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A GUEST POST BY WISTERIAN WOMAN
Every aspect of our cultural norms is deeply rooted in tradition. From the outdated gender norms, to which holidays we celebrate, and the obscure significance of certain colors – it’s hard to escape the influence of tradition and the wedding anxiety and overwhelm it may cause. Very few moments in life make this more apparent than your wedding day, and so, celebrating your special day can sometimes feel like navigating a murky dungeon of expectations, customs, and rituals where your family if the self-appointed DM. For those seeking alternative wedding ideas, these traditions can be more than just overwhelming; they can be a source of trauma and wedding anxiety. This article is for all the couples who have chosen to forge their unique path in the world of weddings, acknowledging their experiences, embracing their love, and finding solace in breaking free from the constraints of tradition.
Tradition, by it’s very nature, is a thread that weaves our past with our present. It’s a cultural compass guiding us through life’s significant milestones. Wedding traditions, in particular, are a rich with customs and rituals passed down through generations. These traditions symbolize love, unity, and commitment, offering a sense of belonging to something larger than ourselves. They serve as a connection to our ancestors and heritage, an echo of the vows taken by countless couples before us.
Though these traditions might be intended to bring warmth and connection to family gatherings, they can sometimes be a source of trauma and wedding anxiety for individuals who feel like the black sheep of their family. While many family customs are meant to celebrate love and unity, they can inadvertently intensify feelings of exclusion, isolation, or discrimination for those who don’t conform to the family’s expectations. Here’s a closer look at how some traditions can be traumatic and cause wedding anxiety for some of us:
Family Dynamics: Dysfunctional family relationships, unresolved conflicts, or past trauma within the family can be exacerbated during wedding planning and celebrations. The pressure to include or accommodate certain family members can trigger emotional distress.
Divorce or Breakups: Individuals who have experienced divorce or the end of a significant relationship may find weddings to be emotionally challenging, as they can serve as reminders of past heartbreak or failed marriages.
Gendered Roles: Traditional weddings often emphasize gendered roles, such as the bride’s father walking her down the aisle or the expectation of a bridal party consisting of bridesmaids and groomsmen. For transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals, this can trigger feelings of dysphoria and discomfort.
Loss of Loved Ones: Weddings can be bittersweet for those who have lost loved ones, especially if the absence of important family members or friends is deeply felt. The celebration can trigger grief and sadness.
Religious Beliefs: Weddings within religious families may carry additional weight for those who struggle with religious trauma or have difficult navigating their faith.
Pressure to Conform: The pressure to conform to societal or cultural expectations, such as hosting a large, lavish wedding, can cause distress for couples who would prefer a more intimate or affordable celebration.
Body Image Issues: For those with body image concerns, the focus on appearance and the pressure to look a certain way on the wedding day can trigger anxiety and self-esteem issues.
Heteronormative Expectations: Many traditional weddings are deeply rooted in heteronormative customs, assuming that the bride will marry the groom. For LGBTQ+ individuals, this can be painful and alienating, as they may not identify with these gender roles or orientations.
In the face of traditions that may feel traumatic or excluding, remember that you have the right to celebrate your love in a way that feels authentic and affirming. While family traditions can be meaningful, your wedding should ultimately be a reflection of your identity, your love, and your unique journey, regardless of whether or not you conform to conventional norms.
Perhaps your mom’s aunt’s grandma wore this wedding dress when she got married, or your great-great grandma’s dying wish was for you to get married at this venue. Or maybe, if you don’t invite your dad’s coworker’s friend, he will absolutely never forgive you. Whatever the ridiculous expectation, we’re going to talk about why it is unequivocally not your problem.
As society evolves, so too do its customs. The definition of a ‘traditional’ wedding has transformed over the years. Today’s weddings are far more diverse and reflective of individuality than ever before. Couples are now blending cultures, breaking gender norms, and redefining what it means to say “I do.” These changes are a testament to the power of love and the desire to express it authentically.
While traditions can provide comfort and familiarity, they can also be a source of stress and anxiety, especially for couples with traumatic experiences related to family or past events. For some, the pressure to conform to certain expectations can trigger memories of past trauma or experiences that cast a shadow over their wedding day. This is where the importance of understanding and compassion comes into play.
