Rules are meant to be broken.

Who says you have to do a bouquet toss? That you have to have wedding programs at the ceremony? That you can't plan an outdoor wedding in April (I think rain is good luck!)? That you need to put every female relative in your bridal party? Or that you must exchange wedding presents?

Lindsay Irvin, Editor

I’ll let you in on a little secret. THERE IS NO RULE BOOK. There are no rules. Sure, there are long-standing traditions, planning books, worksheets, checklists and well-meaning mothers just waiting to overwhelm you with to-dos and must-haves, but with every resource and uninvited opinion, I want you to pause and ponder: Do these suggestions feel like you and your groom? Do they make you giddy — or anxious? Better yet, do you really want to spend a portion of your wedding budget on that?

This year, our favorite weddings were ones where the couple turned tradition on its head or skipped something they simply didn’t care about. Their love for each other and the life they’re building together shone through in all their details.

As you comb through and begin your planning process, be thinking about you and your groom’s personalities and passions, and promise me you’ll dream up a wedding day that’s 100% uniquely you — this issue is filled with hundreds of ideas to inspire just that!

Have fun, love each other hard and best wishes for the most meaningful wedding ever.

My 5 Favorite Rules to Break

1. Reinvent the wedding day timeline.

We’re seeing morning ceremonies, after-parties, receptions followed by ceremonies, weeklong festivities and more unique orders of events.

Do your thing!

2. Kill the garter toss.

No one wants to be singled out for being single. No young men want to catch it and be labeled the next guy to get married. And your dad, Nana, and Paw-Paw? Well, they aren’t aching to watch your new hubby go garter hunting—awkward.

3. See your groom before the ceremony.

“First looks” are the best. In 2008, they were barely a thing, so it’s no wonder I was shy to the idea for my wedding. I wish I had! First-look photos are now some of my favorites when reviewing Real Wedding submissions.

60% of Arkansas brides said they did a first look. See the full results of our Arkansas wedding poll at Everything You Wanted to Know About Arkansas Weddings.

4. Delay the honeymoon

The day following the wedding is the perfect time to rehash the night’s festivities, scroll through everyone’s phone pictures and celebrate one last time with family and friends at a brunch or after-party. Regroup for a day or two, then head off on the honeymoon of your dreams.

5. Say bye to boring food

Catering can be so blasé. Buffets and plated dinners of baked chicken or filet — things have got to change! Finally, we're starting to see creative caterers and personalized menus mixing it up —from food trucks and giant charcuterie spreads to unique late-night snacks and even "Eat Cake for Breakfast" to-go boxes for guests (shout out Amanda Reed Weddings).