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The State of the Wedding Ritual

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Wedding insiders weigh in on the big day traditions that are worth keeping, the ones you could skip, and which ones might be fun to reimagine in a fresh way.

The Bouquet Toss

“Toss (it out), no pun intended,” says Christine Ringuette, owner of Down The Aisle Wedding Planning & Design in New Hartford, Connecticut. “As soon as Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’ is played, I’ve noticed that all the single female guests exist the dance floor as quickly as possible.”

But Andrea VandeBerg and Sarah Sarbacker, event designers at Cherry Blossom Events in Madison, Wisconsin, suggest this sweet and embarrassment-free spin instead: Present the bouquet to the couple that’s been married the longest.

The Garter Toss

Skip it. With its awkward removal process, the experts agree this just-this-side-of-trashy ritual (do you really want grandparents and great aunts watching?) rarely takes place anymore.

The Father Giving Away His Daughter

Keep it. Sure, we live in an era where women aren’t property, but walking down the aisle on the arm of your bursting-with-pride pops is a really special moment, say VandeBerg and Sarbacker. For a modern twist, they suggest asking mom to walk with you on the other side.

A Huge Wedding Cake

Change it up. More and more couples are opting to skip the tower of tiers and serve a lavish sweets table instead, say VandeBerg and Sarbacker. If you want the traditional cutting ritual, include a mini cake – and then stock the rest of your spread with treats that reflect your personalities or the vibe or palette for your event.  Elegant macarons, festive whoopie pies, your favorite Girl Scout cookies … the possibilities are endless.

The First Dance & Father/Daughter Dance

Keep. These sentimental dances are still quite popular, Ringuette says. But, she adds, more couples are forgoing the cliché sappy songs in favor of personalized tunes (i.e. a song they heard on their first date, an unconventional song by a band they both adore, or a song with humorous but relevant lyrics), and brides want more of a connection with their fathers than just “Through The Years” by Kenny Rogers: “They’re incorporating faster-paced songs, choreographed numbers, the cha-cha or the twist,” she says.

The Toasts

Keep. The Cherry Blossom team says that toasts of some kind are a must. Stick with the traditional approach (hosting parents, maid of honor, best man) or open the mike to your closest family and friends – for instance a group toast by the ’maids. However, to prevent halting the flow of the evening (and a rambling, cringe-worthy, drunken speech) it’s still best to assign the toasts and establish a time limit.

Something Old, New, Borrowed & Blue

Make it your own. While there are no real rules to this one in the first place, today’s brides are finding unique ways of incorporating it, Ringuette says. For example, she’s seen a bride carry her grandfather’s first edition novel down the aisle in lieu of a bouquet to serve as a very meaningful something old and borrowed.

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