Traditions are flying out the window these days, and more often than not that’s good. Bring on the new liberal age! Who needs stuffy old cliches and narrow-minded fuddy duddies telling us what we should be doing, am I right?!
However, there are one or two traditions that are still stuck fast and don’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. And a lot of them are centred around one thing, one societal concept and one sacred super-traditional institute: marriage.
I’ve been thinking recently about all the hype and hubris surrounding marriage. I’ve discussed it with so many of my friends, and heard all their mixed opinions. The majority of my them have said they’re not madly enamoured with the idea, that it depends on the person they’re with and they wouldn’t want to get married just to be married; one friend even said she’d like a ceremony of sorts to join her with her partner, but not make things binding and legal. Because what’s really the point in that?
I find all this discussion fascinating. I’ve been asking lots of questions when friends and I have these chats, and there are so many things within the grand tradition of marriage that have all manner of stipulations attached to them. So many mini-traditions, too.
I feel I should add in here that I am not engaged, not due to get married any time in the foreseeable future, and that my boyfriend must not read anything into this, okay? Moving on…
The rule that a bride must wear – say it with me, people – something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue seems to still be very real and very important to brides these days. One of my friends managed to encapsulate all of these things in one: she wore a blue vintage garter that she’d bought for another engaged friend, which she borrowed before bequeathing it unto her (which would mean it was borrowed for the friend, too!). Another friend of a friend had her newborn son sat in a high chair up at the altar wearing a stunning blue suit – so he was blue and new!
Here’s where we get to the one tradition that I personally have trouble with: being walked down the aisle. A bride has always been walked down the aisle by her father. That’s the deal. No negotiations on that. Right?
Now, a few of us will have seen that viral video of the bride being given away by her biological father, who then pauses and runs back to seize her stepdad and bring him up to walk with them – because he’s been her father just as much as he has, if not more maybe. I liked that. I actually have a friend who said not one hour after she got engaged that she would soon have to have an awkward conversation with her dad, because she wanted to be given away by her mum’s new partner. She was tormented by that, and felt immensely guilty. I didn’t see why, really – it was her choice, and sure her birth certificate dad may be angry or upset, but oh well.
Nowadays, with so many families following different paths and there really being no such thing as a traditional set-up in a home, there’s no telling what will happen to this tradition. What if you have two dads? Two mums? One mum? Or no parents whatsoever? Maybe you were raised by your grandparents. Or maybe you’re in a Finding Carter situation and you were abducted when you were three years old and now, thirteen years later, have only just been reunited with your original family and try as you might you feel no real emotional ties to them.
If it were me (again, not yet please and thank you) I’d not really have to think hard about it. But I might.
I am fortunate enough to have happily married parents, meaning there won’t be any awkwardness or negotiations, but for some reason the idea of having just one parent walk me down an aisle and into the arms of the (most likely clinically insane) groom seems – well, wrong. They should both be walking by my side, surely. They both raised me and I’m sure they’ll both adore my fiancée and will have spent a lot of time with us as a couple before we got engaged. I’d quite like a parent on each arm.
Then again, my dad is a traditional Sussex boy; he has grown up in a happy conventional nuclear family, got himself a decent job in the big city, brought up two children of his own with his wife – who he married before reproducing with, of course – and I feel like he’s the kind of dad who would love to walk his daughter down the aisle. So maybe I should give him that. Maybe I should roll my eyes and go with this tradition. My mum can always dance down the aisle with the bridesmaids first!
– Grace Latter