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Ever find yourself sitting in the middle row at a wedding, wondering why the heck the bride’s family has to sit on one side and the groom’s family on the other? Or why the bride’s perfectly airbrushed face is covered with a veil? Weddings are congested with old school traditions that are outdated, inexplicable and simply odd. We live in a time when everyone wants to be different. Yet, our weddings all look the same and feel as though they belong in the 1920s. I’ve been working as a professional bridesmaid for over a year and a half. “Professional Bridesmaid” isn’t just a word I slapped on as a nickname for myself and my weekends as always the bridesmaid for my dear friends, it’s my job. Strangers, from all over the country, hire me to be their bridesmaid. After sashaying down the aisle and spending a few hundred hours on the phone with over 40 brides last year, I found myself surrounded – or should I say – haunted by some pretty bizarre wedding traditions. I even asked a bride once, who insisted that her guest throw rice as her and her new hubby exit the ceremony, why she wanted so dearly to hold on to that tradition? She simply replied, “It’s tradition and when you want your wedding to go perfectly, you do what others have done again and again so well.” Weddings shouldn’t be perfect. They should personal. They should be filled with things that have meaning and those things shouldn’t be the same as what your great grandparent’s did at their own wedding shindig. It’s time to kick the old-school traditions to the curb and cut them out of the game plan for the biggest day of your life. Wondering which ones you should cross off your wedding list ASAP? Here are eight that I give you the A-OK to wave goodbye to.
  1. Not Seeing Each Other Before the Wedding
Back in the day of arranged marriages, it was known as bad luck if the bride and groom saw each other before the ceremony. People though that if they locked eyes before walking down the aisle, they would change their minds and run for the hills. Nowadays, why wait for the first look to be in front of 350 guests? Wedding planners and photographers beg couples to do their first look ahead of time and delete that tradition from their head. Why’s that? Logistics. If they see each other before the wedding, that means they can get a couple hundreds photos together before all the guests arrive and start smooching them hello.
  1. Tossing the Bouquet
In the 14th century (anything from the 14th century should long be retired by now) there was a myth that anything the bride touched was lucky. So all the wedding guests would chase after her and tear off a piece of her dress as a good luck charm. That tradition stopped once brides met Vera Wang and took out mini loans to fund their white gowns. So the tradition morphed into guests just trying to get their hands on the brides bouquet, in hopes of being the next one to say “I Do” (more like ah-choo if you’re like me and allergic to flowers). I’ve caught the bouquet 12 times and I’m still very active on my Tinder account.
  1. Wearing a Veil
This one dates back to Roman times and was said that when a bride wore a veil she fought off evil spirits. I don’t think wearing a veil, these days, will prevent your ex-boyfriend from 2-years ago to show up and crash your ceremony or from having your Great Aunt Bertha from blurting out something embarrassing during your vows because her hearing aid is turned off and she doesn’t realize she’s screaming. Do away with what looks like a bee’s net hanging over your face and instead, opt in for something more modern – a headband or a hairclip. As a bride, you spend a lot of dollars paying to get your face airbrushed and fake eyelashes glued to your eyelid. Why hide your wedding glam look for even twenty minutes?
  1. The Bride’s Family Shelling Out the Cash for the Wedding
This tradition goes back to the days of dowries – bet that’s a word you haven’t heard in a very long time. But since the topic of money has a fun way of getting everyone’s panties in a twist, just know that the bride’s family is no longer responsible for picking up the check. When it comes to who is paying for the party of a lifetime, the bill can be grabbed by both the bride and grooms family or just the bride and the groom themselves.  
  1. Thinking it Has to Be Diamond
Not a huge fan of diamonds? You don’t have to get a diamond engagement ring. The whole idea of diamonds being forever was just a giant marketing campaign put on by De Beers diamonds in the 1940’s. Before that, brides just wore rings – sometimes with small locks on them – indicating that they belonged to their husbands. So if diamonds aren’t your thing, don’t feel bad about not saying yes to the stone. If you want a ring (don’t get one with a lock…please) you can pick a different kind of stone, like your birthstone or something that means more to you than what you’ve been told for centuries means love. Consider skipping the ring altogether and get a finger tattoo or use the money that you would have spent on a ring for an adventure travel fund or a new house.
  1. Giving Out Wedding Favors
You’re putting on the party of a lifetime. One that will cost you more money than you probably have in your bank account. That alone is the party favor. You may find yourself shelling out a couple hundred bucks on individual packages of coffee beans or bottle openers that most people will be too drunk, too full or too tired to grab on their way home.
