Yes, it's true that there are a lot of traditions that apply when it comes to weddings, but things have changed. The problem is that most traditionalists, your parents and his parents, didn't get this memo. Here are some latest old school feelings and the new rules about weddings from The Knot.
Old School: The bride's parents pay for the wedding.
New Rule: Every couple funds the festivities in different ways. Maybe your mom and dad want to pay for every single thing, but, unlike inn the past where the bride's family was expected to foot the whole bill, they're in no way obligated to now. Grooms' parents and the couples themselves chip in nearly as often as brides' parents do. It just depends on your family's situation. If you'd like your fiance's parents' help, your husband-to-be will need to ask for it--not you, and certainly not your parents.
Just remember: Whoever pays gets a say. If you know your MIL will insist on an in church ceremony if she contributes and you've got your heart set on exchanging vows on a sandy beach, you may be happier cutting your guest list than asking her to contribute anything.
Old School: You must invite everyone with a guest
New Rule: If they'll know others, skip the plus-one. It's still polite (and very appreciated!) to invite guests' significant others, but if you're inviting groups of coworkers, for instance, and two or more of them are single, they should have no problem attending solo. Only when guests won't know anyone aside from the couple is it mandatory to let them bring a date. It's kind to invite attendants with guests too (they are shelling out big bucks for their attire!).
Old School: Your registry should consist entirely of housewares for your new home.
New Rule: You can register for anything from honeymoon hotel accommodations to skiing gear. Guess what, Grandma? Lots of couples live together before they get married and may have all the towels and blenders they'll ever want. You can request upgraded versions of home items you already own, but nothing should stop you from creating a honeymoon or otherwise "untraditional" registry. These are your gifts, and you need to be happy with them! If you're invited a few Internet-less guests, including items from a brick-and-mortar store they can actually get to will help prevent a buildup of unwanted items. But you should feel free to include your ping-pong table for your basement or the complete Sex and the City DVD collection on your wish list if you can't use yet another kitchen appliance.
A word of caution: Some of the older folks think that they know what brides and grooms really need, so they may get you an iron even if you haven't requested one.
Old School: You must wear a white gown
New Rule: Wear whatever you want! Sure, most brides go the white or ivory route, but for your wedding day attire, anything goes: from a cute cherry red flapper dress to a silver, slinky sheath to a (gasp!) black pant suit. As long as you feel fabulous in your outfit, it can be any color or style. You can even skip the veil!
Warning: Your fashion choices may wind up shocking your older guests, especially the ones who equate wearing white with "purity". If you'd prefer that your look pleases the crowd but aren't willing to go totally traditionally, try working in a hint of color via a dress sash, your shoes, jewelry or a hair accessory.
Old School: You mom can't throw your shower.
New Rule: If money's tight, don't feel like you have to go overboard with an out-of-this world gift every time you attend a party. Make a budget and try to spend 20 percent of the total on an engagement present, 20 percent on the shower gift, and 60 percent on the wedding gift. Or consolidate your funds for one knockout gift instead of several smaller, less expensive ones.
Old School: You have to have a rehearsal dinner
New Rule: You can skip a rehearsal dinner. When couples lived separately before they got married and engagements were a few weeks long, not a year or more, the rehearsal dinner was the first time both sets of parents could meet. Since the mothers and fathers of the bride and groom would be responsible for introductions at the wedding the next day, they needed t0 see each other first! Having a rehearsal dinner is still smart when you and your fiance's parents aren't acquainted, but if there's o time or room in the budget, then it's okay to skip it, especially if your ceremony rehearsal has to take place on a weekday or minutes before your actual wedding. It's nice to treat out-of-towners to a welcome meal, or you can just gather your closest local friends and family for a pre-wedding diner, but neither is required. Ask anyone who tells you otherwise if they'd like to plan to pay for it!
Old School: The first time you see your groom on your wedding day should be at your ceremony.
*We call this the "bridal presentation" in my business. It's becoming very common!*
New Rule: You can spend every minute with your groom before the ceremony. We promise that it's not bad luck if your fiance catches a glimpse of you in your gown on the wedding day (or before it, but why not surprise him if you both can hold out?). In fact, most couples who decided to wait until the ceremony to see each other would've preferred to have the inevitably emotional experience in private rather than in front of all of their guests. Photographers are happy to capture the moment you first see each other before the ceremony, so take photos then. That way, you don't have to miss cocktail hour.
Old School: Ceremony seating is based on the bride's side and the groom's side.
New Rule: Guests can choose to sit wherever they want! It used to be that guests of the bride sat on the left side at the ceremony and guests of the groom sat on the right. Even now, plenty of your guests will go by this guideline to find their seats. But if your fiance's family is huge and yours is tiny, your ceremony will look a little weird if most people are seated to the right side. And at Jewish weddings, the sides are flipped anyway! If you're having ushers, ask them to direct your VIPs, parents, grandparents and the like to prime seats toward the front of either side and instruct your other guests to sit in any other seat. No ushers? No problem. Place a sign in the area where people pick up their programs and have it read "Sit anywhere you like!" That'll send the message loud and clear.
Old School: You must walk down the aisle.
New Rule: You don't have to walk anywhere! Perhaps you're a flats-wearing gal and your trip down the aisle may turn into a real trip in your wedding heels. Or maybe, you'd prefer to skip all the hoopla that's associated with that long walk. Whatever your rationale, it's your prerogative. Your groom is already to be up at the altar; why can't you be too? Who says you have to have a processional at all? yet, for Jewish weddings, it's strongly suggested that brides (and grooms too!) walk down the aisle. We have all seen the YouTube video as well, you can all dance down the aisle! If you want to skip the walk but still honor your mom and dad, present them with flowers or other gifts during the ceremony.
Old School: You have to leave for your honeymoon right after your reception.
New Rule: You can go on a honeymoon whenever you want. Heading straight to your honeymoon sounds romantic, but it can be a logistical nightmare.
Think it over: You'd have to lug your luggage from the ceremony to the reception and keep your passport and plane tickets in a safe place the entire day. But even if you're the queen of organization, you'll be so exhausted from your whirlwind day that you'll want nothing more than to just veg out for a while with your new husband after the wedding. And that's okay! It's totally up to you when you leave for your honeymoon. Also, why not stay and enjoy your reception, it's where 50% of your wedding budget goes!
Wedding traditions are constantly changing as more and more brides and grooms customize their day to "fit" them. You are still able to maintain traditions, but just tweak them so that your day is a reflection of you, your groom and all that you want your wedding to say about you as a couple!