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These days, couples want anything but a cookie-cutter wedding and are looking for ways to make their big day stand out. With that in mind, many brides and grooms are opting to go the nontraditional route—and that can sometimes cause some tension with traditional family members. Don’t stress out! Here’s how to have the day you want while still keeping your nearest and dearest happy.
Shelley Grieshop of Totally Promotional suggests asking family members to create a list of the five or so traditions they would miss at your nontraditional wedding. “Make no guarantees any will be used but promise to review the list and see if it’s possible.”
If you don’t want to say I do in a church setting, for example, find a way to bring some religious traditions into the ceremony if possible. Maybe you still have the minister from your local church marry you. “We have had clients bring communion benches into outdoor settings or that have married in front of a flowered cross,” says Laura Maddox of Magnolia Celebrates.
While you might not want a religious service, you can still participate in some of the traditional wedding activities that older relatives love to see, including the first dance, parent/child dances, cake cutting, and bouquet toss.
Parents might not mind if you don’t get married in a church or synagogue if you select a location that has special meaning to you. This way, when you’re asked why you’re not saying your vows in a religious place, you can explain why this particular place is so meaningful to the both of you.
Since many family members might be surprised to be attending a nontraditional wedding, be sure to explain why you chose certain elements—the readings, the music, the officiant, etc.—in the ceremony program. People are more comfortable and accepting when they understand what’s going on.
Give a subtle nod to tradition by putting on a family heirloom or incorporating a family color to your suit accents on your wedding day. Brides can opt for a special pair of earrings or a brooch pinned into their bouquet, while grooms might wear their dad’s watch or grandfather’s cufflinks with their suit.
Ask family members to participate in the day where they can, such as a reading or poem, a special song, or speech at the reception.
If you’re still nailing down the details on having your family members look their best on your big day, visit our real wedding gallery for inspiration.
If you’re committed to having a completely nontraditional wedding day, maybe use the rehearsal dinner to add some family or religious traditions to the festivities. For example, ask a priest or rabbi to come to the dinner to give a blessing.
No matter what you decide to include—and not include—on your wedding day, you want your family members to know how much you appreciate them being there for you at this major milestone. Whether it’s a speech at the reception or a special message in the ceremony program, remind them how important they are to the both of you.