Wedding day traditions can be fun to follow, but some traditions can cause stress and take the personalization out of your big day. Here are several wedding day traditions brides may want to follow (or not).
John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. Today, I’m here with Faye Broderick, senior consultant at the Essex Room, a wedding venue on the north shore of Massachusetts. Today, we’re talking about wedding day traditions brides should follow, or maybe not follow. Welcome, Faye.
Faye Broderick: Thanks for having me, John.
Something Borrowed, Something Blue…
John: Sure. Faye, what are some fun ideas that you’ve seen at wedding recently or heard about for that old “something borrowed, something blue” tradition? Where does that come from?
Faye: The “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a lucky sixpence for your shoe” was actually an old English rhyme. Mainly, those tokens were thought to be good luck on the day of your wedding and to carry you into your marriage. Not something you should worry about a whole lot. Your marriage isn’t doomed if you don’t carry through.
John: But it can be a fun old tradition to follow along with.
Faye: It is a fun old tradition, and it’s a fun way to incorporate maybe some things that belonged to someone who’s passed in your family — a grandmother, a grandfather — maybe a piece of your grandmother’s jewelry or maybe something that belonged to a parent who is no longer with us. Just a way to incorporate that old tradition into a new part of your life.
John: Can you combine them? Can you do the “something old” and “borrowed” as the same thing?
Faye: I don’t see why not. I’ve seen it happen.
John: Do it however you want.
Faye: Do it however you want. Whatever works for you. If your “something old” happens to be your grandmother’s sapphire earrings, go for it. It’s old. It’s blue. Have at it. If you can find a sixpence here, all the more better luck for you.
John: Just be careful while you’re dancing and you have that in your shoe.
Faye: You have to probably take it off by then. Just walk down the aisle with it. You’re good to go.
Tossing the Garter
John: How common is it for brides to toss a garter these days? I know that was always a really popular tradition. Are people still doing that now?
Faye: Not so much. Mostly, we’ve seen younger couples doing that, but for the people who are more of average age, starting at 30 and going up, they’re not really doing the garter so much. We don’t see the bouquet toss very much anymore, either. Usually, if someone is looking to hand off her bouquet, she might do an anniversary dance.
What that is, is the deejay or the entertainer will get all of the married couples up on the dance floor. He’ll start playing a song. He’ll, I don’t want to say pick off, but he’ll dismiss couples from the dance floor.
John: I’ve seen that. Where they say, “Anybody who’s been married less than 5 years, leave the dance floor now. Anybody who’s been married less than 20 years, leave the dance floor.” You always end up with that one older couple who’s been married 50 years or something like that out there, dancing.
Faye: 50’s. I think the couple that I saw married the longest was 62 years. It was crazy. She went home with the flowers. God bless them.
Older Wedding Day Traditions
John: That’s great. What are maybe some older or less common wedding‑day traditions that you’ve seen gaining traction now? Or maybe ones that are less popular now, and maybe that’s a good thing?
Faye: I think something that was popular, probably decades ago, was the dollar dance.
John: What’s that?
Faye: Think of pooling your money, throwing it in a hat. You have a container of some sort, and those guests who want to dance with the bride or the groom put a dollar in the hat. They have their little dance.
John: It’d have to be short.
Faye: Very short. Really a couple of seconds, because the bride and groom have to get through…
John: A whole room full of people.
Faye: Pretty much. Then, at the end of the dance, the bride and groom run off with this hat full of money. I imagine it was probably something that started so they had a little extra for their honeymoon, spending money. Mercifully, don’t really see that anymore. Something else I haven’t seen lately — and I’m very thankful for that — is the loud, boisterous giving away of the centerpieces.
“Wave your napkin over your head, dance around the table, pass the dollar around.” It does happen once in a while.
John: You used to have those games that people would have to play. I think lately, I’ve just seen it be “Whoever’s been married the longest or the least. Or whoever’s birthday is closest to today or something like that will take the centerpieces.” Just make it really quick and simple.
