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Please Make It Stop!

If there’s one thing pretty much everyone can agree on it’s that there are wedding traditions (not to mention ‘traditions’) that are better left unobserved. The problem is that so few of us agree on precisely which ones should be ditched and which kept.

There are just so many potential annoyances to choose from.

On person would forever ban throwing anything into a crowd of unmarried people, while another would outlaw the use of bells or clinking glasses to force the bridal couple to kiss on command, yet another would be in favor of a prolonged prison term for any couple who forces guests to wait around bored for two or three hours sans appetizers or entertainment while they get their pictures taken ad nauseum.

Most of these are pet peeves of mine, though I’m actually pretty neutral on bouquet and garter tossing. Do it, don’t do it, I’m down with your decision, whatever your reasons may be. But smash each other in the face with cake or have a cash bar and I’m Not a Happy Camper.

But I’m curious about the rest of you. If you could end forever just one bridal custom, ‘custom’, or faux pas, what would it be?

NtB Does NOT Recommend: A Traditional Scotting Blackening

I’m all for a wee bit of good-natured roasting of brides and grooms at bachelorette parties and bachelor parties if the guest of honor is the sort of person who appreciates that sort of thing. One may even find that guests poke fun at the bride-to-be at her bridal shower, though the jabs are usually quite gentle and of the we-know-you’re-going-to-have-sex-tee-hee variety. I cannot, however, get behind a tradition I only recently learned of, namely the extremely hands-on Scottish blackening.

scottish blackening

There seems to be some confusion over whether this is a properly Scottish tradition or something primarily done in Aberdeenshire, so I’d appreciate it if our Scottish readers or readers who are Scotland enthusiasts would weigh in to clarify matters. In any case, the blackening ritual involves the bride- or groom-to-be being first captured and abducted by his or her friends and then covered in various unpleasant substances such as golden syrup or molasses, mud, flour or flour paste, feathers, or soot. Finally, the victim may be tied to a tree or lamppost or paraded noisily around the local pubs, much to the delight of the evening’s patrons, no doubt.

Here’s a Scottish blackening in action:

Obviously it’s all done in fun, and after watching a number of blackening videos on YouTube I can conclude that the bride and/or groom never make much of an effort to run from those wielding the treacle. Still, can you imagine having to wash all that off after your own pre-wedding blackening? Yikes! I personally have never been one to enjoy the sort of humiliation that some people are made by loved ones to endure prior to some momentous event in their lives, but I suppose one might see it quite differently if they’ve grown up expecting to be (and watching others get) tarred and feathered as a lead up to the wedding day. Still, I think I’d spend a lot of time looking over my shoulder…

Quality Never Goes Out of Style

Sterlingspider, goddess of nearly all things crafty, recently sent along a link to a blog post over at Mary Cirbet’s Needle ‘N Thread that featured a beautifully embroidered wedding dress that is nearing its centennial anniversary. While there is unfortunately no full-length photograph of the wedding dress, there are plenty of images that illustrate just how well this garment seems to have stood the test of time… from the point of view of style, anyway.

embroidered Wedding_Dress_01

Unfortunately it was not well-stored, and as a result “the tulle on the shoulders and sleeves has turned a dark brown, and although feeling somewhat brittle in some places, it can still be gently handled. The lining of the dress is decaying in shreds, but the silk crepe of the dress itself is still in lovely shape.” Shame, that. I think it must have been absolutely lovely in all its glory way back in the day, and I see similar patterns of embroidery (positively not hand embroidered) all the time on present-day wedding dresses.

embroidered Wedding_Dress_02

We can learn a lot from this wedding dress with its embroidery that looks stunningly gorgeous after nearly 100 years. First, classic beauty never truly goes out of fashion. Styles may change, albeit very slowly in the land of brides, but there are some things that will plainly look just as good 50 years from now as they do today and other things that will look terribly dated a mere 10 years from now. Second, it pays to invest in quality if you’re planning on keeping your wedding dress to pass on to tomorrow’s bride. The silk crepe and silk thread is still looking good, and the detail looks like it was done yesterday. If you can afford not to, don’t scrimp.

And finally, if you’re going to preserve your wedding dress for whatever reason, do it correctly so we can all ooh and ahh over it decades and decades from now!

