Wedding planning: Individualism vs traditionalism

Wedding Dress For Happy Couple in Love

Image by epSos.de via Flickr

I knew when Rachel Hills announced her intention to start a wedding planning series on her blog that it was going to be good.

I couldn’t have anticipated just how good it would be.

See here? She admits to fully intending to penning a post about how she would be handling typical wedding traditions – and outlining which ones they’d be skipping. But did she? No. And why not?

Because it feels like justifying.

Planning a somewhat non-traditional wedding, she says, has made her more sympathetic to traditional brides.

After all, it’s a hell of a lot easier. The path of least resistance. The way is already more or less laid out for you.

Tradition is so deeply ingrained. I’m totally happy to answer questions about my choices – the few that I’ve made, seeing as I’ve barely dipped a pinky toe into the planning waters to date – but at the same time, a small part of me feels like simply screaming “BECAUSE I WANT TO!”  They just don’t seem like a big deal to me.

Isn’t that what it comes down to? Planning an event that has personal meaning to you? Why I might choose to skip flowers – because I’ve never cared for them, they’re fussy, and make me sneeze. Why I will probably skip a live band – because I know exactly what songs I want played, and unless our drummer friend volunteers his band to cover our playlist, which runs from Clapton to Queen to Buble to Elton to Kylie to MJ to JT (and I doubt any band could do the entire list justice), I’m more than happy to run an iPod.

But yes, it feels like each ‘different’ choice must be defended.

As Rachel puts it:

This is weird, because in the process of actually planning a wedding, none of these issues have worried me in the slightest. Feel like my name is integral to my identity? Keep it. Don’t like the whole “here comes to the bride, isn’t she beautiful” thing? Walk down the aisle with Mr Musings to keep the attention evenly divided. Like white? Wear a white dress. Prefer not to imply a woman’s greatest achievement in life is getting hitched? Don’t do a bouquet toss. Don’t like arbitrary gender divisions? Have a mixed gender bridal party and hen’s do/bachelorette.

Creepily enough, everything she cites there applies to me as well.

It’s not as if I’m shunning everything traditional. It’s not like I’m having a picnic in the middle of the woods and exchanging rings we smithed ourselves and arriving on Ducatis. I actually do want to wear white, because it looks good on me. I do want to say the normal vows. (I think writing your own vows is one of those things that sounds like a good idea in theory. Then you get older. And you realise that you’re really not that shithot of a writer, and that everything has already been said before, and either you try for something super mushy but original (in which I would fail on the delivery) or something funny (I promise to love and cherish you even though you are a raging bitch if one minute overdue for a meal and have terrible morning breath) that just sounds silly on such an occasion.) But I don’t want to be given away, to do a father-daughter dance, to wear a plain ring, heck, to be obliged to do any dancing at all.

It’s a weird place to occupy, this grey zone.

Married/engaged peeps. Did you go the fully traditional route? How did you let your personality shine through? Or did you say feck it all and let’s elope (and how did that work out?)

6 thoughts on “Wedding planning: Individualism vs traditionalism

  • Reply Little Miss Moneybags October 7, 2011 at 07:00

    We did some traditional things and some untraditional. We didn’t get married in a church, or have any prayers or religious reference in the ceremony (this was a BIG deal to my family). I wore a white dress (which I donated the following week, and I kind of wish I’d stuck to my original “no wedding dress” vow…but it made my mom really happy to have me in a traditional dress). We said somewhat traditional vows that I found online but none of that “obey” stuff.

    His ring came from Overstock, my engagement ring from Etsy and my wedding band from The Limited (the clothing store!). I carried a bouquet but did not do a bouquet toss or garter toss, or first dance, or parents’ dance. No live band or DJ, no dancing at all, actually.

    My dad walked me down the aisle. This meant so much to him, and I didn’t mind, and when the time came, I was SO HAPPY to have someone to hold on to, since I got really overwhelmed by all the people who showed up for us.

    I didn’t want attendants, but I found out my sisters were hurt by that, so we had two attendants each. All the attendants picked out their own clothes. I changed my name. I wear my rings, Peanut doesn’t wear his. We had an afterparty at a bar later that evening that was probably as much fun as the wedding itself.

    I’ve been to five weddings in the last five weeks, and I noticed a lot of different mixes. Three weddings did not have a traditional cake or cake cutting. Two did not have dancing. All had toasts from parents, best men, and maids of honor. One was not religious at all. One included a traditional Chinese tea ceremony into the reception. Some didn’t have programs. One had karaoke. At one, the bride had a second dress for the reception (far more casual than her gown). Some had greeting lines, at some the bride and groom returned to dismiss and greet each guest row by row. One had two brides. Several had unique music. In one, the wedding party sang a medieval hymn to the audience. Some brides changed their names, some didn’t. Only one had a “getaway” exit for the bride and groom.

    In all cases, every single one of those weddings was the best one I’ve ever been to – totally reflecting the personalities of the couple getting married. In short, you can’t go wrong. 🙂

  • Reply carrieactually October 11, 2011 at 11:54

    we’re doing pretty much whatever i feel like. i’m an atheist and so much of what is considered traditional is religion based. we’re doing a destination wedding so only the closest friends and family will be attending, going with a hawaiian ceremony since i don’t want any priests, and replacing the whole reception thing with a simple dinner at a nearby restaurant and later an open house with costco cake for our friends who can’t travel to the wedding.

  • Reply Jodi October 15, 2011 at 18:40

    We did what felt right to us. We were married on a beach, with the reception in a marquee at my marae. Being on a marae there are 2 consequences – it is VERY difficult to limit the guest list because a marae is always open for its people, but on the up side, catering worked out at about $10 per person. And we had HEAPS of “volunteers” (aka “bullied cousins”). My dad went a bit crazy with the guest list, he was so super proud. 300 people, craazy. My parents were paying the lion’s share of the cost (they are well off enough to do that) so in the end i decided not to let it bother me. It was so wonderful walking in and feeling the love and support from all of our family and friends, knowing everyone was there to celebrate our relationship.

    My best advice is plan as much as possible before hand. Then on the day forget everything that is planned, and dont worry about anything except really being present and taking it all in.

    I walked up the aisle hand in hand with both my parents. We pieced the ceremony and vows together from 3 or 4 different services. I had no attendants, but my 2 closest friends gave readings. A family friend performed the ceremony.

    At the reception we did NOT do a seating chart (adults are perfectly capable of picking their tablemates themselves), and we did NOT do a prescribed roster of speeches (I always feel that those kinds of speeches sounds fake). People stood to speak if they wanted to – but they did have to follow up with a song, which helped with both entertainment value and ensuring only one rep from each family or group stood.

    I did try to convince my husband to secretly get legally married before the day (to take the pressure off us on the ‘ceremonial’ day) – he wouldn’t. But my memories are great – a day of laughter and hanging out with all my favourite people. there are too few occasions in life to celebrate love and family.

  • Reply paranoidasteroid October 17, 2011 at 03:23

    Late to the party here, but we went very traditional with our wedding.

    I confess, I didn’t really worry about making sure my personality shined through. I set out with the goal to throw a kickass party, and that was my only goal. Sure, I got to do some stuff to show my preferences: poems on the programs, blue flowers in the bouquets, a non-princessy wedding gown. Still, I think my personality more than came across while we laughed at the officiant forgetting his lines, as my sisters made their speech, and as I got down on the dance floor with no “do not play” list.

    I’m convinced that the trend toward personalizing everything is part of the reason weddings get so out of hand these days. I didn’t have any illusions about my wedding being “my day” so it was easy!

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