How to Get Married
When you go to a wedding , it's hard not to compare it to your own wedding or other weddings you've been to or heard about. Wedding traditions also change over the years. Today people in America are no longer expected to fit into a tradition, whereas fifty years ago couples normally eloped, had a wedding in a place of worship, or had simple weddings before a judge. Some people also rented clubs or other private buildings like hotels where they could marry and have the reception in one place.
When I was growing up, most people I knew had church weddings followed by a simple cake and punch or coffee reception in the church fellowship hall. My own parents had eloped to save money. My brother and I were married in the same church where we grew up. Our weddings were traditional Protestant.
Most church weddings were formal, with attendants, and the bride wore a white gown, often long, with a train. She often covered her face with a thin veil and held a bouquet. In some ceremonies the church was decorated with candles, lit by candle lighters before the service. In others this was not a custom. Often there was special music while the guests were waiting for the bridal party to come in.
When the wedding began, often a young girl known as the flower girl, would be one of the first down the aisle, scattering flower petals as she walked. A young boy known as the ring bearer often carried the rings down the aisle, too. Then came the bridesmaids, followed by the maid of honor, and lastly the bride would be escorted down the aisle by her father and everyone would stand until after the invocation and the instruction from the minister to sit.
Other parts of the service might be special readings from the Bible or of poems that had special meaning for the couple, more special music, and maybe a sermon or even Holy Communion for the couple. What was included was decided by the minister and the couple, but toward the end the couple would exchange their vows and be pronounced man and wife and the husband would kiss his wife and they would join hands and march down the aisle to start their new life together. I have described what was a typical Protestant wedding in the 1950's and many weddings still take this form.
Back then a wedding was almost like a performance. It had to be rehearsed. A wedding consultant or hostess provided by the church would walk each member of the wedding party through what they needed to do. The bridesmaids and groomsmen were told where to stand and how to march down the aisle or otherwise arrive at their places. Likewise the bride and groom were told what they had to do when. Then everyone practiced the movements at least a couple of times until they were confident of what to do.
The consultant would also be at the wedding to let people know when it was time to start down the aisle. The minister took over that function once everyone was in place. After the rehearsal, the bride's parents usually fed the wedding party a rehearsal dinner. After the wedding, there was a reception that could range from a simple one like mine in the church fellowship hall to a sit down dinner in a hotel, club, garden, or anywhere else that seemed good to the couple.
The more elaborate the reception, the greater the number of speeches and toasts that are given by members of the wedding party. If the reception includes a dinner, it may be followed by dancing. Usually the new couple shares the first dance. Then the bride and her father dance, followed by the groom and his mother. After that, everyone else can take to the dance floor.
Near the end of the reception the first piece of wedding cake is cut by the bride, and the bride and groom feed each other the first bite. Before the couple leaves, the bride stands with her face turned away from a line of single women which has formed behind her and she tosses her bouquet backwards. Whichever woman catches it is supposed to be the next one to marry.
These things may be done differently in Catholic and Jewish weddings and those of other faiths. Secular weddings usually leave out the specifically religious aspects, but still may include inspirational readings and special music that appeals to the couple.
Over the years, many weddings have become less traditional. Some couples marry right on the beach, some in hot air balloons, and I've even heard of some happening under water. To each his own. I guess the sky's the limit. One of my best friends had her wedding in a church but her reception was in the garden of a family friend. I loved the string quartet that played the entire time.
My nephew's wedding was a cross between traditional and untraditional. The bride wore a long white gown and her dad walked her down the aisle. The groom's brother served him as best man, but I was surprised that the bride had no attendants at all. The best man is reading a Scripture in the photo below. I go lousy photos of the ceremony because I was seated off to the side in the family row and couldn't see any faces but the bride's.
The simplicity of the wedding made for a short rehearsal and the wedding itself seemed more natural and less of a performance.
The ceremony itself was fairly traditional with a minister officiating, but his sermon was was so short it was easy to miss. The vows were very modern. The wedding ceremony was over almost as soon as it began. The reception lasted for hours. I had to leave early, so I don't know if the bride tossed her bouquet or not. But they did cut the cake and feed each other.
When I complimented Bobby later on the simplicity and naturalness of his wedding, he replied that they just wanted it to reflect who they were – not just be a copy of what others do. And it was very appropriate for them.
So I would advise every couple who wants to get married to ask themselves whether the wedding they are planning reflects who they are – their values, budget, the setting they feel at home in, etc. The idea isn't to put on a show you star in, but to join your lives. Make it meaningful to you and pleasant for your guests. They don't need to be impressed. They are just there to help you celebrate the special occasion of your marriage.
Pictures and content are original and may not be used without permission, B. Radisavljevic, Copyright 2014, All Rights Reserved
Image Credit » I took the photo