We’re all agreed that we like a lot of wedding traditions… and are willing to put up with others. But each of us had a least a couple that she wouldn’t mind leaving at the altar.
Tossing the bouquet and garter
I know some people really love these parts of reception, but for me there’s no aspect of either of these that isn’t horrible. The origin of these customs is downright creepy: Wedding guests wanted some of the bride’s good luck for themselves, so they would try to tear off pieces of her gown and veil to take with them. Eventually, brides started tossing bouquets over their shoulders so the guests would fight over the flowers. The garter toss came from the same place. The groom stepped in to take it off to keep the male guests from swarming the bride and removing it themselves. Charming.
Even the modern next-one-to-get-married superstition gets problematic. If you’re at a wedding where the women really scramble for the bouquet, it’s a little unsettling. Just watching close friends and relatives clothesline each other for a made-up chance at marriage is bad. But when you add the reinforcement of the stereotype that all women are desperate to get married? Feh.
And what do you gain if you catch it? An uncomfortable moment with the significant other? Every elderly relative in the room trying to set you up with someone who’s just perfect? Whee.
…Which is why a lot of women now fight each other to get far away from the bouquet toss, leaving the bride to hurl it onto an empty floor or into a group of ten-year-olds.
So let it go. If the bouquet toss were a person you’d have cut it from the guest list weeks ago. If you really want to share your bridal mojo, there are lots of ways to do it. You can just hand the bouquet to the guest who you know is already engaged and next up for a wedding, or you can give individual flowers to several guests. Some brides like to give the bouquet to the longest-married couple in the room, as a bit of reverse mojo.
If you must play into the superstition of it, really let it be up to Fate instead of elbows. Have the caterer put a sticker on the bottom of one dinner plate at random. Or give it to the fifteenth person to order your signature cocktail at the bar. Or, I don’t know, tie the bouquet to a falcon and release it over the dance floor. Whoever gets landed on, gets married. It’s not any sillier than what we do now.
When my first couple of friends got engaged in college, there was always some jerkwad who had to leer and ask the bride. “So…are you going to wear white?” I even heard one jagball recounting his story of having asked the bride that to another goon, and they both acted like it was the most hilarious and awesome thing a person could say.
Oh, wait. I get it. Because she’s probably not a virgin! And you have guessed that! Which no one else in today’s society could possibly have figured out! Well, well. I take back the term “jerkwad.” You, sir, are an incredibly savvy man of the world. Way to go.
Wearing white to indicate the bride’s virginity is a pretty recent addition to American wedding culture. Brides started wearing white because Queen Victoria did and people imitated it because it they thought it looked cool. White=purity=intact hymen got layered on later.
And who needs it? Not even tennis players stick to white anymore. And in every other case in my life so far, the state of my hymen has been the business of nobody but me, my gynecologist, and the man in my life. Why should I suddenly give the world an update with my dress?
(Early on in our planning, I thought it would be hilarious to parody that by walking down the aisle in a huge chastity belt, then handing The Hunk the key. Hunk did think it was funny. But he also said that if we did it, our parents might give up on life and just die right there in their pews. Oh, all right.)
If you’ve always fantasized about wearing a big white poofy gown, awesome. But why not expand that fantasy to include any amazing gown? You know which colors you look utterly gorgeous in. If white’s not one of them, why not bag it?
My friend Annie ended up in a dress that was a blend of white and very pale lavender. Once her groom stopped flipping out, he admitted that she looked stunning in it. It was very bridal and very her at the same time. Isn’t that the point?
I kind of like the dresses I’ve seen Russian brides in. They have white dresses with perfect bridal silhouettes, but brightly colored bodices, usually in girly pink. They look beautiful, fashionable and sweet. As to whether they look virginal, it never once occurred to me to think about it.
Having one dad walk you down the aisle
Don’t get me wrong – I love it that the father of the bride gets honored in the wedding. But I’m not really being delivered from his house to Chris’s. I have a job, I lived on my own for a few years after college, and I’ve been living with Chris for a while now. It’s not the same big transition from one male protector to another. (Though, for the record, Chris is a total stud.)
The symbolism of being “given away” is something I only mind a little. I’d probably go with the one-dad walk if I only had the one dad. My dad and my stepdad both had big hands in raising me. I’m walking down the aisle with one on each arm.
I’ve got a friend who’s walking with her single mom, and another who’s walking with both her gay dads. I also like the scrappy spirit of women who choose to go it alone, preferring to emphasize their choice to be with the groom, or those who choose to honor a favorite relative or mentor.
Absolutely honor your dad or any other important childhood influence in some way, with a dance or a moving thank you at the reception or whatever you want. You just don’t need to make your bio-dad take you for a walk if that doesn’t really fit your family.
I hate them. I seriously hate them. I hate that I’m supposed to have one and he doesn’t, I hate that they’re so poky when I love to do so much with my hands, and I hate the creeptastic way some women start getting competitive over them and entering rooms finger-first.
I hate that he’s supposed to spend something like three months’ salary on a rock when he or we could use that cash for something either way more practical or way more fun, and I hate the fact that I’m not entirely comfortable with the rock-getting industry in the first place.
Mostly I hate the fact that I can’t warn a guy that I wouldn’t want one before he decides to shell out for one without sounding – at best – a tad egotistical and presumptuous. It’s just not an easy thing to casually drop into conversation.
Can’t we all just bag them? Please? Maybe get elaborate his-and-hers facial tattoos instead?
I know a lot of women love their engagement rings, or are preparing to. They may even want me to shut the hell up lest their potential fiancés actually listen to me. But I know there have to be more of us that see these things as tiny, monstrously expensive shackles that are designed to take out eyes during family volleyball games.
Free-fingered sisters, hear my cry. Then meet me at the tattoo parlor to pick out designs.