When I say wedding traditions what do you think of? What pre-wedding activities come to mind? What does a traditional ceremony feel like? What happens at a traditional wedding reception?
Now...what was your emotional response to these traditions? Did they make you feel excited, comforted, ambivalent, or like you were two seconds from puking? What I'm really trying to ask is: What is your relationship to tradition?
Here's another exercise that will help you carve out an answer: check out Dictionary.com's definition of tradition below and be aware of which one grabs you.
tra·di·tion/trəˈdɪʃən/ Show Spelled[truh-dish-uhn]
1. the handing down of statements, beliefs, legends, customs, information, etc., from generation to generation, esp. by word of mouth or by practice: a story that has come down to us by popular tradition.
2. something that is handed down: the traditions of the Eskimos.
3. a long-established or inherited way of thinking or acting: The rebellious students wanted to break with tradition.
4. a continuing pattern of culture beliefs or practices.
5. a customary or characteristic method or manner: The winner took a victory lap in the usual track tradition.
Like I said, which one grabs you? Which one creates the biggest emotional response?
These are important questions to ask yourself because wedding planning is the process of picking, choosing, honoring and challenging the traditions of your family and culture.
I'm not here to argue which traditions you should follow, or which you should throw out and why. But as a person whose peers are shocked by her old-fashioned ways (What?! You don't drink or smoke or use curse words beyond the occasional "ass", or have pre-marital bow-chicka-wow-wow with Brian??), and whose church community finds her surprisingly liberal and radical (What?! You support gay marriage?? And you don't think Obama and Oprah have an evil anti-Christian agenda??), I've spent a lifetime weighing which traditions are meaningful to me and which aren't. And this practice of ongoing reflection enabled me to design and enjoy my incredibly meaningful and so-perfect-my-heart-almost-burst wedding ceremony. (Remember the awful time I had during our reception? Well, the ceremony totally offset that snag in the day. Hands down. Thank God.)
So all I'm trying to say is that I advocate reflection on what is meaningful to you and why. Because your wedding is not a competition to see how unique and non-conformist you can be, or how your day stacks up to millions of other fancy parties and white dresses that have gone before you. Your wedding is about finding meaning, making meaning, and feeling joy and gratitude as a result of it all.
I'd love to hear which wedding traditions you are upholding and why they are meaningful to you. Which ones are you scrapping? Which traditions are you tweaking and how?