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Engagement Stressor NO.1

Tradition,
The Bully

 
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Tradition is sometimes a bully, backing us into a corner of some idea of what a wedding is "supposed to be."

Hundreds of years of history weigh in on our 'Special Day.' The nostalgia of past generations carefully wrote the script for how we should celebrate this important life event. That's how our parents were married, and they want that (and more) for their children.

While times have changed, the script hasn't. Even though we're marrying later, divorcing more, and personalizing our celebrations at every turn, tradition still has us convinced that we're supposed to complete certain requirements in order to have a 'proper' wedding.

...So we may feel pressure to buy the diamond and wear the white dress, because fulfilling tradition is still inextricably linked to what it means to have a wedding. But what if we could rewrite what that means for couples today?

 
 

Stories from Fiancés

 
 
I divorced my husband—total breaking of tradition—and then I have the audacity to remarry 8 years later. I had a harder time dealing with it than my family.
— Rule-Breaker
The registry is out of date, especially registering for china! Why can’t you just ask for money? But, I come from a very southern family who is too stuck in tradition. My mom wouldn’t even let us register at Target. Crazy!
— Beyond My Time
How do you balance the older crowd who won’t purchase online, and the younger crowd who will only purchase online?
— Between a Rock and a Hard Place
I don’t know how authentic ‘giving away’ the bride is these days. She’s not property and personally, I was financially independent.
— Strong, Independent Woman
 
 

Tools to Help

Below are a few worksheets designed to help you set expectations about traditions, uphold important ones with your own flair, and manage the fallout of breaking the ones you won't keep.

 
 
 

For Coping With Clashing Customs

Partners merge families well before the official date of the wedding: the demands of the process make sure of it. But not all wedding conventions can be merged in the same way. Some cultures, styles, and practices directly conflict, and in those moments, force us to choose which traditions to keep and which to break.

Use this worksheet to get a sense for which traditions will be at play in your wedding and, with your partner, predict where conflict might arise.

 
 
 

For Making Conventions Your Own

There is "The" way, formed by cultures, by the decisions already made by our parents when they were married and our grandparents before them: decisions attached to formalities, etiquette, and ritual.

There is also "Our" way, a blank slate for whatever decisions best suit you and your partner as a couple: decisions uncharted, even sparking new traditions that are entirely yours.

Use this worksheet to help you describe how it would look to balance the two and make certain traditions feel more your own.

 
 
 

For Handling Breaks With Tradition

It’s difficult to break with tradition because it’s difficult to break with what’s seen as sacred. But when you have to, pressure and guilt—from your family and even your own conscience—can make you question whether it’s worth it.

Use this worksheet to navigate breaks in tradition and ease any consequences that may follow.