A Little Twist on Tradition

When was the last time you heard a bride or groom say “I want my wedding to be just like everyone else’s”? Never. Regardless of the scale or budget, weddings have always been hotbeds of creativity. We’ve seen mirrors for tabletops, globes for guest books, personalized monograms for invitations, and flower walls for seating charts. 

The idea of adding a dose of distinction to your day is not a new concept, but then again, certain tenets of the wedding industry have remained steadfast. That is, until the uncertainty of the pandemic rocked the wedding world and inspired couples and planners to drastically rethink all aspects of “I do.” 

After more than a year of postponements and scaled-down celebrations, planners, brides, and grooms have become flexible—a notion that did not necessarily exist in a world where bridezillas once reigned. This openness to new approaches has actually prompted even more creativity, resourcefulness, and individuality, as well as a willingness to be a little bit selfish . . . in a good way. Traditional wedding rules have taken a back seat to intentional decisions that are original, refreshing, and out of the box. 

If you’re in the midst of planning your big day, don’t be afraid to think beyond color palettes and custom cocktails as you fine-tune the scope of your celebration and tailor it to your vision. Décor has always been an easy way to create an environment that helps tell your love story. Personalized touches—such as table numbers that hold meaning, picture walls that document your relationship, and last name lettering sprinkled throughout your venue—still go a long way toward making your fête feel distinctive. But the newfound pandemic perspective is less about creating a fantasy wedding and more about crafting an experience that is truly a reflection of you as a couple. 

This might mean foregoing the lengthy guest list in favor of a smaller celebration. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. Most wedding planners would say that thanks to the pandemic, smaller is here to stay, which makes downsizing your guest list a more socially acceptable option. (Don’t let a miffed Aunt Mildred deter you.) With a smaller guest list, you can up the ante on a truly intimate experience and spend more time and money per guest. You’ll also leave your wedding knowing that you made memories with those who matter most. 

But if it’s a party you want, don’t ditch your dream of gathering friends and family for the perfect bash that includes a packed church and a bursting dance floor. You may have to make some small modifications as guests reacclimate to large social gatherings—consider outdoor venues, assigned seating, and sit-down meals. 

Or, if you think a greasy burger and fries is your perfect postnuptial meal, hire a food truck to serve up some sliders in lieu of a sit-down dinner. Maybe after a year in sweats and athleisure, you want to walk down the aisle in a pair of sneakers instead of traditional sky-high stunners—just do it. Not a fan of white dresses? You’re not alone, and inspired bridal designers are creating gowns in varying hues with unique embellishments, like embroidered flowers and hand-painted blooms just for you. 

Most wedding planners would say that thanks to the pandemic, smaller is here to stay, which makes downsizing your guest list a more socially acceptable option. 

Planning a spring wedding but love a fall palette? Pick the colors you want for your day. If you both have two left feet and dread the first dance, opt for a first hula-hooping instead. The options are endless, and really up to you. What matters most is what makes you and your betrothed happy.

This winning and refreshing strategy of putting you—the couple—ahead of tradition, parents, in-laws, and friends is reshaping the party-planning landscape across the board, but it’s important to note that this kind of change is not always easy. Operate with grace, for yourself and those involved, as you consider all the “expected” choices and find your way to something new. 

Channel Marie Kondo, asking if each decision you make “sparks joy” when you think about your wedding day and all its plans. But don’t forget to be brave enough to throw out all the rules and add the “you” to your “I do.” You did survive a pandemic, after all.  

Emily Howald Sefton

Emily Howald Sefton said “I Do” to the role of Weddings editor and after a few years of veils and venues, she added wallpaper and wainscoting to her scope by becoming the Deputy Editor of Home & Design.

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September 14, 2021

4:17 AM