Our Wedding

The Wedding Traditions We’re Skipping

Our wedding is less than a month away and for the first time since the beginning of the planning process, I don’t feel stressed out.Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. Almost all the details are checked off our list and at the end of the day, we’ll have a weekend in Paris with family and friends. We’re getting married.

There are so many traditions – way more than I realized – and most have the craziest origins. We still need to figure out what our ceremony will look like. Will there be speeches? How will we walk down the aisle? What about a first dance? Would it be strange if our 16 guests watched us dance? Should everyone just with us?

I have gotten a few questions about what my wedding day will look like and clearly still have some details to work out, but wanted to share the traditions that won’t be a part of our wedding day.

A Bridal Party

I’ve always wanted a small wedding so a bridal party wasn’t something I ever thought about. The thought of choosing my favorite friends to buy a dress they likely won’t wear again, and then picking one to be my maid of honor doesn’t feel right to me. I was so honored to stand by one of my best friends last year but this isn’t something that felt right for me. My closest girlfriends will be there with me and don’t need a title to know I love them.

Bridal shower

More gifts and more being the center of attention. No thanks. The concept of registering feels strange enough, so asking for more gifts didn’t seem necessary. No one seemed to disappointed about this one, either. We did have a couples engagement party (no gifts) on a boat – a lovely, low key night with friends that didn’t feel like it was all about us.


Since we’re not having a wedding party it was easy to make the decision to skip this one, too. A weekend getaway with girlfriends would have been fun but I wasn’t about to make girlfriends travel twice, and too many of my close friends are wedding photographers who work Saturdays. I almost caved and did a brunch or dinner with girlfriends but between our engagement party, wedding, and Chicago post-wedding party, decided to skip this one, too.

Wearing a veil

This tradition stems from Roman times when a bride covered her entire body in a red sheet (to make it look like she was on fire, naturally) disguising her from jealous evil spirits who want to ruin her wedding day. With or without the veil, I feel like our guests will probably know it’s me.

Not seeing each other before the ceremony

I can see how it would be really exciting to see each other for the first time at the ceremony that day – so much that Conor might stay in another room the night before our wedding. That said, this one dates back to arranged marriages – couples weren’t allowed to see each other before the ceremony since there was a fear the groom would back out of the arrangement if the bride wasn’t attractive enough. Aww. 

We plan on shooting in the city for an hour or two before the ceremony so not seeing each other wasn’t happening.

Being walked down the aisle

My dad isn’t in the picture so I’ve always had this one on my mind but ultimately, I don’t need to be given away. I’m not being purchased, so I will walk myself down the aisle or we’ll walk down together. Still TBD on this one. Any suggestions?

Bouquet and garter toss

Ok, I’m pretty sure no one wears a garter anymore and there’s a good reason because the origin is seriously creepy. The bride and groom showed the garter as proof of the consummation of their marriage by having witnesses come into the room with the couple while they consummated and then take the garter as proof. Nope.

There will be 16 guests at our wedding and a total of two single women. Tossing the bouquet would be super awkward, but I really don’t get this one, either.

The wedding cake

I’m not really a cake person and we’ll be in France, so we’re opting for croquembouche and French pastries which have always been my birthday dessert of choice over cake.

Matching wedding bands

Ok, so I did initially want our bands but Conor wanted yellow gold and I didn’t, and we’ll be wearing these forever, so we each got what we wanted. Easy. 

Throwing rice

Nothing says love like someone throwing uncooked carbs at you. But in all seriousness, rice is an old symbol of fertility and I’m in my mid 30s which according to the internet is scary (thanks, internet) so I may reconsider and have someone pour a pound of rice directly on me.

I’d love to know what wedding traditions were or would be important to you at your wedding

Leave a comment
  • I remember seeing a wedding online where the bride walks down the aisle by herself partially and is met by the groom. It would depend on your ceremony setup but that could be a nice option.

