A lot of the indecision regarding wedding planning comes down to traditions and trends. Wearing white and having dad walk you down the aisle are essential for many brides and cringe-inducing for others who would rather walk alone wearing purple to the tune of something hip-hop.

If you are on the fence about a few of those traditions, here are some ways to hold on to the essence of them while customizing your experience.

The White Gown

This Time article says that Queen Victoria started the white wedding dress sensation (making her a fashion trendsetter to rival Heidi Klum) when she deviated from the previously popular red. Pushing 200 years later, brides in the US are still opting for white, though there have been some notable celebrity exceptions, including Jessica Biel and Elizabeth Taylor.

white-wedding-gown

You can give a nod to the tradition in pale pink or yellow, or add a blast of color with a blue sash or red detailing. Or go Tina Turner on your guests with a black and green gown. (Whether or not you sing at the altar is up to you.)

Giving Away the Bride

It’s easy to get around the implications here and still include your parents or other important family members in a couple of ways:

  • Skip the words. Instead of having the officiant say something like, “Who gives this woman to be married?” he or she might say nothing at all. Your father can simply walk you down the aisle, hug you, and go to his seat.
  • Change the words. The officiant can ask both sets of parents if they give their blessing to the union.
  • Include both parents. Have Mom and Dad both accompany you to the altar.
  • bride-with-mother-and-father
  • Walk down the aisle alone. Make a stop at your parents’ seats to hug them.
  • Walk with your groom. He doesn’t have to stand up there and wait for you.
  • Don’t walk. You can both be standing up there already.

Bouquet Toss

Maybe you want to keep your bouquet. Or maybe you just don’t like the idea of grown women jumping over little girls (and each other) to pluck a bunch of flowers out of the air.

  • Get a second bouquet to toss. This way you can save yours!
  • Having a dance for all the couples is a beautiful alternative to the toss. They all start dancing, then the DJ asks those who have been together a year or less to sit down. You can go year by year (or five by five) until the two people who have been together the longest are left dancing. Give the bouquet to that inspirational couple.

Speeches

Sometimes they’re beautiful. Sometimes they get long and weird and people just want to eat already. Asking your speakers for a simple toast lets them get up there to wish you well without the pressure to say something brilliant.

In the midst of all the traditions you may or may not include (dollar dances, matching rings, something blue, all female bridesmaids and all male groomsmen), you’re also taking into consideration a lot of wedding trends.

wedding-reception-speech

In 2017, you might be tempted (or even pressured) to include some of these trending details:

  • Desserts in addition to cake. (Okay, yeah, I’m going to pressure you to do this one, too. Can’t go wrong with dessert!)
  • Donations to charities in your name instead of wedding gifts.
  • Lawn games and entertainment at the reception.
  • Hanging decorations (from the ceiling, trees, etc).
  • Food trucks, food stations (bacon bar, anyone? everyone?), and late-night snacks.

How can you balance traditions, trends, and family pressures?

It’s going to be different for everyone. Start here:

  • Who’s paying for it? If you are, you can play that card to get the final say. If they are…well, they can play that card, too.
  • When in doubt, choose timeless over trendy.
  • Go with your first instinct.
  • If you have pressure from a parent to include certain things, make concessions that are less important to you and hold your ground on the details that matter most.
  • Ask yourself, “Does doing this affect the level of fun?” The wrong DJ might, but a different signature cocktail will not.
  • Make your own trends. If you love big white cakes but are hesitant to get one because white cakes were sooo 2010, get it anyway. Who cares, as long as it’s delicious? It’ll be fun for me to go to the next wedding and see a white cake and say, “I know who got this started again.”

I’d love to tell you, “It’s your wedding, do what you want!” because it’s true, but I know family can create some interesting dynamics when it comes to wedding planning. So, instead, I’ll say, “Good luck.”

wedding-cake

Okay, I can do better than that. What I’ll say instead is that a white dress photographs beautifully. So do red ones and black ones, and all the other colors. Cake tastes good, whether it’s chocolate or yellow.

There are a lot of choices to be made, but I’ve never been to a “ruined” wedding. I don’t think there’s any such thing. However you choose to balance wedding trends and traditions, your wedding will shine with memories to match.