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Eight ceremony traditions you can say adiós to

Out with the old, in with the new

If you are a lover of wedding traditions, you’re not going to like me very much. You see, I’m a bit of a wedding rebel. It’s not that I hate traditions, far from it, but I do believe that too many people cling on to traditions, especially on their wedding day, without thinking about whether that tradition really has any place within their own ceremony.

I’ve put a list below of ceremony traditions that I think fall into this category. Traditions that (in my opinion) have had their day, are a little bit passé and more importantly they are traditions that have many fabulous alternatives to them! Include them if you really want to, but don’t be a wedding sheep about it. If it’s not what you want, then don’t have it!

1Walking down the aisle with your father. I am not so much of a wicked wedding witch that I want to abolish the tradition of having your father walk you down the aisle. But I am a firm believer that, if you don’t want your father to do this, then don’t do it. Maybe your dad has passed away, maybe it just doesn’t feel right, maybe you feel too old to have him walk down with you, maybe there’s no specific reason why. There are many other ways your dad can be involved, if you feel you may be depriving him of a role. Don’t forget he’ll still have his speech to look forward to. My dad did the most amazing speech on my wedding day, but it was my two brothers who walked me down the aisle. They were who I grew up with and who I felt more accountable to and for that reason I choose them instead of my dad. He got my reasoning and couldn’t have been more supportive about it.

Alternatives: Walk down the aisle with your partner, you already live together so why not start your ceremony together? Walk in with your mum and dad. They both nurtured you, so why not honour them together? Walk down with a sibling or best friend, someone equally special, who has supported you and been your crutch when you’ve needed it. Also, I really love the idea of grooms making an entrance, arm in arm with their mothers. How lovely is that!


Look at that face. (The groom’s, not mine!) Look at the joy he has in seeing his beautiful bride walk towards him. Please grooms, don’t have your back to your bride. Face her, face life. Owen Farrell Photography.

2Groom not looking at the bride walking down the aisle. I just don’t get this. I never have. Your bride looks a million dollars, her dress probably cost a million dollars, so why wouldn’t you want to watch your wife-to-be make that pivotal, life-changing walk down the aisle? Tradition says not to! I say, shut your face, tradition. When, at the start of the ceremony a groom asks me if he should turn around, I always say yes. I love seeing in their eyes how glad they are that they turned around. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing the woman you love, walking towards you, looking you in the eye and letting you know that you are loved.

3Best man? Best woman? If your best man is a woman, have a best woman! Makes sense, right? Have you never seen the film ‘My best friend’s wedding’? Julia Roberts is superb as her male best friend’s best woman. I have had ceremonies where daughters, sisters and best girlfriends have served as best women and it has been such a refreshing element to the ceremony. So if your bestie, is a woman, don’t be put off by this mere fact, make her your best woman on your special day.

4Wedding party, what wedding party? Maybe I might be being a bit of a wedding witch here, but I’m just going to put this little question out there for you all! Speaking about the wedding party, I’m referring to brides maids, flower girls, best men, ushers, grooms men etc. All those traditional roles that we give to our closest friends and family. But I’d like to ask – what do they do? A question, by the way, not an accusation! Does their role impact on your ceremony and day in general? Do you need them? Are they just pretty wedding accessories? I have seen ceremonies with no wedding party; no best man (the groom carried the rings), no brides maids (the bride gave her bouquet to a friend). Good friends helped direct people to their seats, friends and families organised themselves. I’m just throwing this thought out there. I would love to know your thoughts. Maybe it’s one tradition that’s not quite ready to be pinned to my list.

5No sides people, it’s a wedding not a football match. Although, I’m adding this to my list, I’m secretly hoping that there rceremony signeally is no reason for it to be on here. Surely, people don’t still have their guests separated by their relation to the bride and groom, do they? I also understand how nice it is to have close family sitting as near to the front as possible, but why not have both sets of mums and dads sitting next to each other and setting the example for everyone else?

6The giving away. Who here gives this woman away? Does anyone actually say this still? I don’t, however, once in a blue moon I am asked by a bride to write a formal giving away process into the ceremony, where her father stands, makes his proclamation and then places his daughter’s hand in to that of his son-in-law’s to be. I get the traditional flavours of this, I really do but do we still feel we are our father’s to give away?

Alternatives: Why not have all your friends and family give their blessing to your union en masse? This is a fabulous way of having your relatives and peers support you and give their backing to your togetherness. I love this, evidently.

7 Saying standard vows. These standard wedding vows are the most common and most well known of all vows. I’m sure most people could recite many of the lines from memory. You could never have been to a wedding in your life and still know these vows, as any film with a wedding scene in it, no doubt uses these very vows!

Olivia do you take Fitz to be your wedded husband, to live together in marriage. Do you promise to love him comfort him, honour him and keep him, for better or worse, for richer or poorer in sickness and health. And forsaking all others, be faithful only to him, so long as you both shall live?

There’s nothing wrong with these traditional vows, especially if you feel that they resonate with you and that they represent exactly what you think and feel. But if they don’t, then get rid of them. Write your own, look at what others have done, pinch some from me, do whatever you can to have your own feelings and ideas of marriage represented through a personalised vow. They are the words with which you pledge your commitment to your loved one, so should they not be your own words?


wedding readings

One option is to stand next to each other and face your family and friends. Look at how intimate this stance is.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Standley

Not facing your friends and family. Okay, let me get a little factual here. When you get married in a church, it is more than likely that the vicar/priest will have you facing the altar (facing God), which inevitably means you have your backs to you guests. So, if you are not getting married in a church, where there is no altar, there is 100% absolutely no reason whatsoever why you should stand with your backs to loved ones. After all, besides you and your love, who are the most important people in your lives? Yes, them, your friends and family who are witnesses to your love. So don’t block them out, have them in full view. Let their love wash over you and yours over them, as you make your special commitment to each other. See them laugh when you’re laughing and crying along with you, too. It’s the real deal.

So there’s my two pence worth. Have you any to add?


About the author

Natasha Johnson

Natasha Johnson is an experienced Wedding Celebrant, blogger and writer on all things related to weddings, in particular wedding ceremonies. Her mission is life is to encourage couples to see the importance of their wedding ceremony and to get married in just the way they want to. Make sure you catch her on the Engaged and Ready Wedding Podcast, here or on iTunes and Stitcher.


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