Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Breaking Tradition

During the planning of a wedding, the couple has a lot of choices to make, and not just about what color they want the tablecloths at the reception. How do you want your ceremony to go? Will you use a minister? Practice handfasting? Jump the broom? Throw rice? These are all traditions represented still in modern weddings, even handfasting, literally tying the knot, and jumping the broom. These last two are among many ancient wedding rites coming back into practice today in order to make the ceremony more unique or to bring the couple closer.

So, what will we do? We decided a while ago that our wedding will be small. This will mean we won't get to invite absolutely everyone we know. My fiance has a big family, and I have a fairly large circle of friends, so we have some more choices ahead of us.

My fiance has been great with wedding planning so far. He and I tend to have very similar taste when it comes to style, so we haven't run into any disagreements, and our communication has been open.

We don't oppose tradition, but there are some traditions we will be doing without. I mentioned the size of our wedding so this next statement isn't so strange. We aren't going to have a wedding procession. Right now, it's just us. The bride and groom, and whoever we choose to officiate the ceremony. So, my husband-to-be will go up to the front, music will play, the guests will settle, I will walk up the aisle, the officiant will welcome everyone, and the ceremony will proceed. In my mind, it's simple, flows well, and suits us. But, it's leaving some things out. I tried to mention it casually, so let me bring it to the forefront for emphasis now. I will be walking up the aisle by myself.

I love my parents very much, and I would never do anything to hurt them. But the thought of being "given away," hearkening back to a tradition of women being treated like chattel, unsettles me.

While this tradition has become something deeply sentimental in modern weddings, it still rubs me the wrong way. And since it is usually a part of modern weddings, it can make talking to people about leaving out this detail a little difficult.

It's not that I'm not sentimental. I'm a wedding photographer! Most people don't see it because I make myself blend into the background to do my job, but I cry at weddings. When couples say their vows, the people sitting down don't always get to hear what the couple says, but I do. And it's rare that I witness a ceremony in which my eyes don't at least well up a little. In fact, my wedding will probably be no different. I will try my hardest to remain composed, but I will also use as much make-up primer and finishing spray as I can get my hands on, because most likely I will cry.

However, just because something is sweet or done in a loving capacity doesn't mean it doesn't come from a longstanding tradition that represents an awful facet of society, such as women being treated as property. I've been doing some research to see how people get around this because, well, as nice as the moment is whenever the officiant asks, "Who gives this bride in marriage?" it's essentially just flowery verbiage for a sales transaction.

Since we live in modern times, tradition isn't necessarily at the forefront of all weddings as it used to be, and gender roles are happily being cast aside in light of social equality. But, I still can't find an example of when a groom's parents have stood up and given him away. They might escort him down the aisle in the processional, but nobody gives a man away. It just doesn't happen, and I find that striking.

Honoring my family is extremely important to me. I love them so much, and through marrying my fiance, I will be incorporating his family into my life too, so I'll have even more people to love. And I'm thrilled! My fiance and I are the people we are because of our parents. I'm more grateful for that than I can say. And I have also been extremely humbled recently, because my parents have given us a substantial financial gift for our wedding.

Because honoring our parents is important to us, we are going to have something in the ceremony that will incorporate each of them. It's still almost a year away, so this may change, but I think having a candle-lighting ceremony would be lovely. My mom, my dad, his mom, and his dad would all go up and light one candle, symbolically lighting the way for our future together.

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