19 Wedding Traditions To Seriously Ditch (And Replace With These Trendy Alternatives)

Say "goodbye" to these overused and outdated wedding traditions and say "hello" to personalizing your own day.

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There’s nothing wrong with tradition. But when it starts taking over your wedding planning decisions, it’s time to take things in a new direction. After all, your wedding is about you and your fiancé, your unique love story, and letting your personalities shine. Designing the best day of your life comes from listening to yourself—not being concerned with what others have done in the past. So no matter what pressure you may feel to follow through with certain traditions, know that none of them are required. You’ll still be married to the love of your life at the end of the day. It’s totally up to you to choose what you want to include (and eliminate) from your wedding celebrations. Take a look at these 19 wedding traditions that are totally worth ditching. Even if you’re a traditional couple, there are probably a few things you’ll want to skip.

1. Having Your Bridesmaids Wear Identical Dresses

Let’s be honest: Body types vary significantly from woman to woman. Finding a single dress style that flatters everyone is nearly impossible. And who says they have to match, anyway? Consider letting your ladies choose a dress for themselves. Give them parameters of a certain color shade or style…or go shopping with them to guide their decision making. And remember, the dresses don’t all have to be the same color, either. A mix of hues adds personality and texture to your wedding celebration and photos. If the guys are all wearing the same suit or tux, the extra variety on the ladies’ side could offer an ideal balance. And guess what? You can even buy dresses online—the ideal option for bridesmaids who don’t live near each other or who lead extremely busy lives. Consider these Sarahbridal chiffon gowns offered in a spectrum of stunning colors. They’re elegant, timeless, and full of personality.

2. Wearing a Bridal Veil

The bridal veil tradition is as old as it gets. Dating back to ancient Roman times, the veil symbolized respect, purity, and modesty across many cultures and religions. While a veil can be a beautiful addition to a bridal outfit, it’s not the only option. Choices abound, from beaded headbands to tiaras and flower crowns—opt for a piece that represents you and your style. We personally love this bohemian bridal headpiece for its versatility and gorgeous detailing. Whether you’re planning an updo or wavy flowing hair, this headpiece will add a sparkly touch without overpowering your look.

3. Decorating a Getaway Car

Back in the day, almost every set of newlyweds would drive off after the ceremony in a special getaway car. That’s usually not the case anymore. Many couples join their wedding parties on a party bus, in a limo, or in a caravan of vehicles to head toward the photoshoot locations. That makes the whole getaway car experience a little obsolete, don’t you think? Instead, spend your budget on something unique for your photos, like confetti cannons. They launch confetti approximately 10 to 15 feet in the air, spanning a six-foot radius. Making for incredible photos and videos, these confetti-flying machines are bound to get the party started.

4. Giving Generic Wedding Party Gifts

The people you choose to stand by your side are pretty special people. Whether they’re family or friends, it’s likely they’ve been close to you and supporting you for many years. Maybe they’ve even helped plan some big aspects of your wedding day or were there for you during some tougher times. In other words, they deserve something exceptional. So instead of a gift they’ll forget about or never use again, design a gift that’s truly meaningful. A personalized necklace is something they’ll wear close to their heart and cherish for years to come.

5. Choosing an Entirely Formal Look for Your Groomsmen

Looking sharp and classy is one thing, but having every part of your wardrobe be of a neutral color isn’t necessary. After all, your wedding should represent your true personalities. Add fun and style to your groomsmen’s getup by opting for a colorful tie or patterned pair of socks. By incorporating a little color and pattern, you’ll lift the spirits of your guys and bring flair to your whole wedding brigade. So go wild! Have some fun! Consider an option like these colorful funky socks, which will brighten up their wardrobe…and your dance floor. Hey, they’ll make for great groomsmen gifts, too!

6. Exiting in a Shower of Rice

Many couples want to be greeted and cheered on when they leave their ceremony or reception. But that doesn’t mean your guests need to toss rice at you. Try something a bit more fun and original. Consider having them blow bubbles or light sparklers as you walk through the crowd. Bubbles are inexpensive and environmentally friendly, and they offer some super cool photo opportunities.

7. Selecting One Flower Girl and One Ring Bearer

You’ve probably been to plenty of weddings where there’s just one flower girl and one ring bearer. Why not expand on the cuteness? If you’ve got two adorable nieces, they can both be flower girls. Or why not have three of your favorite little guys be the ring bearers together? Including more special people in your wedding is a way to make people feel connected to you and celebrate your love story. Be sure to treat your little helpers with a memorable gift like a flower girl tiara. They can wear it on your big day and keep it for special occasions like birthdays and other celebrations. They’ll always have something to remember the important role they played in your wedding day.

8. Providing Bland or Pointless Wedding Favors

It’s a thoughtful gesture to show appreciation for your guests’ attendance and support. But trust us, you can do a lot better than homemade bars of soap or tiny chocolates that’ll be gone in a matter of seconds. Think of something a bit more memorable—and that doesn’t mean more expensive. It can be something that adds life to the party, like glow sticks for the dance floor. How fun would it be to have a crowd of people doing the Cupid Shuffle with colorful wrists and ankles? It will truly be a night to remember.

9. Wearing a Garter

Seriously, what is a garter about, anyway? Mostly superstition. Hundreds of years ago it was believed that a piece of the wedding dress would foster good luck, so wedding guests wanted a shred of the bride’s gown. Another archaic story suggests that the garter represented the couple consummating their marriage. With these ancient beliefs in mind, the garter was removed and given to someone attending the wedding. Hence, the tradition of tossing the garter. But we doubt your wedding guests will feel any luck when they get their hands on the garter—or that it represents proof of your whereabouts between the ceremony and the reception. Either way, add something more original to your wardrobe that doesn’t require getting all the single guys on the dance floor to catch something that’s been tucked against your leg all day. As an alternative, purchase something fun for your honeymoon. We adore these matching bride and groom caps that come in black and white. They’ll protect you from the sun, keep your hair back during activities, and let everyone know you’re the coolest newlyweds in town.

