When my fiancé, Dale, and I began our wedding plans, we had a very good idea of what the day should look like. Given our mutual affection for spending time with friends and family, we decided on a small invitation list and a casual reception: a buffet luncheon, board games on every table and background music that reflected our personalities. We didn’t think our plans were that far outside the ordinary.
Then we met our reception coordinator.
Mark is a kind and friendly man, but boy, does he love tradition. After verbally detailing our desires for the reception at least three times, he continued to misunderstand our wishes. Befuddled by the resistance we met, I returned home and hit the computer to find out if I was the only bride bucking the system. It turns out I am far from alone. Here are a few other wedding trends vying for the status of tradition:
[The wedding budget] As GenXers tend to hit the altar later in life, more and more couples are paying for their own wedding day extravaganza. The upshot? Less room for irascible future in-laws to push their passion for fuchsia. The downside? More work for brides and grooms to find venues and vendors that fit within the wedding budget.
Two distinct shifts result from this budget switch: First, the wedding location isn’t necessarily the bride’s hometown. With my mother in Illinois and Dale’s parents in Oregon, planning a wedding for either location from our homes on the East Coast was daunting at best. When we decided the wedding would be held in Connecticut, we quickly realized most of the wedding work would fall on our busy shoulders. Where tradition sees the bride and her family undertake the planning process, Dale and I had to split the responsibilities 50-50.
[Destination weddings] Then again, who says you have to be married somewhere close to home? With increasing popularity, couples are taking the destination approach to the wedding ceremony – so think exotic for your wedding locale. For the nature-loving couple, a breathtaking view of the Swiss Alps may be in order. For the nautically-enamored lovebirds, a wedding cruise. And of course, there’s always the Disney fantasy wedding for those cartoon-crazed boys and girls. The best part of a destination wedding? When the ceremony ends, the honeymoon begins …
[Theme weddings] Do you and your beloved live to swing? Share a passion for the arts? Spend every weekend on the slopes? Throw tradition to the wind and make your special day a reflection of your personalities by brainstorming a wedding theme. For example: My fiancé is an active duty Coast Guard officer, so our nautical theme wedding features a lighthouse on the invitations, buckets of sand on the guest tables, and little boat ornaments for favors. Whatever your theme, don’t be afraid to get creative.
[Wedding insurance] You’ve planned an intimate winter wedding in your hometown and your intended’s family lives 2,000 miles away. When a massive snowstorm rolls through and your future in-laws can’t make it to the wedding, who do you call? Your insurance agent, of course!
Since the 1990s, wedding insurance has earned significant popularity among engaged couples. Covering a variety of emergency circumstances – including inclement weather, illness or injury – wedding insurance can provide some peace of mind starting at only $195. Contact Fireman’s Fund WeddingsuranceSM (www.firemansfund.com) for more information.
[Hire a wedding planner] She may not be J Lo, but your wedding planner may become your very best friend. Let’s face it: we’re a busy generation, and wedding plans are tough to fit between a full workday, time at the gym and some semblance of a social life. For a small commission, wedding planners can help organize the big day budget and coordinate all the small details. She’ll also be there on the wedding day to act as your event coordinator, nerve-calmer and problem-solver (headset optional).
Can’t foot the bill for a planner? Cruise the Internet. Gone are the days when our only resources are overblown wedding expos and long lists in the Yellow Pages. Now we can navigate the Net and find all sorts of possibilities that fit within our price range. My recommendations? The Wedding Channel (www.weddingchannel.com), The Knot (www.theknot.com), and lest we forget Martha Stewart Online (www.marthastewart.com).
[The Kodak moment] You know the one. It’s that moment when the groom’s jaw drops as the bride begins her walk down the aisle: His first look at the future Mrs. Or is it?
Today’s trend in wedding photography is to get that first glance out of the way before the pianist strikes up the Wedding March. By taking photos before the ceremony, couples get the best of their dress-up on film and the most out of their reception time with friends and family.
[Bye-bye, buffet. Hello, action station] The fancy alternative to that long line of food so popular at trade conferences and high school cafeterias. For the couple that enjoys a variety of ethnic cuisines, actions stations provide multiple tasting tables, each with a different ethnic flair: an Italian pasta station, a Japanese sushi station, a Mediterranean grill station or a Spanish tapas station, to name a few.
For the couple that wants to avoid a stuffy sit-down dinner, action stations are also an ideal way to encourage mingling and conversation. Set up partial seating so guests continue to move throughout the reception or mix up the atmosphere with a CD of international music that reflects your cuisine.
[The not-quite wedding cake] Though chocolate remains the flavor of choice for wedding cakes across the country, couples are beginning to think outside the box for their special confection. The list of possibilities is endless: tiramisu, angel food cake, Baked Alaska, ice-cream cake, pound cake and so on. One of my girlfriends chose a two-tier cheesecake for her special day – the best wedding cake I’ve had so far!
The flavor of the cake isn’t the only tradition that’s changing. According to the Wedding Channel (www.weddingchannel.com), many couples are choosing smaller wedding cakes for each reception table. While some newlyweds visit each table to cut the first slice, others encourage their guests to move around the room and sample the different flavors and fillings.
[Away with the dishes] When Dale and I began our list of must-haves for the wedding registry, it looked nothing like the lists I found online. Dale and I both lived on our own before meeting each other, so our kitchens and bedrooms were sufficiently stocked. Our fun cabinets, on the other hand, were rather empty. So off to Target® we went and headed straight for the recreation aisles. Dale had a delightful time shooting the scanner gun at a variety of camping gear while I attacked the DVD aisle with a vengeance.
Apparently, we’re not alone. While many engaged couples do register for new kitchen basics and bathroom essentials, several are turning to more unique gift items for their friends and family to choose from. Camping gear, fondue sets, games and movies are making their mark on registries nationwide.
Of course, several wedding traditions show no signs of disappearance: the wedding dress, the champagne toast, the ever-popular “I do.” And the meaning of the big day remains the same: making a lifetime commitment before God and man to live as one for the glory of His kingdom and in the joy of His love.
But preserving the timeless significance of your wedding day doesn’t mean getting mired by old tradition. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Make the day a reflection of your personalities – a celebration of who God has created you to be – and remember to embrace every moment. This is your big day, so live it up!