Outdated wedding traditions are tossed aside as couples choose to celebrate their way
By Lucy Partington
First among equals: some grooms are opting to have a “best woman”. (Supplied: Kerryn Lee Photography)
For many couples, marriage is no longer about society, their parents or even their friends. Now, it’s about them and only them.
Many couples are opting to ignore outdated traditions such as a father “giving away a bride” or the downright tacky, like a garter toss, in favour of a wedding day that reflects their true vision.
People are breaking the mould and opting to choose their bridal party members based on their relationship with the individual, rather than sticking to the traditional choice of picking two to four people of the same gender as them to stand at the front by their side.
Wedding traditions are outdated
For my wedding in March, my partner and I opted for no bridesmaids or groomsmen in our bridal party. Just having my nephews and niece instead.
I also chose to walk down the aisle by myself, with my parents walking down together before I did.
For me, this choice was simple. I don’t agree with the antiquated notion that I was my fathers’ property prior to marriage, and would become my husband’s property when we married, so that tradition was never part of my plans when I envisioned my wedding.
Similarly, my husband never asked my father for my hand in marriage because it simply was not his choice to make, it was mine.
On our wedding day, very few traditions were followed. Sure, we had rings, said vows and dressed up, but there was no bouquet or garter toss. We did discuss the possibility of these and, luckily, we both thought the traditions were tasteless and tacky.
I didn’t want to line up my unmarried female friends to desperately try to catch a bunch of flowers just because an ancient tradition says that they will be the next to get married if they do.
Similarly, the age-old garter toss tradition, where a groom sticks his head up under a bride’s dress to retrieve a garter from her upper thigh with his teeth (while Grandma watches) was not quite part of the wedding day I was hoping for.
The garter toss ends with the groom then throwing the garter behind his head to a crowd of men hoping to catch it.
It is said that the man who catches the garter will receive good luck and be the next to marry, but honestly, no one believes in this stuff anyway.
The legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia means wedding suppliers are having to assume less and ask more questions about each individual wedding. (Supplied: Kerryn Lee Photography)
The industry has changed
The legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia has definitely had an impact on the prominence of these traditions, which means that wedding suppliers are having to assume less and ask more questions about each individual wedding.
You can no longer assume a wedding is between a bride and a groom. You can no longer assume a woman is going to be given away, wear a dress or hold a bouquet.
Weddings are certainly not as straightforward and typical as they used to be, but to me, that’s beautiful.
Each and every wedding now offers a highly unique experience, where the couple is celebrated for whom they are, not whom society wants them to be.
Couples want a tailored experience
We’re starting to see couples submitting their weddings to our real weddings blog that are highly individualistic, ranging from brides choosing to hold lanterns or hoops instead of bouquets, a “best woman” in the bridal party, or even having McDonald’s happy meals as bonbonniere.
There are very few limitations on what a wedding can or can’t be. A lot of this is the simple evolution of culturally ingrained traditions, but it is important to note that this is, in part, because couples are opting to pay for their own weddings.
This means that they have more creative control over the execution of the day, and care less about the input of their parents, grandparents and other relatives.
Due to many traditions and primary culture groups dissolving in recent times, there is much more room for personal statements within a wedding day.
Seventy per cent of marriages in Australia are conducted by a civil celebrant, not in a religious setting.
In Australia, the average age of a couple getting married is 28 and 29, and it makes perfect sense for adults in their late 20s to be more financially secure and able to pay for their own weddings, rather than in previous years when the average age was younger.
Many brides still opt for a light coloured dress, popular since Queen Victoria’s era, but often with a twist. (Supplied: Kerryn Lee Photography)
Many couples are choosing to have longer engagements, especially if that means securing a house deposit first or reaching a certain career goal before getting married.
The average cost of a wedding in Australia is $31,368.
Some traditions aren’t changing
Of course, some wedding traditions will stick around to some degree.
For example, many brides still opt for a light coloured dress, which has been popular since the 1840s, when Queen Victoria wore one.
But, more and more brides are opting for other colour choices. The strictly white wedding dress tradition is definitely falling out of favour for more flattering tones of champagne, blush and ivory.
Remember why you are getting married. It should be for you and no one else. So only adopt the traditions that resonate with you and ditch the rest.
Lucy Partington is the social media and content manager for the wedding planning website and blog Easy Weddings.