What we’re Skipping at our Nuptials

Cake from my friend Jess' wedding last year.

Cake from my friend Jess’ wedding last year.

As I mentioned before I grew up well and truly in the cult of weddings.

I have sat through endless Catholic ceremonies, hours of first dances with bubbles – or smoke – or both!, and bouquets torn to shreds ad garters ripped from outstretched hands. Never mind the cake-smashing, the chicken dance and assorted other things that have become tradition at weddings.

Some of these traditions are just … not for me. As a woman, as a feminist and as a human being – some of these just make my skin crawl, for various reasons. I recently read an article of weddings traditions on Cosmo. Warning – don’t read the comments. Seriously, as a rule of thumb, never read the comments – but especially not on Cosmo. People are nuts. Anyways, reading this article got me thinking about all the things I would be skipping come this winter, and so, without further ado:

[Note: gifs will be heavy to make light of what would otherwise be a little rant-y]

Stuff we’re Skipping

(1) A Ceremony

Yep. We’re sort of skipping this part. There are multiple reasons for this – but mostly, it bears on the next thing we’re skipping – neither of us is religious, and ceremonies tend towards the religious. We are planning a reception – an evening soiree with people coming in and greeted with drinks and food and warmth from December chill in a nice place with music and laughter and fun. We want to have a celebration with those we hold dear, and none of that, for us, means a ceremony of some kind.

      I have seen evidence of various non-religious ceremonies – ceremonies where the rings are passed from palm-to-palm of those assembled, “warming” the rings for the couples, and ceremonies where couples fill a jar with two different types of sand, or light a pillar candle from the lit wicks of two separate candles. Those are all very charming and very heart warming, but none of those speak to us so much. We’re a more simple people than all that. We want everyone to come and celebrate with us – to talk, to laugh, to dance and to eat. So for us, a reception will do.

(2) Religion

No thank you to this. I broke with the Catholic church when I was told in kindergarten that women were not allowed to be priests because they were women. It took me a while to actually break free – my parents were pretty strict thinking that I should stay in an all girl Catholic school (for reasons, I later found out, had very little to do with religion) – but I can fairly well say now that religion holds no place in my life. To have a religious tone to my wedding would be a sham to me, disrespectful of those people who hold beliefs at all. And as such, it just was inconceivable to me to do it. The Boy is less thoughtful about this – his position on this issue is to shrug and tell me whatever I want is fine by him. Religion is no part of his life either, so I suppose, in this at least we are matched.

      Anyways, I am not fond of religious thoughts and traditions regardless. Religions tend to overdue the “man leaves home, cleaves to woman” thing – of course, very brazenly overlooking all those concubines (Oh King Solomon), multiple wives (Looking at you, Jacob), slave women turned slave brides, brides as property or deal making and other assorted, definitively less romantic notions of marriage. Never mind the fact that we still can’t get some respect for homosexual unions in religious circles. Let’s just say my politics, my feminism and my soul lack an empathy with anything religious …

(3) Bride being walked down the aisle/Transfer of property from Father to Husband

Oh God, no.

          Sorry (not sorry) but this tradition makes me want to scream. In fact, I believe I have tiraded against this multiple times (much to my father’s disappointment – his firm belief that his only position at any of his daughter’s weddings was as the walker-down-the-aisle and kick ass father-daughter dance partner). There are multiple reasons for my dislike (re. animosity) towards this tradition. The main one is: I am not property, so let’s not treat me as if I am by harkening back to a day where women were through the disguise of “quaint tradition”.

