Traditions are a wonderful thing. They are the stories, beliefs, rituals, and customs that are passed from one generation to the next, and they represent a piece of our history and our culture. Being a part of the special things our family, community, and nation does help us to develop a sense of belonging and connectedness. And research has shown that traditions are important in building strong intergenerational relationships.
But when it comes to weddings, some traditions are outdated or have origins that are highly questionable. Here are a few we think should be completely abandoned.
The bride’s family bearing the financial burden of a wedding. Tradition dictates that the bride’s family should handle the bulk of the financial burden for a wedding. Why? Hundreds of years ago, women were considered personal property, and the bride’s family would have to pay the groom’s family to take their daughters off their hands. This was called a dowry. Once dowries were no longer in style, the trousseau came into favor, which was a collection of bridal accouterments, including the wedding gown, which had been hand prepared by the bride’s family in anticipation of marrying her off.
A bride’s family no longer makes her trousseau because it is taken care of by vendors who make wedding gowns and bridesmaid dresses, floral arrangements, and food. As a result of this custom, however, the bride’s family is still expected to take care of all the wedding necessities, including the dress, the venue, the caterer, the florist, the bakery, and the photography. While there may be some families that can afford to accommodate a year-long whirlwind of unanticipated expenses, most cannot. In today’s economy, it makes more sense for the cost to be split, based on the financial situations of the two families and in collaboration with one another. In many cases, the engaged couple may take on a portion of the cost of the wedding themselves. This certainly makes sense, because who wants to think about their parents bribing someone to marry them?
The garter and bouquet toss. In the past, the bride and groom were expected to show proof of their marital consummation, they might not be alone in their room after the wedding, with onlookers observing to ensure it was a “valid” wedding. Since a piece of the bride’s gown or accompanying undergarments was a token of good luck, those observers would begin clawing to get a piece. As you can imagine, sometimes things would get out of hand as crazed wedding guests would be snatching at clothing to obtain as their personal good luck charm. So, in an attempt to ward off others and still provide proof of the wedding consummation, the groom would “toss” the garter, which eventually transformed into the more modern, less barbaric garter and bouquet toss.
While this particular tradition seems harmless enough, it’s origins should be a cause for reconsideration. After all, who wants to simulate the provision of proof in front of a hundred or more wedding guests by having your spouse dive under your dress with his hands and head? Most women are likely not excited about jumping around in high heels, and most men aren’t enthusiastically gathering on the floor to obtain the garter, either. If you do decide to include this ritual, be sure to emphasize the silliness of the tradition and don’t embarrass your unwed guests by calling out their “single” status.
Smashing the cake. What was the predecessor to cake-face-smashing? The breaking of baked goods over a bride’s head. This custom involved the groom chewing off a bit of barley bread, and then the remainder of the loaf was held above the bride’s head as it was broken. The showering of crumbs was meant to send the message of her husband’s male dominance, as guests would scramble to pick up crumbs from the floor as a sign of good luck.
Eventually, cake become the preferred confection for wedding celebrations, but because a cake won’t break in two like a loaf of bread, it was sliced on the table. And rather than looking for lucky crumbs on the floor, guests would stand in line while small pieces of cake would be provided for the luck-deprived masses. Of course, the cake was not to be eaten but to be taken home and placed under their pillow at night for good luck to come, and, for the unwed ladies, to have sweet dreams of their future husbands. We’re pretty sure most modern brides don’t want to spend the balance of their reception with icing dripping from their hair and their make-up in ruins, even if it means providing their single BFF with visions of her Prince Charming!
What are some wedding traditions you could live without? Feel free to share here.