What’s that snarky and also 200% true saying about traditions? They’re just peer pressure from dead people. And if we stuck to all the things ‘we’ve always done’, there’d still be six-year-old coal miners who smoke pipes, chain smokers on airplanes and people tuning in to Two and a Half Men.
While we’re often more than happy, nay, gleeful to chuck out traditions that are way past their use by date, when it comes to weddings it’s a different story. Even the most modern human persons begin to fret over what calamity will happen if they see their betrothed prior to the wedding ceremony, whether their future children will be born with tails if they forget to include ‘something blue’ on their person, or if there’ll be a plague on their house if mum AND dad walk them down the aisle.
It’s time to piss off these weird, superstitious traditions that have no meaning for you and go to work on what does feel meaningful. Because hot tip: The best weddings are not the ones with the most expensive Champagne – though who doesn’t like a bit of fancy plonk? – they’re the ones that really feel like the couple in question. The best weddings are the ones created with considered decisions that reflect them, rather than stuffy traditions they’ve been peer pressured into by living and dead people mind you, often with quite awful backstories of misogyny and the patriarchy gone mad.
So, let’s chat about traditions that ought to get in the bin.
Giving away of daughters
Goddamn newsflash! Humans are not property and thus you cannot own them or give them to anyone, let alone a future spouse. Women are not property, and if anyone in your life thinks this is A-OK, tell them to jog on and replace them immediately.
Replace it with:
Have both your parents walk you down the aisle. Walk down the aisle with your partner, your children, your doggo. Don’t have an aisle, and paraglide into your ceremony. However you end up in front of your chosen officiant, let it be a reflection of your relationship with your partner, and no one else.
Wearing a white wedding dress
The story of where this tradition came from is up for debate. Some say it was Anne of Brittany way back in 1499, others insist it was Queen Victoria in 1840. Regardless, it was a long-ass time ago. Annie/ Vicky were totz trendsetters so I bet they rocked it, but just cos they wore white, doesn’t mean you have to.
Replace it with:
Whatever floats your boat! It’s the golden age of Bridal But Make It Fashun, with amazing designers creating outfits in every colour imaginable. Sequins, feathers, leather, lace, jewels and even tinsel!
And you don’t have to wear a dress. How about a pantsuit? Jumpsuit? With a cape! Mini dress? Tutu! Whether you’re getting couture, hunting for a vintage gem, making your own or heading to the high street, you WILL still feel like a bride, because it’s YOUR goddamn wedding. You’ll be the one up the front getting married, so if people cannot work out you are the bride, then what the heck are they doing at your wedding?
Not seeing each other before the ceremony
It’s bad luck, you say? Nope, it really is not.
More than 430,705 people who I personally surveyed for this made up fact agreed that believing in bad luck makes you Moronica Jerkington. Yes, it’s good to have bad luck to blame bothersome things on, especially to ensure you never have to take personal responsibility for your actions. For instance, “Oh my marriage didn’t work out because I saw my wife before the ceremony. It was bad luck you see.” When really Cheating Chad was a-cheating on this wife for quite some time and THAT was in fact the thing to blame.
You might also want to chuck this one straight in the bin because it was a measure to stop blokes legging on their arranged brides if they saw them pre-ceremony and decided they were not up to their lofty appearance or other standards. UGH.
Replace it with:
Hanging out together all day! Getting ready together. Or having a first look. If I could change one thing about my wedding, I’d spend the day with my beloved – it really does go so quickly and having that time together would have been cool. I’ve heard first looks are also great for you to connect, chill and get a few nerves out BEFORE you have to see 150 of your loved ones dressed as a dead lady from 500 years back.
Heterosexual weddings only
I do not have the time to even get into the thousands of years of oppression and discrimination aimed at couples who didn’t fit into the hetero mould. You don’t have full body armour on right now to shield you from my intense fury about this, so I will just say, THANK FUCK we’ve reached a place of marriage equality (in many places) where all love by consenting adults is legal and celebrated.
Replace it with:
LOVE IS LOVE, and wonderful gay, lesbian, queer and non-binary couples being fully visible in celebrating their love.
Stag and hen parties, also known as forced merriment
OH, MY LORD they are the most awkward social gatherings full of critically outdated, sexist bullshit that can go eat 100 bags of dicks. I’ve been to office lunches when I worked in IT that were less awks than some hens parties and bridal showers.
The list of things that can go in the bin for this one is just so long that I will summarise by saying that it’s never a good idea to get together your one friend from primary school, your high school pals, work friends, uni mates, your cousins, your cousins’ wives, Susan from accounts, Linda from reception, your mum, your nan, your sisters and your sisters-in-law, your aunties and your mother-in-law, your boss, your manicurist and your barista.
Best practise for having an actual good time should never come in the form of forced merriment, condoms stuck to veils and having to talk to Linda from reception about her toenail that keeps coming off.
Replace it with:
OK fine. If you must, replace it with a celebration that might actually be fun, with people you love to hang out with. Gender segregation doesn’t have to be part of it – you could in fact have a party together with both of your friends. And I mean actual friends, not bloody Linda and your cousin’s wife who invited you to hers.
Do an 80s aerobics class complete with lycra outfits, have a RuPaul’s Drag Race themed blowout, learn to screen print, have a picnic, visit a museum. By now, I hope you’ve realised what I am saying is DO WHATEVER you want to do, like to do and that has some meaning to you. And don’t make people take out an unsecured personal loan so they can afford to attend. In the bin with that.
But you must never omit dick straws. They are hilarious and also, they are the OG of reusable straws. I got married over six years ago, and I still have a bunch of dick straws from my totally awesome not-lame hens party. You can pop them in the dishwasher and voila, they’re ready to pop in a drink for a bit of fun anytime, especially for house guests. Hardly anyone that I’ve done this too has thrown the drink in my face, hardly any.
There are countless other traditions that could do with a Marie Kondo-ing. They don’t spark joy? Then thank them and let them go. You might like to consider also binning garter removal, those weird horseshoe things that are a photographer’s worst nightmare, and herding single ladies onto the dance floor for bouquet tossing.
Now go forth and do whatever the hell you want to do for your wedding. Because it’s just that – your wedding – so you get to choose.
Co-founder and creative director of Melbourne vintage furniture hire and event styling legends, Good Day Club, Kate Forsyth is an expert at stacking unstackable vintage chairs and designing the raddest, most non-traditional and fun weddings known to wo/man. Outside of running her business with husbo Dave, she parents small human Remy, plays the drums and just painted her house every colour of the rainbow.