Your Guide to Wedding Traditions in the U.S. & Eco-Friendly Alternatives
If you're getting married in Lake Tahoe, there are several unique ways to make your wedding sustainable and memorable by incorporating or updating American wedding traditions. Whether you know which ones you want to keep and ditch or you’re looking for eco-friendly alternatives to common wedding traditions in the U.S., we can help! Keep reading for a list of popular wedding traditions in America and ideas to revamp or adjust them to fit your eco-friendly Lake Tahoe wedding!
8 American Wedding Traditions & Unique and Eco-Friendly Alternatives
America is a melting pot of cultures, reflected in the many unique wedding traditions that have developed over the years. Here are a few popular American wedding traditions, including unique ways to revamp them and eco-friendly alternatives. While some of these traditions are targeted to “brides” or “grooms,” you can spin them in any direction that makes sense for you and your partner!
1. Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue
It is tradition for a bride to wear something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue on her wedding day. This represents the bride's past, present, and future.
Ditch It: If you don’t love this tradition, ditch it and wear whatever you want.
Revamp It: If you do love this tradition, do it–but get both partners involved. Whether a bride or groom, you can participate in this American wedding tradition.
Make It Eco-Friendly: Use an item you or a loved one already has for the “something old.” Purchase your “something new” from a small supplier or one that prioritizes sustainability in their business. The “something borrowed” is zero-waste already! Choose something you’re already using for your wedding as the “something blue.” For example, blue flowers, blue robes for getting ready, a blue ribbon around your bouquet, or stitching your wedding date into your dress or suit in blue thread.
2. The Wedding Party
American weddings typically include a large wedding party made up of the bride and groom’s closest friends and family members. Sometimes, the wedding party may even include children for the ring bearer or flower girl.
Ditch It: You don’t have to have a wedding party! If you want to stand at the altar with just you and your partner, do it.
Revamp It: If you love this tradition, do it–but don’t be afraid to switch things up. Girls on one side and guys on the other is an old American wedding tradition. If you’re a gal with a guy best friend (or vice versa), have them stand with you!
Make It Eco-Friendly: To minimize wedding waste when it comes to your wedding party, consider the attire. Unfortunately, we all know that most bridesmaids only wear their dresses once. Then they hang in the back of closets waiting for another occasion as wonderful as your wedding (which, of course, there isn’t one). So, rather than having your wedding party purchase fancy attire they’ll probably never wear again, you have two eco-friendly options: rent the attire or let your wedding party choose their own apparel (in your wedding colors) that they know they’ll wear again.
3. The Father-Daughter Dance
The father-daughter dance is one of the most cherished wedding traditions in the U.S. This emotional dance is typically accompanied by a song chosen by the father and daughter ahead of time.
Ditch It: The father-daughter dance is typically only “cherished” for those with a close, positive relationship with their dad. If you don’t have that, you can ditch this tradition.
Revamp It: Your special dance doesn’t have to be with your dad. If you have another loved one who would be honored to dance with you on your wedding day, ask them! Dance with your mom, stepdad, great grandma, uncle, or best friend–anyone you want to share a special moment with. (P.S. grooms can dance with their special loved ones too!)
Make It Eco-Friendly: Fortunately, getting down on the dance floor is eco-friendly in and of itself. However, one way to make your reception even more sustainable is to choose a band local to the Lake Tahoe area rather than sourcing a band that has to come from the Bay area and requires lodging or travel expenses. You may also consider hiring a DJ committed to sustainability in their business!
4. The First Dance
The first dance between the newlyweds is often seen as a symbol of their love and commitment to each other. In many cases, couples will choreograph an entire routine to perform for their guests.
Ditch It: Some couples find the first dance very awkward and uncomfortable because all eyes are on you. So, if you don’t want to do it, skip it.
Revamp It: If you love this tradition but still don’t like being the center of attention, ask a few other couples to dance with you. You can turn this into a multi-generational wedding tradition by asking your parents and grandparents to share the first dance as a symbol of long-lasting love.
Make It Eco-Friendly: Dancing is eco-friendly!
5. The Bouquet Toss
At some point during the reception, the bride typically tosses her bouquet into the crowd of single women. It is said that whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to get married.
