It used to be that your wedding day was not just your day, but an exercise in social graces.  The couples’ desires were often overcome by a deluge of expectations, traditions, and strict rules of etiquette. “Canon In D,” religious hymns, and poofy white dresses reigned supreme.  When my parents tell the story of their wedding, it’s more a tale of how my grandmothers planned the wedding while my parents went through the motions like a pair of puppets.

Lucky for us, the days of rigid expectations for weddings have mostly been replaced by a new age of more relaxed traditions. Today, couples have more room to express themselves and get creative with every aspect of their special day.

It all begins with a big proposal, right?  Some engagements begin with a the diamond-ring-in-a-glass-of-champagne schtick, but I’m willing to bet it’s not the majority.  Some couples do something more creative, like this flash mob proposal made up of family and friends. Others begin an engagement in a less flashy way.  For example, my husband and I had no ring and no fanfare; we simply made a mutual decision that it was the right time for us to tie the knot.  When it comes to your engagement, to heck with expectations of grandeur.  Unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case, go for it!

READ MORE  Six Dating Lessons Everybody Should Know

Arguably, the most enjoyable part of wedding planning (after cake sampling, obviously) is compiling a registry, which you can do online if you’re willing to forgo the fun of using the scanner gun. Traditionally, all items on the registry were supposed to be home essentials; after all, the registry was originally designed to help the newlyweds furnish a new home together. But nowadays, many couples already have a furnished home and aren’t in dire need of a new gravy boat.  Instead, couples are registering for nontraditional gifts, like honeymoon packages, camping gear, and gift cards. Two bits of classic etiquette for the registry still stand, though, in my opinion: make sure you have some items in a variety of price ranges, and do not forget to mail out hand-written thank you cards when it’s all said and done.

Speaking of cake sampling, the big white cake is also an optional part of your wedding day.  Some couples opt for a creative and personal spin on a traditional cake (like this pink Rice Krispy treat cake), while others have a cupcake buffet, pies, or other dessert.  The sky’s the limit!

Another aspect of the wedding that people tend to make a big fuss about? The rings. You’d be cheating yourself if you thought a big diamond ring was your only option. Check Pinterest for creative custom ideas, like this fun finger print ring, or browse Etsy for interesting handmade and vintage finds.  My husband and I went with a pair of handmade rosewood rings, and we couldn’t be happier with our choice. Other options are matching tattoos, other jewelry, or nothing at all.  It’s your body, your ceremony, and your marriage, so the important thing is that you and your partner love your choice.

READ MORE  Why you really need to forgive, forget, and move on

The take-away, here, is that wedding traditions and rules of etiquette are forever changing, along with the evolving legal definition of marriage.  Your wedding day is not a time to feel like you’re in a straight-jacketed of stale tradition, but a time to celebrate what you have with the people you love.  Whether it’s a traditional church ceremony, an Irish-Vietnamese fusion wedding, or an offbeat Doctor Who celebration, your day should have you written all over it from start to finish.

Photo via Flickr