10. Having a Conventional Altar

If you have a strong tradition or religion you’d like to follow, by all means, go for it! But if you’re having an outside wedding or hosting your ceremony at an alternative location, you may want to create your own vow-exchanging place to fall in line with your overall wedding vision. For outdoor weddings, a trellis offers a stunning backdrop with plenty of space for creativity. Decorate the trellis with flowers, balloons, flowing fabric, or greenery. This vinyl arbor is classic, durable, and easy to install. The best part? You can place it in your home or garden afterward as a beautiful keepsake of your life’s most special moments.

11. Exchanging Traditional Vows

“In sickness and in health…for better or for worse…” We’ve heard these words a few hundred times. Create wedding vows that are personalized for your relationship and your vision for married life ahead. After all, your wedding ceremony should be unique and memorable. Want inspiration for creating original vows? Order Wedding Vow Writing (and its companion, Wedding Vow Journal). You’ll receive a step-by-step guide for writing wedding vows that will touch the heart instead of putting people to sleep. Our favorite part? Author Alycia Curtis makes the process fun, not tedious. So summon your inner writer as you flip through the pages of Curtis’ highly rated book. In the end, you can frame your vows and look back at them for years to come.

12. Slipping Into a Pair of White Shoes

White shoes, white dress, white veil? Not actually necessary—unless you want them! But we believe in integrating your own personal style into your wedding day, from your head to your shoes. So add some flair to your bridal footwear. Opt for a single color, a fun pattern, or light up the room with these Badgley Mischka glitter pumps. You’ll have everyone talking about your sparkly pizzazz as you walk down the aisle and break it down on the dance floor.

13. Making Your Bridesmaids Carry Floral Bouquets

Whether you’re allergic to flowers, are budget conscious, or simply want to mix it up, there are plenty of alternatives to traditional flower bouquets. Some brides choose to make arrangements out of buttons or brooches or have their bridesmaids carry something classy but useful like a beautiful wristlet. Your bridal party can stock their wristlets with all of the day’s essentials: tissues, lip balm, bobby pins, and phones. A duo of function and style can’t be beat!

14. Registering for Fine China

How often do you actually plan to use fine china? While fancy plates and gravy boats have traditionally been considered a must-have for newlywed couples, the fact is they’re not. You can host fabulous dinner parties and holiday meals without fine china. And the cleanup will be a lot easier, too. Instead, register for something more fun and practical, like beautiful serving platters for any hosting occasion. These porcelain serving platters come in handy for presenting tasty treats from appetizers to side dishes and desserts. You’ll have servingware that’s easy to whip out when guests come over, and they’ll be enticed to try whatever you’re serving.

15. Opting for a Formal Ceremony

Marriage should certainly be taken seriously, but your wedding celebrations don’t have to be stiff and uptight. The entire day should feel like you and your fiancé. Do you have a great sense of humor? Enjoy bohemian style? Tend to be more rustic in your taste? Whatever your vision, make sure your ceremony fits that motif. Make your ceremony more fun and lighthearted with decorations like this special aisle runner. You’ll make your wedding day unforgettable, and you’re bound to capture some unique photographs in the process.

16. Making a Standard Seating Chart

You don’t have to create a board with a map of where everyone will sit. Instead, you can create place cards with the guest’s name and table location. Or leave your seats open for guests to choose where they’d like to sit. Place cards make it simple for guests to find their name and head to their table.

17. Limiting Your Dress to Only White Options

Just like we mentioned about your bridal shoes, your dress doesn’t have to be white, either. Let your personality shine with a customized option just for you. After all, your bridal look will be shared in photographs for years to come. Why not make it special? With a plethora of options out there, this bridal gown rose to the top for us. We love the crystal bodice, the assortment of colors to choose from, and the long chiffon skirt. Bonus? It’s super fun to dance in.

18. Displaying a Traditional Guestbook

Keeping a record of who attended your wedding is a pretty neat concept, especially if you look back at it in 20 or 30 years. But having guests merely sign their name or leave a brief message on a blank page isn’t so thrilling—or memorable. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternative options for guestbooks that become keepsakes you’ll actually want. For example, have guests write their best marriage advice on themed cards. These wedding advice cards are ideal for a rustic, outdoor, or barn wedding. Guests offer their relationship wisdom or best wishes, so rather than just a list of names, you’ll have special words from the ones who love you the most.  

19. Wearing Something Old, Borrowed, and Blue

There’s an old rhyme that goes, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.” Each item is meant to represent a good luck charm on a bride’s wedding day. It was also believed that these objects brought fertility and prosperity to the couple. Unless you firmly believe in these legends, it’s fine to skip this tradition and add something to your wardrobe with actual meaning, like a personalized infinity bracelet. You can wear it at your ceremony and on anniversaries and special dates to come. Jewelry is something that will truly last forever, just like your marriage.

No matter which wedding traditions you decide to keep and which you ditch, remember your wedding day is entirely your own. Make it everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

Jenna Jonaitis
Jenna Jonaitis is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, SHAPE, and other publications. She recently traveled with her husband for 18 months—farming in Japan, studying Spanish in Madrid, volunteering in India, and hiking through the Himalayas. She's now expecting her first child and is always in search of wellness in mind, body, and spirit.

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