Wedding Day Traditions
If you’ve read any of the other writing on this JOURNAL, you’ll probably have figured out by now that there’s an overall ethos for our mission. The theme you may be noticing is a conjuring away from traditionalism. This mission has stemmed out of one core value for us at Mrs Fray: the desire for brides and grooms to do it their way.
Weddings used to be a very traditional, transactional, and mostly religious event for a couple. It meant the trading of cattle or dowry and often signified important things to the religious backgrounds of the couple and their families (the latter is still often the case). But today, we see what we’re seeing so often in other parts of our culture as well: The cultural soup blurring the lines for us all. And when it comes to throwing these awesome parties that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
So when it comes to planning your own wedding day, you have the opportunity to take a moment and consider the place of all of these traditions before including them just for the sake of participating with a list of what’s expected.
On the JOURNAL today, we aim to explore some often expected traditions of the wedding schedule and ask ourselves if they need to come along to our fancy parties.
Back in the day, once the bride and groom cut the cake, they would each feed each other a tiny piece which was meant to signify their commitment to supporting one another through their marriage. Sometime down the line, this act turned from cake-feeding to cake-smashing-into-bridal-face and brides all around the world chimed in with a resounding, “hell no, thank you”. So today this act shows itself as simply a quick hand-over-hand single slice down the top of a cake with your gathered crowd watching with iPhone’s poised. Then, the moment that sucker is cut, the couple and their entire crowd have a little ‘yay!’ before all wondering if it’s okay to go back to their seats yet.
Couples today might want to include this tradition for themselves because the cake itself was a massive undertaking involved with their day (perhaps it was made by a mother or a close friend and it would mean a lot to them to have it presented), or maybe bringing it back to the original act of providing for one another in a small way.
If neither of these symbols ring a bell for you, then perhaps cake doesn’t have to be your wedding day jam. Increasingly we’ve seen couples include alternative desserts into the menu following their fancy feasts (hellooooo, towers of cheese!) or take this part of the day completely into their own tentacles.
If you’re a car person, and the thrill of sitting on the back, vinyl seats of a ’51 T-Bird is a once you’ve always wanted (so when better to do it then when you’re dressed up and feeling like a million bucks), then I totally get this. If you’re not and you’re standing on the edge of whether or not to include the expense of something like this, consider this: We live in Canberra, where everything is 15 minutes away (20 with a big traffic jam). So when totalling up the costs and must-haves of your upcoming nuptials, if this is something you’re not for or against, we'd give it a more critical thought first to decipher, “is this really me?” This just might be one of those age-old traditions for a wedding that we’re carrying on without knowing what or why we’re carrying it.
Bridal parties were traditionally the protectors of the bride and groom. The bridesmaids were placed alongside the bride to solidify her chastity status leading up to the wedding (cough) and to also make sure she looks as beautiful as possible for the groom once she rocks up. They were there to ensure that she and her dowry arrived to the ceremony in one, safe piece. Groomsmen were intended to be actual body guards of their groom, literally shanking anyone who threatened his life whilst he attempted to make a trip to the altar. Yikes.
Today, bridal parties are there in a less intense but somewhat similar role, as a support crew. They’re supposed to be your nearest and dearest besties standing alongside your day in a way that honours who they have been to your life up until that point. It is intended as a way to say, “thank you for being my pal through thick and thin in the past 8 years, I appreciate you, stand beside me once again to be a part of this massive day.”
Thanks to the chaos of a wedding, the evolution of the bridezilla anomaly, and what modern television tells us their roles have changed to, so often the life of a bridesmaid or groomsmen can be a really, really long day that can become quite expensive for your best mate counterparts. Although it’s not always the case, at the end of some wedding days, they can be hot, tired, broke, sitting apart from the rest of the party (we’ll get to that), and desperate to get out of their assigned outfits. It strikes me how far from the original goal this sounds like it strayed. If the point of these congregations of our friends is to be to make them feel special and honoured, then how did we get here?
Thinking of an alternative way to honour your mates, perhaps instead you could opt to have them along to the preparations portion of the day, share a champagne and a tear with them before things kick off, give them a few dozen hugs before walking down the aisle, thank them, kiss them, and let them get back into the party and the open bar with everyone else. After all, the funnest part of weddings for everyone is that part where you thank them for their presence in your life with a meal, some drinks, and a gorgeous space to enjoy basking in the matrimonial bliss.
Another set of traditions that have long since lost their original meaning, show themselves in the form of throwing things at your guests at the wedding. Throwing flowers has always been to nominate which single lady is getting married next and throwing garters at a crowd of men with their ties replaced from their necks to their brow lines has been to decide on the next groom.
