6 wedding traditions to ditch…and 3 to keep: Wed Mayhem
5 min

6 Wedding Traditions to Ditch…and 3 to Keep

Good news: Traditions are not written in stone, and you can totally pick which you embrace (and which you skip) on your wedding day. Because while some traditions can be wonderful—think: a joyful first dance between a father and daughter, your adorable nephew toddling the rings down the aisle—others  are…not so much. Many wedding traditions can feel constricting; things we feel we have to do instead of  what we want to do.  

While everyone should decide for themselves which traditions feel right and which feel cringey, we put together a list of the traditions we think should be retired—and those worth holding onto.  

Traditions to Ditch 

1. Garter toss  

Garter Toss

When was a groom sticking his head up his bride’s dress to remove a circle of fabric from her upper thigh—with his teeth, and in public!—ever a good idea? We promise that your guests are not enjoying this. Even the more tame garter rescue missions are not the coyly sexy events you think they are. For the love of your grandma forced to watch this awkward tradition at the table front and center, please skip.  

2. White Dresses

If you want to wear a white gown, by all means, wear one. White is gorgeous, and because we so strongly associate the color with weddings, it’s almost become the only time you can wear head-to-toe white without people thinking you’re headed to the altar. But that’s the problem. We’ve come so far from the whole white equals purity and virginity stuff, let’s scrap this color constraint and instead wear  whatever color dress—or non-dress!—makes you feel the most beautiful. Bonus: The industry knows  you’re willing to pay top dollar for your wedding dress, so white gowns are the most expensive. You could save hundreds, or even thousands, by picking a dress in a non-white hue.  

3. Diamond rings 

Diamond alternative

The diamond industry has done a mighty-fine job of convincing us that a diamond is the one and only stone we should accept in our engagement rings. But there are so many reasons why a diamond may not be your best choice. There’s the conflict and violence in sourcing them, the premium price tag, and the aesthetic preference for a different stone—say, a striking red ruby or a luminous pearl. Or maybe you just don’t dig wearing rings. Sure, diamonds may be forever, but so is your right to choose what’s best for you.  

4. Changing your name 

Sisters have been doing it for themselves for a long time now, and we’ve established identities under our own—not our husband’s—names. If you’ve built a following, whether that’s at work or online, under your own name, there’s no reason to have to switch it up, unless you want to. As many as 20 to 30 percent of brides opt to keep their maiden names these days, with that number increasing for more  professionally accomplished ladies.  

5. The bride’s family paying for everything

Bride paying for eveyrthing

Weddings are expensive, and the financial burden shouldn’t automatically fall upon the bride’s parents  simply because they had the good fortune of having a daughter. So many factors should be involved in  deciding who pays for what—the families’ financial situations, whether this is a first wedding, cultural  beliefs, the couple’s orientation, and so many more—that the old adage of the father of the bride cutting a giant check is just that: old.  

6. Throwing Rice

Back in the day, wedding guests threw grains of rice at the departing couple as a sort of fertility blessing/offering. The tradition is full of good intentions, but it’s possible you don’t want food thrown at  you on your wedding day. This is completely valid, and there are other fun things you can do to  announce your departure that don’t involve projectile basmati. Tossing flower petals, lighting sparklers, and blowing bubbles have become very popular alternatives, but you could always just slip out without  the fanfare.  

Traditions to Keep  

1. Wedding speeches 

Yes, these can get too long. They can be embarrassing. Wedding speeches can even become slurred attempts at a failed stand-up routine. But when done right, wedding toasts and speeches can be the highlight of the entire day. It’s a chance for friends and family to say a few (just a few!) words about the  couple, their relationship, and their history together. These can truly be unforgettable moments that  you want to have, so give them a chance to unfold.  

2. Cake


We are all for cookie buffets, ice cream trucks, and pie bars at weddings. Really, the more sweets the better in our book. But there’s something about that showstopping, tiered wedding cake that screams celebration. Besides being delicious, a cake doubles as the ultimate reception centerpiece, inspiring  enticing, sugary anticipation in all who gaze upon its glory. The cake is a wedding day icon for a reason,  and when it’s not there, it feels like something is missing. Let them eat cake!  

