Most people dream of a fairly traditional wedding: the ladies in beautiful dresses, the men in tuxes, the bride walking down the aisle on her father's arm, and so forth. But fewer and fewer elements of life in our time are traditional, including the relationships that go into forming a meaningfulful wedding. Fortunately, a fairly traditional wedding can comprise some non-traditional elements and still be the memorable day everyone dreamed of.
- Giving the bride away. It was once the privilege of the father of the bride to deliver his daughter from his care into the care of her new husband. However, in situations where a father is presumed, estranged, or absent, another person can fulfill this function. It could have been a step-father, older brother, uncle, grandfather, or family friend. It could even be a mother, step-mother, aunt, or grandmother. Another alternative is for the bride simply to walk down the aisle herself, an independent woman who requires no escort.
- Attendants. The tradition is for the bride and groom each to have two or more attendants-men for the groom and ladies for the bride-who stand in support of the couple in this most significant moment. But this custom asserts that women have exclusively female friends and men have exclusively male friends, and that is not necessarily the case. It might be very important for a bride to include her best guy-friend, or a groom to include the gal he grew up with. This begins the question of how these attendants will be dressed. Keep it simple; If all the men are wearing tuxes, a male bride's attendant should also wear a tux, but with a tie and cummerbund or vest to match the bridesmaids. Female attendants of the groom can wear formal black dresses with accents that match the men's accent colors.
- Witnesses. Only the largest and most formal of weddings any longer utilize the position of junior bridesmaid. In most cases, a younger sister or daughter who is still a minor will simply be called a bridesmaid, or even the maid of honor. The same is true of the groom's younger brother, son, or stepson; he may be the best man, even if he is not yet an adult. This is perfectly acceptable except for one thing: the chief function of a maid of honor and best man is to sign the marriage license as legal witnesses to the marriage, and people under eighteen can not be legal witnesses. The solution to this is easy: keep the young attendants, and ask someone else in the wedding to sign the license. A parent or friend will do nicely.
Traditional weddings can take place in non-traditional ways. If everyone keeps an open mind, non-traditional roles within a wedding party can make the day even more meaningful and memorable.