The Wedding Traditions You Should Keep and Scrap

We asked local experts to weigh in on which traditions to preserve, amend, or ditch altogether.
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Tried-and-true wedding customs for generations past may not be so popular—or appropriate—today. We asked the experts to weigh in on which traditions to preserve, amend, or ditch altogether.

LOSE: The Garter Toss

As much as any bride would enjoy having part of her undergarments publicly removed and tossed to a crowd of waiting men hoping to snag it for good luck (#not), this tradition is rarely practiced anymore, says Elisa MacKenzie, a master wedding planner with Elegant Events. Out the door with it is the bouquet toss, which she suggests instead throwing to all wedding guests as a symbol of receiving good fortune, rather than for “the next poor desperate girl to get a husband.”

KEEP: First Dance

This can function as the perfect segue to get your guests out onto the dance floor with you!

LOSE: Grandiose Cake Cutting

Couples nowadays aren’t making a big deal of cutting the cake or, for the sake of the bride’s makeup, doing a cake smash. “If couples even cut it at all they don’t make a big deal about it—they don’t want the pomp and circumstance,” says Brigid Horne-Nestor, a master wedding planner with i-do Weddings & Events. “They may have it out for display, and then the catering staff will take it to the back, cut it, and plate it, and that’s it.”

KEEP: Wedding Gifts

Gifts are still largely expected, but keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for couples to live together before they get married, so they’ve often got day-to-day housewares covered. Popular alternatives are gifting cash or a check for the honeymoon, or making a donation in the couples’ name to their favorite charity, Horne-Nestor says.

LOSE: The Rigidly Structured Receiving Line

Couples are now greeting guests much more informally.“I like to suggest what I call a ‘receiving line in motion,’” MacKenzie says. “It’s where the couple will work the room during cocktail hour so guests can mingle then, too.”

KEEP: Toasts

Speeches from the best man, maid of honor, or family members continue to be a meaningful part of the reception. “In some cases, on the bride’s side, she might have a brother or a best friend who’s a man,” Horne-Nestor says. “These ‘honor attendants’ are kind of a new tradition that’s begun in the last few years. You no longer have to be the same sex as who you’re standing alongside of.”

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