Our Alternative Wedding: Which traditions did we keep and which did we dump?

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There are many centuries of traditions surrounding weddings and marriage. Many of these are, frankly, super sexist and antiquated, but some are really cute and fun. We sifted through and decided which we’d keep, adjust, and which to firmly dump…

Traditions we KEPT:

1. Dad walking me down the aisle

I like this tradition and it was nice to have a few quiet moments with just my Dad outside before the ceremony began. However, we made the clear distinction that he was not “giving me away” like property. This is done by excluding the relevant wording in the ceremony: basically, not providing his name for the registrar to ask who is “giving this woman away” at the start of the ceremony. Instead, he walked me to the front, kissed me on the cheek, and sat down. A simple and easy adjustment to make.

2. Veil and blusher with a big “reveal”

I’m a big drag queen at heart, so had to have this “reveal” moment! I chose a double-layered veil so that one piece would extend over my face and then fold back for the rest of the day. There is much symbolism around purity and modesty in veils, but I chose to have it for purely aesthetic reasons. (More about my wedding wardrobe choices coming soon!)

3. Ivory wedding gown

I actually shocked myself with this choice…

Yes, despite most of my family, friends, and fiancé’s expectations, I chose an ivory wedding gown for the ceremony! I actually shocked myself with this choice and I’ll talk more about this in a separate post on my wedding wardrobe coming soon (one of my favourite topics!!).

4. First dance

As a dancer and dance teacher, I initially felt a little bit of pressure for this one (as did my fiancé, for sure!). He is a lovely mover, but not a formally trained dancer, so we didn’t want a detailed choreographed “routine” and improvised social dancing would need to be relatively straightforward. I also knew I’d have to manoeuvre in a gown with a train and flouncy headgear, so anything too ambitious would end up in tangles!


We started with our song: a specially recorded version of “Tennessee Whiskey” by our Blues musician friend. He’s truly fabulous and recorded it for us in exchange for a donation to a music charity. So generous! This gorgeous song is very slow in tempo, intimate in feel, and most suitable for simple moves in a close embrace – perfect for our first dance!

5. Something old, new, borrowed, and blue

I think this is a cute tradition, so I decided to follow it. My dress was new, my engagement ring is an antique, and I decided to combine my something borrowed and something blue: our cat’s favourite toys are plastic-coated springs that he loves to frantically chase around the house. I borrowed a blue one and tied it to the back of my bouquet. I returned it to him to chase once we got home. This was one of my favourite little details (more on this to come, too!).

6. Giving a “dowry” to the groom…

I gifted Avery a goat…

As a joke about how antiquated this is, I gifted Avery a goat! Fortunately, it’s a charity donation to ActionAid so the actual goat is being expertly looked after by a family in Burundi- much more suitable than it coming to live with us in East London!


Traditions we DUMPED:

1. A religious ceremony

Neither of us is religious so we had a civil ceremony and have not had our marriage blessed in a church. It was important for us to be true to ourselves in this, and we were fortunate to find a “pretty” venue with lovely architecture, so didn’t feel that we missed out on a church experience.

2. Bride taking the groom’s last name

I will remain Dr Enstone and not Mrs anything. This is quite common for those with a PhD, plus I like my name and want to keep it.

3. The bride arriving late

I have a very casual relationship with punctuality…

OK, not so much of a tradition but a common wedding movie trope… This shocked my fiancé, but I was actually EARLY to the Town Hall for our ceremony. I have a very casual relationship with punctuality, so much so that my fiancé even asked them to check that it was definitely me who had arrived!


I was determined to be on time though: this day was so important and if we were more than 15 minutes late, the registrar would have to cancel the ceremony. I also wanted to avoid my fiancé having a heart attack wondering if I would turn up, so I did everyone a favour and kept to a defined getting-ready morning timetable.

4. Bridesmaids

Instead of the traditional group of female and male friends as bridesmaids and groomsmen, we had a group of FABULOUS “best mates” between us. I really value all of my friends and initially didn’t want to single anyone out, or more importantly, make anyone feel left out. I’m also crap at asking for help and didn’t want to burden anyone with “tasks”. However, I was later convinced that I would need some help and it was a good idea to ask a couple of trusted mates to pick up a few details, and mainly, be there on the day for support (and fun!). It was wonderful and I’m so grateful to all of our “best mates” crew!

5. Having a single wedding day, followed by a honeymoon

We’re going ON TOUR, BABY!! See more in our concept article here.

6. Stag and Hen parties

The stereotypical ideas around these parties hold no appeal to us, nor would we want to party in separate groups. Even if this had been “our thing”, as many of our friends were coming in from out of town or overseas, we didn’t have the opportunity to arrange these festivities. Instead, due to our “Tour” concept, we both feel like we’re doing plenty of partying over the coming year!

7. Wedding cake

It was a lot of fun purchasing almost 8kg of cheese in one go…

In answer to that age-old question: “cheese or cake?”, we made our allegiances pretty clear at our wedding! Although I have a sweet tooth, neither of us is mad into sponge cake. So, we decided to opt for cheese wheels layered up into a glorious, mouth-watering tower with our cake topper perched on the summit of magnificent Sharpham Elmhirst. It was a lot of fun purchasing almost 8kg of cheese in one go!


Despite this, we did feature some vastly superior fruit cakes, as my Mum kindly donated 3 of her famous boozy creations that she had lovingly made the previous Autumn. In the north, we serve fruit cake with tangy cheese and it was lovely to share this tradition with our guests. We also passed around generous decanters of port from my college, which certainly made the event a taste sensation!

8. Speeches

Instead of the traditional father of the bride and best man giving speeches after the wedding breakfast, we wanted to switch things up. I started by giving a short welcome speech before the meal started. I wanted to welcome guests to the college which had been my home for several years, share a couple of anecdotes to bring the place to life, and thank them for coming. Then, we decided to break the speeches up and have one after each course.


We didn’t want to pressure anyone to write a speech, so instead, we wrote it for them…

My Dad gave a speech after the starter, then 2 slots for “best mates” after each course. When it came to the “best man” part, we didn’t want to pressure anyone to write a speech, so instead, we wrote it for them! We wrote one line on each note card and handed them over to a couple of our “best mate” crew to be read out. For one, we had the lyrics to a cheesy song that was an in-joke, and the other, was a large stack of cards referencing the long speech that Avery had delivered at his wedding, but most, thankfully, were blank!


In our last speech slot, we opened it out to the floor to ask if anyone would like to say anything. Both Mothers of the bride and groom gave a short address, and one of my “best mates” crew said a few words and thanked the kitchen and service staff, which was really lovely.


Were these what you expected from us? Any surprises?!


In the wedding planning process, we both soon realised just how many decisions (micro and macro) there are to make around getting married! There can be a sense of obligation or expectation around adopting these traditions, especially if they’re widespread in popular culture (movies, how celebs do it etc), what our parents did, or simply other weddings we’ve been to. But it got easier for us when we realised that these are all choices and we really could make the event our own. So, dump, adjust, and adopt “traditions” as you see fit!


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