The 8 Most Debated Topics During Your Engagement
When you’re engaged, you’ll be basking in happiness and, of course, planning your wedding! Wedding planning can be a lot of fun. But it can also be a little overwhelming, especially if it causes some debate between you, your partner, your families, and your more opinionated friends.
There are a lot of decisions to make when planning a wedding. And where there are decisions to be made, there are varying opinions. So what topics cause the most debate when wedding planning during your engagement? There are long-debated topics like DJ vs. band, fresh debates about modern practices (like the one around doing an aisle look vs. doing a private first look), and a whole lot of debates about following tradition.
In this post, I’m taking a closer look at all these hotly debated topics and covering the 8 most debated topics during engagement! For each of these issues, I’ll talk about the case for each side to help you decide where you stand on the debate.
Elopement vs. a Traditional Wedding
Many people wouldn’t even consider not having a traditional wedding, one with all their family and friends there to share in the moment. But, for some, elopement seems like a much more attractive option. There are strong opinions on both sides of this debate, so let’s take a closer look at why people feel so strongly either way.
First, let’s look at why people favor traditional weddings. For many couples, not having a traditional wedding is almost unthinkable! So, why is that?
One reason is that a traditional wedding is, well, traditional. And following tradition is very important to some people. Another reason is that weddings are a big milestone moment, one that many people dream about for their whole life. They’re an opportunity to commemorate entering a new chapter of your life with your partner, while also sharing and celebrating that moment with your dearest family and friends. A third reason people want to have a traditional wedding is that they’re just a ton of fun! Weddings celebrate a big moment in your life but, also, they’re a big party.
Now, let’s take a look at the other side of the debate. What are some reasons people elope? Decades ago, the main reason people chose to elope was because their parents didn’t approve of their marriage. Today, however, there are many reasons couples to choose to elope (and disapproving parents is a more rare reason for elopement in the modern era).
One reason couples choose to elope is money. Weddings can be very expensive and many people simply don’t have the funds for a wedding or would rather put the money they would spend on a wedding toward something else (like a downpayment on a home). Another reason people choose to elope is that they just don’t feel like they’re a “wedding person.” While some people have dreamt of walking down the aisle their whole life, others just don’t really care much and see no reason to have a wedding, which takes a lot of effort to plan. A third reason for elopement is that, to many, it just seems very romantic.
Choosing whether you want to have a wedding or elope is a very personal decision. Many people feel very strongly about this one way or the other, while others are on the fence. If you’re on the fence about having a wedding vs. eloping, I’d say to just follow your heart about what you should do, rather than focusing too much on what other people say.
Aisle Look vs. Private First Look
Ah, the big moment when you and your partner see each other for the first time on your wedding day. Traditionally, this is done when you walk down the aisle. But there’s a new tradition that’s starting to get a lot of traction: a private first look, where you and your partner set aside some time to spend a private moment together before your ceremony. The aisle look vs. private look debate is definitely one of the hottest wedding debates at the moment (and I see this debate in action often when I’m planning how a wedding will be shot). So, why the great debate?
First, let’s talk about why people want to do an aisle look. The main reason people feel strongly about doing an aisle look over a first look is tradition. It’s a tradition for the bride and groom to see each other for their first time on their wedding day when walking down the aisle. And, because of this, those who highly value following tradition probably wouldn’t even consider doing a private first look over an aisle look.
But there are many advantages to doing a private first look, which have made this new tradition incredibly popular in recent years. When you choose to do a private first look, you’re adding another moment where you and your partner can spend time privately— and these moments are hard to come by on a busy wedding day. This time together is a beautiful, precious moment you’ll remember for the rest of your lives. Another major advantage of choosing to do a private first look is the pictures. If you decide to do a private first look, you can also plan to have your photographer there, waiting to capture this lovely moment!
Personally, as a wedding photographer, I will say that I do prefer private first looks over aisle looks. Couples are usually very happy that they decided to do a private first look. It gives you a moment to breathe, enjoy your big day, and be together. Plus, it gives you the opportunity to capture some amazing, authentically emotional photos you wouldn’t be able to get otherwise!
DJ vs. Band
Music is very important for a reception. The dance party portion of your wedding is when your guests get to really get loose and have fun! So, of course you want to have great music for them to dance to. But what makes for the best music: a DJ or a live band?
While many people have strong opinions either way (and they often think that everyone should feel the same way they do), I think whether a DJ or a band is better for a wedding is very personal. There are four things to consider about what kind of music you want for your wedding: the vibe you want, the variety you want, your venue’s space availability, and your budget.
DJs and live bands have inherently different vibes, and even within those categories you’ll find that different DJs and bands bring very different energy. For variety, DJs have a noticeable advantage, but you may be able to get more variety with a band by choosing a versatile band or having multiple bands perform. In terms of space, DJs generally don’t take up as much space as a band, so you may need to make sure you have room at your venue if you’re considering a band. And, finally, when it comes to budgeting, bands are usually more expensive than DJs (unless the DJ is famous), so if you’re on a budget, a DJ can often work better for you.
When it comes to a DJ versus a live band, you really have to just think about what you want, what’s possible for your space and budget, and decide what would be right for you.
Getting Your Hair and Makeup Done vs. Doing It Yourself
Many people consider doing their own hair and makeup for their wedding. Getting your hair and makeup done for your wedding can be expensive and those on a budget may see doing it themself as a good way to cut costs. Additionally, some people want to do their own hair and makeup because they’re worried about how it will look and think they might prefer their own styling.
