Wedding traditions: Should you embrace, skip or put a spin on them?

Wedding stylist wedding ceremony setup Devonshire Terrace London
Photography: Ellie Gillard Photography

Wedding traditions often get a bad rap and to be honest? Some of them probably rightly so! I mean I’m sure neither you nor your guests long to stand in line while you greet everyone! 

But whether you decide to incorporate traditions or start your own is a really personal decision, so don’t feel pressured to follow the latest trend or include a tradition because your choice is being frowned upon by a family member (they will get over it).

As with any part of planning a meaningful, personal celebration, ask yourselves what’s important to you and if it reflects you as a couple because it’s your celebration of your love. 

Below are just 5 traditions with a few alternative options to spark some thoughts and ideas.

Not seeing each other before the ceremony

Seeing the look on each other’s faces is such a special moment, but it doesn’t need to be as you walk down the aisle. 

If you live together and want to stay with each other the night before your wedding, it’s perfectly acceptable! Especially if you wish to start your new adventure early by getting ready together.

You may opt to have a first look, a gorgeous experience that’ll give you some precious time alone together before being immersed in your celebration. 

And when it comes to walking down the aisle maybe you want to switch things up and walk in hand in hand – there are no rules and it certainly won’t be bad luck to see each other’s beautiful faces beforehand. 

Speeches

It’s certainly time to mix these up – husbands get to thank friends and family and talk about how lucky they are (rightly so) and best men have always had the opportunity to stand up and champion their mate, tell funny stories and celebrate their friendship, but women not so much. 

As a friend recently reminded me, women giving speeches isn’t a new concept seeing as Andie MacDowell’s character Carrie did so in Four Weddings and a Funeral over 25 years ago! But speeches are still very male-dominated.

If public speaking isn’t something you’re comfortable with that’s totally understandable, but if as a bride you feel empowered to stand up and say how you feel about your love, do it! And if you have a maid of honour or best woman who wants to shine a light on you and celebrate your beautiful relationship, welcome it with open arms! 

Wedding organiser wedding speeches maid of honour London
Photography: Ellie Gillard Photography

First dance

The first dance can cause unease even in someone who usually loves to throw moves on the dance floor –  there’s a BIG difference between dancing like nobody’s watching to having all eyes on you!

If you want to include the first dance, put your own spin on it. Perhaps you’d find it fun to have a dance-off, maybe you’d feel more comfortable improvising on the day or if learning a routine will give you confidence go for it! 

Have whatever music you want – it doesn’t need to be slow or romantic, have something meaningful that you both love. 

And if you feel shy about being in the spotlight, ask your wedding party to join you on the dancefloor. Just remember doing what feels right will make it a much more joyful experience!

Modern wedding planner couples first dance
Photography: Zara Clarke

Bouquet toss

While I’m sure many see this as a bit of harmless fun, it’s a tradition I’m personally not a fan of because singling out the single ladies feels kinda awkward. 

Whether your friends hate their single status being highlighted, feel under pressure to get married or they’ve chosen to be single and very happy that way, the last thing you want to do is make friends feel uncomfortable.

So if this tradition doesn’t resonate with you either but you’d like someone else to enjoy its beauty, you could give your bouquet as a gift to a newly engaged couple or loved one, or donate it to a care home or woman’s shelter in your community.   

Cake cutting ceremony

Many couples are breaking away from the ‘cutting the cake’ tradition (even if they have a beautiful showstopping cake) because they know their guests would just rather carry on enjoying the party, but what if you don’t want a wedding cake or don’t even like cake?  

There are so many alternatives available to a formal cake – the difficulty could be choosing what to have instead! 

If you have a sweet tooth a dessert table could be right up your street, with a variety of your favourite treats decoratively displayed for your guests can select from. A Macaron tower or Croquembouche always make gorgeous statements or if you have a go-to dessert, like pancakes for example why not get creative and have a pancake wedding cake! 

If you’re more of a savoury person, a cake of pies or cheese could be a perfect alternative and would turn into a fabulous evening reception snack. 

I’d love to know what you think of wedding traditions and which ones you’ll be embracing, skipping or putting your own spin on!

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Hi, I'm Clara

London wedding designer, planner & stylist

I create bespoke weddings for modern city-loving couples who want to step away from the norm and have a celebration that feels personal to them.

By working in collaboration with my couples and encouraging their individual style, I can interpret what’s important to them and curate an experience that reflects their story. 

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