I recently attending a wedding where my wife was performing a special selection of songs for the ceremony. It was a Cinderella-style event for one of her voice student’s sisters and her college sweetheart husband. Ole Miss, to be exact. The only reason I know is because at some point during toast there was a wedding party fraternity fight song.
In any case – I was happy to be there to observe the support the couple and observe the ritual. Everyone who reads this blog knows I love a good ritual. I suppose I would be a poor Anthropologist if I didn’t.
Wedding rituals are always fascinating. They differ based on the level of society (band, Tribe, Industrial, etc.) as well as the cultural context one comes from, but in the U.S. there are some fairly standard traditions: The religious ceremony presided over by an officiant that typically includes an exchange of vows, the inclusion of a bridal party as well as groomsmen (to support each member of the married couple in their preparations and to help them cope with the impending commitment – as well as being part of the ceremony to demonstrate this support), the tradition of wearing good luck charms (something old, new, borrowed, blue, etc.), the “giving away” of the bride by her father (waning patriarchy’s still like a good exchange of human property) and of course the big damn party to celebrate the happy new couple – because no matter who you are or where you live we love to share our happiness with others – and in this case do it until it hurts – financially speaking of course.
Another tradition that we see in western weddings as they have become more of a “production” is the program: setting the scene (and expectations of length) and giving recognition to all the members of the wedding party.
In the case of this particular wedding, I enjoyed the addition of a couple of very Millennial twists to the program, which I thought blog-worthy. In the spirit of making sure everyone got credit for being unique while still being part of the team (a very Gen Y trait – “we are all individuals but can’t be successful without the support of our peers” ) and in the social media tradition of making sure no moment went un-shared, the program included:
– hand-drawn custom avatars of the entire wedding party that included nuances down to the type of dress and which side they part their hair
– an embossed invitation to post pictures from the wedding reception to a twitter hashtag
Naturally we have seen other Gen X and Millennial wedding traditions come to pass in recent years to coincide with our modern “way” – such as the new tradition of the wedding party “dancing” down the aisle or into the ceremony (for those with more conservative parents) which you have seen all over YouTube.
I wonder how wedding traditions will continue to evolve as generations become more tech savvy, geared toward personal recognition in an expanding global pool of social networks and inclined to take formalities less seriously as our conceptual economy encourages left-of-center thinking to inspire new ideas.
For now, however, I am pleased to see that “the kids these days” are still inclined to hold on to the traditions that remind us we are human while making a point to add new widgets of relevance.
Good luck to the happy couple. Regardless of the times, love is a tradition that always endures and hopefully the rituals don’t overshadow the sentiment.