A Horse(less Buggy) of a Different Color

Being drawn to and from one’s wedding ceremony site isn’t a tradition grounded in religion or history, but I’d venture to call it an established tradition nonetheless (even if the romantic nature of the carriage ride is simply part of the idealized princess aesthetic that some brides like). The iconic horse drawn carriage, however, is one form of wedding transportation that the folks at PETA would like to see phased out, particularly in New York City.

peta carriage horses

Two members of the group felt so strongly about what they see as the plight of carriage horses that they staged a wedding and a protest at the same time. In full view of the line of carriages that wait for passengers in Central Park, they said their wedding vows, sliced their wedding cake, and drove off in an electric buggy festooned with a sign reading “JUST HITCHED and not to a Carriage!”

If [Paul Kercheval and Kelly Respess] have their way, a fleet of electric cars resembling vintage automobiles will replace the carriages – retaining, the couple says, Central Park’s old-world flavor while relieving the horses of their burden and being kind to the environment.

“We chose to get hitched. Those horses don’t have that choice,’” said Respess, who wore a fluffy, snow-white gown and carried a bouquet of red roses and white lilies.

Huh. Weddings paired with protests irk me more than a little, if only because you’ll have the rest of your lives to protest, but only one day to enjoy celebrating your newly created union with family and friends. Charitable wedding favors that contribute to an animal welfare organization are one thing; it seems a bit gauche to involve loved ones attending your wedding in a protest that they might not necessarily support or involve themselves in otherwise. One hopes that Kercheval and Respess at least warned their wedding guests that their PETA-endorsed ceremony would be held on a street corner.

That said, I have no doubt that some carriage drivers mistreat their horses, but I lived with two Central Park carriage drivers when I called New York home. They treated their horses like gold, even going so far as to buy a building in Manhattan and renovating it to create a state-of-the-art city stable. Besides the fact that their horses were an investment and their source of livelihood, they loved their animals like pets. They also trained their horses to feel comfortable with city life, e.g., honking cars, loud music, and pedestrians. The NY SPCA monitors the condition in which horses are kept by carriage drivers, and if there are signs of abuse, tighter regulations might be a better answer than banning the carriages altogether.

That’s my opinion… what do you think?

Congrats, Soucki and Rob

I hope that talented Jacksonville wedding photographer Corinna Hoffman doesn’t mind my sharing a couple of images with you from a wedding she shot recently. She’s one of my Facebook peeps, and I look forward to her posts, which usually contain a selection of her wedding photography. At the end of last month, Corinna posted photographs of a wedding that followed Lao traditions, and I was captivated by all the colors and the gorgeous fabrics. Have a look:

laos-wedding-1laos-wedding-1-1laos-wedding-1-3laos-wedding-1-2

Just beautiful! And it inspired me to find out more about Lao wedding ceremonies. Traditionally, they are held sometime around 4 p.m. at the bride’s residence — the timing is key so the service of the evening meal follows the one-hour ceremony. The groom and his loved ones march to the wedding venue or park a bit away and march the rest of the way. It’s a joyful procession, with people banging drums, chanting, playing instruments, and cheering all the while.

When the party arrives, they are confronted by the bride’s relatives, who ask questions like “What is your name?” and “What did you bring with you?” The groom doesn’t do any of the answering, however. It’s the elderly relatives who wheel and deal, and it’s the groom’s job to hand over some money (it needn’t be much, apparently, and it is prepared by the groom’s family) to the bride’s family. If they accept it — and they usually do — the groom washes his feet and everyone enters the wedding venue.

Following that, the “soo kuan” starts. During this ceremony, in which the bride and groom sit alongside each other with their parents nearby, gifts are handed to the bride’s parents, the couple prays for their parents, white strings are tied to the couple’s wrist to unite them, and the master of ceremonies speaks about the meaning of marriage. Like I said, the whole thing lasts about an hour, after which the party (which may take place at the bride’s home or a function space) begins.

