Watch any episode of "America's Funniest Home Videos" and you'll see at least one side-splitting wedding clip -- usually from the early 90s -- with some puffy-sleeved bride taking a dive during the first dance or a mob of single women knocking each other out over the bouquet toss.
These are the staples of a traditional wedding -- the first dance, the garter and bouquet tosses, the smearing of the wedding cake. And they're not just fodder for wedding bloopers -- generation after generation, couples have followed them thinking that the blueprint of a good wedding had to have each one.
But few of us actually know where these traditions come from or, quite frankly, if we even enjoy them. In recent years, more and more couples, like my husband and I, have thrown out our parents' formula and created new traditions of our own -- like hand-written vows, unity candles, joint bachelor parties, and other unconventional ways of celebrating.
Here are five traditions that I jettisoned -- none of which were missed by our friends and family. If you're having trouble fitting them into your big day, here's why it's OK to ditch them altogether:
The First Dance
Don't get me wrong -- my groom and I love to dance. But we're more likely to bust out the robot than a slow waltz. Our mutual lack of adolescent dance classes isn't totally to blame -- we both agreed that we'd rather get everyone on the dance floor right away than do the fox trot in a fishbowl. And our 12-piece funk band agreed.
The Garter Belt
There is absolutely nothing more awkward than your 90-year old great aunt watching your husband pull a lacy piece of lingerie from under your wedding dress with his teeth. Need I say more?
The Receiving Line
While it is, technically, the most efficient way to thank guests, a receiving line wasn't the way my husband and I wanted to give our friends and family face time. We skipped the conveyor belt system, and tried to make more personal and impromptu visits with as many groups as we could. For everyone we missed, a simple thank you note after the wedding worked just fine.
You wouldn't start a food fight at the Met Ball, so why engage in such juvenile behavior at your wedding? It's a formal affair, so have a little class, people. Plus, it's not worth ruining those faux lashes you paid for.
The Bouquet Toss
No wedding movie would be complete without an awesomely aggressive girl fight over the bouquet toss. Desperate unmarried women, fearing spinsterhood, clawing and elbowing each other over a handful of flowers is comic gold. Let's not make our female friends feel any more single than they already do -- eliminate the toss and preserve your bouquet instead. There will be plenty of time to set your girls up after the wedding.
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