Like any milestone occasion, a wedding is full of traditions that go back a long way. Often, traditions help to make the event even more meaningful. But I’m also a firm believer that if a tradition doesn’t hold meaning to you, you shouldn’t feel tied to it. With that in mind, here are five wedding rules that I think are perfectly fine to break…
Rule No. 1: You Must Have an Even Number of Bridesmaids and Groomsmen in Your Wedding Party
If you look at photos from weddings of a generation ago, you will probably notice that the wedding party always had the same number of loved ones on either side of the couple. But nowadays, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to disregard this rule. We have one more bridesmaid than groomsmen in our own wedding party, and I don’t see any issue with it. We weren’t going to exclude a close friend or include someone we didn’t want to just to get those perfectly symmetrical sides. For the processional, you can simply have each person walk down the aisle individually or have some groups of three. And if you want a male maid-of-honor (man-of-honor?) or vice versa, that is your call too!
Rule No. 2: The Couple Should Not See Each Other Before the Ceremony
This is of course a personal decision for the couple, but almost every wedding photographer will recommend something called a ‘first look’ portrait session before the ceremony. If you don’t mind shirking the tradition of not seeing each other, taking photos together before the ceremony has a few key benefits. First, your hair and makeup will still be perfectly fresh and you will likely get better photos. Second, you will likely feel more relaxed during the ceremony and better able to live in the moment. And lastly, you will be able to enjoy your cocktail hour with your guests instead of spending it taking photos.
Rule No. 3: You Should Freeze the Top Layer of Your Wedding Cake to Eat on Your First Anniversary
I’m not sure how this custom got started, but there is a longstanding tradition of freezing the top tier (or a slice) of a your wedding cake to defrost and eat on your first anniversary. It’s a sweet idea, sure, but every one of my friends who has taken part in this tradition has one word to describe it… gross! (Our LC.com editor Ilana and her husband took this hilarious photo to document their anniversary cake eating experience.) So instead of breaking out a cake that tastes like freezer burn, why not celebrate by ordering a new cake from the same bakery?
Rule No. 4: You Should Be Married by a Civil or Religious Authority Figure
Traditionally, wedding ceremonies are performed by a priest, rabbi, justice of the peace, or other authority figure. But nowadays, more and more couples are choosing to have a friend or family member marry them. If you don’t already have a religious or civil authority that you are close with, this is a great way to make your ceremony personal and meaningful. William and I are opting to have a close friend marry us.
Rule No. 5: The Bride’s Family Foots the Bill
A while back, it was always the bride’s family who paid for the wedding (or at least the vast majority of it). These days, how the family chooses to split the bill is determined by their individual financial situation and budget. There’s no reason the groom’s family can’t contribute, and sometimes it’s even the couple that takes on the wedding expenses themselves. The goal should just be that everyone is paying for what they can afford—a wedding can be made beautiful on any budget and should never leave the couple or their loved ones in the red.
In the end you should just keep in mind that a wedding is a very personal thing and it should be whatever you want it to be. If you are a very traditional person and prefer to follow all the rules, that’s fine too!