17 Ideas For Incorporating Personal Traditions Into Your Wedding

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Weddings have changed a lot over the years, including traditions associated with them. While some couples stick to renowned ones, others create their own. The Knot just uncovered what traditions and trends are common among couples — and not. On February 14, they revealed the results of their 12th annual wedding industry report, The Knot 2018 Real Weddings Study. To get the scoop, they surveyed more than 14,000 U.S. brides and grooms married in 2018 between the ages of 18 and 65+.

“Every wedding is unique in its own way and we love seeing how couples are continuously twisting, fusing, or making their own traditions with their wedding celebrations, especially in recent years,” Lauren Kay, deputy editor at The Knot, tells Bustle. “Couples are really using their weddings to showcase who they are, both as individuals and as a couple,” she says. “No detail goes unnoticed by today’s creative duos, who are hiring pros, like custom entertainment, and crafting signature cocktails with DIY margarita stations for guests to enjoy!”

The study found that while the father-daughter dance is still popular at receptions, with 77 percent of couples upholding the tradition, tossing the bouquet is less popular, with just 45 percent of couples doing it. Similarly, 73 percent of couples still have a first dance at their reception, but only 33 percent still do the garter toss. Couples are mixing things up when it comes to their wedding parties, too, with 28 percent of brides and 11 percent of grooms saying they had a mixed gender wedding party. Additionally, seven percent are having pets be part of their wedding party. And others are having grandmothers serve as flower girls and mothers serve as matrons of honor.

All this may make you wonder: When it comes to your own wedding, what are some ways to incorporate personal traditions into it? Below, experts give some ideas.

1. Have A Morning Wedding Rehearsal

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Although some people have a rehearsal dinner, it’s not mandatory, Amber Anderson, owner of Heavenly Day Events, tells Bustle. She suggests having a morning rehearsal — followed by a brewery tour. “My couples are taking this approach now more than ever, as venues are too booked for traditional rehearsal time frames,” she says. “Plus, the wedding parties find it is a relaxing way to get to know each other and celebrate the couple together.”

2. Have The Wedding Party Wear Unmatching Attire

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Caroline Greif, CEO of Birch Event Design, tells Bustle that many couples have their wedding party wear unmatching attire these days — but you have to make sure it doesn’t throw off the entire wedding. “Keep some rules intact,” she says. “While unmatching is still coordinating and pleasant on the eye, using the same fabric, like chiffon, and forbidding beading or crystal, can help create an unintentional uniform visual that keeps it neat looking.”

3. Instead Of A Wedding Party, Choose One Or Two People To Assist You

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As far as wedding parties are concerned, some people are nixing them altogether, Megan Velez, VP of Product at the Destination Weddings Travel Group, tells Bustle. “Instead, they’re choosing one or two people to stand with them at the altar during the ceremony,” she says. She adds that you can take personalization one step further and be more flexible with what they plan to wear. “Consider selecting a hue, style, or loose guidelines, and let them wear what they feel best in.”

4. Personalize The Bridesmaids’ Bouquets

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Another way to customize your celebration is by personalizing the bridesmaids’ bouquets, Anderson says. “Flowers all have certain meanings, and choosing meaningful blooms for each individual bridesmaid can really personalize the moment and deepen the friendship,” she says.

5. Involve Children In Your Wedding Vows

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Anderson says that if you and your partner are blending families, involving children in the vows is a good idea. “Kneeling and getting at eye level to say vows to your new children is a sure way to melt the room and create a bond and memory for a lifetime,” she says.

6. Sew A Piece Of Your Mother’s Wedding Dress Into Your Own

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Greif says that a tradition her company appreciates and sees often is when a bride sews a piece of her mother’s wedding dress into their own or ties it around their bouquet. “To have a piece of a marriage that you’ve always looked up to on your own wedding day is really sentimental,” she says.

7. Have A “First Look” With Your Partner *Before* The Wedding Ceremony

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Jessica Bishop, founder of TheBudgetSavvyBride.com and author of The Budget-Savvy Wedding Planner & Organizer, tells Bustle that traditionally, couples wouldn’t see each other until they met at the altar during the ceremony, but, these days, you can write your own rules. “Make the most of the time you have and opt to have a first look with your partner,” she says. “A first look allows you to get couple’s portraits, wedding party photos, and even family portraits out of the way so you all can be fully present and enjoy the wedding reception!”

