Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wedding Tradition

Wedding Tradition

To hear certain religious conservatives talk about wedding traditions, you would think that they had existed since the beginning of time and never change. They go on about traditional wedding vows, the role of man and woman in marriage, wedding ceremonies, and the like, pretending that it is an unbreakable tradition that reaches back to the dawn of time. In reality, the idea of a wedding tradition is almost completely foreign to our culture. Traditional weddings meant something much different than even the most conservative weddings nowadays.

Back in the day, a wedding was basically little more than an arrangement for the transfer of property. The bride would be given away by the father to be the husband's property from then on. Although you can see echoes of this wedding tradition in modern weddings, few people in our society would agree that we have a better, more egalitarian way of viewing marriage.

That isn't to say that there aren't wedding traditions in our society. It is just that weddings vary greatly from family to family and culture to culture. In some families, it is almost an obligation to get drunk at the wedding. If you aren't seen to be really enjoying yourself, consuming copious amounts of booze and food, you are insulting your hosts and their family wedding traditions. In other families, a traditional wedding means a fairly sober, somber event. People have fun, but the primary purpose of the wedding is to mark a lifelong commitment.

That is why so many people today decide to make up their own wedding traditions. They write their own wedding vows, arrange their own wedding ceremonies, and come up with novel, unconventional ideas for the party. As a matter of fact, for such a universal custom, it is amazing how many variations you can get away with in weddings!

My very favorite wedding tradition is something that started with my grandmother. Although every one in our family has chosen different styles of wedding decorations, given slightly different wedding vows, and served different food at the wedding reception, one thing has always remained the same. At every wedding, we release butterflies when the bride and groom kiss. It sounds kind of silly, I know, but if you saw it, you would understand. You really have to be there to witness how beautiful an effect it is! It really marks the day as special, an event meant to be remembered forever.

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