Friday, June 27, 2008

Ridiculousness of Weddings

When Shawn and I got married we knew we didn't really want anything too traditional. If we had it our way, it would have been a Farscape wedding (seriously - dressed up in the costumes and all). But, since we actually invited people, and they were expecting something halfway traditional, we did some things that we along with tradition - though not much. I DID NOT have something old/new/borrowed/blue. We didn't save the top of our wedding cake (we tried, but then we moved and that all went out the window). Our wedding was not in a church. We did not have a traditional reception. We did very little when it came to tradition - for good reason. Shawn and I have always known that tradition is based on something from the past right? Take diamond rings for example - where did the idea of having that perfect diamond ring come it? I can go into in depth, but let's just say that it is rooted in marketing and marketing alone back in the 1950's (thank you De Beers - because you know what poop-heads, a diamond isn't forever)! As a side note, I am not sure I will ever buy another 'real' mined diamond again unless it's classified as a 'safe' diamond. I am heavily leaning towards man made diamonds (identical chemical make-up, just made in a lab) for reasons I will not go into here. Back to my point - Shawn and I chose to do things very non-traditionally because we simply can't stand being another lemming. And, for those that are reading this that did have a traditional wedding - that's awesome, for you! And I'm glad that worked for you. But the more I study where these ridiculous traditions came from, and how many of them are rooted in marketing and/or some whim of a trend that simply stuck around, the more I am glad I bucked the whole idea a few years ago. Plus, I couldn't see putting my new husband through something like that. I knew him well enough early on in our relationship to know that he would have done it JUST FOR ME. And while that is sweet, it was his wedding too. So, we got married on a cruise ship in Southern California - I did have a white wedding dress, though it looked more like a party dress than anything - Shawn did wear a tux (and he looked mighty fine if you ask me) - we did exchange rings etc...... But like I mentioned, there are LOTS of things we did not do. No garter toss, no bouquet toss, no traditional reception and the ceremony lasted 10 minutes or so by request.

You are probably asking why I am bringing this up. Well, I just came across an article on that talks a bit about where some of this ridiculous tradition came from which affirmed what I have believed all along. I have posted some below, but you can read the whole article HERE!

Like I tell my students, critically THINK about why you are doing something. Is it because someone else expects it? Do you really want to do it? Is it because you want to conform? Is it because you want to belong to some inner circle of the "I did it so I can now brag about it" group? Do you wear 'what you do' as a badge of honor? There are tons of other questions that belong here, but I will stop. Do not conform simply for the sake of conforming (insert Romans 12:2 here). Do whatever it is you want to do because you have thought about it and that's the decision YOU want to make. If that means a traditional wedding, then so be it - good for you. But for heavens sake, please think about the why! Here's what said:

Saving the wedding cake

Why do couples eat freezer-burned wedding cake on their one-year anniversary? To answer this, we must look to the lyrics of a schoolyard classic: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage! It used to be assumed that when there was a wedding, a christening would follow shortly. So, rather than bake two cakes for the occasions, they'd just bake one big one and save a part of it to be eaten at a later date when the squealing bundle of joy arrived.

Eventually folks warmed to the idea of giving the poor kid his own, newly baked cake, but the custom of saving a portion of the wedding cake far longer than it should be saved and then eating it and deluding oneself to believe that it actually tastes good is one that persists to this day.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue (and a sixpence in my shoe?)

A common theme that you've no doubt noticed throughout this post: humans used to be a superstitious bunch. This rhyming phrase neatly lists a number of English customs dating back to the Victorian age which, when worn in combination, should bring the bride oodles of fabulous good luck.

The something old was meant to tie the bride to her family and her past, while the something new represented her new life as the property of a new family. The item borrowed was supposed to be taken from someone who was already a successfully married wife, so as to pass on a bit of her good fortune to the new bride. The color blue stood for all sorts of super fun things like faithfulness, loyalty, and purity. The sixpence, of course, was meant to bring the bride and her new groom actual, cold, hard fortune.

Just in case that wasn't enough, brides of yore also carried bunches of herbs (which most brides now replace with expensive, out-of-season peonies) to ward off evil spirits.

Garter and bouquet toss

This pair of rituals has long been the scourge of the modern wedding guest. What could possibly be more humiliating than being forced out to the center of a parquet dance floor and being expected to demonstrate your desperation by diving for flying flowers?

How about grasping in the air for a lacy piece of undergarment that until moments ago resided uncomfortably close to the crotch of your buddy's wife? At any other point in time, that would make you seem wildly creepy. So why is it acceptable at a wedding?

It used to be that after the bride and groom said, "I do," they were to go immediately into a nearby room and consummate the marriage. Obviously, to really make it official, there would need to be witnesses, which basically led to hordes of wedding guests crowding around the bed, pushing and shoving to get a good view and hopefully to get their hands on a lucky piece of the bride's dress as it was ripped from her body.

Sometimes the greedy guests helped get the process going by grabbing at the bride's dress as she walked by, hoping for a few threads of good fortune. In time, it seems, people realized that this was all a bit, well... creepy, and it was decided that for modesty's sake the bride could toss her bouquet as a diversion as she made her getaway and the groom could simply remove an item of the bride's undergarments and then toss it back outside to the waiting throngs to prove that he was about to, uh, seal the deal.

The white wedding dress

Technically, today's wedding gowns aren't white. They are "Candlelight," "Warm Ivory," "Ecru" or "Frost." But there was a time when a bride's wedding attire was simply the best thing in her closet (talk about "off the rack"), and could be any color, even black.

To convince her groom that she came from a wealthy family, brides would also pile on layers of fur, silk and velvet, as apparently grooms didn't care if his wife-to-be reeked of sweaty B.O. as long as she was loaded.

It was dear ol' Queen Victoria (whose reign lasted from 1837-1901) who made white fashionable. She wore a pale gown trimmed in orange blossoms for her 1840 wedding to her first cousin, Prince Albert.

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