Many wedding traditions have evolved from old ideas that we may see as a little strange and out-of-date for today. Some wedding traditions are so hardwired into our brains that they’re just something we’re supposed to do – even if we have no idea why. Today many brides and grooms are side-stepping many traditions so they can do their own thing.
1. Shivaree (also known as a Charivari) ~ Unless you are in your 60’s or 70’s you may not even know about this one. This is probably the most annoying wedding-related tradition. Shivaree is defined as “a discordant mock serenade to newlyweds, made with pans, kettles, etc.” On a couple’s wedding night, a large gathering of friends, family members and other wedding guests would congregate outside the newlyweds’ home and proceed to make as much obnoxious noise as possible. They’d bang on pots, sing out of tune, hollering, hammering on a circular saw, and serenading and do whatever they could to disturb the couple. It often ended with the revelers being invited into the house for drinks, etc.
Another version of the Shivaree was to have a rowdy parade of cars down the middle of the main street with banners, horns honking and tin cans attached to the groom’s car. Sometimes the revelers stayed behind, and poured cereal in between the sheets of the newlywed’s bed, removed labels from canned goods, short=sheeted the sheets and knotted clothes together. Pranks were a part of it. It was all in fun.
2. Reception Line ~ A receiving line is the best opportunity to greet each guest individually and thank him or her for coming to your wedding. And if you’re having more than 50 guests, it’s considered proper etiquette. The line also guarantees your guests a minute of face-to-face time with you, a chance to hug, kiss, and congratulate you both, and to say things like “The ceremony was lovely. Larry James was terrific!” (Wink, wink) 😉 However, receiving lines are an old tradition that have pretty much gone out of fashion. More and more couples plan to visit each table during the reception instead of a receiving line.
3. Parents seating ~ Tradition says the parents of the bride sit in the front row on the left side and the parents of the groom sit in the front row on the right side. When the couple walks up the aisle, the bride is usually on the left and whoever is escorting her is on the right. Once the groom takes his place next to the bride their backs are to the guests. In my “romantic” wedding ceremony after about 6 minutes into the presentation of the ceremony they are asked to face each other holding hands.
Here’s the problem. When the bride faces the groom, she is facing away from her parents and the only thing they see is her back. The parents of the groom can only see the back of the groom. Solution: Seat the parents of the bride on the right side and the parents of the groom on the left side. I know, that’s not tradition, however the first time we actually seated the parents in this manner, both sets of parents came up to me after the ceremony to personally thank me for allowing them to see the expressions on the faces of their daughter and son as the ceremony was being performed.
4. Best Man and Maid of honor walk in first ~ Although tradition says that the Best Man and the Maid of Honor usually walk up just before Ring Bearer, Flower girl and the Bride and her escort, if you have 3 or 4 (or more) Bridesmaids and Groomsmen on each side, it is often a better idea to have the Best Man and the Maid of Honor walk in after the Minister and the Groom so that everyone else knows exactly where they are suppose to stand.
The traditional way often has the spacing between everyone staggered or off the mark and may show up as loosely organized and bad in the wedding photos. If you decide to do it this way, please remember to tell the wedding venue coordinator because they usually line everyone up to go in the traditional way.
5. Decorating the groom’s car with tin cans, etc. ~ I still run across this one occasionally. As a surprise to the bride and groom, you may find “Just Married,” or “Just Hitched” scribbled in soap or shaving cream on the windows, tin cans tied to the back of the car, crepe paper rosettes, maybe a banner across the back of the car or streamers to the rear bumper. As the bride and groom escape the reception, people honk their horns, scream congratulations out their car windows, or wave from the sidewalk.
6. Seeing each other before the wedding ~ The idea of not seeing each other before the ceremony comes from the days when marriages were arranged and the groom might never have seen the bride. In some religions and cultures the option of seeing each other before is simply not allowed. The wedding symbolized a business deal between two families. Not too romantic, right? There was a chance that he might take one look at her and bolt – so it was often safer for them to meet for the first time at the altar. Most admit it’s a bit old-fashioned. Today, however, many couples choose to meet up and even have portrait sessions before the wedding ceremony. “First Look” often replaces this tradition. (See Bonus Article below).
Here are a few other traditions:
1. Tradition suggests that the bride’s parents pay all wedding expenses. A small percent still rely on their parents to fully fund their big event. Today, when couples tend to be older, the majority of couples often share the wedding expenses with their parents.
2. The original purpose of the bridesmaid and the best man was to aid in the capture of the bride, get her to church on time, and keep any hostile family members away! Now the bridesmaids usher the guests to their seats, the best man carries the ring, and offers a toast.
3. Your Matching Bridesmaids Dresses Make Them Decoys. ~ The bridal party is a tradition that has been established for many centuries. For a long time the purpose of the bridal party was to fool evil spirits. The bride’s friends dressed similarly to her in order to confuse any virulent presences that might be lurking about. Today bridesmaids are there to support the bride in the stressful times during the wedding. Read, “Wedding Lore and Traditions” @ http://www.infoplease.com
4. Freezing the Top Tier of the Wedding Cake ! It used to be that newly married couples were expected to have their first baby before their first anniversary, and as a result of that, weddings and christenings were much more tightly linked to each other than they are today — and, as it turned out, both occasions called for cake. (Source: http://people.howstuffworks.com)
5. Giving Away the Bride ! The tradition of the father giving away his daughter has its roots in the days of arranged marriages. Daughters in those times were considered their father’s property. It was the father’s right to give his child to the groom, usually for a price. Today a father giving away his daughter is a symbol of his blessing of the marriage. Read more: Wedding Lore and Traditions” @ http://www.infoplease.com
6. Bride on Groom’s Left ~ Because grooms in Anglo-Saxon England often had to defend their brides, the bride would stand to the left of her groom so that his sword arm was free. Read, “Wedding Lore and Traditions @ http://www.infoplease.com
BONUS Articles: No More “Receiving Lines!”
Who (of the bridal party) Walks Down the Aisle First?
Are You Seeing Each Other Before the Wedding? – “No way!”… However…
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Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. This information is adapted from Larry’s Wedding Website and Wedding Blog. Larry James is a non-denominational minister and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. Call to check availability: 480-998-9411 or 800-725-9223. You will find more than 475 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Check Larry’s availability.
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