  • We are skipping all of these as well! Some are so silly, and once you research them, it’s like “ewww”! My sister and brother-in-law walked with each other down the “aisle” (it was at the Cultural Center downtown, so no real aisle) and I loved it. It was intimate and sweet, and felt right! They are in it together after all! Have an amazing wedding, I think we may have the same wedding date in October. Enjoy the celebration, and wine! 😉

  • With our smaller wedding, total of 40 people or less, we walked together down the aisle to be married by a judge—who also happens to be my brother and has done a lot of ceremonies:) it was perfect for us! I found an instrumental version of You and Me by Lifehouse and that was our accompaniment. It’s going to be your perfect day no matter what:)

  • I actually didn’t do ANY of these traditions either… the whole shower, bachelorette, etc. just depressed me… I felt ridiculous wearing a veil… so ditched that… I walked myself down the aisle – I felt like I was making my own choice – and not being ‘given’ away by anyone… as for the rice… it is really bad for birds.. and as I got married in french MAIRIE, throwing rice was not possible for me… It is YOUR DAY.. and it should reflect YOUR personality and your husbands… good for you…

      1. oh… just learned something I guess… in any case… happiness and endless love to you and your future husband on this special day… may it be full of magic and bubbles, joy and laughter….

  • Super interesting! It’s important to me to Jump the Broom at my wedding: back in Slavery times, Black people weren’t allowed to get married, so they jumped over a broom to make it official. I’m from the south, so I’ll likely do this to honor my ancestors. I’m still undecided about seeing my future husband before the wedding, so that’s still up in the air!

    I like how you are incorporating all of your loved ones into your wedding/reception. Although the day is about you too, it’s nice that everyone else will be included just as much!

  • Love this 🙂 We’re skipping quite a few, too — no cake, bouquet/garter (ew!), we’re seeing one another before the ceremony…even riding the trolley together to get ready.

  • Catering manager/wedding coordinator (and recent bride) over here. I think you are definitely not alone in skipping many of these traditions and I’m always so happy to see a couple that finds what works for them (because, of course, that’s what this is about!). One suggestion I have for walking down the aisle if you’re still torn is to have Connor meet you at the top of the aisle. He can have a short moment where he comes in alone, stops at the top of the aisle (or somewhere partway) and the officiant asks everyone to stand (if you want them to), and then you come out and meet him and finish walking together. If that feels too much like individual attention on you each, then I definitely recommend coming in together! Couples I’ve worked with that did that really have liked it. One last idea would be to come from opposite entrances (if they exist) and meet in the middle to walk down the aisle together. Hope that helps!

  • In some Eastern European traditions, they also don’t encourage the concept of giving the bride away – one of my favorite traditions is the bride and groom walking in together as a sign that they are both making the decision to be married and are entering the union as equal partners. Even though people always say the wedding is about the bride, it’s about both of you and your new journey together!

  • We skipped the garter/bouquet toss. Because awkward. And we had our guest throw fresh lavender on us which smelled amazing and our venue loved because their porch smelled like lavender for days. And we had a chocolate marble cake with raspberry filling and chocolate frosting, because I don’t really like any other kind of cake.

  • I also skipped all these (except the wedding party) at my wedding in June and have zero regrets.
    Also, we walked down the aisle together and it was *the best*. You’re entering this marriage together, after all–you’re a team!! It was one of my favourite parts of the day. (As well as the few minutes alone we had alone right before walking down the aisle)

  • With the exception of a bachelorette (which was really just two close girlfriends and me going on a fun, easy weekend getaway to Palm Springs), we skipped nearly all of these, too. Our wedding party consisted of one bridesmaid; I refused to do the bouquet toss because I wanted to keep the bouquet for myself (ha!) and we also didn’t ask anyone to make any speeches at the reception. I think everyone was relieved they didn’t have to wait around for speeches to be done before letting loose on the dance floor and just having fun. It was a party from the get go! I don’t regret not participating in all the common traditions at all!

    Your wedding sounds like it will be so beautiful!! 🙂

    1. Hi! That’s exactly what my bachelorette would have looked like, but I didn’t want to ask anyone to do that since my wedding is in another country. I’m torn on the speeches. Was thinking it could be nice if a few people said something, but it’s such a small group.

  • I completely agree with your thoughts on being walked down the aisle. My dad passed away about a year ago and this is something I’ve thought about a lot. My sister is getting married next July and having our uncle walk her down, but it just doesn’t feel right to me and I’m more and more leaning toward walking down myself (when that day comes). I would love to hear what you ultimately decide and why.

    Also, fan girl side note: I totally admire your journey, and appreciate your authenticity and realness. You have inspired me so much in many areas of my life, and I just wanted to thank you — you have a true fan/supporter over here!