However, when you see or hear people floating the idea of doing their own makeup, you’ll notice that there’s usually a strong “don’t do that!” response. Your wedding hair and makeup is very important to how you’ll look on your wedding day, both in real life and in pictures. And a lot of people feel strongly that you should have it done professionally.
This one, again, is a personal decision. I will say that I, personally, lean toward advising you toward getting your hair and makeup done professionally. It takes pressure off your big day, gives you more time to relax and enjoy things, and a good makeup and hair team will have you looking amazing. (Just as an aside, I know brides who are professional makeup artists who still chose to hire someone else for their wedding day.) Still, at the end of the day, it’s your call! And if you think you’d be happier doing your own hair and makeup, go for it.
Bouquet Toss vs. No Bouquet Toss
A bouquet toss is a tradition in which you toss your wedding bouquet at your reception and all the single ladies (all the single ladies) try to catch it. Then, the lucky lady who caught it will supposedly be the next woman in the group to get hitched. And while this tradition has been very popular for decades, there’s now quite a lot of debate about whether or not it should be done.
So why are people now arguing against the bouquet toss? There are a few reasons. For one, many people think it’s very old fashioned. Catching the bouquet is supposed to be exciting because then you’ll be the next to catch a husband. This ties in with the old fashioned idea that getting married should be the most important and exciting thing for a woman. Also, many people are against a bouquet toss because some single women are embarrassed by this tradition and may feel obligated to participate even if they don’t want to.
Ultimately, whether or not you want to do a bouquet toss is your choice. Maybe you think it’s a fun tradition and want to do it or maybe you think it’s a little dated or could be uncomfortable for your guests and want to skip it. But I wanted to mention a lovely new way to give away your bouquet that I’ve seen happening at more weddings lately, which gives you a third option.
If you don’t want to do a bouquet toss, you can still incorporate your bouquet into your reception by taking a moment to present your bouquet to the couple at your wedding who has been together the longest. This is a really sweet way to celebrate marriage and life-long love!
Having Father “Give the Bride Away” vs. Not
Like the last issue on our list, the bouquet toss, many people see the father of the bride “giving her away” as an outdated tradition. So, the question of whether or not the father of the bride should symbolically give her away at her wedding is another hotly debated issue.
Some people really love this tradition while others really dislike it. And some don’t love it but don’t know how to get around it without just not having their father walk them down the aisle. For this one, I’d say if you like the tradition of this, by all means do it. For those who don’t like it, you have a few options.
The traditional way a father gives away the bride is to walk her down the aisle, then answer “I do” when the officiant asks “who gives/presents this woman to be married to this man?” If you want to skip the “give away” aspect of this, you can modify this in a few different ways. One, he could give a number of different answers to the officiant’s question, such as “her mother and I do” and “she gives herself, but with her family’s blessing.” You can also have the officiant change the question (there are lots of options here, like “does this couple have the blessings of the family for this marriage,” “will you [all parents] bless this couple in their marriage and celebrate them in times of joy, and bolster them in hardship,” “I ask [parents], will you take this couple into your family and your hearts,” etc.). You can also simply have the officiant say nothing, have both parents walk you down the aisle, or have your father join another part of the procession.
Wedding Favors vs. No Wedding Favors
Many people send their wedding guests away with small gifts called wedding favors. These favors can be basically anything. For example, a picture frame, a baked good, a candle, a small bottle of champagne. But should you provide your guests with wedding favors? Do you have to?
Like many other things on this list, wedding favors exist because of tradition. Wedding favors have existed since the 16th century and, to many, they’re considered a standard part of a wedding. They’re a thoughtful way to give your guests a token to thank them for making it to your wedding and, for many couple, picking out favors can be fun.
But wedding favors have been falling out of favor lately with couples that don’t really see them as necessary and instead see them as potential waste of effort and money. Will your guests really miss not getting that small notebook or bag of candy? Honestly, they probably won’t even notice if you skip favors. So, while wedding favors can be fun to gift if you have the time and cash, they’re skippable. If you have a smaller budget, it may be a good idea to use the money you’d spend on favors toward something you care about more, like investing in better lighting for your reception or getting better decorations.
Who Picks Up the Tab?
Traditionally, both the bride and groom’s parents split the bill for a wedding, while the bride’s family is usually expected to pay for more of the wedding bills. But today, this tradition is definitely not strictly followed. While in the past, there were pretty clear etiquette rules on who should pay for a wedding, society has changed so much that many of these rules have gone out the window. These rules don’t really fit well into modern society for many reasons. (Especially when many weddings now have two brides, two grooms, or members of the couple who don’t identify with either of these gender roles— so, which family would “pay more for the bride” in these cases?) And because these payment rules aren’t really rules anymore, there’s often a lot of debate, both within families and within couples, about who pays for a wedding.
Some people still go slightly traditional and have their family pick up the tab. But now when families pay for a wedding, the rules are more flexible about who pays how much. For example, families might split the bill 50/50 or a wealthier family might pick up far more of (or all of) the tab.
While some couples have families paying for the wedding, other couples pay for their wedding themselves (or pay for a portion of the wedding costs). Back in the day, couples got married at much younger ages, so it made sense that families usually paid for weddings. But today, many couples are older and more financially secure, making them more capable of picking up the bill. Also, some people choose to pay for their wedding even if their family could help them pay for it because they don’t want to feel like they have to bend to their family’s wishes for the wedding just because they’re paying for it.
The question of who pays for a wedding is now a much more personal, individualized decision. But it’s still one that can cause a lot of debate among couples and family members, as different people have very different ideas about how paying for a wedding should be done.