So many MOB’s sit in my office with their daughters explaining they aren’t quite sure how to approach wedding planning. Back in their day, “a wedding reception was just cake a punch in the church basement.” And many who have long cherished years of marriage can attest that was how it used to be. Not so much anymore.
As the wedding industry has grown and exploded to so much more than a small celebration of man and wife, the traditions seem to be doing the exact opposite. In fact, I have notice a smaller and smaller amount of traditions still incorporated into today’s weddings and receptions.
1. The Bouquet Toss
Yes, it’s the moment all the single girls make their way to the dance floor as Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” bumps in the background. It’s that ceremonial moment that the photographer captures of girls flying through the air trying to grasp hold of the toss bouquet. So far this year, I have helped coordinate eight weddings, and of those eight weddings only three of them have done a bouquet toss.
Recently, I was meeting with a future bride and she explained that she didn’t have all that many single friends and the bouquet toss simply made them stand out as “the single girls,” which isn’t something people like to boast if the rest of the room has a dance partner for the evening. Is this the reason why the bouquet toss is so frequently skipped, or is just the changing times of wedding traditions?
2. The Receiving Line
I whole-heartedly still believe that the bride and groom should take the time to speak with each of their guests. Some of these people traveled long and far to be there to celebrate with them on their special day. However, it has not become more popular to visit with your guests as they are finishing up their meal instead of making each of them wait in a lengthy line following the ceremony.
It’s a change in tradition, but I think for the better. Who likes to spend 20 minutes waiting in a line to have a one minute conversation? And plus, if a guest brings a date that may not know many people, it’s especially awkward for that individual if the whole bridal party is part of the receiving line. Talk about small talk…
3. First Dances
The bride and groom’s first dance is a moment that is very special for most couples. It’s not only their first dance as husband and wife, but it’s a song that will bring back memories for countless years to come. And this tradition is never skipped over. However, I have noticed more and more that Father/Daughter or Mother/Son dances are not done. Sometimes it’s because of divorced parents or family dynamics.
I’ve also seen brides and grooms lean more toward the anniversary dance where guests who are married are asked to join the bride and groom on the dance floor, and the emcee for the evening calls out different lengths of time and as the number of years a couple has been married comes and goes, they sit down. The last couple if left to celebrate their long-lasting marriage. Or, I’ve seen a couple of brides and grooms who have had all parents, both step and biological, as well as grandparents all share in a dance together on the dance floor.
4. Keeping the Bride and Groom Hidden From Each Other Until Ceremony Time
Photograph compliments of J. Kelley Photography.
I can’t decide which way I stand on this one. For people who have an earlier ceremony with a gap in between the ceremony and reception, it makes perfect sense to wait. But if your ceremony and reception happen at the same venue, it’s almost more of a hassle than a sweet gesture. With such a large emphasis on photography on wedding days, that plays a large role in if people decide to follow this tradition. It’s no fun to have to rush through pictures and potential miss a few of those golden shots you were hoping for just because your guests are anxiously awaiting dinner inside.
5. The “Cake” Cutting
The cake cutting is still a tradition that holds tried and true. I have yet to see a wedding where the couple didn’t cut into a sweet treat together and then have their guests gasp as they decide to play nice or smash it on the other’s face. However, it’s not always cake anymore.
Sometimes, brides and grooms still have a small cake for the ceremonial cutting during the reception even if they aren’t serving their guests cake. But I have also seen the “cake cutting” being done with pie and doughnuts. This is a slight twist on an old tradition.
I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way to incorporate tradition. I think it depends on the bride and groom and what’s important to them. Although some of the older ones involved in the process might not approve or agree, the day is about the love and celebration of the couple. And just as trends and styles change over the years, we have to embrace the old and the new.