Amidst all the noise and outside influence, you need to remember that your wedding is about you and your partner. It’s a celebration of your love, your unique story, and your journey together. It’s a day to honor your relationship and the path you’ve chosen to walk hand in hand. It’s perfectly okay to veer off the beaten path of tradition and create a wedding that reflects your values, interests, and personalities.
For couples who are a little offbeat, alternative, and nerdy, the possibilities are endless. Whether it’s a cosplay-themed wedding, a celebration inspired by a favorite book or movie, or a ceremony that defies convention, your day should be a reflection of your passions and interests. Embracing your unique identity and celebrating it on your wedding day can be a powerful way to heal and create new, positive memories and traditions that feel authentic to you. Hennessy Photo Co also has some alternative wedding ideas listed here!
Dealing with family expectations and demands can be challenging, especially when they clash with your vision for your wedding. You might find yourself torn between desperately wanting your family to be a part of your day and wanting it to be on your own terms. It’s perfectly normal to grapple with this internal conflict and for it to initially cause wedding anxiety, but it’s equally important to prioritize your own well-being and happiness.
Here is some guidance on how to navigate family expectations while staying true to your vision:
Open and Honest Communication: Start by having open and honest conversations with your loved ones. Express your feelings, desires, and reasons for wanting a wedding that aligns with your vision. Share the importance of the day being a reflection of you and your partner as a couple.
Establish Boundaries: Clearly define your boundaries early in the planning process. Let your family know what aspects of the wedding are non-negotiable and where you are willing to be flexible. Empower yourself to say “no” when necessary. Setting boundaries is not selfish; it’s a way to protect your emotional well-being.
Seek Support: Enlist the support of close friends or a therapist to help you navigate difficult conversations with family members. Sometimes, an impartial third party can provide guidance and mediation.
Prioritize Yourself and Your Partner: Remember that the day is about you and your partner’s love and commitment to each other. Keep each other’s wishes at the forefront of your decision-making process and support one another in maintaining your shared vision.
Compromise When Possible: While setting boundaries is essential, be open to reasonable compromises that respect both your desires and your family’s wishes. Find creative solutions that allow you to honor traditions or involve family members in meaningful ways without sacrificing your core values and what you want for your day.
Practice Self-Care: Planning a wedding can be stressful, especially when dealing with family expectations. Prioritize self-care to manage stress and maintain a healthy emotional state. This might include mindfulness exercises, meditation, or taking breaks when needed.
Stay True to Your Values: Remember why you chose your partner and decided to get married. Your wedding should reflect your love and commitment. Stay true to your values and what matters most to you as a couple.
In the end, navigating family expectations is about finding a balance that allows you to celebrate your love authentically. While it’s natural to want your family to be a part of your special day, it should always be on terms that align with your vision and prioritize your well-being. Contrary to what you may have been taught, caring about yourself and your happiness is not selfish; it’s an essential aspect of creating a wedding day that truly celebrates your unique love story.
In the end, your wedding day should be a day of love, healing, and celebration. It’s a day to prioritize your relationship and well-being above all else. Surround yourself with a support system that understands and respects your choices. Cherish the moments, embrace your uniqueness, and let the love between you and your partner shine brightly.
In celebrating your love in your own way, you’re not only creating a memorable wedding but also a journey towards healing and personal growth. By taking control of your wedding and making it a reflection of your true selves, you are rewriting the narrative, forging a new tradition that is uniquely yours.
To all the beautiful, unique couples embarking on this extraordinary journey, remember that it’s okay to break free from tradition, focus on your love, and create a wedding day that feels like home. Your love is worth celebrating, your story is worth telling, and your happiness is worth cherishing, just as it is – beautifully, authentically, and unapologetically yours.
Wisterian Woman is a health and wellness blog dedicated to empowering its readers to live authentically, stay healthy, and pursue their dreams. It’s creator, also known as W.W. resides in Fort Collins, Colorado, with her partner and adorable mini goldendoodle. Raised in rural Illinois, she faced early adversity, including the loss of her father to alcoholism. Colorado’s mountains offered solace and transformation, inspiring her to transition from a 12-year career as a painter to one in human resources. She holds a bachelor’s and M.Ed in Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change, and currently works remotely, recruiting top talent and fostering a vibrant company culture. In her spare time, she pursues her artistic passions and fulfills her mission through Wisterian Woman.
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