The pandemic forced many couples to postpone their wedding plans, but as we continue to adjust to life with Covid-19, some weddings are back on track.
Marriage dynamics have evolved in recent decades to accommodate shifting gender roles and more progressive, feminist perspectives, however, the wedding itself can still be rigidly traditional. If you are a bride or groom-to-be who wishes your wedding to represent your values, then here are seven forward-thinking alternatives to conservative wedding traditions that you can consider for your big day.
Wear a dress that expresses who you are
Contrary to popular belief, wedding dresses weren’t always white. The conventional white wedding dress was made popular by Queen Victoria in the mid-19th century, and since then, wearing a white dress became a symbol of a bride’s virginity and purity. Some feminists will argue that a white dress no longer carries the meaning of virginity, but the color white is still very often used to symbolize sweetness and innocence today.
If you want to deviate from this tradition, consider wearing a dress that reflects your personality. You don’t have to go crazy with it—you can still have a “wedding dress look,” but with a blush or champagne shade, or even silver or light blue. Or, you can completely transform your outfit with brighter colors or even switching out the dress for a fun pant-suit or even a T-shirt and jeans. Remember, it’s your day!
Get both sets of parent’s blessings
Asking the father for permission is a tradition that comes from a time when daughters were considered the property and financial burden of the man of the household. Well, first things first, before asking anyone else’s permission, you should check with your beloved on whether they actually want to marry you. Then, instead of just seeking the blessing of the bride’s parents or paternal figures, get the blessing of both partners’ parents.
If it’s only the bride’s parents that are consulted, then it still implies that the bride’s parents approve of her partner’s ability to support her, when in reality, women can support themselves perfectly fine on their own.
Split the costs
Instead, the soon-to-be newlyweds can pay for the celebration themselves, or have both sets of parents contribute as much as they can afford.
Don’t oblige bridesmaids to pay for hair and makeup
While bridesmaids and groomsmen both have to buy or rent their wedding day outfits, bridesmaids generally have the extra costs of hair and makeup. If you want to ease the financial burden on friends, consider having a friend (perhaps even one of your bridesmaids) donate their cosmetology expertise for your entourage as a wedding gift. Otherwise, leave the choice of paying extra for their make-up and hair up to them.
Switch the “first look” for a romantic letter exchange
While the “first look” (when the groom has a peek at his bride for the first time) may seem harmless, it still perpetuates the idea that a bride is a romantic object whose most important assets are her physical beauty and expensive dress. This is why you don’t see first look pictures that depict the bride gasping in awe at her groom standing in his tux.
Instead, consider trading letters before the ceremony, which may be especially desirable if you’re not writing your own vows. This is a great alternative to the first look that still allows couples to spend private time together before the wedding festivities are in full swing.
Ditch or modify the bouquet/garter toss
The bouquet toss can be an outdated tradition for a few reasons: not all single women want to get married, and we should stop pretending that they do. On the flip side, this could make women who do want to get married feel bad. Another reason is that professionally done bouquets are generally pretty pricey, so why would you (literally) throw them away?
The same goes for the garter toss, which is not as common but still deeply set in stereotypical gender roles. The tradition comes from a time when grooms would tear off their new wives’ clothing and throw them out to the rest of his groomsmen as evidence that the marriage has been consummated.
Instead, completely nix these traditions, or adjust them so that they reflect the times. Rather than just gathering single women for the bouquet toss, get everyone out there, regardless of gender or marital status.
Your name is a symbol of your identity, lineage, and in many cases, culture. The taking of someone else’s last name is a symbolic sacrifice of an individual’s identity to merge it with someone else’s, but it’s becoming more common for partners to forgo giving up their last names.
There are many alternatives to this tradition, from sticking to your own name, or hyphenating your names, or, if you want to be really radical, coming up with an entirely different last name altogether.