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4 Traditions That Aren’t Actually Required at Your Wedding

In case you could use some reminding today: you don’t have to do anything at your wedding that you don’t want to do. And I will be saying that until my last breath!

Aside from the bigger decisions, like your venue, food, or music, you might be surprised by the smaller traditions or expectations that can arise around your wedding. What do I mean by “smaller traditions or expectations”? A few that come to mind include clinking glasses to cue a kiss, tossing a bouquet, cutting the cake, and many more. All of these things are worth chatting with your partner about so you can be on the same page going into your wedding day. 

Truly, you don’t have to kiss when cued by glass clinks, give out cheesy favors, do a first dance in front of everyone, toss a bouquet, have your spouse remove a garter from your leg or ANY of the things you may have seen at another wedding or in the movies. 

So, before you decide to include these traditions by default into your wedding day, we encourage you to sit down with your partner to dive a little deeper on whether they are the right fit for you.

Exchanging Traditional Wedding Rings

Now this may not necessarily fall into the “small” category but if you’re simply not a jewelry person, it’s worth discussing! First and foremost does your partner hold an expectation here? If so, what does that look like? Is there an opportunity for an alternative, maybe a significant necklace or a tattoo on your ring finger? There are certainly other options outside of a traditional wedding ring worn on your left hand, especially if that tradition doesn’t hold any religious or societal weight for you. 

woman kisses partner's nose by green bush at Fernbank Museum
Kaela & Hannah share a kiss on the nose during a quiet moment at their Fernbank Museum Wedding in Atlanta, Georgia

Guests Clinking a Glass to Get You to Kiss

This certainly doesn’t happen at every wedding, but a lot of them I’ve been to seem to have an expectation that if the guests clink their silverware on their glasses, you have to kiss. This can feel like a lot of pressure for couples who are more private and don’t like being put on display. And although the intentions may be innocent this practice can also feel weirdly demanding from guests. 

So instead, make a decision and let people know that they can clink all they want, but there will be no on-demand kissing. Or, if you want to get cheeky about it, I once had a bride and groom who would run and give the guest doing the clinking a big kiss on the cheek! It was such a delightful surprise that really told the room where they stood on the matter.

bride walks out of ceremony with cape behind her
Sarah Carries Her Bouquet after Her Jennings Trace Wedding Ceremony

Tossing a Bouquet

Some of these little traditions simply take up time from your evening. So if you’d rather dance the night away then stop the party to toss your bouquet and seemingly call out all of your single friends (cringe, right?) then don’t! 

But if you’re thinking throwing something would be fun, you’ve got options! I recently had a bride and groom both toss a stuffed animal cat together and said whomever caught it would be the next to adopt an animal. This way they got to throw it together, there was no expectation or pressure of being the next to marry, anyone could participate and she got to keep her bouquet to preserve if she wanted.

Jokes about Marriage Being a Punishment or a Trap

I wouldn’t even call this a “tradition” but it’s common enough to be addressed. This is also one of my ultimate pet peeves: off-color jokes about “here’s your last chance to run” or “say goodbye to the good life” or now being tied down by the “old ball and chain.” This extends from comments in speeches all the way to cake toppers depicting one spouse dragging the other around by their collar. I HATE these jokes with a passion, if you can even call them jokes… They stem from a long history of misogyny and myths about how women will manipulate or trick a man into marriage, and they’re just not cool. 

For some folks they could be harmless, or even tongue-in-cheek, but if they rub you the wrong way you can gently ask your family and friends to not make those kinds of jokes on your wedding day, or EVER! You’re entering into this marriage freely and happily and no one gets to imply that you’re being forced or trapped.

Whether you are personally bothered by anything on this list or not, I hope it got you thinking! No matter what you decide to include in your wedding day, I hope you’re taking an active role in deciding what’s the right fit. Congrats! You’re one step closer to making sure your wedding reflects you, and that’s what it’s all about.

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