In case anyone didn't know: the average North American wedding costs over $26,000, and that’s not even factoring the cost of the honeymoon. To put that into perspective, I am currently in my fifth year of university and my tuition has only been $22,000 to date. And most of that money is spent on pointless things that we do for the sake of “tradition” without even knowing where those traditions came from.
Last week I wrote an article that exposed some shocking scams that have been perpetuated by big companies for decades, but this week I wanted to focus on one industry that keeps screwing the western world over time and time again. There is no reason that people should be expected to plunge themselves into debt for a one day party. So without further ado, let’s explore the root of some of the traditions and discuss why this whole industry is such a scam.
15 Veils Were The Social Media Filters of the Past
If you’re planning a wedding, you’ve probably debated every single aspect of your outfit down to the colour of the thread in your inseam. But if you’re considering a veil, you might want to know why they came about before paying for something that you might not actually want (and were just buying for traditions sake). Back when arranged marriages were the norm in western culture, veils were employed to cover the bride's face during the ceremony so that the groom couldn’t take one look at her face and back out if he didn’t like what he saw. Yeah, you read that correctly. Veils gained popularity because it kept shallow grooms from backing out of their deals if he got stuck with an eight instead of a 10 for the rest of his life.
14 Not Wearing White Isn't A Huge Scandal
Now, I just want to preface this section by saying that I’m not outing the source of these traditions in attempts to turn people off from them. If they are something that you genuinely want to do, than I will cheer you on like an overly supportive soccer mom. But if you’re doing these things just because they are traditional and you actually wouldn’t do them if you felt you had another choice, then allow me to free you.
An example of this is this whole "white dress" business. Fun fact: wearing white to your wedding wasn’t really a thing until Queen Victoria did. Before that, people just wore their best dress. Your dress doesn’t say anything about your purity or virgin status, so don’t worry. If you want to wear white, go for it! I bet you’ll look amazing. But if you really want to wear pink or blue, don’t worry what people will think and rock that brightly coloured frock without worrying about what your prudish extended family might think.
13 You Really Don't Need To Break The Bank
If you don’t want to partake in a certain “tradition” (or if you can’t afford to), you really don’t have to. Sure, your snobbish grandparents might sneer and whisper to each other about how your brother's wedding was much better because they shelled out thousands of dollars to get a 17 tier cake with gold flakes on it. But if these traditions are such a big deal to them then they should be the ones paying for it.
The worst thing is that the entire wedding industry is built up on this concept of “keeping up with the Jones'” and making sure that you have the biggest, best, and most luxurious wedding on the block. They know this, they exploit this, and they shake poor people upside down like schoolyard bullies while convincing them that their wedding will suck and lead to divorce unless they get a 16 foot chocolate fountain.
12 Unless You're Expecting Ghosts, You Don't Need Matching Dresses
Yeah, I said what I said. Unless you’re expecting some evil spirits or the boogeyman to show up on your special day, you really don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars to buy all you besties matching dresses. Fun fact: the boogeyman we all torture our children with stories about is actually based on scary tales English people told their children about the French ruler Napoleon Bonaparte. I’m serious. But anyways, back to the article. In the before times (which occurred long before the modern times), all of the bride's friends would dress the same in attempts to trick and confuse evil spirits into messing with the wrong lady.
Wow, being a bridesmaid back in the day was a really big commitment and a tad terrifying.
11 Don't Tell Businesses That It's For A Wedding
I’m serious. If you can avoid revealing that you're ordering a wedding cake, booking that venue for a wedding, or buying those dresses for a wedding, do so at all costs. Did you know that businesses will charge people extra for services if they know it’s for a wedding? Seriously. A venue booked for a wedding could cost nearly four times as much as the same venue being booked for a family reunion. Why do they do this? Because they know people are going to pay it. The idea that weddings cost an absurd amount of money is a pretty accepted and well known concept in our society, so people expect that they will be paying an arm and a leg before they even begin booking services. People are so willing to scam people that are just wanting to celebrate their love and it really is just awful.
10 No, You Don't Need A 6 Tier Cake
There is a lengthy history behind cakes so bear with me as I try to summarize it in under 208 words.
Originally, a barley loaf would be broken over the new bride's head and the crumbs were collected as they were a symbol of luck. Fast forward a few dozen years and these brides passed an a line of guests with tiny bits of cake through her new ring for luck. But that took way too long, so people eventually got an entire slice all to themselves, but they didn’t get to eat it. They had to sleep on it for good luck.
I can’t even imagine the places the cake frosting would have gotten into. But as the years passed, cakes got bigger and whiter, as white sugar became a rarity and having an abundance meant you were, like, super rich. And Victorian people would do absolutely anything they could to brag about their wealth. So, you don’t need a mile high cake if you don’t want one. Save some money and get a sheet cake from the grocery store. Those are delicious and are insanely easy to serve.
9 You Don't Need To Invite Your Mom's Boss' Cousin
I scoured the Internet and could not find a single reason why people find it necessary to invite literally everyone they know to a wedding, so allow me to guess as to why this insane activity has become the norm. Could it be so that the bride and groom could get more presents? Or maybe it’s so nobody felt left out? Or could it be so those pesky Victorians could invite everyone they knew to their fancy, rich people party so all their poor friends knew how rich they were? I'm guess it was probably the last one. But don’t let your mom bully you into inviting relatives you don’t even know or haven’t spoken to in 15+ years. You have to pay to feed and seat them, after all. Just invite the people that you cannot imagine missing your big day.
8 Skip The Garter Toss
Personally, I’ve never understood all of those weird garter traditions. Though I’ve never seen any of these weird garter rituals in person, I’ve seen many of them on America’s Funniest Home Videos and I think everyone would be better off if they just save the $6 (or however much these things cost) and just abstain.
