08/07/2012 11:26 am ET Updated Oct 07, 2012

How to Break Wedding Tradition

If you follow wedding trends at all (which I'm assuming you do, since you're reading a wedding website), you might see that the biggest trend of all right now is to buck tradition and think creatively. There are a lot of reasons for this, but it's been interesting to watch the debate between keeping tradition (and etiquette) alive and leaving it behind. The trend can be seen in a variety of ways: the first look before the ceremony, alternative registries and dessert bars instead of wedding cakes, just to name a few.

It's millennials who are most likely to toss tradition aside, and it's millennials who are getting married right now. But that doesn't mean that everyone at the wedding will appreciate it. Here are a few ways to break tradition without breaking up your family:


From the moment you set your budget, it's important that you prioritize the things that mean the most to you. For most of my clients, the photographer comes first, followed by the venue and food, and it goes on from there. When coming up with an idea that breaks tradition, look at it on that list and decide whether or not it's important enough to you to upset your family or wedding party over.

One of my brides told me at our initial consultation that her dress was one of the most important things to her, right after her venue. She was a fashion student and had known for years what she wanted in a dress. The first time she went shopping with only her older sister, she found it. There were tears and hugs over it; it was obvious that she'd had "her moment" with her dress, so she wasn't about to let her very traditional grandmother get upset at her just because it wasn't pure white (it was more of a deep blush).


That same bride knew that ivory and mismatched bridesmaids dresses were extremely popular (and would look fabulous next to her designer gown), but she also knew that it may cause her grandmother to have a heart attack if everyone was in white besides her granddaughter. So she compromised; she put them in grey frocks instead, still mismatched but so pretty that even her grandmother couldn't complain.

Wedding planning itself is a lesson in compromise. When looking over your prioritized list, you should come up with another list of things that you can compromise on (those low on the list) and those you can't (up much higher). Talk to the person who has an issue with your choice, and ask them what would make them happy. Take their opinions into consideration, but don't feel as if you need to give into everything they want. After all, the definition of compromise is to come to an agreement based on mutual concessions.

When I was planning my own wedding, I knew from the start that I wanted a food truck at our reception. My mother wasn't the biggest fan of the idea, which made me a little upset. Once I told her that we would have normal hors d'oeuvres and salads to go with the food truck (it was In-N-Out), she was much happier with the decision. You may be surprised at how easy it can be to compromise if you just sit down and talk about it.

Choose your battles

If a fight is looming, it's best that you go back to that prioritized list to see where the item that you're arguing about lies. It's easy to blow something out of proportion just because you're upset that someone else won't see your point of view. But there are some things that simply aren't worth ruining a relationship over. Unless someone has a serious issue with the person you're marrying, it can be better to let something go before you're forced into a bad situation.

Just because your family has a different opinion doesn't mean that you have to give up everything you want. Once you look back over that prioritized list and try to come to a compromise, then it's important that you really look back and make a logical decision (logical = not coming from the stress that planning a wedding can bring on) about whether or not you want to move forward.

I once had a bride who really did not want to dance with her father at her wedding reception. Her stepfather had walked her down the aisle, and she would have much preferred to dance with only her stepfather at the reception. When it came down to it, however, she knew that if she denied her father the chance to dance with her, it would only damage their relationship further. And she ended up dancing with him and it was a lot more meaningful than she thought it would be.

Be prepared to pay

...for your wedding, that is. Though it's considered bad etiquette to ask anyone to pay for your wedding, including your parents, it's still common for the families to foot the bill. If you're all about skipping the church ceremony in favor of a Hawaiian beach wedding and your parents just aren't a fan, then you can't really expect them to pay for it. If they, or anyone else, contribute to the big day, then they will have a say, too. That's just the way it goes.