A few of the things I will teach my grandma (or anyone else from her generation) who might freak out about modern weddings
Times they are a-always changin.’ And those changes have a big impact on modern weddings. Things come in and out of fashion, social mores change, and individual beliefs evolve and change. Today’s wedding looks a lot different than the weddings your grandma probably attended – and even those your mother attended.
Depending on your granny, she might be amused at the changes or she might be downright scandalized.
Not Asking Permission
OK, so this one technically happens before the wedding. But it was once standard practice for a wannabe groom to ask the bride’s father for her hand in marriage before he asked her. Nowadays, the decision to get married or not is wholly between the couple (for the most part). A lot of parents don’t even meet the fiancé until after the question has already been popped.
Though some people believe this tradition is old-fashioned and not necessary, they still ask for “permission” to show respect. (That doesn’t mean they won’t carry through if the answer is “no.”) Instead of calling it “permission,” many choose to ask for a “blessing.”
Your granny and other old-fashioned relatives might ask if you asked permission first – or if your man asked – and they might be aghast if the answer is “no.”
Not Having a Religious Ceremony
Marriage has long been a religious ritual. These days, more couples are thinking outside tradition and defining for themselves what they think marriage should be. Many forego the minister-led wedding and choose a non-denominational officiant, a nonreligious but spiritual figure like a humanist, a justice of the peace, or even a friend or family member. Some couples ask a loved one to lead the ceremony, and then they go down to the courthouse to have a short ceremony in front of the justice of the peace to make the whole thing legal.
Other couples have to forego the religious ceremony because they come from starkly contrasting religious backgrounds and are not able to come to a compromise. Therefore, they decide to have a secular ceremony.
Seeing Each Other before the Ceremony
NOT seeing the bride before the “I do’s” on the day of the wedding is one of the most strongly held traditions of marriage. People go to great lengths to make sure that the groom doesn’t see the bride – even by accident. Otherwise, they believe, the marriage will be cursed with bad luck.
Over the past few years, more and more couples have been foregoing this tradition by engaging in a private “first look.” They get to see each other and get the nervous butterflies out. Plus, having that moment in private is kind of like a mini celebration just between the two of them. It’s a special way to connect right before they proclaim their commitment in front of their closest friends and family.
Brides of the past were covered from head to toe. Many wore dresses with collars that rested right under their jaw lines. Some even wore gloves or layers of petticoats. Their grooms had to unwrap them layer by layer on their wedding night.
Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see a bride walk down the aisle with a backline that goes all the way to her waist. Strapless dresses are ubiquitous. Some even wear gowns with low-cut fronts. Some brides forego the huge gown and opt for a tight-fitting or short cocktail dress instead. Today’s bridal gowns are chosen more for fashion than for modesty.
Couples Writing their Own Vows
“To have and to hold, for better or worse, in sickness and in health…” These are just some of the traditional vows. Most people expect to hear them at a wedding. But many more couples are choosing to write their own vows. They want to make promises that are more genuine expressions of how they feel, and they want their vows to reflect their values for marriage.
Don’t worry about whether your grandmother or any other family member might disapprove of what you want to say to your future spouse. No one will hear your vows until you’re at the altar anyway, and it will be too late for them to try to change anything. Even if you get an earful after the ceremony, you can rest assured knowing that you got to say exactly what you wanted to your beloved.
Having Men and Women on Both Sides of the Altar
Typically, bridesmaids have been … maids. Or women. Typically, groomsmen have been men. But these days, couples are foregoing those traditional monikers so they don’t have to exclude someone important in their life solely on the basis of gender. Women are having a Man of Honor, and grooms are having a best Woman.
Some couples may choose to honour tradition by simply asking their future spouse to swap out a spot. For example, the bride might ask her groom to have her best male friend as a groomsman and she’ll ask his sister to be a bridesmaid.
Having Two Men or Two Women at the Altar
Speaking of gender swapping at the aisle, your granny is far more likely than today’s generation to be scandalized by the idea of two men or two women getting married. Many have evolved their opinions, but some are holding onto old ideas about definitions of marriage as though the world is still flat. Hopefully, your family is supportive. If it’s not, celebrate with other family members or close friends who are.
Trends evolve. Definitions evolve. Life evolves. Times will continue to change, and today’s weddings may look nothing like the weddings we will see in another 50 years. What’s more important than anything else when planning your wedding is staying true to yourselves and making a genuine proclamation of your love and commitment for one another.