         Seriously – that moment, that touching moment where the father stops at the altar and turns to his daughter, kisses her cheek and transfers her (gloved?) hand to her near-husband – that tradition is more alike to two men transferring a plot of land, a cow or hell, even an old jalopy, than you would think. There was a time not too long ago … actually, this still happens, but for the sake of brevity, let’s say it was a long time ago … that women were considered property. No, seriously – and if you think about it, you know it’s still partially true (Purity Balls anyone?). The idea was this: A woman (especially a single one) was a dangerous thing – no prospects really, money and land and power and prestige all funneled to her through some male relative or another, be it father, brother, uncle or husband. By herself, she was mere decoration. The marriage ceremony was a transfer of the woman-property to another man who would then take care of her (because women were apparently quite helpless … ha!). Don’t believe me? Look at the story of Jacob and Leah … er and Rebecca. In exchange for hard labour, our boy Jacob gets wives – did I mention the hard labour was for the women’s father? Yeah, property transaction. In essence, Leah and Rebecca were his salary. Ugh, there goes all that romance (if there had been any beforehand? I mean … the story is pretty pitiful on the romance side).

          So, this tradition – even as far away from it as we are (no one better think of me as property) – is being nixed. I have had friends and relatives demand to know why, since obviously the connotations of property transfer aren’t upheld anymore, I wouldn’t want to have my parents walk me down to my husband, and my answer is still the same – it harkens back to that ugly tradition where women were thought of as less than people. And it adds nothing. No seriously – it adds nothing to my day. My parents are there for me, they love me and stand behind me – omitting the assistance down the aisle does nothing to diminish that, and does nothing to take away from the bond my parents and I have. I know they love and respect my choice of husband too – so why bother?

       Moving on …

(4) Veils

Cathedral length, birdcage, shoulder length – with pearls and rhinestones sewn onto the edges or lace trimmed – veils have most definitely made a come back in the wedding world the last few years. And the thing of it is – I love the look. LOVE. Especially birdcage veils – they’re just so damned sexy looking, echoing all that love from those 1940s femme fatales. Sigh.

But … I ain’t doing it.

Veils are traditionally a form of subtly (ha ha ha) signifying purity through modesty. Yes, I know, you probably figured that out. The lifting of the veil by the bridesgroom at the start of ceremonies harkens back to that wiley Jacob (go read the story – it’s as twisted as Days of Our Lives … or Dallas), and the ancient Greeks and Romans, and ocuntless other cultures I’m sure, used it to signify the protection of the girl – i.e. pure as the driven snow.

Now, my own purity aside, can I just say this: Purity is bullshit. No seriously, it’s bullshit. A horrible dowble-standard that has been created solely to pressure and control women as a whole through the denying of options for females (i.e. if you’re not pure, you won’t marry, you’ll be a spinster, have no power or money to speak of, and die lonely). Now, historically – this makes sense, right? A woman’s economy was related to her marriageability and so blaring out her purity to all and sunder was a thing to do. Regardless if it were true or not and regardless if it made any sense or not (hint: it doesn’t.). But this day in age – why the hell are we still on about this? And the worst is – the veil isn’t a huge symbol of purity anymore (in terms of regular, secular weddings – religious weddings are a different breed entirely) – but the world is forcing me into cutting it out of my own wedding because I refuse to participate in the purity battle. In a world where it is common practice to slut-shame girls and women for what they wear, how they act and how they take control of their own bodies, I find it irresponsible to wear a veil. For reals. Because this purity things makes me sick and angry. And any part of it makes me recoil.

So much for that birdcage veil … aw well, I’ll survive.

(5) Smoke, Bubble, Strobe Lights …

This has no basis in politics, feminism or any strong feelings of right or wrong. I just can’t stand it. And when I brought it up to the Boy when were discussing DJ Service packages, he asked me “What the heck is a fog machine?” and so I guessed, rightly, he was not aware of the tradition of making it look like the couple’s first dance was appearing on a cloud. Thank goodness – I can’t stand it, and not only because the fog makes the floor a tad slippery and when I was 12 I slipped and nearly flashed the whole congregation my panties. No, because I just don’t like it. Ditto for the rest of the special effects for the first dance. It seems like an unnecessary expense (and trust, we will have a tonne of those – hello yearly manicure!) and kind of silly. Like something that was created in the 1980s to sell more expensive DJ packages that kept being dragged up through the ’90s until now.

