I have a lot of brides who consider themselves untraditional, and I love it! It certainly makes my job more interesting, and finding ways to accommodate to their every whim is part of the excitement. However, here’s a list of traditions can toss, and what’s important to keep around!
You CAN ditch…
Spending ~$100 on printing programs that will inevitably be left in the seat or on the floor of a venue does not seem worth it. If you still want your guests to know more about your bridal party, or if your ceremony is a bit unusual, you can make a chalkboard or wooden sign at the end of your aisle and save some of that hard-earned money!
2. “Picking a side” at the ceremony
With ushers becoming less and less of a necessity, guests can easily come into a ceremony and seat themselves in the first available seat. This is also a great way to even out a wedding that might have more guests coming from one side.
3. Not seeing the groom until the ceremony
For a lot of brides–seeing their future husband and best friend before the ceremony is a great way to calm the nerves, and have an intimate moment before the next 5 hours are filled with hugs and kisses from everyone you’ve ever known. Plus, it’s a great way to get those portraits done so you don’t have to spend the cocktail hour taking photos!
4. Eating with your guests (aka NOT eating and spending your precious dinner time talking to your guests)
While it seems rude at first, having a private meal before your guests is a great way to keep hunger from ruining your mood. Sometimes it can be 5 or 6 hours before you can get a morsel of food into your body with all the makeup, hair, photos, nerves, and catching up with friends and family. Sneaking off right after the ceremony to have a bite of food and regroup is a great way to get your energy up for all of that mingling (and to fend off the dangers of drinking champagne on an empty stomach).
I would encourage you to save your money, as most of your guests will lose it or leave it behind. I spend more time throwing away favors at the end of the night than I do anything else. Take the $200-$500 it would’ve cost you and put more money into the dessert table. That’s something your guests will really appreciate!
What you should KEEP…
1. The exit
We’ve all been there–we’re having a great night out and suddenly the lights come up, the music turns off, and people begin ushering you out of a venue. That’s a jarring way to ask people to leave. With an exit, you get a fun way to say goodbye to the bride and groom and a happy ending for the evening.
2. Table numbers
This is #1 on my list of things I have to (sometimes force) my brides to do. Yes, it’s awkward and tedious to design, but this is something that is VERY important to keep around. Why? Have you ever been to a packed movie theatre with some friends, and getting there a little late, you see single seats scattered throughout the theatre but can’t manage to find any together? That is exactly what happens. (I have a memory of one wedding where couples were sitting by themselves on the stairs, eating, because they could not find two seats together.) By assigning a certain number of people to a table, you are doing that work for them–to ensure that couples can sit together, and every one has a seat.
I would keep it down to the people who really mean a lot to you and maybe 4-5 people max. (Open toasts can get awkward.) It’s a way for your family and friends to publicly share how special this moment is for them, on a day when often the people who care the most can fade into the background amidst all the hubbub. It’s also a great way for you to thank your guests for coming, since you may not get the chance to thank them all personally.
I would REALLY encourage you to have a DJ if you can afford it. I work a lot with spotify and iPods now… but a computer doesn’t really motivate and understand the crowd, feel a lag, and play something that will keep people on the dance floor. There’s often awkward silences between songs, hitches in the playlist, and drunk guests insisting that they man the station and play more Miley Cyrus. Additionally, DJs are in charge of making announcements, keeping things running smoothly, and encouraging guests not to leave before they take a picture in the photo booth, and they are probably one of the most affordable vendors.
5. Paper invitations
With everything moving online, it’s not surprising people would consider doing digital invitations to save on money. While it is economical, there is something really sentimental and beautiful about receiving a paper invitation hand mailed by the bride and groom. It’s the perfect way to invite someone to share your wedding day. Plus, there’s a lot of flexibility in printing invitations now with all the great DIY and independent designer websites, so it’s easy to find something that you can afford.