We put to the test 10 wedding conventions to pave the way for a day you can truly call your own.
1. It’s a man’s job to propose
Forget that 'leap-year only' rule – you have just as much right to propose as your man does. Whangarei newlywed Shelley says, 'My husband Stefan is very laid-back, almost to the point of lazy. There was no question that we wanted to spend our lives together, so since I was the one who wanted a big party of a wedding,
I asked him to marry me.' Proposing allows you to create a truly original moment you'll always cherish. 'I proposed with a watch and a note that said, "The time is set for our wedding." Two days later, we went and picked out my engagement ring,' says Shelley.
2. It’s a bad sign if the groom isn’t excited about wedding planning
The fact that he wants to marry you is what matters – not the extent of his role
in the planning. Exquisite Weddings' Gayle Garmaz advises brides not to take it personally if their groom doesn't share their level of enthusiasm.
'Grooms often say they just want their bride to have the most fabulous day of
her life,' she says. 'But if you do want him to get more involved, don't be afraid to give him tasks, such as organising the cars, music, transport or beverages.'
3. You should be the mastermind behind your hen night
When you're in the throes of wedding planning, it can be a challenge to step back and trust someone else to play the role of organiser. But your bridesmaid is likely to be your most beloved friend, and as such is ideally placed to throw you a wonderful hen party or bridal shower that perfectly suits your personality. 'Some brides become control freaks and want it just so,' says Touch of Spice wedding planner Jacqui Spice. If this is you, it's time to take a chill pill. What makes a party is the people, so tell your bridesmaid who you you'd like to be in attendance, then back off. You have more than enough to worry about.
4. You and the groom should spend the night before the wedding apart.
This tradition is a nod to the days when couples didn't live together before marriage. As well as being symbolic, spending a night apart adds suspense, making that first glimpse of each other as you walk down the aisle even more moving.
Diane of Auckland says, 'Although Doug and I had lived together for years, spending the night before our wedding in separate places made the day so much more special. Even though we talked about last-minute details on the phone, the anticipation had built up and we were pretty excited about finally seeing each other in person.'
5. You should be fashionably late
Some guests deliberately arrive late to weddings, anticipating that the bride will be late, too. This is why a small delay is wise, but running more than 10 minutes behind could cause friction. Celebrant Kay Gregory says an overdue arrival, particularly at an outdoor wedding, is inconsiderate. 'I've seen elderly guests start to wilt, and bald heads become very red,' she recalls. 'A bride should bear in mind that her guests may have been waiting for a while by the time she arrives.'
6. Your father must give you away
You're a modern, independent woman, and no one's possession. So you may not feel a need to be 'given away' by your father when it's likely you moved out of home some time ago. Kay says this feature of the ceremony is not necessarily a given. 'Some brides choose to walk into the ceremony on their own, and many weddings no longer include the line, "Who gives this woman to be married to this man?".' 'Some brides are walked in by both parents, or their mother, brother, uncle or family friend,' she adds. 'It's purely a matter of choice.'
7. You should walk down the aisle last
It's your show, and you're the star. Walking down the aisle after the bridesmaids and flower girls makes you the grand finale. However, Kay says it's perfectly fine
to change the order. 'And where young children are involved, they may feel happier following someone,' she says.
8. Rain on your wedding day is a bad omen
As most brides who have copped a raw deal from Mother Nature know, rain doesn’t really matter. It'll take more than moisture to put a dampener on this occasion.
Melissa from Auckland optimistically assumed her January wedding would
be rain-free, but she was wrong. 'I'd planned to arrive in a convertible – luckily the friend we were borrowing it from had a vintage black VW bug that worked just as well,' she says.
It's important to have in mind a back-up location for your photographs too, should inclement weather strike. And have a pair of jandals on hand if you'll be walking through wet grass, or gumboots if there's the potential for mud.
9. To do it properly you must wear a veil
In days gone by, the hallmark of a bride was her veil, but this accessory has gone the way of top hats in church and black at a funeral.
'Veils provide a stunning look for the ceremony and for photographs,' says bridal designer Jane Yeh. 'They're still chosen by many brides, but it's becoming popular to have a headpiece or fascinator if a bride wants a more fashion-conscious look than a traditional one.'
10. It’s rude for anyone but you to wear white
'Not necessarily,' says Jacqui. 'These days any colour is appropriate, and with nude hues in fashion right now, we're even seeing bridesmaid dressed in the palest of shades. Not all brides wear white either, and generally the bride stands out no matter what colour she chooses to wear.'