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Thursday, November 03, 2016

IT’S A TRADITION

For some reason, I get invited to weddings. These events have spotted my life and I find them very interesting. I also find that the traditional wedding is a thing of the past it seems. In the past few weddings since 2014, the intensity of the ceremonial vows has become somewhat watered down.

It used to be a High Mass was the most important thing you could do to connect couples, then there was the Mass, a regular Mass officiated by a Priest. Then Deacons got involved and they started marrying people too. But most importantly: you must marry in a church or temple.

They rolled out the red or sometimes white carpet for the entry of the Bride and her cohorts, leaving the poor groom with his best man alone upon the altar where guests came into the church to stare at them before the ceremony. Passions ran high so that meant family respect was in order. You escorted grandma to her seat and gave her a corsage, you escorted the groom’s mom and she was given a corsage followed finally by the bride’s mother and her corsage. Their hairdos were lacquer sprayed to stand up until the following week. This same application was used on the bride’s father to help him keep a smile until he gave the bride away. The mothers, now competitors would spend a few months with picking out a dress and hoping it looked better on her than on her opposite: God forbid they did purchase the same dress.

Receptions were a gala event, filled with a live band, sit-down dinners with service, a cocktail hour and finished off by a dessert hour, or later called a Viennese Hour. Photography was relegated to one man, with maybe a couple of cameras. All the men in the wedding party wore a tuxedo, the women dressed as if they were attending a ball. Everyone in attendance wore their finest, down to clean underwear.

The bride NEVER cohabitated with the groom, God forbid if Grandma heard about it!

We've come a long way, baby!

These days the slow metamorphosis of the ceremony has swept aside tradition. There are less church or temple weddings like there used to be. You get married in the reception hall, among the shrimp and scotch. Usually, there is a Justice of the Peace who officiates and he does it with some panache to while away the time. Where once a young girl had a dream about her wedding, it being the perfect day of her life, with her the star attraction, has been reduced to no maid or matron of honor (depending on how many men were left standing to marry), no best man or ring bearers or flower girls. Pageantry is out the window among the paneled room that houses a poor light setup, with folding chairs for attendees, (This can easily be converted into a funeral parlor in seconds), maybe a curtain for a backdrop and void of religious symbolism. There are no candles, no sense that it is indeed a sacred event, no sense that it is a privilege to be present.

Today the atmosphere is casual, you take pictures with your cell phone, annoying the photographer who may also be shooting movies or tapes, or some electric gadget to record the event. He is dressed like he helped line up the chairs and is needed in the basement later. The bride still holds onto her traditional gown with a veil or not, depending on how well she lived with the groom prior to the wedding.

All the guests are dressed like they could help out with the chairs later.

The reception follows immediately, you are assigned a seat to a certain table and look at each other just like the old days. Aunt Millie and Uncle Jack still dress like they did in the 1970’s for a wedding, but Junior Jake is stepping out later to a sports bar to hang with the guys. There is no toast, or wedding cakes anymore, maybe a tray of cookies, but no traditional cake cutting. The best man gives his talk about the time in the bar a few years ago, while the bride's maid tells from a long letter she reads how wonderful the bride is to her.

Am I making fun of today's wedding? No. Why? Because of a lot of the ritual, the ceremony that was: was only for those who thought they needed it. Today it is more personal, it does the job and we can get to the shrimp and scotch a lot sooner now. Way to go.

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