7 Ways to Respectfully Break Away From Wedding Traditions

March 5, 2022

2020 has been the year of many changes, and the wedding space is no different. Many couples are breaking away from typical wedding traditions to incorporate more of their own sense of style, personality, and love story.  As a personal wedding photographer, my goal is always to meet couples exactly where they are: to help them express themselves on their wedding days in ways that feel true and honest to them. 

Whether you’re planning on celebrating your love with new or old traditions, your wedding day is your own, and it’s important to give yourself permission to start from scratch if you want to. Covid changes may have closed a few doors, but they’ve also opened up the possibilities for many.  If there was ever a time to make your wedding day completely and uniquely your own, it’s now!

Here are 7 Ways to Respectfully Break Away From Wedding Traditions: 

1. Shock them with color

And no, I’m not just talking about your wedding colors… Dare to think outside the box and wear attire that is another color besides white for gowns or black for tuxes. We’ve seen brides (and grooms) rock all kinds of colors for their wedding attire – embroidered tux jacket, black lace bespoke gown, cream chiffon, etc. Feel free to try something different if it fits your personalities and choose what makes you feel the most beautiful.  

2. Thinking outside the (church) box

If you’re dreaming of stunning aesthetic spaces and unique venue ideas, set your sights beyond chapels and churches. There are countless beautiful spaces you can turn into an altar. From mountains to museums to stylish whiskey bars, more and more couples are choosing to select wedding spaces that truly bring them joy, then planting meaningful ceremonies into them. 

3. Consider eloping

Elopements are nothing short of magic. Think about it – just you and your partner (and maybe your closest family and friends) in the Italian Riviera, the Swiss Alps, or even the Texas hill country, saying ‘I-do’ in the most intimate of settings. There is nothing more romantic than running away with your partner and experiencing that grand adventure together.

Surprisingly, this is usually the least stressful and much lower cost option. Elopements are the perfect way to celebrate your love without the stress of postponements and wedding cancellations amid all of the pandemic unknowns. You can even have a small party to celebrate with friends and family upon your return!

4. Host a post-wedding brunch

Thinking of ways to incorporate your family and friends on your wedding day weekend? Host a post-wedding brunch! Although these are “traditionally” hosted by the bride’s parents, couples and family members all across the board are throwing their own versions of a post-wedding day get-together! This is also a great way to incorporate family if you’re eloping with a few guests, having a multi-day wedding weekend, or having family in from out of town.

5.  First Look, but make it different 

By now in your wedding planning journey, you may have come across the ‘First Look,’ which is the moment when a couple sees each other in private for the first time before their ceremony. In more recent years, couples have gotten more and more creative with these – incorporating songs, prayers, letters, etc. You can (and should) make this moment 100% your own, as it’s one of the only portions of your wedding day with just the two of you.  Exchange gifts, kiss, blindfold, sing, play with your dog, do whatever makes you two feel happiest before your big moment.

6.  “Girls as bridesmaids, men as groomsmen, always must be even”

This tradition is so passe. There is no need to put a gender on who can be standing on each side of the wedding party! Get creative with your wedding party – heck, we’ve even seen some parents and grandparents stand up next to the bride & groom while they say ‘I do.’ And no need to worry: the classic visual of identical numbers on each side is long, long gone. We’ve had countless weddings with varied numbers on each side, and they all turned out wonderfully!

 7.  Rethink western wedding norms

From 90’s movies and TV shows to even friends’ weddings, we’re accustomed to so many western wedding concepts: flower girls and ring bearer boys, “something borrowed, something blue”, certain things being ‘bad luck’ on a wedding day, and all of the little reception events. I encourage all of my couples to step back and think about what you want the experience to be on your wedding day, and what actually matters most to you. Many couples find that they actually don’t care about most of these traditions and don’t want to have a cookie-cutter day. 

Instead of having a bouquet toss to single out your single friends (many of whom feel very uncomfortable about it), change this tradition instead by inviting everybody to the dance floor to catch your bouquet. Could you imagine how amazing the pictures will turn out?? Instead of having a strict series of dances and toasts, consider a more relaxed reception with various bars and stations for guests to explore. Love dessert but hate the idea of a forced ‘cake cutting’ photo op? Share dessert at your table, or give each other a toast instead. Many couples are also leaning into the entertainment of the evening, and hiring a comedian, performers, or even a big jazz band to liven up the evening.

The best thing to remember is that you have one chance to make this day enjoyable and meaningful to you. If that means sticking to traditions that mean something to you, then you absolutely should! But you also can give yourself permission, to make the experience your own – something that you’ll have a blast experiencing and that you’ll be proud of for decades.  

Click here to download our list of 50 unique wedding ideas & traditions!

As your wedding photographer, I want you to feel empowered to make this day your own. Your love isn’t generic, and your wedding experience shouldn’t be either! Whether you stick to more traditional wedding ideas, or you make up your own way, I am here to support you and capture it all. 


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