  1. Wearing a White Dress
You know how people say you shouldn’t wear white after Labor Day? Well maybe you shouldn’t wear a white dress to your wedding anymore. That’s because the tradition is solely based on bride’s wearing the color as a symbol of their purity. But times have changed and whether or not you’re walking down the aisle as a virgin or not, that shouldn’t be anyone’s business. You can go bright and bold with your wedding dress color. Wedding dress designers are trying to help you wave goodbye to the color white and now make dresses that are ombre, pink, black, and blue.
  1. Your Bridesmaids Should Match
When else does a group of semi-grown up friends match? It’s uncomfortable, limiting, and also a little bit strange. Last year I had to wear a purple polyester dress as a bridesmaid, alongside 5 other women wearing the exact same thing. We looked like we were in a show choir or as extras in a Broadway musical. We didn’t look like strong, independent, women who have different personalities, thoughts, styles. The reason behind bridesmaid’s matching goes back to ancient Roman times, when it was said that a party of ten people had to match the bride and groom to help them fight off evil spirits. The only thing a matching group of bridesmaids is going to scare off, these days, is their own shadow as they parade around the hotel for pre-wedding photos. Plus, your bridesmaids will love you even more if you don’t make them match and even if you let them pick out the dress themselves. You know what they say? Happy bridesmaid, happy bride.  
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When you find yourself strapped with a tight wedding budget, it’s also helpful to cut some of the last-minute costs along the way. One of those costs, which can grow quite large, is the amount you spend on wedding party favors. Most of your guests will be too tired, too drunk, or even too forgetful to remember to pick up the party favor on the way out. That’s why you should consider a more inexpensive route: DIY wedding party favors. Here are five ideas to get you started.  
  1. Something From Your Kitchen
Whether you love making homemade granola, cookies, or even a nut-based trail mix, you can make a homemade late night snack for your guests to take home with them. But them in labeled bags, tiny mason jars, or even pouches to save some money.  
  1. Something From Around Town
If a lot of your guests are coming in from out of town or there’s something specific that the town you’re getting married in is known for, consider using that item as your party favor. You can grab candy from the local candy shop, tiny bottles of maple syrup and print labels on them with your name.  
  1. Something That’s Worth a Thousand Words
Prop up a homemade selfie booth at the exit of your wedding and have guests snap their photo on the way out as a keepsake gift from your wedding.  
  1. Something of Good Fortune
You can order fortune cookies online in bulk and then type up different messages to stick inside.  
  1. Something With a Good Taste
Everyone loves a late night mint. Buy a tin of mints in bulk and print your own labels, with a fun message, and hand them out at the end of the wedding night.    
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The first wedding I ever went to, I was a toddler, and I remember that halfway through the evening, all the women at the party gathered on the dance floor, tapping their toes, and standing beside each other elbow-to-elbow, their smiles turning from beams of excitement to pouts of competition. I didn’t understand what was going on until all of a sudden my eyes turned up toward the sky and I saw a tightly wound together bouquet of well-smelling flowers fly through the air. Their hands reached up toward the sky and their hips shoved each other aside. I had no idea what the honest truth about catching the bouquet was. A heap of them wrestled on the floor, their heels digging into each other’s calf muscles, until finally, one lady in a red rose colored knee length dress stood up, with her hair all of the place, raising the bouquet high up in the sky. When I was a little bit older and watched this happen again and again at weddings, I began to ask questions. What does one get if they catch the bouquet? Why does these women look as though the bouquet of flowers is a free Prada bag is being tossed in the sky? Is it true that if you catch it you’re really the next one in line to get married? Most people answered these very different questions in the exact same way, with a laugh and a pat on my back. But when, when I was a bridesmaid for the very first time, I found myself on that dance floor, vying for my chance to catch the magical bouquet of peonies. Much to my surprise, when the flowers were up in the air, I somehow caught them. I didn’t push, I didn’t shove, I just reached my right arm up and I grabbed it. Standing in the middle of the dance floor, while everyone cheered, and my mom cried because this to her was a sign that her perpetually single daughter was now granted some luck in the love department, I decided to find out more about this wacky tradition. Here are four truths about the bouquet catching tradition.
