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What we once considered to be proper wedding behavior was actually held over from the Elizabethan and Renaissance eras. Many traditions have gone out of style in the past thirty years. The following variations on wedding civilities are better suited to today’s lifestyle and varied personal circumstances.Vows. The obligatory phrase for the bride to “honor and obey” her husband has been replaced with numerous alternatives more reflective of equality in the relationship, especially when couples define their relationship in self-composed vows.
Honoring parents. Jewish tradition for the groom to enter with both parents, followed by the bride with her parents, is being borrowed for Christian ceremonies. It acknowledges the importance of both parents and their contributions in preparing the couple for success.
Wedding march escorts. If the father is unavailable or it is a second marriage, brides may walk alone or with another important figure of either gender. A sibling, mother, grandfather, son or very close friend make suitable escorts.
Parents as members of the bridal party. There is growing acceptance of including parents in the bridal party, even as “man of honor” and “best woman” if that is what the bridal couple wants.
Not necessarily two-by-two. Brides and grooms needn’t worry about an even number of bridesmaids and groomsmen. Feel free to include only your most cherished friends or loved ones, even if it means you will have three bridesmaids and he will have five groomsmen.
Bridal apparel. Theme weddings that have influenced bridal fashion. Burgundy, pink or champagne gowns, such as those worn for Renaissance-themed weddings, are becoming more popular. White and cream remain top gown color choices for first-time brides since the 1920s, but are also okay for second-time brides today. Brides should choose whatever makes them feel beautiful on this special day. Many bridesmaids applaud when the bride chooses elegant and slenderizing black for bridesmaids’ dresses. Men are foregoing the black and white tuxedo for more practical linen or contemporary suits they can wear later.
Wedding hosts. It is increasingly common for both sets of parents to be named as hosts on the invitation. Along with that, there is more interactive development of the wedding guest list.
Showers. Once considered a terrible breach of etiquette, sisters and close family members (but never the mother of the bride) can hostess bridal showers when serving as maid of honor. Couples showers are replacing bachelor and bachelorette parties, possibly because so many couples are marrying later or for a second time. I like this sensible nod to equality and less emphasis on old fashioned gender roles.
At the reception. Now that brides almost never live at their parents’ home when they marry, it is acceptable for guests and others to send wedding gifts to the bride’s residence before the wedding. Some guests insist on bringing gifts the day of the wedding, so a table is set up at the reception for this purpose. Guests, please do not deliver gifts to the wedding ceremony.
Wedding toasts to the health of newlyweds are standard at receptions. However, newlyweds who toast to their parents and guests who have traveled long distances add a very special reciprocal touch.
Receiving lines have been on the decline in less formal weddings since the late 1980s. However, it will never go out of fashion for the bride and groom to visit each table to speak personally to every guest and thank them for their attendance.
If you are considering altering an accepted wedding or reception standard, ask yourself whether it will enhance the experience for you or if it will help you show appreciation to those who participate or attend. If the answer is “yes” to both questions, go for it.
“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding. Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and ImportantOccasions.com. Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.” www.a-dreamwedding.com
Robbin Montero is a wedding coordinator and special events planner in Northern California.©2006 Robbin Montero
This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero’s expressed written permission.