For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to explain. There is a weird game in western weddings in which the bride/bridesmaids/mother of the bride wears a garter high up on her thigh and a male member of the wedding party has to take it off in front of everyone and later tosses it into the crowd. But shockingly enough, the roots of this tradition are actually way weirder. It turns out that the whole garter removal tradition started because people thought obtaining a piece of the bride's clothing after the wedding was good luck and would swarm her in attempts to rip off a piece of fabric like that pre-ball scene in Cinderella. So they took to discarding a piece of the garment and tossing it into the crowd to divert their attention to give the bride enough time to escape.
7 If You Want A Traditional Wedding, Give Your Best Man A Sword
Back in the days of yore, women were seen as property and belonged to the eldest man in their immediate family (be that father or brother.) And weddings were seen as a business transaction in which the female property would change hands and the men who were exchanging her, would discuss estate blending and the matter of fortunes. They had to make sure that their estates would stay in the family and that everyone would have enough money to live happily and without worry.
Weddings were a social engagement to show off wealth and celebrated the passing of the woman from being her father's property to the property of her new husband. But what happens if that deal didn’t go down worry free? That’s what your best man is for. They came in with swords to back up the groom in case he needed to defend his honour or prevent a runaway bride situation. I’ll tell you what, that whole property thing sounds awful but that sword fight part sounds amazing to me. This is one tradition that I might keep.
6 Don't Believe In Evil Spirits? Don't Get A Bouquet!
Flowers are one of the most expensive parts of a wedding. There are literally flowers everywhere. On the tables, on the arches, in your hair, on the floor, and in the bride's hands. The typical bridal bouquet can cost anywhere from $65 to $255. That is an insane amount of money for a bunch of flowers that you are literally going to throw at your friends later on the evening.
If you want to save some money, I would highly suggest either growing your own flowers or getting some fakes from the dollar store (seriously, weddings are expensive, skimp wherever you can). But why do we carry bouquets around in the first place? Like most wedding traditions, it was done to ward off evil spirits. The bouquets were made of herbs and garlic in attempts to ward off these evil spirits that people believed had nothing better to do than crash their wedding. No disrespect to both the spirits and those who believe in them, but if I was an evil spirit, I would probably go to Disneyland instead of some random wedding.
5 Don't Register If You Don't Want to
Wedding gifts really weren’t a thing until the early 20th century when bridal magazines came into Vogue and appliance companies jumped on the “spend an insane amount of money on your wedding to impress your friends and family” bandwagon.
Wedding registries actually became useful when couples would marry at a young age while they were still living at home with their parents because these gifts would provide them with the things they needed to start and furnish their new lives together. But nowadays, people are getting married later in life and they usually live together for an extended period of time before the wedding. So they really don’t need 16 coffee machines. If you aren’t interested in making a registry for gifts you don’t really want, you can ask your friends and family to abstain from gifts and consider donating that money to charities instead. Or just save their money because going to a wedding is almost as expensive as throwing one.
4 You Really Don't Have To Save The Top Tier Of Your Cake
Remember in grade school when your classmates decided that you liked someone, so they started chanting “Zooey and Lindsay sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage.” It turns out that adage was less of a cutesy nursery rhyme and more of an expected five year plan that was applied to all young couples. So why make two cakes when you could just save a portion of your wedding cake, get knocked up, and then use that cake for your baby's christening? It seems like this plan is making a lot of assumptions about my and my spouses new life together. First, they are assuming that I am having/can have/want to have a child within a very short period of time. Next, they are assuming that I am going to have that child christened. I mean, honestly, if you’re not going to eat that cake within a year, just throw it out. It’s taking up space and no one wants gross, old, defrosted cake.
3 Some People Will Just Outright Scam You
Yeah, apparently it’s not enough that the entire wedding industry is a scam itself. Now, some people have to go out of their way and want to directly scam people out of their hard earned cash. According to an article published by CNBC, some young couples are getting straight up ripped off by their vendors and photographers. And I’m not talking about people overcharging for wedding services just because it’s associated with a wedding. I’m talking about people making up FAKE venues, charging couples thousands of dollars to book the venue, and leaving couples with no venue at all on the big day. Or people who book and pay for expensive photographers and never get any photos. Be careful when you’re booking services for your big day because there are incredibly awful people out there.
2 Please Do Not Throw Rice
This is the only tradition that I am going to outright come out against and will judge you if you do it (I’m only half joking). Don’t throw rice at your wedding unless you want to waste one of the most delicious grains in the entire world. The only way I could be more offended is if you started making it rain with some delicious pasta. But why do we throw rice in the first place? I guess Alanis Morissette was wrong about how one should react to rain on their wedding day. It’s not a bad thing, it’s actually seen to be a symbol of great luck for the newlyweds. But rain doesn’t fall when you want it to so people pelted the unsuspecting couple with buckets of rice to symbolize the lucky rain. Which is sorta like when you held two two leaf clovers together to make a lucky four leaf clover.
1 Don't Let Anyone Rain On Your Parade
Traditions are great. I love traditions, but if you don’t really feel attached to a tradition, then you should feel no obligation to participate in it. And this is especially true if doing so will break the bank and put you in debt forever. But don’t let anyone—including me—make you feel bad about wanting to have a traditional or an untraditional wedding. If you want to have a big ceremony in a church, with a 20 layered cake, a white dress with a veil, and a train that needs to be carried by an army of small girls — go for it! If you want to elope or have a small, backyard, potluck — do it and love every moment of it. It’s your big day and it’s up to you and you alone how you celebrate it. Don’t buy into the scams and don’t let the wedding industry trick you into making this day about anything else than celebrating your love for one another.