“I didn't know I was marrying a hippy” grinned Jack at one of my latest wedding ideas. Given the long list of untraditional plans, I can't quite remember which idea it was – maybe the “everyone stands ceremony” proposal or the “hey, what if we ditched the entire schedule” campaign.

The thing is, Jack always knew what he was getting into. Whether it be my progressive Pacific Northwest upbringing or my habit of doing literally the opposite of what anyone says – let's be real, he's enthusiastically marrying a free spirit. Thankfully, he's a rebel in his own right, and we've teamed up together to buck wedding traditions turn this party on its head.

So, how, might you ask are we “bucking tradition?” I've chatted a bit about my plan to go au-natural with a “no-makeup” look, our flower foraging banditry, our efforts to make our wedding eco-friendly, oh – and that trend where brides are pressured to grow their hair out for the classic bridal updo? Yeah, chopped it above my shoulders a couple of weeks ago. And the list doesn't stop there! Find out which other traditions Jack and I are saying “adios” to below.

No Bridal Party

Photo by Claire Eliza

When I started photographing weddings in France years ago, the most shocking aspect to me was the French's lack of bridal parties. How amazing, I thought, that brides didn't have to rank their friends and exclude those on the “outside”. And how fabulous, I thought, that guests could wear whatever they wanted rather than be forced to purchase and wear a dress they'd never choose for themselves.

It was a no-brainer for Jack and myself to relieve our friends of these duties. We are still being spoiled with bachelor and bachelorette parties and I've invited my closest gal pals to get ready with me the day-of.

A Shockingly (For Some) Small Guest List

Another reason for our lack of a bridal party is our “shockingly” small guest list. With 40-50 people in attendance, it would feel silly to have half of our guests standing next to us as we married.

Why such a small guest list? It was extremely important to us that we shared our wedding day only with people who are intimately part of our lives. We wanted a small number of people in attendance so that we could spend ample quality time with each and every guest on this wild adventure to Mexico.

We Ditched Save-the-Dates & Formal Invites For Custom Travel Books

Photo by Claire Eliza

Todos Santos is definitely an “up-and-coming” travel destination. That being said, one can find very little information about food and to-do's online. Rather than send Save-the-Dates and a formal invitation, I wrote, designed and printed a travel book guide for our wedding destination with all of our own photos of the region.

Inside, our guests could find our own personal restaurant reviews, accommodation suggestions, excursions, how to arrive, beach guides, and our wedding details and website to find links to everything listed in the guide. I must say, the reactions of our invitees were beyond what I had imagined; everyone was so impressed and excited! I think it truly helped with our guests' travel booking and showing everyone what a beautiful week it would be.

No Rehearsal Dinner

Photo by Claire Eliza

I think we've got the whole “Jack-marries-Claire” situation figured out, so rather than hosting a rehearsal dinner for a select few, we're putting on a wild Welcome Party two days prior for all of our guests arriving in Mexico.

As most guests will be flying in mid-week, we figured it would be a great way to start the festivities. This way everyone can party hard with margaritas and cervezas without showing up at our ceremony totally hungover.

It's A Symbolic Ceremony

To legally marry in Mexico, a couple must undergo chest scans and blood work in the state you'll marry – Jack and I are not going to that extreme. Rather, we'll sign our wedding papers in New York with our officiant Roberta (a close friend) and two witnesses. We'll drop the papers in the mail when we take off for Mexico and Roberta will perform the symbolic ceremony on the beach on our real wedding day. By the time we return to New York, our license will be waiting for us.

In addition, the ceremony may seem a tad non-traditional for a few old-school guests. We won't adhere to the rules of bride-on-the-left and there will be absolutely no religious mentions. It'll just be myself, my dad and a mariachi walking down the aisle, oh and my wedding ring is going on my middle finger (because it looks good there!)

We Put Wine In The F*** It Bucket

This, I think, will surprise nearly all of our guests. I used to work in wine, and Jack in restaurants, and since we are passionate wine drinkers, we'd rather drink no wine than bad wine.

While it's true, the Baja has a growing viniculture, we're really more of an old-world wine couple. If we pop any bubbles, it has to be grower Champagne from France. It may seem weird to some to forgo the traditional wedding wine, but I think our guests will be pleased with the well-crafted margaritas and mezcal cocktails.

Forgoing A Long List Of Wedding “Must-Dos”

Bouquet toss, top 40 hits, the “Cupid Shuffle”, garters, conventional wedding schedules, formal posed portraits – these are just a few of the typical wedding “must-dos” that are not making the Jack and Claire to-do list.

A Bride's Speech

It's 2018 and yes, women have a voice! Of the 80+ weddings photographed only a few have included a bride's speech, and I often long to hear their voices. Truthfully, I've already prepared a rough draft of what I'd like to say (for now) and it's important to me that I have a voice on this day that is all about our equal partnership.

Fun fact – American princess bride Meghan Markle bucked royal tradition and gave her own bride's speech, how inspiring!

While this list is long, there are still a few wedding traditions we are keeping – some out of romance and others out of necessity.

No First-Look

Call us hopeless romantics but Jack and I can't wait to see each other for the first time when I walk down the aisle. While I see the pro's for many of my own couples who do a first-look, we prefer to stick with tradition and keep that magic moment for our ceremony.

I'll Be The Only One In White

By forgoing a bridal party, we allowed our friends and family to choose whatever they wanted to wear to the wedding – as long as it wasn't white. I may be unconventional, but I still wish to be the only bride at the party.

A Seating Chart

Seating charts hurt my heart a little bit – I really don't like forcing people to do anything – but we've been convinced to make one. Many industry experts feel strongly that a lack of a seating chart leaves guests feeling like “there's nowhere to sit” even if there is. So, we'll be crafting a seating chart for one long farm table to make sure everyone feels comfortable and involved in the party.

Want to know about our Mexican wedding fiesta? Follow along with my Real Bride Diary and find more tradition-bucking tips in our planning section.