  • Hi Danielle – I’m definitely on board with all the traditions you’re foregoing! You have to do what’s best for you, Conor and your friends and family. And there’s nothing single women hate more than being forced into catching used bouquet to the tune of “Single Ladies”. That was the very first thing to go on my list! I would recommend doing some sort of “reveal” of you in your dress to your hubby. Mine is definitely non-sentimental and it’s the one thing he wanted. It made the moment special, and you can still work it into your pre-wedding photos.

  • While I did have a wedding party, of the 5 attendants on my side, two were men and one of the women wore a suit. (Everyone wore black so it looked cohesive.) I love my friends for who they are, and wanted them to stand beside me as themselves at the altar. Also, we had a “groom’s best man”, a “bride’s best man”, and no maid of honor.

    At the reception, we invited all of our guests to join us in our first dance. Everyone was totally game and loved it.

    Bottom line: it’s your wedding; make the ceremony what you want it to be and don’t worry about traditions. (Sounds like you are already doing that). Congratulations in advance! I know it will be stunning.

  • In Jewish culture both parents walk their child down the aisle — and both the bride and groom are walked down the aisle. I personally like the tradition because it comes off more as the “people that raised you” than “giving you away”. Depending on family situation I’ve also seen a parent and sibling walking someone down the aisle in Jewish weddings.


  • No rice, no bachelorette party (my two close girlfriends and I had a weekend in Atlanta instead), and I threw my own bridesmaid luncheon and made it all about celebrating my bridesmaids, because like you, I feel awkward in the spotlight. That is why we did not do speeches either. We also opted to have an afternoon wedding and hold the reception in the garden of a local inn. We were married in 2002 and weddings were different then — not quite the industry that they are now — but still traditional. I caved to tradition and had the big dress for the ceremony (although it was not a lacy, poof monstrosity thankfully) but I knew that I would never be able to navigate the inn in it, so at the reception I changed into an ivory slip dress that I loved so much, I wish it had been my main dress.

  • The only one we did at my wedding was being walked down the aisle, even if it wasn’t my favourite thing, I could never have taken that moment from my Dad – he was shaking more than me! ha

  • We didn’t do most of these traditions either. We had cake and my Daddy walked me down the aisle. My mother in law LOVES cake and my Dad has been looking forward to walking me down the aisle since the day I was born. When I told him I didn’t want a wedding and wanted to go to the courthouse, he almost cried and spent his every last breath trying to convince me otherwise. I definitely could never take that away from him, I would have felt guilty forever. Other than that I feel like simple and non traditional is the way to go or at least speaks more to my and my husbands personality.

  • We got married last May and skipped out on some traditions that I considered cringe-worthy! I hate attending bridal showers so I wasn’t thrilled at the thought of being the ‘bride’ at one. No games, no silly shenanigans. His aunt told me that they were thinking of a lingerie themed shower but figured my girlfriends would host one for me. HELL NO. I told my bridesmaids to save themselves! I didn’t really do the whole bachelorette party; my girlfriends and I went to a baseball game when everyone got in town. It was nothing crazy. I felt like “it’s your last night of being single” was stupid. My last night of being single was before I met Steve. We saw each other before the ceremony since we had pictures. I am so glad we did just for logistical purposes. I was a HARD PASS on the garter and bouquet toss. I think they are absolutely stupid. I got flack from the wedding coordinator and some of the aunts. Surprisingly it was the aunts in their 50s that gave us the most flack and outdated opinions/ thoughts/ advice. I didn’t know matching wedding bands was a thing. We definitely didn’t throw rice either (PS that can kill the pigeons). We had a few military traditions that were important to my husband like a sword arch and cutting our wedding cake with his sword. Big picture- we got married. It wasn’t about the party; it was about the life we have built and are building together.

  • Wow I love this piece! I am all about celebrating in a way that is unique and personal to you. I think it would be beautiful If you two walked down the aisle together! Congrats in advance you will be a beautiful bride!

  • I think it would be cool for you to be standing behind the guests and for him to walk up beside you and escort you down the aisle

  • Love this! I skipped garter and bouquet toss. Wore a sexy birdcage veil bc gorgeous. We saw each other before and best decision ever. It was calming being together. Both my parents walked me down the aisle bc my mom rocks too! If I were you I’d have him walk with me down the aisle- so romantic! We skipped the whole grand exit thing. We had an 11am ceremony followed by coffee and mimosas and a brunch reception for 40 with pianist playing! Other than my MIl and grandMIL and his cousins making me cry bc they were mean, it was truly perfect. I’d like a do over without my awful in-laws.

