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5 marriage traditions you need to let go of

Posted 10:39 a.m. Thursday

Getting married is an exciting time. The beginning of a new journey with your life partner can bring on unique pressures. One thing that may feel completely overwhelming is the push to follow old family and cultural marital norms. But your wedding and your marriage are yours. So here are five marriage traditions you can let go of:

1. Family affair

You've probably dreamt about it for years. The white dress, the big flowers, the whole family. But if the idea of having hundreds of people file into a huge wedding hall feels cramped and overcrowded, you can choose to lighten the load. Big weddings are no longer all the rage and are quickly being replaced by more casual, low-key affairs. An intimate setting with your close friends and beloved family members is all you need to celebrate your union. You can even separate the ceremony and reception to further disperse the planning stresses and celebrate with different people on different dates.

2. New last name

Changing your last name is a tradition you may have always held close to your heart. But if you've become attached to your independent identity and want to keep your family name, now more than ever it's acceptable to forgo giving up your maiden name. You can double down with the two last name trend (Yours His) or hyphenate them (Yours-His). Or you can just keep what your family gave you at birth and live your life loving your partner without losing your family name to their lineage. Modern marriages can manage bucking this outdated tradition.

3. Forgoing gifts

Wedding showers are a great way to give back to the people who will celebrate your nuptials with you. However, planning yet another party in the wake of your wedding may also be a stress you don't want to endure. Receiving gifts at your wedding is also an option. But a modern way of giving back in an ever bigger way would be forgoing wedding gifts altogether. A selfless trend for newlyweds is to ask wedding guests to donate to a charity or cause of the couple's choice. You and your guests can turn extravagance into generosity.

4. Long-distance love

Many modern relationships now begin online. And falling in love with someone halfway around the world is easier than ever. Since love knows no distance, international marriage is a lot more common than it used to be. It may be work abroad that keeps you separated, but it could also be local and foreign laws that don't allow either of you to stay in the other's country for too long. International travel can also be prohibitively expensive. So spending time together in a long distance marriage may be scarce. But luckily video chat apps make connecting on a regular basis easier. Staying in communication and committing to the time you can share makes your marriage meaningful, even if it's non-traditional.

5. Separate bedrooms

If you want to live together but still need your space, you can decide to stay in separate bedrooms. Many newer homes include multiple master bedrooms to help couples keep their sanity while sharing space. Sharing a bedroom is still the standard, but your relationship doesn't have to succumb to what works for other couples. It may shock your family and friends, or send a message that your marriage is struggling, but sleeping in separate bedrooms can be a conscious decision that allows you to recuperate from being around people, even people you love. The energy expense some private and introverted people experience is quite high and needs more consideration. Don't worry about the expectations of others; you'll both be masters of your domain.

The 21st century afforded many updates to marriage and wedding traditions. What works for other families doesn't have to affect you. You can choose to do what works for your relationship and what makes you and your partner happy. Those close to you may be confused, but in the end you and your spouse will have the sanctity and sanctuary of the life you've built together — exactly the way you want it.

Georgia D. Lee is a University of Miami Alumna who seeks to empower, inspire, enrich and educate anyone with an open mind, heart and spirit through her most treasured medium - black and white!

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