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.
Continue reading Simple Traditions
For a long time, the concept of ritual had a negative connotation to me. It meant mindlessly going through the motions, or doing something just because everyone else was doing it. But as I have gotten older and less self-righteous, I have come to see that rituals have a place. We can both learn and take comfort from the fact that we are repeating the actions of our ancestors and, at the same time, molding them to have meaning for our family. As Rabbi Jeffrey Sirkman, who performed Ben’s bar mitzvah, said: “Ritual pulls us back from all the mundane stuff and helps make us more transcendent in our lives. Any ritual can have transcendent meaning, but most of the time we miss it because we’re trying to take care of everything else.” So ritual is a way to mark life’s transitions, and it is also a way to make time stop for a moment in the blur of life, to gather family and friends for a rare moment of acknowledgment.
Continue reading Seeking The Transcendent
In case you were on the fence about how to address your wedding invitations, and wondering if it would be more tasteful to address them all as Mr. and Mrs. Joe Blow, because it’s faaaannnncccccyyyy, I give you this comment:
Well, I just received my umpteenth wedding invitation addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. Joe Blow” when my name is “Dr. Jane Sassy-Blow”. Geesh! I’ve been married to this guy for almost 24 years now and no one in his family has still bothered to learn my name! Whoever said* the woman with the Dr. title should get to use it was right on! Or at the very least, let me use my legal – hyphenated – last name!
Right. Address people as they wish to be addressed, or failing that, by their names. Glad that’s cleared up.
*That was me. I said that.
Anywaayyy. So. We were trying to figure out who we should sit with, and we started dutifully assembling the requisite family table. And then we realized: Why are we sitting with our parents? We see our parents all the time! We'll see them all weekend! So eff it. We sat our parents next to their friends that they never see* so they could party, and we sat ourselves next to our friends that we never see so we could party.
Continue reading Deconstructing The Head Table
When Molly sent me her wedding, with the disclaimer that unlike a lot of APW weddings it was traditional, but she wanted to raise a flag for the traditional brides in the house. I thought, “Ok! Cool,” and then I opened her pictures and TOTALLY cracked up. Because…. yeah….. tradition is clearly in the eye of the beholder. Molly’s wedding, at a traditional wedding venue or not, was as f*cking vibrant and full of joy as Every. Other. Team Practical. Wedding. Ever. Which brings me to the traditional/ non-traditional dilemma. Ariel said something really smart at the OBB book reading, which was that the only couples she worries about are the ones that set out to have an “Offbeat Wedding,” because “there is no try, only do.” Which is to say, the best thing we can do is just to make our weddings what we need them to be, and that’s it.
I actually have been known to get slightly offended when people refer to our wedding as non-traditional… or worse as “casual” (What? Was I suppose to wear a ballgown and have David in white tie at our summer morning garden wedding? It wasn’t casual, it was appropriate). Non-traditional? Because why? Our bridesmaids didn’t match? We didn’t *have* bridesmaids? We said vows, didn’t we? We had a huppah, didn’t we? I wore a WEDDING DRESS for goodness sakes, didn’t I? Define traditional! So, with that rather lengthy preamble, this one goes out to all you other a-typical traditionalists, in, you know, wedding venues, wearing wedding dresses, saying wedding vows and still being your bad-ass selves. (and *tell* me this wedding isn’t style-tastic…)
I thought about writing a wedding graduate post for APW a few months after I got married, but I didn’t think I had anything new to say. As time passed I kept reading other wedding graduate posts and thinking, “Me, too!” Then I read a few more and started to feel like my experience wasn’t represented among the fabulous, off-beat, style-tastic weddings. And then I started thinking that maybe if I’m feeling this way, other brides-to-be might be too and I could share with them.
What I want to share is what surprised me most of all when I look back at my wedding. My wedding was traditional! Whaaat?! My wedding wasn’t innovative? My wedding wasn’t a beautiful, unique butterfly the likes of which none of my family had ever seen? For a teeny-tiny second I felt bad. Then of course, I mentally slapped myself because if there’s one thing APW taught me it’s that ALL thoughtfully planned weddings are unique, beautiful butterflies.* So this is for all the practical brides who aren’t really bucking any big traditions, but are still pretty badass.
Periodically on APW, someone accuses me of being anti-tradition, and I get really sad. I talk about how we have a church weddings section. I talk about how we have a lot of brides wearing white. I talk about how I make sure there are posts supporting whatever choices you want to make, wherever they are on the spectrum.
Then I always point out that no matter how indie our wedding looked (the hip look was partially just good photographers, partially the fact that I wore a short dress), our wedding service was very traditional. We had *the* traditional Jewish service, with lots of Hebrew, lots of God-talk, the seven blessings in their original form, the traditional vows in Hebrew, the works. When you ask our wedding guests, they will describe the service as “very traditional,” but most of them also describe it as “very emotional.” People seem to see those things as diametrically opposed, so what gives?
I started to see the real answer when I was talking about this with Danae in the comments. She said:
“You think APW is pro-tradition because your definition of “traditional” is something along the lines of “we thought a lot about it and decided that we wanted to echo the centuries-old tradition of our cultures and beliefs,” and when someone else defines “traditional,” they mean, “we did what everyone expected us to do.”
And I was like, “OH! Right! Of course that’s what I think traditional means! Of course!” and then “Oh my god, that’s not what everyone else means when they say traditional? I didn’t get that.”
So. I thought maybe it was time to have a chat about having a really traditional ceremony (because that feels right to you) and rocking the hell out of it (because, of course!)
So first of all: traditional ceremonies do not have to be boring. Period. We need to just wipe that idea off of the face of the earth. I’ve seen so many brides approach planning their service by saying, “Well, it’s traditional, so you know it’s going to be boring and there is nothing I can do.” Whenever I hear that I want to grab said bride’s shoulders and shake her, and say something like, “You want a traditional service because that’s part of who you are, right? So stop belittling yourself, and start seeing your amazing self-worth. Who you are is awesome. And if having a traditional ceremony is part of who you are, your traditional ceremony is going to be AWESOME.” Or, in short, there is no quicker way to make a ceremony boring than to have the bride and groom think it’s boring. That sort of prophecy is always self-fulfilling.
So, how do you approach a traditional wedding service and make it something that you feel like you can live inside? Continue reading Making A Traditional Service Your Own