A wedding is one of the biggest events in a person’s life, and there are oh so many traditions associated with them; shopping for the perfect wedding dress with your mom, the bride tossing the wedding bouquet, the groom throwing the garter, cutting the cake, exchanging vows, and sending off the bride and groom, to name a few. So, the question is, in the flurry of all wedding planning, organizing and arranging, which traditions are most important to make sure they don’t get lost amongst all of the other preparation? Of course, the list will differ from bride to bride, but I have selected six that I think are some of the most valuable traditions that are associated with weddings; traditions that create moments that one can hold dear for a lifetime.
One of the most popular traditions and certainly one that falls near the top on the scale of significance is having photos taken on your wedding day. Finding a quality photographer to capture your special day is crucial; the photographer needs to be capable of capturing clear photos of subjects that range from the small decoration details to the big moments such as the ring exchange or the bride and groom cutting the cake. Often, the photographer can be one of the biggest expenses for the entire wedding, but in my opinion, a good photographer is worth every penny. Moments only occur once; even if a moment is attempted to be replicated, it is never exactly the same, and since some of the most precious moments occur on one’s wedding day, it is such an essential gift to be able to capture them in photos that will last a lifetime and beyond. It is also important for the subjects – especially the bride and groom – to remain sincere and candid, even when the camera is pointed in their direction, to ensure photos that are true to their personalities. When you look back on them, you will certainly want to recall the day in the most authentic light possible. Of course, ideally, a person will only have one wedding day in their lifetime, and nothing compares to being able to look back on that day via genuine, realistic footage. As humans, sometimes our memory fails us, but hiring a photographer for your big day will help you remember it for the remainder of your life, regardless of your ability to recollect. It will also allow you to share the experience with loved ones that may not have been able to make it to the occasion, as well as future children or grandchildren.
It has been only three years since my own wedding, and I have looked back several times on the photos that our photographer captured for us. As someone that is now commissioned to do photography for weddings, I am so glad that I hired a professional photographer for my own wedding as well. Some of the moments that I capture during weddings are so precious, and something that I know they will always be able to look back on.
Another tradition that is worth continuing is the first dance between the bride and groom, which tends to be very special as the two are able to share a few moments together amongst all of the beautiful madness of the day. The dance often captures the full attention of the guests, and tugs at their heartstrings as well. I myself have gotten choked up during several of these first dances at various weddings that I have attended. The bride’s first dance with her groom alludes to the joyful beginning of their life together as they take harmonized and rhythmic steps together, which is also symbolic of the synchronized dance through life that they are about to embark on.
The third wedding tradition that I consider valuable enough to continue is sending physical wedding invitations as well as wedding thank you cards in the mail or even by hand-delivery. The online, electronic invite – typically via Facebook – appears to be the rising trend as of late. However, I feel that the traditional method of addressing and delivering personal wedding invitations to friends and loved ones is more personable and thoughtful than the virtual invitation. Physical invitations let your guests know that you’re thinking of them and care enough to personally invite them to be a part of celebrating a significant life event with you.
The world’s shift toward technology is understandable and more convenient, but the thoughtfulness of a personally addressed wedding invitation is typically a bit more treasured and appreciated by the recipient. This is especially so in a world where communication is carried out electronically a lot of the time these days. Wedding thank you cards are also a thoughtful and personal way to let your family members and friends know that you recognize and appreciate the support that they went out of their way to give you. Thank you cards can take time, just like invitations, but even more so, especially if you choose to personalize the note to each individual supporter. But I believe that it is time well spent in maintaining a relationship that is worth fostering.
Registries, in my opinion, are also a very valuable tradition associated with weddings. While they are definitely not nearly as sentimental as the other traditions that I have listed, registries are very helpful for both the loving supporters of the couple as well as the couple themselves. The wedding registry allows a couple to receive items that they may not be able to afford at the time since some couples don’t always have things such as a vacuum, or kitchen utilities before they get hitched. While mixing bowls and carpet cleaners seem to be small expenses, the sum of the cost of all the items that the couple needs can be severely overwhelming. This is especially true, for example, if the couple is younger and still in college, or in other words not making very much money in their careers yet. My husband and I had both lived on our own for several years before getting married, and we had accumulated quite a few necessities; we already had things like dishes, utensils, and a kitchen table. But even then, we still needed things like a bed, a blender, and various other random items that you don’t think about until you need them and realize you don’t have them.
Another tradition that I also enjoy is the exchanging of rings. I love the symbolic gesture of it; when I wear my ring, I feel like I have a piece of my husband with me at all times. Of course, I’m constantly thinking of him anyways, but I like wearing the physical symbol of my marriage! I just think it’s a really cool idea. My husband ended up getting him one of those lightweight silicone rings from an outdoor retailer. He definitely does not mind wearing it! We have also gotten a silicone one for me as well because we go to the gym a lot. I wouldn’t want to wear my diamond ring for and risk it getting damaged. I’m starting to sound like an advertisement for silicone rings, but they have been super useful for us!
I also enjoy the tradition of the “first look,” where the groom sees the bride in her dress for the first time. As a photographer, I have seen my fair share of first looks, but I think they are so fun. I love a good surprise; I find a lot of joy in them. I also enjoy the couples that put their personality into their first look. With one couple that I photographed in the past, the groom turned around to look at the bride and she struck a funny pose. I just think that adding your own personality wherever you can to your wedding will make it more special and sentimental to you in the end. It will also make your wedding very unique, since everyone is different, and uniqueness is so fun!
Of course, I do not think that these are the ONLY wedding traditions worth keeping around. I simply chose a few that I believe really add value to the wedding – not to say weddings that don’t include these traditions lack value. I have also been to several weddings that lacked one or more of these traditions, and they were just as beautiful. Like I stated in the beginning, each wedding is different, and really, that is the beauty of it. Hopefully by listing the traditions that I think are some of the most important has been helpful!