By Celest Thoi
During my years in the industry, I’ve heard many different perspectives on whether tradition and trend gel together. A few memorable ones include, “Trends come and go. Tradition is a cornerstone” and “Traditions are followed to make my parents happy.”
My humble opinion: why not have the best of both worlds? We don’t need to follow tradition to the closest detail. Have fun by owning it with your own ideas. Set your own hidden twists while maintaining time tested customs on that special day.
You can follow traditions and customise according to what makes sense to you, on your special day. So let’s go through a few of things we could play around with.
That Special Ring
When we think of an engagement ring, we think diamonds. But does it really need to be so? If you want to be unique or if you are drawn to a specific stone other than a diamond, why not? Kate Middleton’s ring is a Blue Sapphire and Princess Eugenie was given a rare Padparadscha Sapphire ring for her engagement.
There are so many different stones, shapes, metals and settings for an engagement ring – why limit your choice? You should not choose a ring just because it’s trending or in style at the moment. Choose something that will reflect your style and can stand the test of time. Most importantly, choose something that represents you.
To veil or not?
Interestingly, the veil is the one common tradition crossing multiple cultures. From Asia to Europe, the veil has been part of that special moment for the groom to see his bride’s face … some for the very first time. In some cultures, the un-veiling of the bride – done by the groom – was to symbolise that “ownership” (sexist yes but remember its tradition) has changed hands, from her father, to her husband.
Today, the veil is such an awesome fashion accessory. I mean, how often do we get a chance to wear a veil for that mystical persona?
You could play around from the long princess veil to a hippy flower crown, or a jeweled headpiece. Bear in mind, don’t let creativity overtake practicality because you still need to consider the venue and time of the wedding. For example, brides getting married in the outdoors, be it in the lush gardens or the windy beach should opt for a more practical look as veils may be cumbersome in strong winds and there is the fear of it getting caught on twigs etc. Or if you are wearing a stunning gown with a stunning statement back, you may just want to show it off rather than cover it up with the veil. Remember that it’s your wedding. You should always feel right and comfortable! Whatever reasons you may have, there’s no definite must that says a “blushing” bride must wear a wedding veil.
Last but not least, the most important topic to cover: The Dress.
White is the default wedding dress in most cultures and that was no different for myself. I have yet to come across a daring bride who was willing to break away from this tradition. One of my brides worth mentioning was interesting and we had so much fun working with her. Ann Jee was marrying her groom of Indian heritage and she wanted to create a dress that bridged both worlds. We made her a beautiful ivory white modern bridal gown that could be converted into a saree and it worked perfectly. She looked amazing in it even though there were questions on the white tone, which is uncommon for sarees.
Most cultures will adopt the white wedding dress as it symbolises purity and innocence. Queen Victoria actually started this trend as she liked the colour. Before her white wedding dress, brides used to wear whatever garment they fancied. Once the queen wore white, everyone started following suit. And the trend is stuck till now.
Shouldn’t you look and feel absolute finest on your wedding day? If you feel most beautiful in a red gown or you reckon you rock in royal blue, go for it! Wear what you like … it is your wedding day!
In some Asian cultures, brides will often choose red as it symbolises auspiciousness. Most Asian brides are lucky to be able to change into a few outfits on their wedding day. Many of the brides we know here in Malaysia, commonly have an average of three dresses for different usage. Be it a kebaya or baju nikah appropriate for akad nikah, a cheongsam for the tea ceremony, a lengha for an Indian ceremony or a gala gown for that second march-in … many will dress in colours befitting their themes.
Bridal party should all wear the same … why can’t we mix it up?
Traditionally, bridesmaids were chosen from unwed young ladies of marriageable age. In the past, bridesmaids’ roles included not only attending to the bride on the day of the wedding, as creepy as it sounds, she is supposed to be dressed similarly to the bride to act as a decoy to confuse evil spirits from harming the real bride.
Today, brides will ask their sisters, cousins or closest girlfriends (married or unmarried) to be her bridal party to assist her on her most important day, to build that affinity of friendship and also to look uniform and pretty in photos.
If you’re not superstitious, you can consider mixing this tradition. When I say your bridal party can mix it up, they don’t have to match, and I don’t just mean in dressing. You can have both genders on either side of the bridal party.
Traditionally, only females could be bridesmaids and males could be groomsmen. But in this day and age, if your best friend is a guy, who is to say you cannot have him in your party? Modern brides have been diverting from this tradition by welcoming co-ed bridal showers and wedding celebrations! to play a role … as long as it’s someone who plays an important role to the couple. These days, even the pet dog may be enlisted.
In terms of outfits, each bridesmaid is beautiful in his or her own way! Give them a colour palette and let them choose their own attire. If you have a big bridal party, you can also consider mixing a gradation of colours for a more vibrant look. This will empower them to express their styles and personalities. It will also add a unique touch to your wedding for some striking photos!
Proper invites or e-invites?
Back in the days, an invitation was a formal hand-written letter sealed with wax asking the recipient to attend a wedding. I remember when I was getting married, my parents were very eager about when my physical invitation cards would be ready so that they can start hand-delivering them on a more personal basis … especially to close family members and friends as a sign of respect to invite who mattered to the wedding. Hand-delivering invites add such a personal touch. It also adds to time and the budget.
Instead of sending out traditional invitation cards, consider a more eco and technological approach. Technology is a huge part of our lives, so why not incorporate it into your wedding? This will not only save the trees, it saves time and money too. Many online e-invite sites provide RSVP tracking as well.
Be creative about it and if your budget allows, may I suggest you hiring a videographer while you are shooting your pre-wedding photos to make a short video as a video invite to post on Instagram. This can be along a storyline or just be a montage of both of you being a cute couple posing together. Add appropriate music and end the video with the date of your wedding and a message! This can be a fun and memorable experience for your guests as well as for you and your soon-to-be bride or groom.
There’s so much out-of-the box thinking and things to do. Many couples want to do what hasn’t been done before and that’s everything from invitations to the venue. Some may say these couples are trying to outdo each other, but I reckon what couples are trying to achieve is what’s really exceptional to reflect themselves.