Susan and her husband got married on a Saturday. They didn’t know that was bad luck in the English culture.* They based our choice on when the venue was available and when they thought most of our guests could make it.
The good news is that it poured rain all day. That’s considered good luck in the Hindu customs.* Obviously, they had no control over this!
Susan wore a hand-sewn white gown* and carried a lovely bouquet of flowers.* She had no veil,* no garter,* nothing old,* nothing new,* nothing borrowed* and nothing blue.*
The vows they exchanged* while gifting each other rings* were quasi-traditional in that they included being together in sickness and health, and richer and poorer. Yet, they strayed from the normal, “for better or worse” in favor of the rugby terms “tries” and “knock-ons” (This was Susan’s husband’s idea being that he’s a huge rugby aficionado).
Because she’d been working with divorcing people for four years by then, Susan and her husband agreed to skip the “until death do us part” line* to avoid promising something they might not be able to live up to (Some of you are undoubtedly thinking that that isn’t very romantic, but read on).
At their reception, Susan and her husband had a beautiful cake.* They got the top layer of the cake from the baker on their one-year anniversary.*
At the end of the ceremony, Susan threw the bouquet and the guests threw rose petals at the newlyweds.* Then, they went on a brief honeymoon* and when they got home, Susan’s husband carried her over the threshold.* And they’ve continued to live “happily ever after.”
*Every asterisk represents a nuptial tradition, belief or custom. Although there are quite a few listed here, there are many more that determine how and when people get married. This is true across the globe.
Some of the oddest wedding traditions are rooted in warding off evil spirits, or are based in practices of a time long ago. This includes the language we use. The term, “Best Man,” for example, is said to refer to the best (defined then as strongest, best swordsman and most capable) man to help steal the bride from her neighboring community or disapproving family. Yet, we still condone using these traditions because it’s “romantic,” and make those who don’t follow along, “un-romantic.” This thinking makes no sense, however, once you dig to find out why we do the things we do.
Flowers are thought to cover the bad smell of the woman at a time in the 1500s when people bathed once a year in May (the reason June is the most popular month to wed is because people smelled better than when they would in October).
So, why is all this so important? The reality is that we are prisoners of tradition to the extent that we don’t stop and ask why things are done this way. We just continue blindly following these traditions whether it’s breaking a glass or putting henna on our hands or beating the groom’s feet with fish.
If you are planning to marry in the upcoming wedding season, ask yourself why you are incorporating certain customs. Do these customs really make sense for you personally? Are they customs you truly want to include, or will you be like Susan and her husband and pick and choose those that feel more pertinent?
If this question intrigues you and you are curious what that means, you may want to take a look at The New I Do. We talk about wedding and marriage customs a fair amount, and we encourage everyone to “Question tradition.”
We believe in concepts like conscious coupling and planned parenthood, rather than following blindly as if in a trance. You may still choose the old traditions and marriage path but you would be choosing deliberately versus being guided by a script you don’t know anything about.
For more on wedding traditions and how they originated, here are a couple of websites to check out. We hope you’ll think out of the box not only on your wedding day but for many years to come. Mazel Tov!