Here in the more indie wedding community, it’s become really fashionable to say, “Forget tradition, we’re not doing anything traditional in our wedding. We’re doing it all our way!” Now, anyone who reads this blog knows how much I support having a joyful wedding that represents your most vibrant self, and to heck with the cookie cutter wedding. But I think that mindlessly ditching tradition can be just as bad as mindlessly following it.
When we ask my dad his opinion on various wedding related ideas, some of them non-traditional (or not traditional for our family, as we work to blend two faith backgrounds) he always tells us, “I’m not too worried about it. You can do what you want, because in the end, tradition always wins at weddings, because wedding are by nature traditional.” He has a point. David and I have chosen to get married, as opposed to staying domestic partners, because marriage is powerful act of tradition and ritual, that links us to generations and generations before us as we make a meaningful and new life commitment.
As we construct our wedding, we try to look at each tradition thoughtfully, to decide what choices we want to make.
- The first thing we look at is “where did this tradition come from?” Lots of things that are currently thrown around in the world-o-weddings as being absolutely set-in-stone traditional, are actually relatively new inventions. The Unity Candle, for example, started in the 1970’s, and seems to have had its geniuses on a soap opera. Now, if the Unity Candle is a meaningful tradition for you there is no reason not to use it. But, given how new it is, I’d venture to say *not* using a unity candle is MORE traditional. Which is to say, don’t take people at their word when they say “But you HAVE to do this thing, it’s traditional!”
- The second thing we look at is: Is this tradition meaningful to us? Does it have powerful symbolism? Is this symbolism something that we are comfortable with? As I’ve mentioned before, I am relatively uncomfortable with the idea of being walked down the aisle by just my father. I am however, very comfortable with being walked down the aisle by both of my parents. It’s a great symbol of the joining of two families, and coming from my family of origin to create my family of choice. Luckily for me, this is the Jewish wedding tradition. But if I wasn’t having a Jewish wedding, it’s a tradition I’d feel perfectly comfortable with adopting.
- And finally, we ask ourselves if the tradition is meaningful to others. Weddings are, after all, not just for the couple. They are powerful moments in the lives of our families, and usually they take place in front of our community. Early on in the process, my mom mentioned that she’d like me to have a cake that “looked like a wedding cake.” Wedding cake was not something I had strong feelings about, but since it was somewhat important to my mom, we decided to go with a more traditional wedding cake. The great thing about that choice is it allowed us to incorporate another family tradition that was important to me. My parents, like my grandparents before them, cut the first slice of their wedding cake with my grandfathers Marine Corps sword. It’s an old military family tradition, and it makes for some really neat pictures. We are doing the same, and it is one of the wedding details that I care the most about. I’m proud that this will tie us to two generations of long and happy marriages, and will honor my grandparents, who didn’t live to see their grandchildren married.
What traditions are you thoughtfully embracing for your wedding day?
Picture: Martha Stewart Weddings, Summer 2008