Making it work – new spins on old traditions

Last week I wrote about some of the not-so-pleasant origins of familiar wedding rituals, the bouquet and garter toss and cake smashing. Today I want to propose some ways to reinvent and renew customs that can sometimes feel outdated, awkward or even inappropriate. Like family, weddings can be complicated. When a particular tradition doesn’t work for you, you can toss it out, or you can update it! Here are a few new spins on old traditions.

Dance traditions at the reception. First, the father-daughter dance. This is lovely, but what if you are estranged from your father? Maybe have a step-father was more of a father to you than your biological one. Sometimes there is no one for a special dance, and sometimes more than one. There are many circumstances in which the entire tradition can feel wrong. If this doesn’t fit your family, consider replacing it with a ‘parents’ dance – invite all the parents of the couple onto the dance floor and take turns with everyone. Or just invite specifically, by name, those special people who influenced your lives – it can be anyone who is special to you.

There is also lot of focus on that ‘first dance’as a married couple. Some couples even take dance lessons to pull if off. But that first dance doesn’t have to be a spectacle. Try to enjoy it, and ask the DJ or band leader to invite everyone onto the dance floor after just a few minutes, if you feel you need to keep any awkwardness down to a minimum. A minute or two can feel like an eternity when all eyes are on you.

And then there’s the anniversary dance. This is when the DJ or bandleader calls all the married couples onto the floor and then starts winnowing it down to the couple married the longest. Why not reverse this? Start by calling those married longest onto the floor, and adding in more and more. Leaving the floor feels negative, joining people on the floor is positive. Still, it may cause divorced, widowed and single folks to feel left out. If you think it might make someone feel sad, skip this one completely.

Cutting the cakeand feeding it to each other is a time-honored tradition with lots of actual history behind it. It symbolizes your commitment to nourish one another. Most people love this, but not everyone, especially the feeding part when it turns into cake smashing. As I noted last week, this can be cute or awful. If you plan to feed each other cake, talk it over in advance and decide if how you want to do it, although some partners will smash the cake, even if they said they would not. Only you can decide if this is fun, funny, traditional or embarrassing. A really good spin would be to replace it by serving the cake to your guests. Not a cake fan? Serve different types of desserts and avoid the entire dilemma completely!

The traditional toastis great, but who do you ask to give the toast? The good news is you can also ask several people to offer toasts. But remind them to keep it short.  Toasts are not the same as the speeches. Give them a bit of direction ahead of time. For speeches, consider asking different people to speak to different topics, such as your childhood, your future, your interests, and their role in your journey, that way they won’t be repeating what someone else has said. I’ve heard many a speech that started with – ‘as so-and-so just said…’ It feels bad to have your planned speech become meaningless since someone already told those very same stories and stole your thunder. A couple can turn the tables and surprise their guests by toasting or speaking about them. If you have lots of tables of guests – toast each table!

If you are doing the garter or bouquet toss, remember to ask anyone who wishes to participate to come forward and tell them catching the bouquet or garter is good luck. Or consider having a piñata or toss stuffed animals. It’s especially nice if there are children attending (be sure each child gets one). Instead gift the bouquet to a special person. You can give out lottery tickets and launch them into the crowd, or have small bouquets made up with nice quotes and hand them out to all the women.

These are just a few ideas to update traditions. You can create your own special moments – with a choreographed kiss at the end of the ceremony, or a dance down the aisle, depart on horses or golf cart. There are countless twists on wedding traditions.

When you customize traditions to fit your own style and your family and friends, it’s sure to be a hit and remembered for years to come.


thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your beautiful photography!

This entry was posted in Wedding Ceremonies and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form.
  • Categories

  • Archives