When you announced your engagement, odds are that you were flooded with questions about the planning process faster than you could get through the congratulatory comments on your ring selfie. Have you decided on a date? What about your venue? What colors are you thinking? Checking off the big ticket to-dos is a feat in itself, but when you factor how many traditional "wedding rules" there are to honor, it can get overwhelming—and quick.
Before you lose sleep over finding something old, new, borrowed and blue, take a step back to think through any of the wedding traditions you're feeling pressured to stick to, and consider if they really mean something to you. There's no need to let others' expectations cast a shadow of stress over what's supposed to be one of the happiest times of your life.
For what it's worth, any wedding rule is up for breaking (the only thing you need to have at a wedding is a statement of intent—the "I do" part—if it's to be legally binding). But we put together a list of some of the traditions that otherwise radical, free-spirited brides and grooms can get wrapped up (and trapped up) in. If you're considering breaking these rules, you should do it. After all, this is your day, so don't be afraid to switch up or skip an old wedding stand-by.
1. You must wear a white dress.
Instead of feeling bound to a shade of ivory, wear what's going to make you feel not only like a bride, but like yourself. If your heart's after a pale pink ball gown or something adorned with vibrant floral details like this bride, then so be it. If your signature color is black or orange or emerald green, no reason to give that up if you don't want to step out in ecru.
2. You must wear a dress.
Again, it's your day, so wear what you like. With all of wedding separates and bridal jumpsuits available today, there's no shortage of options for those looking to push the style envelope.
3. The bride can't be seen before the ceremony.
Instead of waiting for the big aisle entrance, first looks—where you meet your beloved before the ceremony to get some pictures and jitters out of the way—are great options for couples seeking more of an intimate moment (just, you know, captured on camera).
4. Guests of the bride and the groom should sit separately.
Why divide two sides of a family that's becoming one? Prop up a charming sign like this one to let guests know any seat is theirs for the taking. (Another favorite sign saying: "Choose a seat, not a side!")
5. You must walk down the aisle to "Here Comes the Bride"
Ditch the "dun dun dun duns" for an aisle entrance song that's special to the two of you. This couple went with a classic string quartet—who, FYI, you can likely tap to play anything from Mozart to Hanson to David Bowie.
6. You must serve cake.
If you and your partner would much rather dig into an ice cream sundae or donuts than a slice of cake, don't let anything deter you from serving up your favorite dessert.
7. The bridesmaids must wear matching dresses.
Whether you stick to one shade in different styles or open it up to different hues, opting for mismatched bridesmaid dresses allows your ladies to choose what suits them best.
8. Wedding parties must be gendered.
If you're a bride and one of your best friends happens to be a guy, who's to say he can't stand by your side? We've even compiled some cute ways to coordinate the group's outfits.
9. You must have a maid of honor and best man.
Selecting a maid of honor and a best man can get a bit sticky. Rather than elevating one friend above the rest (and possibly ruffling a few feathers in the process), skip the titles and have all your wedding party members on an equal playing field. Another option? Skip the bridal party all together and let all the eyes be on you and your partner at the altar.
10. You must carry a flower bouquet.
Petals aren't the only player when it comes to bouquets. Whether it's a collection of vintage brooches or pretty succulents, create something unique to carry that speaks to your style.