Traditional vs. Non-traditional

In the last six months I’ve spent A LOT of time reading the forums on Wedding Bee! It’s the only wedding-related website I’ve really paid any attention to and it’s been really interesting to read about how every single person plans a very different wedding, while also being very similar in some instances.

Anyways, I thought it would be fun to do a post about traditional vs. non-traditional things we’re doing at our wedding! Not that I think any way is the right way, I think every persons wedding is THEIR’S and they should do what THEY want!

Here are some of the decisions WE made for US πŸ™‚

Traditional bride



  • We’re doing a first look and bridal party photo’s before the ceremony (though I think this is starting to become more “traditional” now-a-days)
  • I’m not wearing a veil.
  • We’re not having a head table. Eric and I will sit with our parents and our bridal party will sit amongst the guests and with their dates!
  • We have a honeymoon registry.
  • We’re not doing a cake. Instead we’ll have a dessert table with cupcakes and other little treats. Though I think this is also starting to become more “traditional” as well.
  • We’re writing our own ceremony together (another thing becoming more “traditional”) but we are opting out of saying personal vows and just working on creating a ceremony script we both love!
  • Not doing a bridal party dance.


  • We’re doing a garter toss and bouquet toss.
  • We’re having a first dance.
  • We have even numbers on both sides of our bridal party.
  • We won’t see each other the night before the morning or the day of until the first look.
  • Our decor is pretty traditional (flowers for centrepieces, tablecloths, paper lanterns etc.)
  • We are doing a dad/daughter dance and a mom/son dance.

That’s all I can think of right now but I’m sure there are other things that could fit into both lists!

Question of the day: What traditional things did you nix or keep for your own wedding? If you’re not married yet what kinds of traditional things are you planning on nixing or keeping? 

32 Responses

  1. eemusings says:

    The only site I’m reading so far is A Practical Wedding and I wish there was a local version! (i’m noi nto weddings enough to start it…)

    We won’t be doing any of the dancing or tossing stuff, and I don’t plan on being walked down the aisle. No veil, no train, no flowers.

    I don’t plan to write our own ceremony and we won’t have a household registry (probably a travel one).

    My bridal party will be guys, plus T’s nieces as flower girls, I think.

    I also like the idea of a private first look and doing a few pics before the actual wedding. A bit of calm before it all!

    Not sure what we’ll do the night before – I like the idea of being apart!

  2. abbi says:

    I’m not sure we did a single traditional thing in ours other than having a ceremony at all, which we wrote. We saw each other first, walked down together, exchanged vows on the beach with just our family. It was perfect!

  3. I can’t wait to see it all come together! I think it’s becoming more common to not have a ‘head table’. Head tables make me a little uncomfortable as you feel sort of on display, depending on how the room is arranged. For Abby’s wedding, we had what was called a ‘harvest table’ which was a huge rectangle table that was towards the middle of the room and the wedding party got to sit with their dates, which was nice!

    When/if I get married, I’ll lean towards traditional, but do some non-traditional things… like I don’t know if I will have a sit down reception. I would kind of prefer a less formal cocktail party with high top tables, appetizers, and an ice cream sundae bar. But all of these decisions depend on the man I marry and what he envisions!

    CAN’T WAIT!!!

  4. Caroline says:

    I think my traditional/non-traditional list would look similar to yours. Sometimes I think the more traditional things (that you nixed) take away from the couple and the day itself. Working for a wedding photographer, I get so see so many weddings and what people are doing. I feel like everyone is doing a “first look” now, such a great idea!

  5. Lindsey says:

    Non-traditional – We did not do the typical speeches, only our MOH & Best Man did a combined one and then we did our thank you speech. For dances we only did our first dance and no other specific ones. Cupcakes versus a cake…I am sure there was more but those are the main ones.
    Traditional – We said the church vows, did the bouquet and garter toss, had a head table but it was more like a regular table- we just sat together, same numbers of girls and boys stood up for us.
    I remembered another non-traditional thing my husband did, he had a bets man competition! It was like Amazing Race with all the groomsmen and the winner was Best Man. So fun!

