The Woodland Events Blog

  • Todd Harper

Outdated Wedding Traditions to Ditch

We're continuing our pride month series by exploring some of the many outdated wedding traditions several LGBTQ+ couples have been reimagining, jazzing up a bit, or simply ditching altogether. One of the cool things I've noticed as more LGBTQ+ couples embrace their own new wedding traditions is that straight couples have been following suit and shaking up the trends for all weddings everywhere! That is to say, this post is for LGBTQ+ and straight couples alike.

One note before I upset anyone, despite the title of this post, by no means am I trying to suggest that following any of these traditions is wrong. If you know me, you know that I'm all about weddings that tell your unique story. If part of that story is a set of traditions, embrace them! Just be sure you're doing them intentionally, not because "that's just what happens at weddings, right?"

Here I am, a professional wedding planner, giving you permission to ditch any and all of the following traditions:

Father Giving Away the Bride

This one might go without saying, but the tradition where a groom is waiting at the end of the aisle for a bride's father to escort and give her away doesn't really work out so neatly in all of today's weddings.

Not to mention, as we mentioned in last week's post, this tradition is rooted in patriarchy, dowries, and brides who were seen as little more than property to be exchanged.

In modern weddings, feel free to change up the traditional procession. There are no set rules for who must escort whom and in what order. You can walk down the aisle with your mother, with your honor attendant, or even solo (what a great way to command the attention of your guests)! One of my favorite examples is from my fraternity brother's wedding, where he and his groom walked down the aisle together, hand in hand! Switch things up. Do what works for you.

Two grooms holding hands walking down the aisle together at their outdoor wedding.
Acqua Photo
Portrait of a bride twirling in her blue wedding dress during her winter wedding at Pinewood Weddings and Events in Cambridge, Minnesota
K Schulz Photography

The White Wedding Gown

Until it was popularized by Queen Victoria when she married Prince Albert back in 1840 (less than 200 years ago), the white wedding dress really wasn't a thing, and today, it doesn't need to be! I've seen dozens of stunning wedding dresses in a range of red, blue, green, pink, black, and lavender hues. I've seen dresses with gorgeous ombres and gradients and white dresses incorporating bold pops of color. If white isn't your thing, choose any gown that you love!

Don't feel like wearing a dress at all? Many couples opt to suit it up or even keep their attire casual.

GentleMen on One Side, Ladies on the Other

Mini rant: I've been to way too many weddings where a bride's brother is standing on the groom's side even though they've only met once over Thanksgiving dinner, and the bride says, "Well, he's my brother! I wanted him in my party, but he's a boy; I couldn't have him on my side!"

News flash! There are no restrictions on who can be on each side of your wedding party!

I'm officially giving you this permission: If one of your besties or an important sibling happens to be another gender, you may still invite them to be one of your attendants. Worried about what you might call them? Honestly, call them whatever you'd like! "Attendants" and "Honor Attendants" work great.

At my own wedding, my wife had a "Man of Honor" and two ladies she called "Bridesfolk" (she was against the term bridesmaid, for a few reasons, but especially since both were already married), and I had a "Best Man" and two "Groomsladies".

Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

People are getting married later in life. According to WeddingWire's most recent newlywed report, the average age of couples is 32 (and the average age of LGBTQ+ couples is 37).

More and more of the couples I work with don't have 5-year-old nieces and nephews to invite as their flower girls and ring bearers, so they ask me what they should do.

Well, there are several options! The first, and perhaps most obvious since it's kind of what today's blog post is about? You could just skip out on having flower girls and ring bearers altogether.

But if you're really sold on the concept of having petals scattered before you walk down the aisle, consider a flower grandma or a flower fraternity/sorority sibling or a flower anyone! That special someone will feel honored that you want to include them in your big day and your guests will be in for a lovely surprise. And if you really need a ring bearer, one of your honor attendants can pull double duty and fit the bill just fine!

Grandmother of the bride serving as flower girl.

Are you one of the rare couples who have an abundance of young people in their lives and having a difficult time deciding which of them should be your flower attendant and ring bearer? Invite them to perform the role as a group! I don't know of a much cuter thing in this world than a parade of youngsters tossing flowers.

Father/Daughter & Mother/Son Dances

While this situation is rapidly changing, it's a sad reality that many LGBTQ+ weddings in the past haven't included both sets of the couple's parents in attendance. If your relationship with one or more of your parents isn't great, don't feel obligated to dance with them. Dance with your stepmom, your great aunt, or your best friend since Kindergarten! Make it a group dance with your chosen family. Any group or gender is totally acceptable. Or just ditch the parent dances altogether.

Bouquet Toss and Garter Toss

Bride tossing bouquet at barn wedding.

Wedding bouquets are expensive; why toss yours and take the chance that it could be ruined? Even when you have a second one made just for the toss, you're spending money on a tradition that has been done so many times by so many couples, to prove to one of your single guests that they are worthy of finding someone to love (which we already know is true). Consider replacing this event with something more special and romantic.

And the garter toss? Let's just agree to ditch it, okay? Throwing underwear into a crowd of single people is gross. People don't need to wait until they catch your partner's garter to know that it's okay to get married.

Wedding Favors

I've left so many weddings with favors that never make it home. They either end up in the trash or sit in the center console of my car collecting dust until I find them a year later and wonder where this thing came from.

Many couples these days are opting to ditch favors or replace them with donations to the couple's favorite charity in their guests' honor (you can tell your guests you're doing this or just do it quietly). Nine times out of 10, your guests simply won't notice or care that they're going home empty-handed.

If you're not ready to ditch the physical gifts, some great options to consider are snacks that guests can enjoy during and after the reception or potted plants or seeds guests can take home and plant in their gardens (and if any are left behind, which they most certainly will be, you and your new spouse can use them to start a garden of your own),

Cake Cutting

Two brides cutting their wedding cake.
K Schulz Photography

Personally, I love cake. I could eat it all day, every day if there were no consequences. But I'm finding that most couples these days just aren't feeling it, so they feel conflicted when they "have to get a cake to cut". But the reality is: you don't! If you don't love cake, ditch the cake cutting tradition and do something else for dessert like a donut wall or a gelato sundae bar.

That said, the cake cutting is traditionally the signal to your guests that it's okay for them to leave the party, so if you aren't having a cake cutting, just be sure to deliver that message some other way.

Literally Any Other Tradition

There is no right way to have your wedding. Make it your own. Tell your story. And bring your guests along for the ride as your completely unique day unfolds!

Looking for a gender-neutral wedding planning resource that doesn't force any of the above traditions on your planning process? Check out Equally Wed by Kirsten Palladino!

Please let me know in the comments if there are any wedding traditions you wouldn't mind disappearing!

You might also like:

Shaking Up Heteronormativity in Weddings

Wedding Trends for the (New) Roaring 20's

How to Include Guests in Your Wedding

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