Larry James' CelebrateIntimateWeddings BLOG

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Let’s Lock Wedding Tradition in the Box…

AND not let it out… ever!

It can be a lot more fun when you have the courage to step out of the box and do your own thing at your own wedding. Wheew! Express your own creativity! What an exhilarating feeling!

WEDTraditionBOX1You really don’t have to worry about tradition and what others might think… once you decide, you can cast all traditions aside (or maybe keep a few traditions – your choice). The point is… it’s your choice, not your Moms, not the person who is paying for the wedding (I know, that’s a tough one), but yours (and your partner, of course).

There are so many interesting things that are not traditional that will keep the buzz at the reception buzzing for many months into the future.

1. Tradition says the Best Man and the Maid/Matron of Honor walk down the aisle just before the ring bearer and the flower girl; next comes the Bride and her escort. Dump tradition. If you have 3 or 4 (or more) Bridesmaids and Groomsmen on each side, it is often a better idea to have the Best Man and the Maid/Matron of Honor walk in after the Minister and the Groom so that everyone else knows exactly where they are suppose to stand.

The traditional way often has the spacing between everyone staggered or off the mark and may show up as loosely organized and bad in the wedding photos. If you decide to do it this way, please remember to tell the wedding venue coordinator because they usually line everyone up to go in the traditional way.

2. No more Bride’s or Groom’s side! “At many ceremonies, all the bride’s friends have to sit on one side of the room and all the groom’s friends sit on the other side. That sucks, because sometimes you’re friends with both of them — how do you choose? That moment of indecision is just weird for me. Plus, one side is usually much less crowded and people sit there thinking, ‘Gee, the groom doesn’t have many friends.’ All of this can easily be avoided by just letting guests sit where they want.” — Angie, 35

I totally agree! Usually it works best if when the guest asks the usher, “Which side is the Bride’s side?” that they tell them to not choose sides, but pick a good seat on either side towards the front. Find some neat sign’s you can post on my Pintrest Page.

3. What about seating the parents? Tradition says the parents of the bride sit in the front row on the left side and the parents of the groom sit in the front row on the right side. When the couple walks up the aisle, the bride is usually on the left and whoever is escorting her is on the right. Once the groom takes his place next to the bride their backs are to the guests. In my “romantic” wedding ceremony after about 6 minutes into the presentation of the ceremony they are asked to face each other holding hands.

When the bride faces the groom, she is facing away from her parents and the only thing they see is her back. The parents of the groom can only see the back of the groom. Solution: Seat the parents of the bride on the right side and the parents of the groom on the left side. I know, that’s not tradition, however the first time we actually seated the parents in this manner, both sets of parents came up to me after the ceremony to personally thank me for allowing them to see the expressions on the faces of their daughter and son as the ceremony was being performed.

4. Assigned seating at the reception? Some brides and grooms spend way to much time on trying to put the right guests at the right table. It’s not likely that you will please everyone. I’m finding that more and more couples are opting for “open seating,” – letting the guests sit with whomever they want. AND there are times when it is important to select the seating for a guest, such as exes who need to be separated, or putting a shy couple with someone you know that will engage them in conversation and help them to feel like part of the celebration. There are exceptions to every rule. I recommend two table of “reserved seating” for the the mothers and fathers and their close family members.

bridesmaidrainbow5. No more cloned “look alike” bridesmaids. In order to have a great time at your wedding, your bridesmaids need to feel attractive too – something that’s impossible if you’ve micromanaged their looks down to the lipstick hue. Plus, buying a bunch of matching accessories they may never wear again gets expensive. Not to worry… YOU will still be the main attraction! Why not select a dresses they can actually wear again without altering?

Your bridesmaids will look even better if you give them leeway to let their individual styles shine through the blush-colored chiffon gowns you’ve dressed them in. Even if the dresses are all completely different, you can still have a preview to determine who should stand next to who in order to create balance.

Their look should compliment their body type. Same color, different styles and lengths is another idea. Let them choose their hair and makeup styles; give them more than one option with accessories like shoes, jewelry, and cover-ups. Should your bridesmaids wear the same dress? No, just similar enough to be a little of the same but individual enough to compliment each girl.

Your bridesmaids don’t have to hold the same kind of flowers to look the part. Have each one carry a bouquet in a signature color or let your florist create several mono-botanic bouquets in the same hue. Perhaps it is finally time to ditch tradition of the matchy-matchy bridesmaid dresses! What say you?

6. Have your DJ or Band play “Another One Bites the Dust” for your processional. “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles is great too.

7. Bridesmaids are female and groomsmen are male. Wrong! Not anymore. Never confine your list of VIPs to your female friends (or his to only guys)! If the brides best friend in the world happens to be a guy, make him your bridesman, or the groom can ask his good friend to be a groomswoman.

8. Let’s get this party started! While it’s rare, I have had several couples offer cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks about 30 minutes before the ceremony. Or you can set up a table at the ceremony site with a few snacks, lemonade, iced tea, juice or even ice water with sliced lemons, limes or cucumber. Here in Arizona it’s wise to always have a bottled water table available at all times to help your guests stay hydrated.

9. Your wedding dress “has” to be white. NOT! You could still wear a white or ivory dress – but don’t be afraid to add a dash of color with a sash, cardigan, pair of shoes (or tennis shoes or something comphy) or fancy piece of jewelry. You could also do a lightly colored skirt with a white or ivory overlay for a barely there hint of color. Be brave and brazen! Champagne, black, blush and pastel-hued dresses in mint, lavender or cornflower blue are on trend right now, adding an understated uniqueness to your ensemble. (A special thank you to the for this tip).

10. Add a fresh spin by incorporating some new ceremony material instead of the classic unity candle. This blog offers about 25 excellent “add-on” ceremonies, any of which will make your wedding more memorable or consider starting a new tradition of your own.

11. You can’t see each other before the ceremony. For many brides this is no longer true. Schedule a “first-look” photo session with just you and your groom and the photographer before the ceremony. This frees up more time after the ceremony so you can go directly to photos with the photographer or enjoy your own cocktail hour. It can also help with the pre-wedding jitters.

Being a full-time, non-denominational Wedding Officiant has allowed me to be a part of many non-traditional weddings and receptions. One Pirate themed wedding I was dressed like a pirate. Another renewal of vows ceremony was performed in a hot air balloon. Want a “beach wedding?” A 4 1/2 drive from Phoenix to Puerto Peñasco (Rocky Point), Mexico with a few close friends is something completely different.

Based upon the wishes of the bride and groom, I can also add a little light humor to give the guests a few giggles. Most guests would not expect the Wedding Officiant to have a sense of humor. Some weddings will have a slight touch of tradition, however the weddings that are memorable are the ones where the bride and groom are not afraid to do what “they” want.

My experience has been that most brides and grooms prefer a mixture of a little traditional and more non-traditional in their wedding. Old traditions are hard to break, but bridal couples must be mindful that just because something has been around for a long time, doesn’t mean that fashioning new rituals isn’t perfectly acceptable and perhaps even preferable.

BONUS Articles: Who (of the bridal party) Walks Down the Aisle First?
Traditional Wedding or NOT!?
A Bright Idea for Seating the Parents of the Bride and Groom
Cloned “look alike” Bridesmaids
To See… or Not to See? That is the Question!


Click for Larry’s Wedding Website!

Copyright © 2015 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is an award winning, non-denominational wedding officiant and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: Cell: 480-205-3694. Pre-maritial relationship coaching is available and not required. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on this Wedding BLOG. Check Larry’s availability.

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