1. Having the bride's family pay for everything.
Weddings are really expensive — like, absurdly so — and for better or worse, they can be stretched out to include about a million events. So if a parent or a grandparent or a wacky aunt wants to help ease that financial burden, then by all means take them up on it and thank them profusely. Just don't expect it. Tradition dictates that the father of the bride is responsible for the engagement party, the invitations, the wedding dress, and the wedding reception (so, basically everything), but this, like many other wedding traditions, is uncomfortably reminiscent of the idea that brides are being "gifted" to grooms. And what happens when there are two wives? Pay for the wedding you can afford, accept help where you can, and take comfort in the fact that if you're paying the bills, you're in charge.
2. Including people out of a sense of obligation.
This is your wedding and, as previously established, it isn't exactly a cheap affair. There is no reason you should feel obligated to populate it in any specific way. You don't have to include someone in your wedding party just because they included you in theirs, and, conversely, you don't have to exclude someone for something so arbitrary as gender. If you're a woman, and your best friend is a dude, and you want him standing up there next to you while you're signing off on the rest of your life, then, by all means, include him. And if you're the groom and you want your sister as a grooms[wo]man, who would dare stop you?
3. Accepting a position in a wedding party just because you were asked.
Being in someone's wedding party isn't just a big expense; it's also a huge time and energy drain. Which isn't to say it can't be a very worthwhile albeit expensive time and energy drain! It's an honor to be included, and, in the case of your closest friends and family, it's exciting to be that much closer to the celebration(s). But if you genuinely feel like you can't commit to the time and money, you're better off saying so upfront. Have a frank conversation with the bride- or groom-to-be and explain how truly touched you are by the consideration, but that you know you couldn't do the position justice.
4. Buying gifts off the registry.
The gift registry is practical and convenient, and technically, yes, it's more of a recommendation than a direction. You, as the gift-giver, are free to spend your money as you'd like. Just be considerate and realistic. It's rare that people so specifically spell out exactly what they want and how to get it (usually from the comfort of your own couch!) so it's probably best not to stray from the registry unless you're confident you've found the most beautiful/miraculous thing that the couple never even knew it needed.
5. Considering cash gifts tacky.
Money doesn't have to be tacky. It can actually be the most meaningful and practical gift of all! It's basically the gift of an *experience.* The recipients can put it toward a new home, their future child's trust fund, their honeymoon, or, more realistically, repaying the debt that their wedding has placed them in. It's total freedom for both parties. Just, you know, put the money in a thoughtful card, and maybe don't make it a PayPal transaction.
6. Keeping your partner from seeing your (WHITE) dress.
There have long been an awful lot of rules attached to an item of clothing you'll likely wear just once in your life: It has to be white (to help prove your purity), it has to be expensive (watch Say Yes to the Dress enough and $3,000 starts to seem low-end), and the person you're marrying CAN'T see it before you walk down the aisle (or else it'll... burst into flames? It's unclear!). First, a wedding dress doesn't need to be ANY color (or obscenely expensive) — we only started wearing white because Queen Victoria did, and she has been dead for so long now! White dresses are pretty, but it's most important to feel happy. And if you want your partner to shop with you for it, that's great too.
7. Making your bridesmaids match to a T.
Can we just acknowledge openly, in the year 2014, that rarely (and maybe never) is it the case that a group of 3 to 10 (ahhh, are you sure you want 10 bridesmaids?) women are all going to feel happy with how they look in the same cut and color of dress? Why are so many of them olive? It's always olive and yellow and lavender with you people. We're not saying brides need to let bridesmaids wear LITERALLY whatever they want, but allowing variations on a theme (whether color or cut) can go a long way in making it easier on your pals.
8. Being walked down the aisle by your father.
Being walked down the aisle by one's father, and "transferred" to one's groom, may feel symbolically... icky, for some people, and forgoing that practice in lieu of walking yourself (or walking with both parents, or a friend, or whomever you'd like) is a totally legitimate decision. Of course, who says you even need the aisle in the first place? Maybe you would like to drop in from the ceiling in a harness-pulley system, like in the film Mission Impossible. I will check the "Attending" box on that Save-the-Date card, thank you.
9. Serving a multi-tiered cake.
Why is wedding cake so bad so often? I don't get it. Cake: good, weddings: fine, wedding cake: dry with weird fillings and frostings??? It's probably a good idea to have SOME kind of sweets at your wedding, because you do not want a REVOLT, but who says it has to be a triple-tiered monster with decorative embellishments that nobody is sure are edible? You could do cupcakes, sure, but you could also do like, puppy chow. Ah, maybe not puppy chow. But, the point is, there is a whole world of sweet things out there. Don't let the Cake Boss box you in just because "Boss" is in his name. And if you'd rather go casual, buffet-style, than a formal dinner? That can help cut costs and allow guests to eat on their own schedule.
10. Organizing multiple pre-ceremony events for the wedding party.
Once a friend of mine was invited to the wedding of two good friends of his, and that part seemed normal and logical. But then he got a letter from the couple that listed five (5) pre-wedding events (none free!) he was expected to attend as a member of the wedding party, starting a month and a half out from the wedding and occurring every few weeks until the actual ceremony. The couple said these events were meant to allow the wedding party to "bond" before the big day. All I have to say about this is: No. A wedding is not the same thing as a summer camp.
11. Throwing the bouquet.
There is a reason that, every time a wedding is made part of a TV show or movie, and the bride in question has a bouquet toss for the unmarried women in attendance, all those women are shown complaining, and downing champagne, and conspiring to stand as far away from the target area as possible. We guess we can't say for sure that NOBODY likes the bouquet toss (though we are pretty sure), but when is the last time you met someone who, when the toss was announced, was like, "Yes, finally"? Also please do not have the DJ play Beyonce's "Single Ladies" and make all the single ladies gather on the dance floor.