Classic Wedding Traditions to Keep (and Some to Kiss Goodbye)

Like other couples in the midst of wedding planning right now, you’re likely running to the altar after a long year (or more!) of waiting. The downside is that many of the long-awaited trends for 2020 never quite had their time to shine, and some of the tried-and-true traditions that were in the works are now on the way out. 

Thankfully, some of the classics are earning a second wind with the influx of weddings in 2021 and going into 2022. We rounded up some industry pros to share their insight on what’s still very much in, as well as what should be left behind. 

Image by Manda Weaver

Evergreen wedding traditions that are here to stay 

While weddings are certainly evolving to include more micro-weddings and elopements, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the memorable traditions aren’t going anywhere. With more of a focus on the guest experience and intimate touchpoints, your wedding day will be the perfect reunion after time apart due to COVID. 

Eddie Zaratsian of Eddie Zaratsian Lifestyle & Design is particularly fond of the meaningful details: “I personally love to see a bit of sentimentality incorporated into the tablescape. Instead of opting for the default place cards, consider going the extra mile by crafting a short, handwritten note for each guest. Pair it with a sprig of lavender or some greenery to tie into your florals or theme, and you have a small keepsake for each loved one to take home.” 

Bri Marbais of The Bridal Finery says, “Parent dances still take place at most weddings and will continue to do so. This is such an extraordinarily special time for the parents of the newlyweds to be involved in the wedding. From choosing the song together to practicing the dance itself, this tradition will forever stand the test of time.” 

Image by Niki Marie Photography, Planning and Design by Festoons and Flourishes

Dated traditions to leave behind 

Then, there are some traditions that are perhaps better left in 2019 and beyond.  

According to Bobbi Brinkman of Bobbi Brinkman Photography, this includes the bouquet and garter tosses, respectively. “We have been seeing this less and less over the past couple of years, and we are okay with that. They are some of the most uncomfortable traditions from a guest perspective we see, and yes – even for those guests that have two drinks in their hands! Most of the wedding party tries to avoid this tradition, so it’s always a time-suck to gather everyone to the dance floor to make it happen.” 

Long gone are the days of sitting through speech after speech. Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services suggests, “It’s okay if you don’t want to pass the microphone off to every single VIP wedding member. Given that many people aren’t conscious of giving themselves a time limit or even an outline to go by, one speech alone can run 10 minutes. Multiply that by 4 or even 5, and you have quite a lot of antsy guests on your hands that are waiting to eat, dance, or grab a cocktail. Instead, it’s typically advised to either limit the speeches to 1-2 people or save them for the rehearsal dinner.”  

Ways to breathe new life into older traditions 

Just because wearing your mother’s wedding dress isn’t at the top of the priority list doesn’t mean that you must throw all traditions out the window. Most people love the idea of taking an older tradition and making it new again. 

For example, Laura Maddox of Magnolia Celebrates advises getting creative with the time allotted for dances if the formal route isn’t your thing. “Invite all of your friends to the dance floor for a special song just for them. Then, replace these traditions with a final dance on the dance floor, just the two of you after everyone else has exited the venue and is setting up for your big exit.” 

Nora Sheils of Bridal Bliss and Rock Paper Coin adds: “I love the updated tradition of presenting the bride’s bouquet to the longest-married couple, who is likely a grandparent or close VIP. Tossing is dated and can be super tacky, but a presentation (public or not) is sweet and classy.” 

Image by Catherine Guidry

Dealing with family pushback 

Now, you may be thinking, ‘This is great, but how am I going to tell my family?’ Expectations are often unavoidable, especially if there’s a tradition that’s been consistent in every wedding within your circle. For instance, it can be a bit tricky if your grandmother wants you to wear her wedding jewelry that’s simply not your style. 

Meredith Ryncarz of Meredith Ryncarz Photography notes, “When wanting to remove certain wedding traditions from a timeline, it can sometimes cause stress between family members. The best way to handle pushback on this is to sit down and explain your reason for excluding that tradition from your day. We suggest even offering other options of things you are doing. Then, gently remind this family member that it is your day, and you want to focus on certain things versus others.” 

Maddox continues, “Usually, if this comes up at all, it would be a conversation with your parents. I would just have a calm and heartfelt conversation on why you don’t feel these traditions resonate with you. Typically, the parents will respect your views and move on. However, if there is pushback, I would try to understand their point of view and keep lines of communication open and honest and perhaps find a compromise or explain again why you feel so strongly about it.” 

Image by Lynne Reznick, Planning and Design by Urban Soiree

Despite some traditions being considered ‘outdated’, it’s still your wedding at the end of the day. Don’t let judgment affect your decision if there’s something important to you and your partner that you want to incorporate. If the tradition is respectful and represents your personalities, you can’t go wrong! 

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

We’ve partnered with OFD Consulting to bring you this great advice from their collective of wedding professionals.