for months, to fork out $250 for a dress, plus alterations and shoes. I couldn’t ask my little sister, who is full-figured, to wear the same dress that my girlfriend who weighs 90 pounds fully clothed and soaking wet, would wear. The solution? Free rein. One sister got hers at Torrid, one at Express, my maid of honor got hers at the Saks outlet, and Cati had hers custom made in Thailand, where she spent the month before the wedding. They all wore whatever shoes they wanted, the only requirement being that they were not white. I have a thing with white shoes.
I think the end result was awesome. Everyone had a dress they liked and felt comfortable in that fit what they were able to do cost-wise. It was pure coincidence how closely the colors went together since they all got them completely independently of one another. I love the visual interest the different styles and tones added to the pictures.
The boys all wore white button-up shirts and khakis, which we figured was something all of them had in their closets. We wanted our closest friends and family to stand with us on our wedding day, but we didn’t want them to go into debt to do so. We bought the ties for their groomsmen gifts, which were custom made and reasonably priced from an AMAZING store on etsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/toybreaker. They have tons of designs and colors to choose from and the owner of the shop is incredibly awesome. While I always laugh at the whole “you can totally wear this again!” urging of brides to their bridesmaids (tell that to the thousands of dollars worth of silk shantung collecting dust in the back of my closet), the ties we got were classic. Dark teal with a really cool antique skull silkscreen on it? I may be kidding myself, but I would totally wear it again if I were a boy.
I cannot wrap my head around the cost of wedding cakes, nay, I won’t wrap my head around it. $1000 for a CAKE?!?!? That’s the lower end?!?!? They realize it’s sugar and eggs and flour, right? The same stuff you can buy in a box at the grocery store for $1.99? Look, I get that there is an art to baking. I tried to make decorated sugar cookies with my Star Wars cookie cutters and they looked like a toddler decorated them (luckily, I took them to a Super Bowl party with my nieces so I just pretended that toddlers actually did decorate them). I understand that there is a large amount of skill and craftsmanship that goes into making what truly are beautiful cakes. That being said, come on. I have had friends pay upwards of $1200 for a cake that they are lucky to get a piece of in the craziness of the day. Instead of having a big fancy cake, we decided to do a dessert table. My Nana made a small cake for us to cut – which we actually ended up doing the next day in the middle of clean-up because we forgot to do it at the actual reception – as well as some other delicious goodies. A few other awesome friends and family members also made cookies, brownies and candies. People had a huge variety to choose from and they loved it. I wish I could provide more details, but I never actually saw the dessert table, or got any dessert for that matter, due to the overwhelming and exhilarating chaos of the day.
I’d like to focus on the previous sentence for a moment: you will miss things on your wedding day. Not only does everyone want to talk to, hug, and congratulate you, but you want to be out among all the amazing people you have chosen to spend this day with. If you get too wrapped up in the details, put too much stock in every single aspect that could possibly be planned, you will miss out on the chance to enjoy the things that no amount of planning or money can buy, like when my baby brother spontaneously started teaching everyone a choreographed routine to Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”, or when my completely inebriated groom started shaking his booty like a fool with his 83 year-old French grandma, or when my dad got drunk enough to look like this:
Don’t get your expectations for the day up so high that nothing will ever be able to live up to them. Nothing is ever perfect, no matter how carefully you plan, but if you can find perfection in the madness, the drunkeness, the joy of the day and the love of those around you, I promise you won’t remember if the tablecloths coordinated with the bar napkins. You will look back at pictures like these and know your day was exactly the way it was supposed to be.
And yes, we did provide booze before the ceremony. We set up the keg at the start of the aisle so people could grab a beer on the way in. It was hot! What were we supposed to do, keep them hydrated with water? Bah, I say, a resounding, echoing BAH.
This isn’t to say we didn’t do anything traditional. I had something old, new, borrowed, and blue, I carried a bouquet (but didn’t toss it because that has been a humiliating experience for me at multiple weddings where it was me and two 16 year-old cousins as the only single women to catch it), and I wore a white dress. I had both my parents walk me down the aisle, and I walked to the Buffy and Angel love theme from Buffy the Vampire Slayer as opposed to a more classical song. I didn’t take Jon’s last name, but that had as much to with the fact that my own last name is awesome as it does with any feminist stance. Thankfully, that hasn’t been an issue with anyone but Nana, who won’t write my last name on anything so I can “fill it out the way I want to.” Seriously, she is really, really lucky she’s so cute.
So, for the marrieds out there: did you forgo any traditions at your wedding? For those out there who may be planning or who just like to think of ways to thumb their noses at the rules, which ones, if any, do you plan on leaving by the wayside?