Planning Your Perfect Wedding — Use and Flout Tradition For Your Perfect Wedding

Tradition brings a lot to the wedding table. But tradition has also excluded people. In those cases, those traditions have to be either taken out or remade. Sometimes it's easier and faster just to take them out. But if it's done carefully, remaking traditions in the wedding can point to those beloved reminders without assuming their baggage. So no, you don't get to argue tradition as a reason to use man and wife, or obey in the vows. It's also a pretty lousy argument against same sex marriage, since "tradition" has been constantly evolving. What seems like tradition today was never done 50 years ago. And then, of course, so much of our modern wedding tradition is a gift from the film industry. (Think Pachobel Canon in D.)

You want to use tradition when it is appropriate to you and when it celebrates

  • Your religious tradition and heritage: What does your religious tradition teach about marriage? What small rituals are part of that tradition? The Jewish breaking of the glass, the Greek Orthodox crowns, the Christian Unity candle all these say marriage in a particular religious tradition.
  • Your cultural heritage: What have your "people" done to celebrate marriage? The Persian Sugar Celebration, Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies, the eating of certain foods during the reception, the apron dance. All of these are a piece of a wedding celebration in the place from which your family came.
  • Your personal community: Traditions rise up in small communities. Poems are read, a particular song is used for the father daughter dance, foods are served or customs are observed. If you're close enough to a community, this might be a lovely way to honor your participation in that group.

Here are some bad reasons to use wedding traditions:

  • Everyone you know has done it. (Do you want your wedding vows, wedding ceremony and reception to look like everyone else's?)
  • Movie stars did it. (Ahem. Don't you want your marriage to be based on something a little firmer than a celebrity marriage?)
  • Your family insists. If it costs nothing emotionally to please your parents, then it might not be a bad thing to do what everyone else has done. But if it's something that doesn't fit your life, you need to consider not doing it. And if that means they'll withhold funding, you need to figure out how to do your wedding without the funding. Because this is your marriage. It's not just a party; it's the foundation for your marriage.
  • They belong to another culture. (We can't lift ritual out of another culture and stick it in ours if there is no tie to that culture.)
  • You don't know its antecedents. (There are wedding traditions that are so commonplace these days that have grown out of horrifically patriarchal customs. Do your research!)

It's not a bad idea when you're balancing traditions to talk to your wedding celebrant and perhaps your wedding consultant. They're going to have a pretty good idea about where things came from, what they mean and how they might be best used to celebrate your incredible relationship.

Every marriage does well to develop its own traditions and to celebrate the traditions that are important in their birth families. You just want to be sure that you're celebrating in a way that fits who you are and what you value and who you are going to be in this new and wonderful marriage!

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