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Learn which traditions have been changed or forgotten in modern ceremonies
By Alexandra Gekas Posted April 20, 2011 from WomansDay.com
Spring is upon us, which means that wedding season is in full swing. But while wedding celebrations are often steeped in tradition, not everything is as it once was. Couples are personalizing their nuptials more and more, and as budgets become stricter, a lot of the old etiquette is being pushed aside. From who pays for the reception to how long afterward you can send a gift, find out which wedding rules are being bent, and which ones can be broken.
1. The bride’s family doesn’t always pay.
Tradition has always dictated that the bride’s family pays for the wedding and the groom’s family pays for the honeymoon. But because of the recent recession, that’s not necessarily the case anymore. “Oftentimes the actual funding for the wedding, the expenses, are taken care of by a slew of people as opposed to only the bride’s family,” says Lizzie Post, spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute and great-great-granddaughter of etiquette expert Emily Post. “You want to honor the tradition by allowing the bride’s family to take the reins if they want to, but [the groom’s family should] honor the new custom by offering.” Photo: Creatas / Thinkstock
2. Your wedding party can include all ages and genders.
A male maid of honor, a female best man, grandma as the flower girl—your wedding party is just that, yours; there should be no restrictions. “Platonic friendships nowadays are crossing the gender barrier, so it’s not a problem at all if the bride would like a gentleman standing up at her side; she’s more than welcome to,” Post says. “And even the couple’s family [can be included]. There are people who ask their mother to be the matron of honor or ask their grandmother to participate. So it’s nice to see that’s opened up a lot and people are embracing it.” Photo: Rob Melnychuk / Getty Images
3. Guests no longer have a full year to buy a gift.
Unfortunately this one might mean a few of us are in trouble! Unlike in years past, you no longer have up to a full year from the wedding to buy the bride and groom a gift. The appropriate time line is now “three months, so it definitely is something you want to try to get done as soon as possible,” Post says. “Your friends would be thrilled if a year later you sent them a gift; it’s never too late. But three months gives you enough time, especially now with the ability to just click on an online registry.” Photo: Shutterstock
4. You can decline to be in the wedding party.
You’ve been in five weddings this year, and with the cost of the dresses, travel and gifts, you’re broke. So if another dear friend asks you to join their wedding party, it’s more than OK to politely decline. Just explain why in a heartfelt way. “Many modern brides really understand with the travel and distance [usually involved], but it’s all in how you do it,” Post says. “Say, ‘I love you so much and I want to be there to support you, but right now being a bridesmaid is not something I can commit to. Is there another way I can help you on your big day? I know it’s so important to show you how much I love you.’ Make the bride know you do want to commit to it, but you can’t.” Photo: Cultura/Zero Creatives / Getty Images
5. It’s acceptable to ask for gift cards or cash.
Nowadays, with family and friends living across the country and at various stages in their lives, it’s definitely acceptable for a bride and groom to ask for gift cards or cash. “It’s a great way to make it convenient for the guests and easy on them. I don’t think it’s tacky,” Post says. Whereas you can ask for gift cards on your registry, as far as cash, just be polite about it. “You usually want to spread it by word of mouth. You definitely don’t want to put ‘cash only’ on your website and you never put it on your invitation,” Post adds. Photo: Shutterstock
6. The groom can see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony.
Superstition has it that it’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride dressed in white before she walks down the aisle. But a lot of couples are kicking this to the curb for some alone time and a better photo op beforehand. “If the bride and groom are very traditional, they won’t see each other before the ceremony. But photographers will encourage it because the bride’s makeup is fresh and her hair is done so they can get a lot more photos done before the ceremony,” says Elizabeth Todd, wedding coordinator at Blackstone Country Club in Peoria, Arizona. “Afterward, they can take a few family shots and enjoy the cocktail hour.” Photo: Shutterstock
7. Men can take or leave the wedding ring.
Depending on where you grew up, there was probably a pretty clear norm regarding whether or not husbands wore a wedding ring. But nowadays it’s really up to the groom—as long as his bride is fine with his decision. “I think it’s totally a personal choice. I know some people choose to tattoo the ring on their finger,” Post says. “It’s a new option.” Photo: Shutterstock
8. You don’t have to do a wedding cake for dessert.
Maybe Cupcake Wars is responsible for this one—more and more often, modern couples are eschewing the traditional multi-tiered wedding cake and opting for cupcakes, or sometimes a dessert bar. “It’s fun for the bride and groom to switch things up for dessert because not everyone likes wedding cake. It’s also more fun for little kids; it’s easy to eat, less messy,” Todd says. “[The bride and groom will] just do a smaller cake to cut for pictures and then after that’s over, guests know they can go ahead and dig into the dessert bar.” Photo: Shutterstock