Tuesday Tidbits | Personalizing Wedding Traditions, Part One

We love traditions and we love trends. How do you go about marrying the two while still honoring the past and embracing modern personalities in a one-of-a-kind wedding day? Because of the emotional nature of weddings in general, this Tuesday Tidbits topic is a two-parter. We want to get into the meat of things on a broad level and then narrow it down to some specific local inspiration. So this week, we have one of the lead wedding planner companies here in Hampton Roads with us, Emily Weddings, to share the 411 on the hows and whys of wedding traditions... and of course, the importance of making your day your very own!

Take it away, Meghan Roberson!


In recent years, brides have been seeking wedding inspiration on blogs, Google searches, and every bride's favorite website: Pinterest. Each of these provides an endless number of possibilities and options to create a personalized and individualized wedding for the bride and groom, but our couples are still coming to us asking, "How far can we go? What can we change, skip, or alter to make my own? Which wedding traditions do we absolutely need to have?" Some grooms have panic attacks just thinking about that moment when all eyes are on them during the first dance and choose to share the dance with the entire wedding party. Others know they will "ugly cry" through their entire daddy-daughter dance so they choose to choreograph a song together and surprise everyone with their dance moves. And what if a groom is allergic to cake? As much as we may feel sorry for the poor lad, who says there has to be cake in the first place?

Wedding traditions are an important part of the ceremony and reception, deeply rooted in history and stemming from a long line of cultural and religious influences, but their value extends only to the degree that each bride and groom feels that the traditions reflect them as a couple. More often than not, our couples are taking traditional components of their wedding such as the bouquet, cake cutting, guest book, and musical choices and adding their own personal touches to the plans.

A traditional guest book is set out at the entrance to the ceremony or reception and each guest writes his or her name as a record of who was in attendance. While this book was at one time used as a legal document to prove who witnessed the union of two people, couples now want more than just a name to remember each guest who was present on their big day. This desire for more personalized messages and an individualized method of recording those messages has led to a large variety of "guest book" options which pretty much extends to anything that can be written on. We've seen note cards rolled up as scrolls and stored in a large vase, an adirondack chair, oversized monogram wooden letters, a photo book displaying pictures of the bride and groom through their dating history, and a coffee table book featuring local history and pictures of the surrounding area from years gone by. One of our brides even displayed a wooden surfboard for all of her guests to sign! Not only do these non-traditional ideas give each wedding a little more personality, each item can also have a functional use, too. The vase can be displayed in the couple's home, the chair set out on the front porch, and the wooden surfboard would be a beautiful statement piece in the perfect beach house. The options are endless and only require a couple to think of what they love. If you can write on it, you can use it as a guest book.

Another wedding tradition that is veering slightly off course is the use of a floral bouquet. Before we go off on a tangent, we must say that we will always love flowers at weddings. There is simply nothing more beautiful than floral centerpieces, flowers lining the aisle, and a bride's dress accentuated by the perfect deliciously-smelling bouquet. But not every bride feels the same way, and we're seeing this reflected in bouquets made entirely of vintage brooches or paper flowers, while some brides get rid of bouquets all together and have their bridesmaids carry purses or handbags. One idea that we've seen on Pinterest and not yet seen in person is the use of vintage train cases. We would absolutely LOVE to see bridesmaids carrying adorable multi-colored train cases down the aisle. Not to mention, they would all be thrilled to have something to hold all of their accessories and an extra pair of flip flops for the reception!

Finally, music and cake cutting go hand in hand because the rule is: do what you want! You don't want a pianist or organist playing "Here Comes the Bride" while you walk down the aisle? Then hire a bluegrass band, accordian player, or a single acoustic guitarist to play your favorite tune. Not a big cake person? Have cupcakes, cookies and milk, cake pops, ice cream bar, or an assortment of homemade pies. You can still feed one another a cookie or a scoop of ice cream, but why not eat what you like?

Remember that bride I referred to earlier who chose to skip the traditional daddy-daughter dance in fear that her ugly crying face would mar every photo taken of her for the rest of the night? Well, that bride was me. My dad and I are both very openly emotional people, and I start to tear up just thinking about those sweet daddy-daughter dance songs. We knew we had to do something different. Fortunately, I come from a family of performers - my dad played in a rock band from the time he was 12 years old and was recruited by Bill Deal and the Rhondels at age 13 to join them on tour, both of my brothers both play music for a living and I grew up singing and dancing for anyone who would listen. I guess you could say music is our own family tradition, and I knew this would be my ticket out of red-faced sniffles.

My dad and I formed our master plan. We would do a karaoke version of a song and make it a family affair by inviting my brothers up to sing and perform it with us. Not only would they be completely surprised at the fact that they were just thrown into a karaoke wedding performance, but we also knew we had to choose the most ridiculous, theatrical song we could think of: Bohemian Rhapsody. Other than that, we didn't plan a thing and somehow ended up with a daddy-daughter dance that was just perfect for us.

At the end of the day, it is important to know what the typical wedding traditions are, especially if you belong to a specific culture or religion which has its own set of traditions, but honestly it all comes down to you. Learn the traditions then change them up and make them your own.

As professional wedding planners and coordinators, we hereby grant you the authority and creative license to have your wedding exactly the way you want it - be daring, take risks, have fun, and ultimately just do you!

- Meghan of Emily Weddings

Wanna know more? Get to know the rest of the Emily Weddings girls on Facebook and Pinterest!

PHOTOGRAPHY CREDITS: Macon Photography // VENDOR CREDITS FROM VIDEO: Bohemian Rhapsody Snippet and Videography: The Girl Tyler // Coordination: Emily Weddings // Live Band/Sound System: Strictly Bizzness