The Forced Kiss

At a wedding I recently attended the clinking of utensils against glasses was repeatedly heard during the reception. In other words, there was a subset of guests who were trying valiantly to induce the bride and groom to kiss on cue. The newlyweds did not, however, give their loved ones the satisfaction, much to my delight. I’ve always rather disliked the tradition of peer pressuring the couple into PDAs for the amusement of those in attendance at the wedding reception. Some people just aren’t that demonstrative (in public or otherwise) when it comes to affection. Others don’t like being the center of attention any more than they have to be.

wedding-kiss-21

I know some people actually enjoy being cajoled into kissing and, yes, it’s just a bit of harmless fun. No one was harmed in the making of this liplock! But if you, like me, aren’t a big fan of this tradition, there are plenty of ways to have a little fun with it. The aforementioned couple would pucker up, go in for the kill, then swerve away at the last possible moment. The groom even planted one on the best man at one point. After a while, their guests got the hint and gave up.

On the other hand, maybe you don’t mind kissing on cue, but you want to make your guests work for the privilege of seeing you buss. I came across the following ideas in the comments at Darren Barefoot’s blog:

  • my wife attended a wedding once where the centrepieces on each table were fishbowls with several goldfish swmming around in them. To get the couple to kiss you had to actually swallow a goldfish. Full points for originality, but not for taste (aesthetic nor culinary) Once the rowdies got drunk it was a full on bride/groom make out fest.
  • I’ve been to 2 weddings where you had to compose and recite a poem – both started out well, but devolved into dirty limericks by the end of the night. Most were pretty funny, though, so the entertainment value is high.
  • Most of the weddings I’ve been too lately have had trivia challenges. That is, there’s a list of questions on each table and to get the couple to kiss, you have to answer the question correctly.
  • I emcee’d a wedding two weeks ago and with the Bride & Groom’s permission, enacted my own little wedding rule: Want to clink glasses? Then I get to pick the person you get to kiss.
  • I believe I witnessed one where you actually had to pay to see the couple kiss (perhaps my inner capitalist may have created this memory for my future wedding). The show wasn’t worth the cash to me, however, and I was content to see six inches between the couple rather than shell out cash on top of a gift.
  • The last wedding I went to, if you wanted the bride and groom to kiss, you had to demonstrate a kiss first, and then they would copy it.
  • Some young newlyweds-to-be who fancy themselves wine connoisseurs said they were doing the following at their reception: a big container full of corks, some with red wine on the ends (used), some new, one or two marked black. The bucket goes around the room to whomever dares: pick a red cork, bride and groom kiss, pick an unused cork, kiss your own date, get the black cork, EVERYBODY kiss (their date, I hope, but maybe they are more fun than that). The bride and groom could stack the odds as they wish if they are in charge of the corks. Could be pretty funny.

Goldfish? Quiz bowl? I’ll admit I have never been to a wedding where I encountered anything like that… or, I should add, anything as tacky as asking guests to pay to see the newlyweds kiss, which is apparently fairly common in some areas. Have you?

LOVE/HATE: The Stand-In Edition

It never occurred to me to carry anything other than my choreography notes at my wedding rehearsal. Yes, I was that bride-to-be, with the list of who was to stand where and enter when, plus who exactly needed to remember what. I’m thorough, or at least I thought I was. Apparently, according to some sources, I ought to have been carrying a rehearsal bouquet made of all the ribbons that graced the gifts I opened at my bridal shower. Oops?

I was fully aware of the bridal shower paper plate hat tradition, even if I ended up with a ribbon-covered sombrero because the Mexican restaurant where my bridal shower was held didn’t have any paper plates. No one offered to whip me up a post-shower bouquet and it never struck me to desire one. In fact, I’d never even seen one at a rehearsal or in rehearsal pictures, so at the time I wasn’t even aware that a bride-to-be might carry bows and ribbons in place of an actual bouquet (or anything at all) at the rehearsal.

Ribbon bouquet

But apparently they do, or some do, somewhere. I know from having seen a friend’s sister whip up a ribbon hat that some ladies have the skills to pay the bills where bridal shower novelty headgear is concerned, so I can say that I’m fairly sure one could make a rather nice looking bouquet provided that shower guests did not decorate their gifts with anemic, oddly-colored ribbons. Those brides-to-be who have not yet had their bridal showers AND love the bouquet stand-in idea should point their MOHs toward some of the ribbon bouquet tutorials out there:

So ribbon rehearsal bouquets… I don’t love the idea or hate the idea. I guess I feel kind of lukewarm about it. What say you? Do you plan to carry a ribbon bouquet during your rehearsal? Have you even ever heard of this?

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