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12th Jan 2019

7 traditional things I didn’t do on my wedding day (and I’m glad for it)

More brides are saying no to tradition.

Gillian Fitzpatrick

It’s been eight years since I said ‘I do’.

Marrying on February 19, 2011 – we were blessed with a gloriously crisp winter’s day on Stephen’s Green, and afterwards on College Green for the reception at the Westin.

I was a pretty chill bride; most of necessary ‘stuff’ that you need to tick off your list – flowers, cars, dresses, accessories, shoes, jewellery, makeup, hair, photographer – I had done online on the preceding six months.

And plenty of other ‘stuff’ I had no intention of doing in the first place.

Which is why I raised a smile when I spotted a report this week that reveals brides are increasingly shunning traditions and doing things their way instead.

Indeed, Martha Stewart Weddings adds that a whole heap of ‘must-haves’ and ‘must-dos’ of bygone times have been scrapped.

Speaking to some of the industry’s most high profile planners, the experts are pretty unanimous: wedding etiquette has been given an overhaul.

Here are seven things that I DIDN’T do when I got married…

1) Wear a veil

Sure I tried veils on – but none felt ‘right’. In fact, I felt pretty stupid in all of them. The only real reason I could see for wearing a veil was so that if I got a decent gust of wind there’d be a nice photo. Which didn’t really seem like a good enough reason.

2) Be accompanied up the aisle

My now husband and I were living together before we got married. Some couples have children before saying ‘I do’. Others have kids from previous relationships. There are people who have been divorced and are remarrying. In short, being accompanied up the aisle by my dad (or anyone else) didn’t seem all that relevant. That and the feminist in me liked striding up towards my husband by myself without having my hand held.

2018 brides

3) Serve cake after dinner

A few months before my wedding, my cousin got married in The Netherlands. As soon as that ceremony was over, he and his new wife cracked open a bottle of champagne and cut their wedding cake for their guests. That’s seemingly the way of things over there. So we cut our cake during our drinks’ reception before dinner. Suffice to say not a scrap went to waste.

4) Throw my bouquet

It’s all just a bit odd – making your unmarried mates line up while everyone else who happens to have a ring on it eggs them on. Possibly some brides see this as a bit of fun… me? Well, I just wanted to keep my gorgeous bouquet.

legally married

5) Wear heels

I know some women get as excited about what’s going on their feet as they do the dress. Not me though. Granted I’m 5ft 9in so I probably don’t need the extra height – but also I figured no one was ever going to see my shoes. And I loved being so comfortable for the entire day. That in the end I picked up the perfect pair of red ballet slippers in Penneys for less than €20 is only an added extra.

6) Have a Mass

Back in 2011 it wasn’t possible to hold the likes of humanist or secular ceremonies. Your options were a registry office or the likes of church/synagogue. Despite neither my husband or I being religious, we settled on University Church on Stephen’s Green as we loved the location and interior. Although obviously still a Catholic ceremony, the priest there was happy to scrap the Mass part (aka no Communion – skipped from Homily straight into wedding vows). We didn’t do a pre-marriage course either –  don’t let anyone tell you that you’re required to complete one just to marry in a Catholic church!

7) Enforce a strict dress-code

Some of guests wore black. Others wore cream/white dresses. One or two turned up in a remarkable similar hue to the bridesmaids’ dresses. I had given prior-approval to all. In short, a wedding is always going to be largely about the bride – irrespectively of what your guests’ attire.