Hello folks. Claire here, welcome to the latest instalment of my Real Bride Diary.
Seeing as it's Bridesmaid Week here on the blog – and I'm not having any bridesmaids for my big day – I figured I'd take this opportunity to chat more about how our choice not to have a bridal party has worked out, and muse a bit on my thoughts on other wedding traditions too.
I'd love to hear what you guys think as well!
February 23rd 2016: Five Months and Six Days To Go.
– My current obsession: Suede sandals – are these too casual for a wedding?
– Marko’s current obsession: Tweed blazers.
– This week we’re mostly: Thinking about our hen party and stag do, they're next month!
Not Having Bridesmaids or Groomsmen; An Update.
So last year I wrote a post about our choice not to have a bridal party (you can read it here). It's a pretty long post, so I won't go into all the reasons again, but the short version is, we want to keep our day as informal and laid back as possible for our friends and family, and this seemed like one easy way to do it.
After I wrote the post, I sent it to my friends, and asked them “Will You Not Be My Bridesmaid” – they loved it! Not that any of them would have begrudged being my bridesmaid, but it meant they'd be ‘off-duty' on our wedding day and able to fully take part in the fun.
For Marko's brother and friends, I think the fact that he's still having a stag and an open mic for the speeches, means they'll still get to do the typical groomsman stuff, if they want to, so it doesn't matter if they don't have an official role.
A year on from making the decision, as the excitement starts to build up, we're still both totally happy with our decision.
Our friends have been awesome, they're are always offering to help out, and have completely taken the tasks of planning our hen and stag nights off our hands.
One thing I would say though, to anyone considering ditching the bridal party concept altogether, I am slightly nervous about the day itself, not having people by my side for certain tasks (calling the band if they're late, or having my lipstick in their handbag).
But as the day approaches, if we still think we'll need someone, we might hire an on-the-day-co-ordinator, or divvy out small jobs among our friends, just to make sure we can relax and enjoy our day.
Not having a bridal party has meant our friends are a little out of the loop about the wedding, and sometimes ask about things that your closest pals should probably know about your big day. I do put this down to us living abroad though, and the fact that I'm trying my hardest not to be one of those people who talks about their wedding the whole time (though that's getting harder!).
So, we've set up a wedding website (more about that in another post soon!) just to make everyone feel excited and part of the build-up, and I'm trying my best to share a bit more about our day to day planning (without boring them with wedding chatter!).
I've been thinking an awful lot about traditions lately.
I've been listening to tonnes of Save The Date Wedding Podcast (I had a chat with Aleisha last week, you can listen to our ramblings here), and she talks a lot about doing your own thing on your big day, taking the traditions that mean something to you, and ditching the rest. I totally agree.
In my mind, getting married at all is pretty traditional, so I find it really funny when people think it's ‘out there' not to include certain customs in your day. Some traditions are sweet in their origin, while others are really bizarre or out-dated.
Here's a run down of some of the customs we're keeping, the ones we're ditching, and why.
Of course, these are just the things that either run in our families or resonate with us. If a church ceremony, garter toss or send-off are important to you, then they are absolutely aspects you should include in your day.
Traditions We're Keeping
On The Day Structure
The structure of our wedding day will be pretty traditional; ceremony, drinks reception, dinner, and dancing.
We toyed with the idea of shaking things up, but we figured there's a good reason the tried and tested flow works, and that having an unusual timeline might leave our guests feeling a little uneasy on the day.
Taking Marko's Surname
This has kind of been a controversial one. These days, it seems anti-feminist to take your husband's name when you marry, and in turn, loose some of your identity.
But to me, part of it was that I really want a new name (my name is SO COMMON in Ireland!) but it's also that being a new family is the most exciting part of marriage, and I just love the idea of sharing a name with Marko (and hopefully one day, our kids too!).
It's such a great photo-op, what's not to love!
Exchanging Wedding Bands
I really wanted an unusual, bejewelled wedding ring, and was a little underwhelmed when I looked at the traditional plain wedding bands.
But when I thought about it, the concept of exchanging a simple, humble band meant more to me than my magpie-level jewellery obsession!
Having my Dad Give me Away
As much as my inner (and outer) feminist associates having one man hand you over to another as a pretty dated ownership concept, I think it would feel wrong to do it any other way on our wedding day.
My dad is one of my very favourite people, and I 100% want him by my side as I walk down the aisle. (Having an aisle, I guess that's pretty traditional too, right?)
The White Dress
You can read more about my dress search here. I tried to defy it. I looked at patterned gowns. But in the end, my inner bride won out, and a long, white, lace dress (complete with train!) was the only one that would do.
(Aleisha and I joked about that 30 Rock episode where Liz Lemon tries so hard to block out the cliche princess bride inside her!)
Traditions We're Ditching
Not Seeing Each-Other Before the Wedding
I get really bad anxiety before social events, Marko is the only person who can put me at ease, so it's kind of a no-brainer for us to get ready together before our ceremony.
Plus, it's going to be one of the most fun, exciting mornings of our lives, why would we want to spend it apart?
Cutting the Cake
I just find this one a bit funny and strange! I don't really get the reason for holding a knife together, when you really think about it, it doesn't make much sense.
Plus we're having a dessert table, so we'll probably just be taking a fork and sampling ALL the cakes!
The First Dance
We're on the fence about this one. Marko & I are not really ones for PDAs (and weddings are just massive, day-long PDAs, right!) so I can just imagine the first dance being a bit awkward for us! We might do a practise run and decide!
Throwing the Bouquet
I used to find this really fun when I was younger, but now the idea of gathering all your unmarried friends together to catch your used bouquet seems a tad smug!
I know that's never the intention of brides, but it just doesn't sit well with me!
I'll probably leave my bouquet on my mam's grave, though I also love the idea of giving it to the couple at your wedding who are married the longest.
Having a Top Table
We knew early on, that we wouldn't want a top table at our wedding reception, we just like the informality that long tables, and everyone sitting together creates.
End of the Night Send-off
I LOVE those pictures of couples having a sparkler send-off, and I always remember my mam and aunties telling me about the ‘going away outfits' they changed into, before hopping in a car and heading off on their honeymoon.
But for me and Marko, we want to be the very last ones to leave the party – so we'll be getting the bus to the after-party with the rest of our guests, and will be on the dancefloor 'til the bitter end!
I'd love to hear what you guys think of wedding traditions, which ones you're keeping for your big day, and which you're opting out of.
While no one should ever judge you for choosing certain customs for your wedding, I do think it's important to look at the meaning behind them, and why you're including them, rather than just going along with what you think is expected.
Until next time, Claire x
Check out the rest of my Real Bride Diaries.