  1. It Gets Medieval
The bouquet catching tradition started back in medieval Europe, when single wedding guests viewed the bride’s dress a symbol of good luck, so they would chase her and rip a piece off a piece of her dress. When wedding dresses became something that brides spent more money on, they would throw other objects as a distraction. The bouquet, later on, became the traditionally thrown object, since flowers symbolize fertility.  
  1. Most Single Gals are Against it
Perhaps when you’re young and the dance floor is packed with other fellow single women, it’s a fun activity to try and be the one who catches the bouquet. But as you get older, and all your friends get married, and you find that it is just you and one other person on the dance floor, you start to roll your eyes when the DJ announces it’s time for the bouquet toss or, like I recently did, you hide in the bathroom until the whole process is over. It turns out that only 19% of women were for the bouquet toss and 81% were against it (according to a Jezebel poll of 4,5000 readers).
  1. It Can Get Violent
Think weddings are all about celebrating love and enjoying a stiff drink at the open bar? They are until it comes time for the bouquet toss. Then things can get pretty violent. Many injuries occur during this time, some by accident and some on purpose, since catching the bouquet is still a very competitive moment.
  1. It’s a Replaceable Tradition
Nowadays, instead of asking the single women to come together and catch a bouquet that indicates to them the idea that they will be the next to marry, often times, modern brides are swapping this tradition out with something more light hearted and fun. One idea is to play a fun song and ask for all friends to come to the dance floor to celebrate together (single and non-married friends together).  
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If you’re planning a wedding, the number one thing I can advise you to do is take deep breaths. Take them very often. Try and tell yourself that all of the stress and anxiety and pressure that comes along with a wedding are temporary, controllable, and unnecessary. Most of those dreaded feelings come around because brides think they need to plan a wedding that resembles everyone elses. They need to print out a wedding to-do list from an online website and follow it exactly, imitating the look, feel, and traditions from weddings that have spanned the last hundred years.   The truth that most brides forget is that your wedding can be however you want it to be. If you don’t understand why the bride is supposed to wear a veil or why people throw rice at the happy couple as they make their grand exit, skip those traditions. Or if those traditions are still something you’d like to incorporate into your wedding, that’s perfectly okay. There’s nothing wrong with having tradition at your wedding, but give it a more modern spin. Mix in the old with a modern twist, that way your personality will shine through on the most expensive party you will ever throw for yourself in this lifetime. Here are eight old-school wedding traditions that can be revamped to have a more modern, 2016, feel to them.    
  1. Go Crazy With Your Cake
Instead of doing a traditional tiered wedding cake, swap out the tasty dessert for a treat that you and your fiancé enjoy the most. Perhaps it’s mini cupcakes, one giant pie, or even chocolate chip cookies. Instead of doing a cake cutting, you can cut into the cupcake, pie, or split a cookie together.  
  1. An Untraditional First Dance
A lot of couples are terrified at the thought of doing a traditional first dance because they have no idea how to slow dance together. Instead, pick a more upbeat song and dance like you normally would. This will be a good chance to let your personality shine and also have a memorable wedding song for years to come.  
  1. Make a Different Kind of Exit
Instead of being the first to leave, having guests throw rice at you or lighting a path of sparklers for you to walk through, plan for your guests to leave safely first. Provide them with transportation back to the hotel with a school bus or even to their homes with a pre-paid taxi service.  
  1. Pre-Written Thank You Cards
It’s always been tradition to send thank you cards after your wedding, once you’ve received a gift. Instead, you can write the thank you cards before, personally thanking each guest for coming to the wedding, and use these notes as their table escort cards.  
  1. Wearing Heels
Think you need to pair your fancy dress with a pair of high-up heels? You can skip the uncomfortable shoes and instead wear your dress with flats. Your feet will thank you very much for doing this.  
  1. Smile, You’re on Camera
Instead of having a photographer take poised shots of you and your family members, you can opt for more fun photos that are taken with a seflie stick, a GoPro, or even disposable cameras that your guests carry around with them throughout the night.  
  1. Bye, Bye Guest Book
Asking your guests to sign a guest book when they arrive is always a task that people forget to do. Instead, set up a video booth and have them record a 30-second hello video for you. This will be something you cherish and view more often than reading through a wedding guest book over the years.  
  1. Skip the Party Favors
Instead of sending your guests home with party favors, use the money you would spend on these items and donate it to a charity that means a lot to you. You can display a sign with information on the charity you donated money to so that your guests can see this on the way out of the wedding.  
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