3. Getting your family involved 

Weddings are one of two opportunities in life to get all your friends and family in one place, at one time. (Funerals are the other, and obviously don’t carry that same level of joy.) Involving your family in ways  that are comfortable and make sense to you creates special moments, the kinds that you and your  guests will remember long beyond the day itself. Maybe it’s having your teary-eyed dad walk you down  the aisle, the groom spinning his mom around the dance floor, or your sister performing a song she  wrote just for the two of you. Bringing those closest to you into your day is a tradition that will never go  out of style. 

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7 min

Unpopular Opinion: Engagement Parties are Pointless

Congratulations! You’re engaged. Now what? For some couples, next up is planning and throwing an engagement party. Unpopular opinion, but these are totally unnecessary. Here’s why you should consider doing you and your guests a favor and ditch the engagement party.

What It Is

A party, held in the first few months of an engagement, to celebrate the occasion and kick off the wedding festivities. It also can help wedding guests to get to know each other before the actual big day. It’s traditionally held by the parents of the folks getting married, but most couples nowadays choose to throw it themselves. Engagement parties can span from being very formal (think: gift registry, formal invites, RSVPs) to more casual.


Unless an engagement party is culturally significant to you or has a family tradition attached to it, these are just another party you’re expected to throw. Let’s look at the list of popularly held group gatherings that you can have pre-wedding that similar sets of people are expected to attend.

  • Engagement party
  • Wedding/bridal shower
  • Bachelor party
  • Bachelorette party
  • Bridesmaids and groomsmen luncheon/meet
  • Welcome party
  • Rehearsal dinner

This is a huge (and expensive) list and it doesn’t even include culturally specific events that can happen pre-wedding. Doing all of these is great (I guess) if everyone attending your wedding lives close to where you’re hosting, none of the guests know each other, and you have unlimited time to plan events. If these stars don’t align, here are the three big reasons why you should consider not doing this party.

1. It’s a Burden for Your Guests

Are you really going to have your sister come out to your engagement party and then again for your shower and then again for your bachelorette and then again for your wedding? Not to mention that she’s taking time off work for the holidays and then maybe she wants, like, a self care Friday sometime this year. Plus, she probably has at least one other set of wedding things she’s going to for another pair of friends. IMO, engagement parties are needlessly expensive and time consuming for you and your guests.

2. It’s Not a Big Deal for People to Meet

To address the purpose of guests meeting each other… Why is that so important? Everyone attending is going to know someone else. If y’all have a random work friend that just needs to be at the ceremony, organize an informal brunch with some other friends who will be attending so they can get to know each other. Additionally, your parents should definitely meet pre-engagement party anyway so they can actually talk and spend time together with just the two of you.

3. It’s Exhausting for You

Also, how much can you plan? You’re planning the wedding (even if you have a whole wedding planner, you still have to make decisions). You’re figuring out bridal and engagement shoots, making save-the-dates and registries, coordinating all the other parties listed above, plus managing the inevitable social politics of throwing a big gathering. You also, maybe, have a life outside of wedding planning and other stuff you like to do? Go crochet or get coffee with your girlfriends instead of spending Sunday trying to find enough gluten free mini-cruffins for all of your friends.

So… What Now?

Here are alternatives to engagement parties that are 100x better:

Smaller Gatherings

Get together informally with close friends and family in order to really spend quality time with them. Big parties, which will be happening over the course of your wedding timeline, are so fun, but they can make it hard to really spend time with individual people. Cherish this time with more intimate settings.

… Nothing

Don’t do anything! Announce and then spend time together as a couple. You have a smorgasbord of optional parties to choose from over the course of your engagement. Choose other ones that don’t require your guests to spend their next year commuting to wherever you are and buying you gifts.

And there it is. This wedding season give yourself a break! Intentionally choose when you are going to have people gather on your behalf and who is invited. Of course, everyone has their own opinions about what events are important to keep. Talk with your partner about budget and which events are non-negotiables for both of you. Also, check out 6 Wedding Traditions to Ditch…and 3 to Keep for more expert commentary on traditions to potentially throw out the window during your planning process. Disagree with me? Take a peek at Why You Should Throw an Engagement Party, where I look at the positive side of engagement parties.

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