Faye: Yes. That’s if you hear or see anything, at all. Sometimes, you just see people fighting over them. “I want it.” “No, I want it.” Or, in some cases, we get a request to put a penny under the coffee cup and saucer.
John: It’s probably a good idea, do you think, to have some way to determine who at the table would get the centerpiece? Just so that you don’t end up with people fighting over it like that.
Faye: I do, but on the other hand, in most cases, people, especially if they’re traveling, if they’re staying at a hotel, they don’t really want to take a centerpiece home.
John: Right. You’re not going to bring that on the plane with you.
Faye: Exactly. There are times that we end up with piles and piles of whatever, be it flowers or something that’s maybe a little less traditional than flowers. We don’t know what to do with them, either. In the case that we’re left with flowers, we usually drop them off at a local nursing home or a rehab center, just to brighten somebody’s day.
But I would have some way lined up with the entertainer, in order to distribute those centerpieces amongst your guests.
John: What are some other, less common traditions?
Less Common Wedding Day Traditions
Faye: We’re not seeing the receiving line as much anymore. I think that has gone to predominantly a church ceremony thing.
John: I’ve gone to a couple of church ceremonies recently where they did have a receiving line, or the couple and maybe their parents would stay at the back of the church. Then, as you’re leaving the church, you just greet them and say “Hi.” Although it tends to be maybe a little quicker, not as long of a line and a little less formal than it used to be.
Faye: Yes, it used to be the entire bridal party, everybody’s parents, and the bride and groom. You could have had a line of 20 people that you needed to say hello to before you could get out of that church. These days, if I know that someone’s going to have a receiving line, I recommend that it’s just the bride and groom and maybe their parents. Nobody else.
Most days, we’re having ceremonies on‑site at the Essex Room. In that case, I recommend to our couples not to do the receiving line at all. It takes up a lot of time and it eats into cocktail hour. Your guests have traveled. They’ve sat. They’ve watched the ceremony. They want to eat. They want to drink. They want to have a good time just as much as you do.
We want to rush you off, get your photos taken, get you into the room, and get you and everybody else to the party.
John: That’s a good point that you bring up, too. I was going to say that the bride and groom often have to go take wedding photos after the ceremony or between the ceremony and the reception. Having a receiving line after the ceremony cuts into that, as well.
Or it makes it even longer, because the bride and the groom have to stay there for the receiving line. Then, they have to go take the pictures. Now, you’re talking a long time before they show up at the reception.
Faye: A way to compromise there is something that’s taken off in the past couple of years, which is first‑look photos. That’s when the bride and groom are off somewhere privately. The groom and the bride, they get their first look at each other before the ceremony, before everyone’s crowding around them.
There’s a lot of anticipation there, but not always as much as there is going into the ceremony when you’ve got 100 or 200 sets of eyes. You just have one set of eyes on you. I think it’s a great photo opportunity, but it will also save you time, down the road, especially if you want to join the cocktail hour, or if you have a lot of family photos to take after, or if you want to do that receiving line.
You could do your first‑look photos, move into your ceremony, do your receiving line, do any tiny little photos you might have to do with family, and then move into your reception.
John: Then, at the reception, of course, the bride and the groom almost always go around the room and greet everybody, go from table to table. That can really be your time to see everybody and thank everybody. You almost don’t need that receiving line. It’s extra.
Faye: That’s what I tell a lot of people. You’re expected to greet everyone at your reception. If you’re going to do that, why would you greet them our first time in the receiving line? You’re doing the same thing twice in two different venues. You’re accomplishing it just two different ways. You’re just taking up twice as much time.
John: I think that’s great advice. Faye, thanks again for speaking with me today.
Faye: Thanks, John.
John: For more information, wedding planning tips, or to inquire about having your wedding at the Essex Room, you can visit the website at essexroom.com or call 978‑768‑7335.