8. Choose A Unique Location Or Venue

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Whether it’s for the wedding ceremony itself or the reception afterwards, holding it at a unique venue will help personalize your big day. “Think beyond the typical parameters of selecting a venue (location, size, look) and seek spaces with local character,” Emily Sullivan, owner of Emily Sullivan Events, tells Bustle. “Find a property with historical significance and find ways to share specifics with your guests, so you can create ties to the space that all your guests can enjoy.”

9. Pull Local Inspiration From Your Wedding Location

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Whether you get married in your hometown or a faraway location, Velez suggests pulling local inspiration to help personalize your wedding day. “Incorporating unique experiences and details will capture the essence of the area’s culture, and it will make your wedding much more memorable for years to come,” she says. “For example, think of hiring a mariachi band for your cocktail hour in Mexico, or a hula performance for your romantic evening reception in Hawaii.”

On a related note, Sullivan says that some venues even offer brief walking tours when guests first arrive, and others have knowledgeable staff on hand throughout an event to interact with guests. “They can give context to the architecture, important dates and figures, and the current status of fascinating historic buildings,” she says.

10. Create Welcome Packets For Your Guests

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Especially if guests are coming from out of town, you may want to greet them with welcome bags, Sullivan says. “Be sure to include local recommendations, a list of main attractions (including all your favorites), and a map,” she says. “You can never go wrong with feeding people, so consider adding a local snack and beverages — consider it a preview of what’s to come!”

11. At The Reception, Sit With Your Guests

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While some just-married couples sit alone at the reception or with their bridal party, Velez suggests opting for more of a banquet-style seating arrangement. “Family-style service has become immensely popular in the last several years, so have one large table for you and your guests,” she says.

12. Personalize Little Things, Like Drinks At The Reception

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One way to incorporate new traditions is by considering things you both enjoy, Bishop says. “These may be meaningful mementos from your relationship or little rituals the two of you partake in,” she says. “For instance, you could serve Moscow Mules as your signature cocktail, since it was what you drank on your first date.”

13. Switch Things Up When It Comes To The First Dance

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While it may be traditional for the newly married couple to have a first dance together, there are no hard and fast rules about family dances, Velez says. “A light-hearted joint parents’ dance can replace the tradition of dancing separately, while some couples choose to highlight other special relationships in their lives — such as cutting a rug with a favorite grandparent,” she says. “Song selection can be a great way to customize things one step further — consider your dancing partner’s favorite musicians, or a song that has meaning to you both.”

14. Ask Your Guests For Date Ideas And Marriage Advice

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Bishop says a fun tradition you could incorporate into your wedding is to have your guests fill out cards with anything you’d like insight or direction on for the future. “From date ideas and recipes to advice for a loving marriage, get the best of what your guests know by giving them the chance to share this with you,” she says.

15. Give Guests A To-Go Item

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Greif recommends giving your wedding guests a memento to remind them of the day long after it’s over. “A tradition that we are really into is to-go items,” she says. “They leave everyone excited to get something fun or yummy — and it keeps them still thinking about your wedding days later.”

16. Extend The Celebration

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Bishop suggests continuing the wedding celebration into the weekend. “Extend the party and time with your loved ones by hosting a full weekend of events,” she says. “Plan activities that will allow your guests to mingle and get to know each other, especially if they've all traveled to attend.”

17. Skip Traditions That Don’t Feel Authentic To You

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Most importantly, it’s OK to skip traditions that don’t represent you and your partner. “Feel free to skip traditions that don't feel authentic to you,” Bishop says. “Don’t love cake? Skip the fancy tiered confection and the cake-cutting ritual and opt for an ice cream bar instead.”

However, she says to make sure to be respectful of loved ones, but ultimately do what feels right to you. “It may be customary for a father to give his daughter away, but if that doesn’t sit right with you, then you can walk yourself down the aisle,” Bishop says. “To avoid hurt feelings, the most important thing is to communicate with the people you love and explain your decisions.”

As you can see, there are plenty of new traditions you can incorporate into your wedding, or perhaps you’ll be inspired to create your own.