That being said – sometimes it does look great (I do believe that it may be the alcohol talking – the times I thought the cloud look was good were always times when I was the bridesmaid in charge of the shots table) but it’s just not for either of us.

(6) Bouquet/Garter Toss

There is so much of this that is just so wrong to me.

Let’s start with the Garter Toss. You all know what precedes the actual tossing of the aforementioned garter? Yes, that’s right – the acquisition of said garter. As in, your newly minted husband’s fingers or teeth dragging the decorated circlet of elastic down your leg in front of the entirety of your family and friends. Usually this requires your newly minted husband’s head under your dress. Can we say awkward? I am all for the freedom to express your sexuality the way you choose … so for me, that means not in a compromising position in front of people I don’t want to be in a compromising position in front of. So … no. Just no. Also – I couldn’t track down a reliable history of this tradition – so if anyone can fill me in … please? 🙂

Then the bouquet toss. A few things about this: (1) Why must be pit all the single ladies (cue the Beyonce song) against each other in a fight to the death over a bouquet? Asides from the fact that the bouquet is a symbol of marriage – and she who gets it, gets a man! I mean … why are we still reinforcing the ideas that women need to fight for a man, think always about weddings and marriage and family and in general pretending as though this is all okay? No.; (2) I would want to keep that bouquet! Those flowers are bleeding expensive! That is …; and (3) I don’t want a bouquet anyway. See bouquets were traditionally meant to make a bride smell good. Now, they’re more ornamental. But they still require the uprooting of plants for my beautification. So instead, my arm candy will be my hubby (oh god, did I just use the word “hubby”??) and I will leave the plants to grow in their greenhouse pots. So on all that – the Bouquet toss is being thrown (ha ha!) out.

Speaking of reception-timed hijinks …

(7) Cake Smashing

Why do we do this?

I get it – it’s a high stress day, and a very happy day – that is all about the couple, and all about the open bar. Is that why people think that it’s a good idea to smash the very expensive cake into the face of the person you promised to spend the rest of your life with? Like … never mind the icing that will get on the tux or the dress or worse – your hair and makeup – but in general, why bother?

I love cake. Don’t get me wrong, I will nom nom that cake quite heartily if given the chance.

But having a mini food fight between the couple of the house seems a little … gauche? Oh, dear, I do sound a little Coco Chanel, don’t I? Let me just say that I don’t want an excuse to wipe off the make up job  and move on …

(8) Kissing Games

Have I discussed my stance on PDAs?

Generally, I love them … in a way. I love seeing young couple holding hands and nuzzling noses in the park and on the subway. I like seeing older couple hugging and sharing smiles and raising babies. I love that stuff. It makes me feel as though the world is a bright, shiny place full of wonderful people and hope eternal.

But when it comes to my own PDA … not so much.

I hate being caught kissing. I have been with the same man for ten years, and I still don’t like kissing him in public. So please, tell me how to reconcile with kissing games!?

You know the ones – everyone bangs on their plates with forks and spoons, creating a crescendo of metal tings until the couple gets up, drunk on love say, and makes out in front of all and their grandmothers. Then the DJ gets on the cordless mike and informs everyone that there will be no more banging on the plates – instead they will have a kissing game. My best friend’s wedding had an ingenious one – they had the DJ wander around to people who expressed interest and had them answer three questions about the bride or groom, if answered correctly, this would lead to the much-anticipated make out session at the head table. My Dad, I am proud and shocked to say, managed to answer all three questions about my best friend’s new husband (in fairness, my Dad had known him since we were fifteen) and got them to kiss. A rousing victory!

Then there are others – my blonde sister’s godmother’s wedding had a huge die that you threw on the dance floor and if you acted out the picture on whatever face of the die was facing up, they would kiss; my other friend’s wedding had a little basketball apparatus that was tied around the waist of willing participants – if you got the little ball-on-the-string into the little basket, they kissed; and my cousin’s wedding had a mini-karaoke game, where you would come up and sign a few lines from a song – the amount of applause dictated how long the kiss was supposed to last.

