wedding traditions to observe

Wedding Traditions!

I know, I know, I just posted a blog about traditions a couple of days ago. But ’tis the season, and I still have tradition on the brain. So here goes part two!

If you’ve ever seen the musical Fiddler on the Roof (or probably even if you haven’t), you’re familiar with the song “Tradition”. In it, Tevye explains how important traditions are to the way of life in his community. “Because of our traditions,” he says solemnly, “everyone in our little village knows who he is and what God expects him to do.” He turns to the audience and asks, “And how did these traditions come to be? I’ll tell you…I don’t know. But it’s a tradition!!”

Traditions give us all a sense of continuity, a connection with our families, with our heritage. There’s something reassuring about doing something the same way it was done by your parents, your grandparents, THEIR grandparents. Some traditions are passed down along with their own story, some kind of explanation of how they came to be, what their importance is, how they became significant to someone somewhere down the line, ages ago.

But the origins of some traditions, like Tevye’s, have become shrouded with mystery over the years. We do them for no other reason than because they ARE tradition. And there’s something wonderful and special about that as well.

Some traditions are beautiful and serious: a good friend of mine make a pilgrimage to the cemetery every year to lay flowers on the grave of several relatives. Some are kind of funny: a family I know finishes decorating their Christmas tree every year by having someone stand on the far side of the room and throw an ugly ornament onto the tree – wherever it sticks, it stays. Most people I know have at least one “family recipe” that someone in the family always brings to a particular holiday gathering, whether it’s Aunt Ethel’s fruitcake or Grandma’s rum balls or Great-Uncle Heironymous’s barbequed pork.

Some traditions have been passed down for decades or even centuries. My family always opened one gift on Christmas Eve, and I think that may be a tradition our ancestors brought to the New World on the Mayflower. And some have been newly created within the past few years. My husband and I go to New York City every year for my birthday, a new tradition that began with our courtship only three years ago.

But whether age-old or fairly new, whether solemn or goofy, traditions create a wonderful family bond. So as the holidays approach, tell your sweetie about your family traditions, and ask him about his. As you begin your new life together, you can choose which traditions you want to continue with your new family. And maybe even create a few of your own!

love couple engagement ring for proposal

Contemporary Vows

Getting married barefoot at the foot of a volcano instead of a church? How about underwater or by a skydiving justice of the piece? Well, traditional vows may not be for you and your partner.

Contemporary vows are just as accepted in wedding ceremonies as dressing up like Elvis and a Las Vegas showgirl. They are a personal statement about your relationship with your partner and will make you wedding day special and unique. However, not everyone has the same ideas about what vows should mean or say.

For some people, writing vows can become very difficult. Some grooms may find them to be too “mushy” while brides may not think they are romantic enough. Furthermore, words like “everlasting love” and “eternal soul mate” may not be in your natural language, and may feel strange to say in front of family and friends.

Contemporary vows may be as simple as one sentence or as ornate as a fifteen minute speech. It’s your wedding and so you can make it what you want, but the most important thing is that you and your partner both agree on them. If your partner wants to write vows that rib you about how he “promises to love you in sickness or in health, and even when you walk around the house in your bathrobe,” let him know if this would be embarrassing or hurtful. There’s nothing worse than writing surprise vows only to find out they are less than flattering at the altar.

When writing contemporary vows, you can also consider how they might reflect you as a couple. If you and your soon to be spouse enjoy kidding around and laughing, then joke-filled vows may just be for you. If you or your spouse is a singer, perhaps you could write them a song and sing your vows instead. Vows can also be said in different languages if you are creating a bi-lingual household and union, and can also mix the vows of the different cultures that you may be marrying into.

If you do decide on writing your own vows in a contemporary style, run them by a few friends first, perhaps your bridesmaids and groomsmen to see what they think. What may be hilarious to you and your spouse may be offensive or strange to others, and you may not realize it until you’ve read them to someone else. Getting a green light from friends on your vows is also a good idea so that they can time you and tell you if you need to make your vows longer or shorter.

Whether you are getting married from 10,000 feet or in a church and want to seal the deal of your marriage your own way, contemporary vows are for just about anyone. Just remember to make sure that you and your partner approve of each other’s vow before you walk down the aisle, and make them a reflection of your love for one another.

wedding anniversary

Celebrating Anniversaries

When H and I were dating, we celebrated anniversaries of everything – one month from our first date was our first “lunaversary” and we sent each other flowers at work. We wrote each other love notes on the six-month anniversary of our engagement. We went out to dinner to celebrate 100 days since we met, or one month since we first said “I love you”, or our quarter-year wedding anniversary (H snuck in a floral centerpiece replicating my wedding bouqet for that one), or the first anniversary of our first e-mail correspondence. We take any excuse to remember and celebrate major and minor milestones in our relationship.

Two years ago tonight, in the middle of a blizzard, H took me out for dinner, and just before we ordered dessert, pulled out a pitch pipe and blew a note. Immediately, three men got up from the table behind us, stood with H next to our table, and proceeded to serenade me with a beautiful barbershop rendition of “Let Me Call You Sweetheart“.

And then H got down on one knee, presented me with a breathtakingly gorgeous diamond ring, and asked me to marry him. Unable to speak for a moment, and with my hand clapped over my mouth, I frantically nodded my head until I was finally able to squeak out the word “Yes!” (H had made me promise him, weeks earlier, that when he asked me to marry him, he would hear the word “yes” right away.)

He slipped the ring on my finger, and with tears of happiness running down my face and a huge grin on his, they serenaded me again with the song “Sweet and Lovely” (which contains the appropriate lyrics, “Soon we’ll marry, you’ll be my blushing bride”). It was an absolutely magical moment.

I’m not generally a date-oriented person; I would never remember my friends’ birthdays without assistance from a carefully notated calendar (and Facebook), I forget when I started my last job and what year I bought my car and what month Flag Day is.

But I know that I wrote to H for the first time on August 27, I met him on September 15, we said “I love you” on October 11, he asked me to marry him on January 1, we got married on April 12, and our son was born on November 2. Those are dates that I will always celebrate, every single year, for the rest of my life.

And every time one of those dates rolls around again, I will remember how our love has grown over the years, and be thankful once again for this amazing man who loves me, and whom I love.