  6. Sarah says:

    We are still in the fairly early stages of planning our wedding, but it’s a challenge for me to find balance between the traditional and non-traditional elements. I don’t want a cookie-cutter wedding and don’t want to incorporate many of the traditions either because I find them silly/outdated or just out of convenience (like the first look), but I also don’t want to eliminate so many that it doesn’t even feel like a wedding. The only ones I definitely want to incorporate is that my dad (and maybe my mom) walk me down the aisle and the father/daughter & mother/son dance because they are about other people in our lives, and I want to thank/honor them in that way.

    I’m really excited to see how your wedding comes together!

  7. Katrina says:

    I like what you guys are doing!!! Our wedding was totally made up (in the sense that we decided to jump on a Thursday, called everyone and by Friday we were leaving for the coast, and every aspect of the wedding was decided on the following Monday, JP, location, reception venue, flowers and cake) but followed the basic traditional checklist……dress, tux, ceremony, pics, eat, cake and no dance….more like drive back to campground and gather around the fire with fam…….and the whole “eloping” and planning everything else in ONE day wasn’t so traditional, but it was exactly what we wanted. I love weddings because you get to see how different people are and what their choices are….i always find them all so fun and beautiful πŸ™‚

  8. Stephany says:

    I think I’ll end up having a fairly traditional wedding. I’m a traditional girl so there is something about the traditional elements of weddings that speaks to me. But then there are some elements I won’t have, like my brother will walk me down the aisle and there will be no father/daughter dance. And we’ll probably have a sit-down reception with no dancing. (I hate dancing, lol.) So I guess we’ll incorporate some less traditional elements but it will still be deeply traditional and probably take place in a church.

    I am SO excited for you! And I know your pictures are going to be out of this world so YAY! I can’t wait to see how everything comes together for your wedding!

  9. Bronwyn says:

    I’m so clueless about weddings traditional/non-traditional/possible trends. I love the idea of writing your own ceremony though. Sounds lovely. And for traditional things, I would love to have a cake. There are some BEAUTIFUL designs out there, and even if it’s expensive, it’d be worth it.

  10. Leigh says:

    I would say that our wedding was a bit of non-traditional and traditional. We saw each other before the ceremony, we each wrote personalized vows, had odd numbers in the wedding party, no flower girl, no wedding cake (had popcorn instead), no favours, etc. The only reason we had me toss a bouquet was because we had extra flowers when doing our centrepieces, so my bridesmaids put one together. I was pretty against it, but went along with it.

    I saw screw traditions and create a wedding that both you and your husband to be love!

  11. We went pretty tradtional when we got married back in 1998. Noone else in my family or circle of friends has gone particularly traditional since then. Good call!

  12. Holly says:

    We were pretty traditional with our wedding – I think the biggest “non-traditional” thing I did was have a bridesman in my party and not all girls. (My grandma was quite shocked!) I love the idea of a private first look and wish we had done that – and taken the pictures! – before the wedding. We also didn’t have any dancing – our first dance was at a luau in Hawaii on our honeymoon πŸ™‚

  13. Kara says:

    I think for the most part, our wedding was fairly traditional! We didn’t see each other until I walked down the aisle, our officiant wrote our ceremony (although we got to decide what we wanted her to say). I think the only non-traditional thing we did was not have a registry of any kind. We didn’t feel that we needed one since we were already living together and didn’t “need” anything!

  14. Melissa says:

    Oh this is so fun! I really like the non-traditional things you guys chose to stick with. When it comes to weddings, whatever makes the bride & groom happy is what you should do. I’ve never put any thought into my wedding, really, but I think I might skip the veil too. I’m not a “things on my head” kind of person and I don’t see why that would change for my wedding! I might do a cake though. I love cake. πŸ™‚

  15. I like the idea of mixing the traditional with the non traditional. That way your wedding will feel more like you.
    Since I’ve been thinking about my wedding since I was like 4, I have an awful lot of ideas, but I don’t know how many of them will stick, since I have yet to find the man. πŸ™‚
    I think I do want to write my own vows though, or at least fiddle a bit with the traditional ones. I used to tell my brother that he was going to be my “man of honor” at my wedding, but I guess that’s kind of out the window now. Probably for the best, he was not happy about that idea.

