Are Wedding Traditions Outdated?

What you don't know might shock you!

Posted May 15, 2016

My husband and I got married on a Saturday. We didn’t know that was bad luck in the English culture.* We based our choice on when the venue was available and when we 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, we had no control over this!

I wore a hand-sewn white gown* and carried a lovely bouquet of flowers.* I had no veil,* no garter,* nothing old,* nothing new,* nothing borrowed* and nothing blue.*

The vows we exchanged* while gifting each other rings* were quasi-traditional in that they included being together in sickness and health, and richer and poorer. Yet, we strayed from the normal, “for better or worse” in favor of the rugby terms “tries” and “knock-ons” (my husband’s idea being that he’s a huge rugby aficionado).

Because I’d been working with divorcing people for four years by then, we agreed to skip the “until death do us part” line* to avoid promising something we might not be able to live up to (I imagine some of you are thinking that isn’t very romantic, but read on).

We had a beautiful cake* and got the top layer of the cake from the baker on our one-year anniversary.*

At the end of the ceremony, guests threw rose petals at us.* Then, we went on a brief honeymoon* and when we got home, my husband carried me over the threshold.*

*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 we get married. This true across the globe.

A good number of wedding traditions that seem odd 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, what my point? My point 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 are you like me and my husband, where you will pick and choose those that feel more pertinent?

Then start asking a bigger question: “Is my marriage going to be based on tradition (here, I mean the romantic, love-based model) or is it going to be more personalized?”

If this question intrigues you and you are curious what I’m referring to, stay tuned. In my next article, I will address the customs we currently practice with marriage that originated in another time that may also be obsolete. If this question scares or offends you, I encourage you to check back too. Those with blinders on are more likely to go against their own authentic truth and become victims of societal sway thereby waking up one day saying, “How did I get here?”

My co-author of, The New I Do, Vicki Larson, and I believe in concepts like conscious coupling and planned parenthood, rather than following blindly via tradition, trance or trend. You may still choose the old traditions and marriage path but you would be choosing deliberately versus following 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. Mozel Tov!