Ditch It: If you’re not into classic American wedding traditions like this, don’t throw your bouquet. Keep it for yourself, and all the single ladies will just have to find another way to predict their marriages. You can also do an “Anniversary Dance” instead.
Revamp It: If you love this tradition but don’t want to throw your beautiful bouquet, revamp it by tossing a single flower into the crowd or have your florist create a smaller bouquet specifically for this event.
Make It Eco-Friendly: There are a few ways to make the bouquet toss more eco-friendly. First, you can create a special bouquet with dried or silk flowers to toss; whoever catches them can reuse them in their home. Second, you can repurpose some existing decor; take a bouquet from a table centerpiece to toss. Third, you can use a bridesmaid's bouquet; there is always at least one bridesmaid that ditches her bouquet on a cocktail table right after the ceremony. And fourth, you can toss something other than a bouquet; choose a reusable item to throw!
6. The Cake Cutting
Cutting the wedding cake is usually one of the first tasks the newlyweds undertake as a couple. In many cases, the cake cutting will be followed by feeding each other a piece of cake.
Ditch It: If you don’t love this tradition, ditch it. Simply eat your wedding dessert with the rest of your guests.
Revamp It: If you love this tradition but want to make it a bit more unique or funky, do it with a different treat. Do you both love ice cream? Have an ice cream bar at your wedding, scoop some into a bowl together, and feed each other a big bite of your favorite flavor! Are s’mores over the fire more your style? Roast one together!
Make It Eco-Friendly: One study found that a tenth of the food at weddings goes to waste, equating to over $550. That same study found that 37% of wedding guests don’t eat cake! So, if you want to do a cake cutting but want to minimize waste, have a small cake made specifically for the event. Then provide your guests with other sweets and treats they’ll actually eat.
7. The Wedding Gifts
A gift registry is a wedding tradition in America where guests purchase gifts for the newlywed couple, typically from a list of pre-selected items. Sometimes guests can purchase items off the couple's registry in groups, making it easy to buy a more expensive item that the couple might not be able to afford on their own.
Ditch It: If you don’t want to receive physical gifts at your wedding, you don’t have to do any gift registry, although some guests will likely still bring something out of love.
Revamp It: If you do love this tradition but you don’t need a lot of “things,” you can do a cash-only registry, where you ask people to give to your future with a monetary gift. Because let’s be real, most couples would rather cash so they can buy what they want. (P.S. we know a fun way to do this that doesn’t feel like giving cash.)
Make It Eco-Friendly: The best way to make this American wedding tradition eco-friendly is to register at eco-friendly stores and sustainable brands. Also, cash and gift card gift registries enable you to purchase what you want and need and minimize gifts that will go to waste. Or ask your guests to donate to your favorite charity if you already have all the gifts and cash you want for your wedding!
8. The Send-Off
Finally, as the newlyweds make their way out of the reception, guests often gather around to shower them with rice or birdseed–a symbol of good luck for their future together.
Ditch It: If you don’t love this tradition, ditch it. You can simply exit your wedding celebration quietly and in love. (Hint: the photographer is usually gone by that time anyways, and most exits are actually staged early in the day!)
Revamp It: If you like this tradition but don’t want things thrown at you, simply ask your guests to cheer and shout as you leave your wedding venue with your new spouse.
Make It Eco-Friendly: If you love the wedding send-off (and the amazing photos that come from it), here are six eco-friendly tossing items to choose from: lavender, leaves, biodegradable confetti, dried flowers, bubbles, and herbs.
Plan Your Eco-Friendly Lake Tahoe Wedding with Epic Thyme Events
Are you looking to plan an eco-friendly wedding in Lake Tahoe? Look no further than Epic Thyme Events! We specialize in helping couples create beautiful, sustainable weddings that will make a positive impact on the environment. We know that planning a green wedding can seem daunting, but we're here to help make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. We'll work with you to choose eco-friendly vendors, select sustainable materials, and offset your carbon footprint. We believe that every couple deserves to have the wedding of their dreams without harming the planet. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you plan the perfect eco-friendly Lake Tahoe wedding!