January 22, 2010

traditional adjustments

I've mentioned before my love of wedding traditions. In each culture, stories and rituals have been developed for the wedding ceremony, most of which were shaped by the brightest figures in that culture's history. For instance, Queen Victoria began the true "white wedding" trend (contrary to the belief of many a Billy Idol fan). Prior to that, color was the inevitable quest, and the wealthier & more prominent a couple's family was, the more bright colored and finer fabrics were to be had. Today, because of Queen Victoria, western culture has adjusted to seek the most oppulent white (or some version of white) dress available, with the finer fabrics in greater bulk and detail now demonstrating wealth.

I for one love traditions less for their original designation of power and prestige, but more for the simple sentiments that can be found between the lines. As an example, the wedding cake developed from a tradition that involved the wedding guest...each guest would bring a small cake to the ceremony, piling one on top of the other in one magnamimous display. Those with the highest piles of cake were not only honored with the prestige of notoriety, but also were said to hold longer more successful marriages. Rice is another example...viewed now as a symbol of hope to the bride and groom in their quest for wealth and prosperity, rice was once only reserved for those wealthy enough to spare the precious grains for such a celebration.

We have today adjusted many a wedding tradition to fit within our own constructs of love (and within the constructs of a sophisticated society). The cake, now one coherent element of a wedding reception is revered not necessarily for its height or detail, but more for the sharing that occurs between the couple (a demonstration mirroring the shared life they are about to embark on). Rice, as well, has been adjusted into a myriad of different options, including flower petals, confetti and bubbles to name a few...the activity of which is done less to signify wealth and prosperity, but more to outwardly celebrate the public commitment that just occurred. Using rice today is even frowned upon for its disturbance of the ecosphere--so, we've developed eco-friendly and biodegradable products as substitutes (as seen in the picture above from Ecoparti).

For someone so passionate in returning to her roots, these traditional adjustments make it difficult to become creatively in-sync with the past. Then again, as I contemplate the whole point of a wedding ceremony I have to recognize that indeed it's purpose is not to dwell on the past; a wedding ceremony is indeed meant to embrace the future, and all it's yet unknown directions. The wedding ceremony stops in one small moment of time to embrace the love between two individuals, in commitment, to journey through the future. Perhaps THIS is the tradition more worth embracing.

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