In 2018 we see a lot less garter tosses at weddings, likely because the garter isn’t a common or necessary accessory for most bridal outfits to rock, so it’s one more detail to remember to procure. Drunken, single, male guests will often find courage within themselves alone to speak to a woman with or without a garter, more often than not.
The tossing of the bouquet still shows it’s face on many dance floors, perhaps because the bride is really hoping to aim for her sister who’s been holding out for her partner to propose or because it can be an activity that conjures people out of their reception seats (or because none of us will ever turn down an opportunity to try to dance like Beyoncé). Whatever the case, in the modern way, unless this is an activity you’ve always wanted to do, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not a requirement in order to get hitched in 2018.
We’re seeing this fade away more and more in weddings by those couples who are wondering why they need to do it in the first place, but for those who aren’t familiar: it’s not a requirement to sit away from your guests at the reception. Unless you want to enact your Game of Thrones fantasies and sit higher than the rest of the room at a banquet table in the front of the reception room, there might be some wiggle room here to ask yourself ‘why’.
One of the coolest things about having a wedding, is that it’s the one time you get to see all of these different people from different parts of your life congregate into a singular spot. As a bride, it’s overwhelming and beautiful to see everyone in one place. So, for some of you, it could be an even more powerful thing to sit back from a vantage point and look out at the group of people before you. But, for others, maybe you don’t want to sit much further away from the people who traveled to be with you on that day. Either way, you can do it however suits you.
ENTERING A RECEPTION
The evolution of entering a reception likely became a trend when couples going off site for a photoshoot between their ceremony and receptions became increasingly popular. Couples saw on their timeline the 10 minute gap of time between their arrival back and the start of the reception’s formalities and thought, ‘How are we going to transition into party mode?’ Then DJs stepped in to offer a fun suggestion. So, today, we’re very used to the portion of the wedding day which involves the couple and their bridal parties getting welcomed into a reception scenario with a Black Eyed Peas track and the wind at their backs.
Today, we see couples come back from the photoshoot to mingle with their guests for a little while, and when the transition begins for guests to enter the reception, the very present bride and groom have to excuse themselves into a hidden corner so that they are able to be ‘announced’ into the room again for applause.
If there’s a natural rhythm in your schedule for an entrance, if you want that peaceful moment with a champagne alone before going into party mode, or if you’ve always wanted to bust into a room through a banner like a professional athlete, then you do do, girl. Otherwise, don’t feel bad about nixing the entry idea from your ‘mandatories’ and walking into your reception whenever you return or feel the need to. Spend some extra time with your guests, have a champers, and enjoy those arancini balls before it’s time to tuck in for a big feed with your guests.
This can be taken literally or be everything associated with a wedding that is, let’s call it, “expected by your Aunties”. When you get engaged, the flood gates suddenly open from anyone in your general sphere with phrases that start this way: “OH, you’re getting married. We did this and it was perfect, so you HAVE to _______” Aunties, friends, mothers, and really just anyone else, love a good bridal suggestion. As the time leading up to a wedding wanes on, couples love accepting these unsolicited pieces of advice less and less; they can become these things that make you feel like you’re not keeping up with the Jones’ in the way you’re choosing to get married, and the more we can do about helping you not feel that about getting married, the better!
But since all the rules have been curbed for weddings today, ladies, let’s just say that one or all of these suggestions you receive can be taken with a grain of salt and a gracious nod alongside a, “thanks so much for that thoughtful suggestion.” If it doesn’t mean anything to you after that, feel no guilt in putting it in the bin.
You might be sitting there reading this and asking, “if I include none of these things in my wedding, what is there to do that’s meaningful at one of these big, expensive parties?” To which we would say, the most meaningful thing you can do at your wedding is spend time with the people who have traveled to be there with you. Whether it’s a congregated group of 12 or 200, it’s a pretty crazy, beautiful, and powerful thing to know that all those people love you enough to be there on the day. So with less traditions that don’t mean anything to you or your partner, there’s less stuff to distract you from what’s really important: being with your people.
On the traditional front, we've seen some very modern brides incorporate little things into their days that meant the world to them, their spouse, or their families, all of which encapsulated perfectly the meaning of the word, “tradition” in weddings. We've seen pins that belonged to a late grandma or lockets belonging to relatives in a different time, tucked into their gown’s lining or their bundled bouquet for the day; in an effort to bring their late relos with them for the ride. We've seen framed photographs of couples passed on, placed respectfully on a table of their own at the reception, in an effort to honour those that walked before them. We've heard beautiful, tear-jerking speeches from brides, best friends, fathers, and mothers about what the couple and that day means to them.
There are 1,000 ways to have a wedding, and none of them are the ‘right’ way to do it. But we can tell you right now that ditching the ‘fluff’ and bringing to the table only what’s important to you and yours is the sure fire way to make your wedding day utterly meaningful.