  • Hi… want to address the internet fertility thing and just make things more awkward up in here 😉 Just kidding. My non-solicited advice – don’t look up any medical related thing on the internet, unless you want find evidence to support your worst fears and have nightmares. Internet is not a doctor. Internet is a fear-spreading, money making machine. And/or a series of tubes. It’s good for some things (ahem, your blog, ahem), but being a doctor is not one of them. This is what I tell myself every time I ignore my own advice and google “chances freckle melanoma” and have a panic attack, and it has always turned out to be true. Don’t worry about it, I am sure you will have beautiful babies when/if you want them. Everything will work out. Be happy now, and enjoy your beautiful wedding in Paris 🙂

  • I love everything about this! I’m in my late twenties and not even close to a wedding but I share your sentiments on most of these items.

  • Good approach, do whatever the hell you want, remember that whatever you plan is for both of you not the guests. I only had a bridal party (4 girls) and had a veil but not all over my face, it was just hanging in the back because my dress had a super low back.

    I got married less than a month ago and we had the time of our lives, it started raining almost at the end of it and we got soaked dancing and we loved it. It will be forever pur special moment, you will have yours too, just remember to enjoy!

  • I had a similar response to wedding traditions in that once I knew their origins, I felt completely free to pick and choose what felt right for us. We likewise skipped the wedding cake and the bouquet and garter tosses. We’re also in our thirties, and I thought it seemed both unkind and outdated to single out my girlfriends who aren’t married – plus I’ve long known that I wouldn’t subject myself to a garter toss. No thank you.

    Skipping the wedding cake shocked some people who heard about that decision in advance (mostly the older generation) but we did a Jeni’s ice cream sundae bar instead and they were the hit of the party and our guests still rave about them a year later. We also loved celebrating our first anniversary (this past Sunday!) by recreating our Jeni’s sundaes. I hope you similarly love tracking down your favorite French pastries to reminisce about your wedding celebration!

    I debated about whether or not to see each other before the ceremony for first look photos. I didn’t want to dim the excitement of seeing each other when I walked down the aisle, but I also wanted to be able to go straight from our ceremony to our reception without a long break to take photos. We opted to do the first look and I am SO grateful! We got beautiful outdoor photos (which was one of the main reasons I picked our venue) before the ceremony, and as our reception was starting a big Midwestern thunderstorm rolled in. Those first look photos are some of my favorites, and I hope you feel the same way about the photos you take around Paris. How classic and romantic!

    xx Jean

  • I love this post because it sounds like your wedding is exactly what you and Conor want- you’re in control of creating how you want the day to feel! I had a lot of friends that they “gave in” on a lot of areas to make others happy.
    Also, my Dad gave me away, but reading about what others said about walking down the aisle together with your soon-to-be-husband sounds really cool. There’s a moment before it starts where you take a great, big, excited breath…and I imagine it would’ve been cool to look into his eyes and say “I love you, let’s do this!!”

  • I love that you are creating the wedding that fits you! I’m getting married in less than a month to and I am skipping some of the same traditions you listed. I really wanted it to be about coming together with family and friends, instead of a live event show. Also, I went to a wedding last year where the bride and groom walked each other down the aisle and I immediately bust into tear of joy. It was really special and they are so excited to start the ceremony together! Love that idea.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this! It honestly resonates so much with me because I thought I was the only woman to not want to embrace all of these wedding traditions. I never thought about having a huge wedding or bridal party. The fact that you’re planning a wedding to fit your personality and wants is so amazing and inspirational.

  • So I didn’t do any of this either–except wear a veil (but I didn’t wear it over my face.) My husband and I walked in together (as did my parents on their wedding day) and it was the best thing we did. We saw each other before the ceremony and took pictures (while my face looked fresh) and walked in together.

    I did do a bach and a bridal (friends and family wanted it more than me though. I wish I didn’t do them.)

  • I, too, don’t have a father in the picture and didn’t like the idea of being “given away”. I walked down the aisle solo and met my husband and it was so romantic. You also avoid the awkward moment when everyone feels compelled to hug each other during the “handoff”. I love the idea of the bride and groom walking in from opposite sides to meet each other in the middle as well. So much time goes into planning weddings and they are over in the blink of an eye. Just do what feels right! 🙂