The experts say these rules were made to be broken.

By Jenn Sinrich
December 10, 2020
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wedding guests toasting champagne during outdoor reception

Lucky for brides and grooms tying the knot during the modern age, wedding etiquette has changed dramatically in recent years. Most notably, couples now have far more freedom to plan the wedding of their dreams, and that's true whether or not it's in-line with "tradition." While you might choose to keep certain old-school ways of doing things as part of your ceremony and reception, like the classic veil and perhaps the "I do" part, you have more freedom to switch just about everything else up. Here, planners share some of the wedding rules that can be broken in the 21st century.

Anyone can pay for the wedding, not just the bride's family.

While it was tradition for the bride's family to pay for the wedding (a spin off the old dowry exchange), this is almost never the case anymore. "We typically see a combination of funds given from both the bride's family and groom's family, with the couple also contributing monetarily on their end," says Lisa Costin, wedding planner and co-founder and creative director of A Charming Fete. "Some couples even opt to pay for the wedding in full on their own—it just depends on the financial situation and what the couple and families prefer." Spreading out expenses, she explains, can greatly reduce stress during the planning process and places less pressure on everyone overall.

The bridesmaids don't have to wear the same dress (or wear dresses at all!).

More and more brides are opting for a mix-and-match look when it comes to their bridesmaids' attire, and wedding planners agree that it's a wonderful shift away from tradition. "Putting your 'maids in different styles, colors, or prints not only gives them an opportunity to wear a dress they actually like and one that looks good on their body type, but it also creates a stunning overall look," says Costin. What's more, some bridal parties are moving away from dresses entirely, often wearing jumpsuits or two-piece looks instead.

You don't have to invite people for the sole purpose of not offending them.

Although this is easier said than done, wedding planners agree that you should only invite the people you know and want to spend time with on the big day. "Everyone is so worried about how certain people will feel about not getting an invitation, that they never think about how those people will feel awkward if they do receive one," points out Danielle Rothweiler, wedding planner and owner of Rothweiler Event Design. "Not much good will come out of inviting someone to your wedding out of pure obligation."

You don't have to leave for the honeymoon immediately after the wedding.

Rarely do couples leave the reception and head straight to the honeymoon. In fact, nowadays planners are seeing more and more couples choose to leave for their honeymoon weeks or even months after they tie the knot. "Modern couples are so busy and often have demanding work schedules, that it simply makes sense for them to jet off on their honeymoon at a later date," says Costin. "Whenever you go, it's important to make sure that you're both able relaxed and able to actually enjoy this time together."

The ceremony's actual start time doesn't have to be listed on the invitation.

Here's a little white lie Rothweiler likes to encourage her couples to tell their guests: "The time that you print on your wedding invitation for ceremony start time should be 30 minutes earlier than it actually is. Why? Because everyone is late to everything and weddings are no exception," she says. "In addition, people just generally always running late, so you have to factor in how the location is likely brand new for all of your guests."

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