  16. Jennifer @ Healthy Wifestyles says:

    I adore the website Style Me Pretty – I love to look at the pictures there and on Pinterest for inspiration, though I have a pretty good vision of what we want our wedding in September to look and feel like.

    Traditional – we are not seeing each other until I walk down the aisle, we are reciting vows (though we haven’t decided what vows yet!), we have the same number of attendants, we are having a cake.

    Non-Traditional – my bridesmaids will all har a different dress that is the same color, no garter or bouquet toss, and one other non-traditional surprise that only I (and one other person-not even the groom!) know about πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to share that detail!

  17. We are planning to do our wedding outdoors or in some kind of barn/cabin so I think that’s pretty non traditional. I hope that we say a bit of our own vows, but for the most part keep it traditional. I’m also not very comfortable with the whole garter thing so I probably won’t do that. I would also like to say a little thank you speech to the guests for coming and being a part of our lives. Otherwise, we still have a lot of thinking to do about what we want to do so we’ll see.

    Also, we don’t want a huge bridal party, but I think it looks really pretty to have a few people on both sides for photos. At the same time, I have several really close girlfriends (especially from my high school group) so once I start asking one person, then it feels like I have to open the flood gates and ask about three other people as well in addition to two Eugene friends. Pete would prob prefer that his brother is the only groomsman, but I don’t know that I can just pick ONE bridesmaid. Quite the dilemma! Also keeping in mind that every bridal party member equals more money – flowers, gifts, dresses, etc. Let the decision making begin!

    I do like the fact that every couple can make their own decision about what’s best for THEM and what fits their personalities.

  18. hillary says:

    Love this!

    Our non-traditional: we did bridal party photos before the ceremony, we had the ceremony and reception in a bar, we had a very casual dinner (hamburgers!), we wrote our ceremony but didn’t do individual vows, we had cupcakes instead of a wedding cake, I didn’t wear a veil and my dress didn’t have a train, my bridesmaids all wore the same dress but they wrote it in different colours, we didn’t force anyone to make a speech – those who wanted to say something did, those who weren’t comfortable didn’t, we didn’t have a head table.

    Traditional: I wore white and Shawn wore a black suit, we did bridal party photos, we had an MC, we didn’t see each other the night before the wedding (Shawn stayed in our hotel downtown and I stayed at home.)

  19. Malisa says:

    Our list of things we did that weren’t traditional is very similar to yours- no veil for me, did a first look, took all pics before the ceremony, had mini cheesecakes instead of cake, wrote our own ceremony and had personal vows and didn’t do a bridal party dance. We also had our ceremony and reception at a baseball field, which is pretty non-traditional! My BMs wore the same color dress but all had different styles, we didn’t do floral centerpieces; I made them instead. We just made it OURS, which was the best part about it!

  20. Heather says:

    I love the non traditional things you are adding to your wedding. When I get married, I think we will have a more traditional wedding, but who knows. I know I am going to give my bridesmaids a color and a type of fabric and have them pick their own dresses. Some of them are on really tight budgets and I dont want them to feel uncomfortable spending money on a dress like I did for a friends wedding.

    I think I am with you on the veil. I might have something very small, but not what you normally see. Maybe a pretty headband or something.

  21. Travel Spot says:

    I like your mix of traditional and non. I think it is very important (but it sometimes gets lost in the shuffle) for this to be YOUR day, what you want, and to be an example of your two personalities, however that may manifest.

    If my boyfriend and I got married, there would be many things we don’t agree on! He is Catholic and wants a big, traditional, 300 person church wedding. I would prefer a few friends and a beach. He wants every friend, cousin and brother to be a groomsman (I think that would mean about 73 people in his case). I would prefer NO bridesmaids. I guess you can see where this is going. I would probably have a wedding like Abbi, where we saw each other first, and did it very simply!

