Why I’m saying “I don’t” to these three wedding traditions
As my wedding date looms, I’m quickly learning that not only does everyone have an opinion about my ceremony — but a lot of people are downright concerned that my future self will regret not taking a more traditional route down the aisle. But the thing is, I’ve never been a traditional gal.
The deeper I look into some of our culture’s hallowed wedding traditions, the more I’d like to run as far away from them, and as quickly toward progress, as my kitten heeled feet will carry me.
Put on your favorite heirloom strand and let the pearl clutching commence. Ladies, I’m breaking traditions.
Traditionally, the concept of marriage hasn’t been two people coming together to hitch their wagons in the name of love, support, and partnership; marriage was a social and financial transaction to mark a young woman’s transition from one man’s property (her father) to another’s man property (her husband). Bachelorette parties seem to celebrate the loss of our former selves.
On any given Saturday night, in towns all across America, young women dressed in glitter sashes bedazzled with the word “BRIDESMAID” teeter totter up and down the streets of entertainment districts to celebrate the chosen one. You’ve seen her. The girl wearing the crown made of gold penises, a matching plastic gold chain attached to the word “BRIDE” hanging around her neck.
At some point, in order to be seen as equal, we decided that we needed to take over bars or restaurants for one last unbridled blast before hanging our bride-to-be out to dry so that she can sober up enough to become someone’s wife. Because, apparently, becoming a wife means trading in freedom and alcohol to become the proverbial ball and chain.
Don’t get me wrong; I like to get wine drunk with my besties too, but there’s just no part of me that needs to celebrate a bachelorette party. My marriage isn’t the end of anything — it’s just the beginning.
I know what you’re thinking. Who doesn’t like presents, right? I’d have to be a real monster to turn down the generosity of my lady friends — especially when an exchange of gifts is involved.
Maybe it’s the thought of opening up a pair of lace panties in front of my mom that sends shivers down my spine. Or maybe I’m content with slowly accumulating the Le Creuset kitchenware set of dreams on my own terms.
Or maybe I’m more bothered by what the rainbow’s worth of Victoria’s Secret thongs and expensive kitchen appliances originally represented.
You see, the tradition of the bridal shower comes from an earlier era: if a poor gal’s family couldn’t scrape together a dowry, or her dear old dad just plain refused to bless a union he deemed unholy, then your friends could band together to buy your father’s blessing. Then you could more eagerly assume the position of homemaker and incubator.
While I enjoy gifts, I don’t enjoy the idea of being purchased.
Giving Away the Bride
Even worse than the thought of being bought, I’ve never been keen on the idea of giving people to other people.
After all, I’ve been told that theoretically, as an American woman, if I’m entitled to anything — it’s life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So why on earth would I consider it to be simply delightful for my father to hand me over to someone else who will control me?
This man-handling of the bride is rooted in the tradition of arranged marriages. Daughters weren’t small female humans who grew up to be whatever they damned well wanted to be, they were property to be given or sold to another man.
Let’s make something clear: I am not my father’s property. I am not my soon-to-be-husband’s property. As long as I live, I own myself and I will give and take of myself as only I see fit.
While I understand that a lot of women won’t be following suit in breaking these traditions –and a few might even take umbrage with a more radical view — these are choices that feel right for me.
That’s why I’m walking down the aisle with my partner. Hand-in-hand, side-by-side, 100 percent equal. No one’s completing anyone. We’re more of an “our powers combined” kind of couple anyway.