Those are all very creative and very fun – when I am not the one doing the kissing. For me, the fact that a hundred odd people will see me suck-face with the Boy is too much. We are so definitely not doing this …

[Sidenote: One of the DJs I contacted for a quote tried to convince me how wrong I was and how I would change my mind about this, the fog dance and the strobe lights. Guess who is not making the DJ Services Cut List? Yeah.]

(9) Matching Gowns

This one is for the ladies.

Or those men who like wearing dresses, I won’t judge.

Matching gowns – they look real cute. If I was 21 or 23 or hell, even 25, I think I would have considered this. But I’ll be 28 – which means my bridesmaids will be 28, 25 and 22. I think it’s safe to say, they have entered the time in their lives where they can choose an “appropriate” gown that suits the occasion that they will feel comfortable in. I told my three bridesmaids this: The colour is either scarlet or black. They booed at me and told me black was unacceptable and so scarlet it was. Then I told them: Go out and choose something in scarlet you like. They went out, took pictures, and sent them back. My blonde sister asked me if it was okay to wear a short, cocktail length dress. Of course! I said. If you find something with rhinestones, feathers and a corset backing with pearls – and you love it, then I will be behind it! They seem unsure, still, but I think I am getting my point across.

Except to my Mother who heard one of my sisters was opting for a cocktail-length dress and the other wanted a floor length sweetheart style gown and tried to convince me to pressure them to both change their options for dresses that looked more … the same. I declined.

The thing is: I actually like the look of mismatched dresses. I like the idea of each one of the women in my life choosing something that makes her feel fabulous and sexy and alive with grace and style. I want that for them because they’re all pretty gorgeous and they ought to feel all the sexiness.

Does this apply to the guys? Hell, I cannot tell male suits apart to be quite honest. Like seriously … unless one is in blue ruffles the other is a grey morning suit and the other is a James Bond – esque tux, I am not even sure I will notice. If they want to get silk ties to look fabulous or a thigh flask to feel sexy – more power to them. I appreciate a man who can feel sexy in his Sunday Best.

And finally, onwards to …

Why doesn’t anyone have a baby for me to use in this way!?

(10) A Head Table

Yeah, I know – the venue lady sort of paused and gave me the “I do not compute” when I said I wasn’t into having a head table. My Mom doesn’t understand either – she wanted to know where I would eat then? And then when I mentioned it on another occasion completely forgot that we’d had this discussion due to her blocking out the trauma of my not wanting a head table …

Anyways, yes. I don’t want a traditional Head table. No long table on a dais, draped in white curtains and gossamer with twinkly lights and tricky steps. No thank you.

I was in love with a sweetheart table for a while there – having a little table set aside for the bridge and groom … and then I thought, I have the rest of our lives to sit and eat with him – I want to hang out with my friends! (Not sure what that says about our relationship???)

The thing of it is, I am not sure what I want. I like the idea of having a table for me, the Boy, the bridal party and their +1s. But nothing on a platform where everyone casually stared at you while you eat so there are at least ten eye witnesses to that point of the night where I spill red wine all over the table and most likely my dress. And I like the community feel of having a bunch of tables all at the level, where people can switch out from their assigned seating and hang out at other tables, including the “head table”. I like the casualness of it and the family style of it.

Now I just gotta figure what to do with all those feelings …

 

That’s my list of No-Nos in terms of traditions at my own reception. Needless to say I got about as much flak for these as I did when I matter-of-factly announced to all present that I would not be changing my name. Apparently my complete bafflement as to why I would change my name made everyone around me super confused … I will write that post another time!

Again, these things aren’t right for us, or me, where applicable. Other people have different views, and that’s wonderful. My Mom had most of these traditions, most of my cousins have and I bet my sisters will too. But for me, it’s long past time to make new traditions based on a foundation of equality and love as opposed to property law and patriarchal norms.

What have you done or will you imagine doing?

AmmyB

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