  22. Stevie says:

    We’re doing lots of non-traditional stuff, too! I think the biggest thing is that we’re not having an aisle at the ceremony. We’ll be placing the chairs in a semi-circle and we’re going to walk up to the front together.

    Another non-traditional thing we’re doing is having one giant table at the reception, instead of several tables. Our wedding is small, which is why we’re doing it this way. I’m really excited about it!

  23. Kelly says:

    I love hearing what others do for their wedding since I feel like all of this stuff is so based on the person. There were some things that are traditional that I just knew I didn’t want. For example I did not want to take pictures after the ceremony, I knew I’d want a first look. I also really wanted to stay with Eric the night before bc I sleep better when I’m with him. Since he sleeps late I only saw him for a second on the actual day. I also really didn’t want to do a bouquet toss, no good reason really πŸ™‚ For us it was also very non traditional to not be in a church since particularly in my family people always had. I’m glad we didn’t do that though bc our ceremony was so us. Come to think of it we were pretty non traditional haha, oops. Oh well, a wedding should really be what you want and not what tradition says. In other news, I can’t wait for your wedding!

  24. Caz says:

    I always thought a first look and photos first made heaps of sense. I also really like your idea of not having a head table, that sounds fun!

  25. Kyla Roma says:

    I love how you’re doing a mix of both & are finding what works for you. I love that you’re not doing a head table- it’s so fun for the rest of the party to be able to hang out with their dates and/or friends & still be there for you πŸ™‚

  26. Wendy says:

    Great list from both sides, I like the balance of what works for you both! There were a lot of traditional elements in our wedding since we are a blend of two different cultures. Funny enough, some things are quite contrary (i.e. not seeing the groom before vs. morning tea ceremony). Of course, there were some elements that were important to our parents that were quite traditional that we could not skip. Some of our non-traditional things was having my brother as my man of honour, and nixing the garter dance for a groom’s game.

  27. Sarah says:

    traditional :
    We didn’t see each other the night before or the day of until I was walking down the aisle.
    we had a head table
    i wore a veil (albeit a VERY VERY short one)
    we had a first dance

    we had mixed gender bridal party.
    we didn’t do a father/daughter mother/son dance
    no bouquet/garter toss
    handfasting ceremony during the wedding part.
    mom walked me down the aisle (although thats pretty freaking ‘traditional’ nowadays)

    There were tons more I’m sure but that’s all I can think of off the top of my head πŸ™‚

  28. this would require tooo much thinking, but we wrote our own ceremony and had my uncle get ordained online to perform it. and we had cookies along with a cake cuz i like cookies more thananythingggggggggg. πŸ˜‰

  29. Shoshanah says:

    I’m obsessed with weddingbee too. In general, I think our wedding is fairly traditional, although we’re doing a first look too… so I guess that depends on if it’s “officially” traditional or not.

  30. I love when brides and grooms choose to do things non-traditionally πŸ™‚

  31. Tara says:

    I LOVE and I read a lot of wedding blogs and then take ideas to my fiancé. As for traditional vs. non-traditional, we’re doing a lot of fun things!

    1. We’re having two ceremonies! One very small legal one with just family and then a week later, a bigger one with extended family & friends.
    2. We’re getting married late in the evening (2nd ceremony) and we won’t disappear for photos as we will already have done them.
    3. We’re having a non-religious ceremony, written by us.
    4. No bridal party or grooms-men at all.
    5. A ‘cake’ made out of different cheeses
    6. and a ‘draw the short straw’ version of the bouquet & garter toss.
    7. I might arrive by boat! MIGHT….
    8. My dress is not all white.

    1. My Dad will walk me down the aisle.
    2. I’m wearing a veil. My Mom’s actually. That my sister wore at her wedding as well.
    3. We won’t see each other until the actual ceremony.

    That’s all I can think of…

  32. Thank you for sharing this. I can use this as a reference for my future wedding.