Mainstream culture and longstanding traditions have taught us that there's a right way and a wrong well to celebrate some of life's biggest moments; but Rachel Pederson, a wife and mom, has recently reminded us that there are some wedding traditions it's completely OK not to follow. In her case, it was spending the time and money (along with her husband) to "upgrade" her ring, which had been deemed "too small" by many. In a Facebook post originally published in February and making the rounds again now, however, Pederson explained that she cared not about the size of the ring, but what it meant: A token of her husband's love and a sign of their commitment to one another.
What got to me the most about Pederson's story is the way the size of her ring was automatically associated with the amount of success she and her husband have had. I got uncharacteristically ticked off: Since when is that what a ring is about? Don't get me wrong; I love a nice, big, shiny jewel just as much as the next person, and if your partner proposes to you with that (or you to them), rock on! But does a small ring signify a lack of success, love, passion, beauty? Certainly not.
Here, check out Pederson's post:
It got me thinking of all the wedding traditions imposed on soon-to-be newlyweds. If these things make you happy, and if they mean something to you and your partner, party on, my friend. But if they just don't float your boat, you should feel no pressure to align yourselves with them. You do you — no matter what society's expectations may be.
1. Needing To Spend A Certain Amount Of Money On An Engagement Ring
You wouldn't believe some of the crazy rules governing how much you should spend on an engagement ring. One rule is that it should be the equivalent of three months' salary. Another is that it's connected to the age of the person you're proposing to: If they are 32 years old, the ring should be 3.2 carats. A third is that it should cost around the same of the buyer's car's purchase price. My head is going to explode.
If you spot the most gorgeous ring that you absolutely have to give your partner, and that ring is $20,000, and you have $20,000, right-o! Go for it. If the ring is $5,000, stupendous. If you barely have two nickels to rub together but you find a stunning ring for $200, it will still mean the world to your partner, because you love them so much. (Conversely, you could also be a millionaire and purchase a $200 ring.) Read: Price does not matter!
2. Picking Out The "Appropriate" Wedding Dress
Ah, the dress. Another instance when women feel like they have to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars for it to mean anything. People, you could buy a dress at a flea market for $7 and still look absolutely jaw-dropping. Similar to the ring situation, buy what you love, what you feel beautiful in, and what you feel comfortable buying with the money you have. The price tag doesn't mean a thing.
And while we're at it, for Pete's sake, go with whatever color you fancy. Buy an ivory dress because you found an ivory dress that you love, not because you're "supposed" to wear white but LOL you're not a virgin but ivory is acceptable because it's not white but it's close. I once found a pink Hello Kitty dress and, well, I didn't hate it...
3. Rules About Who Covers What Expenses
There are all sorts of guidelines regarding who pays for what — the groom's family covers this and this, while the bride's family foots the bill for that and that. How about... who gives a rat's patootie? If either (or both) of your families want to pitch in, that is so sweet and generous of them. If they don't have the money, or don't want to spend the money, or you don't want them to spend the money, well, that's A-OK too. Personally, I wouldn't let my mom throw in a penny. I want her to show up, get drunk, have cake, and dance her face off. For other families, it's an important gift to give newlyweds, and that's a beautiful thing.
4. Having To Give Everyone A Play-By-Play Via Social Media
All right, so maybe this technically isn't a tradition, since the explosion of social media is relatively new; but it's definitely worth discussing. One of the first things many people do right after getting engaged is hop online to tell everyone. There's totally nothing wrong with wanting to share this wonderfully special news with your circle of people... just like there's nothing wrong with not wanting to share it. The whole "pics or it didn't happen" rule is utter bologna, and you don't need to Facebook every single step of your wedding planning in order to validate it if that's not your jam. If you enjoy Instagramming all the cake you sampled, by all means, please do so. I love thinking about cake. If it's a detail you don't feel the urge to share, that's OK too, and I'll find cake somewhere else.
5. Having 46 Bridesmaids
Maybe not 46, but you get the idea. Brides feel pressured to have an army of bridesmaids, because what if they don't? Does it mean they don't have as many friends? Does it mean they're loved less? Not popular? Not desirable, unhip? Give me a break.
If you decide on having a huge wedding party, do it because there are just that many people that you want to be a part of it. Don't do it out of fear of what others will think of you when just a few people stroll down the aisle. My preference? My sister will likely be the only woman standing next to me. However, I once attended a wedding that had so many bridesmaids that in their posed wedding photos, you couldn't even find the bride — and that's awesome too! It's a day full of love, no matter what.
6. Being Showered With Wedding Gifts
I always found this tradition to be kind of awkward. Like... "Hey! You're invited to my wedding! Bring me presents! I've included a handy list of all the things I want. Thanks in advance." Gift-giving is nice, and part of me does understand it, especially since gifting someone with something to help two people build their new life together is just too sweet. But... is it a must-have? Of course not. Some couples politely request no gifts, or ask for people to donate to a charity instead. They're all great ideas, as long as they mean something to you and your significant other.
7. The Bachelor/Bachelorette Party
You have to spend your last night as a legally single person in a wild and crazy way, and go out with a bang, right? Um... not necessarily. Bachelor/bachelorette parties can be tons of fun. Living in Vegas, I've witnessed plenty. Groups of cackling women, drunk off their behinds, laughing hysterically, and enjoying ever minute of it. And for whatever reason, they're always wearing tutus.
But what if you're just not the partying type? Do you have to spend a night pretending to be someone else, pounding shots and table dancing when you'd prefer green tea and a good book? Naw, man. Do what makes you happy! I, for one, can't even imagine having a bachelorette party. It's mainly because I have, like, two friends, one of which is a dog. Can't we just put on Netflix and have snacks, instead?