In the 1950s, if you were an Italian American bride, you probably got a porcelain doll in full bridal regalia at your wedding shower. You know what you were supposed to do with that doll? The doll would be waiting for you on your marital bed. Nothing like a porcelain doll to get you in the mood to consummate.*
In Sweden, anytime during a reception, if the bride or groom gets up to go to the bathroom, their new forever-mate is fair game. Meaning if you’re a bride and you had a little too much pre-ceremony champagne and need to go relieve yourself, you’ll have to deal with every bridesmaid and single lady with her hands up coming over to smooch your newly-minted husband.
Okay, last one: In parts of the Congo, it’s customary that the bride and groom not smile at all during the pre-ceremony, ceremony, reception, all of it. If they crack even the smallest of smirks, this symbolizes that they don’t take the marriage seriously. This isn’t to say that weddings aren’t fun in the Congo. They are. There’s dancing. There’s music. There’s food. Everyone else is allowed to show that they are having a grand ol’ time, just not the bride and groom. Somber Sallys, till death due them part.
Point is, we’re adults and this is the 21st century. If there’s a tradition at a wedding, whether it be a the pouring of sands or the dollar dance, that you don’t want to do, you don’t have to do it. If there’s something you want to do, like have all your friends and family try to dunk you in a dunk tank during the ceremony, just repeat after ol’ 44 and say YES WE CAN. If you want to recite Shakespearean love sonnets instead of vows or take a ceremonial first swim, you can do that too.
Most states require that there be two witnesses and someone to officiate. Beyond that, it’s all up for grabs.
So give a shit – Make your own tradition. Your wedding is an amazing opportunity to tell the world who you are as a couple. Some of the most solid wedding advice I have to give is to put the wedding magazines down, put the Pinterest away (that’s how bird cages end up at every wedding – sorry if you loved your super cute birdcage card holder.), and have a long conversation with your forever buddy about everything you want your wedding to say and represent and then go about making that happen. You found each other. Let’s friggin’ celebrate and know that however you want to tell the world that you’re in love, you can do it.
*Fun fact: In order for a marriage to be considered valid, some states have a legal requirement that a marriage must be consummated. So if you live in Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Ohio, South Carolina, Vermont or Wisconsin, make sure you get on that.