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Tying the Knot - Tradition or Trend?

Ironically this expression so freely used today, is probably traced back to medieval Europe when it was forbidden to tie knots during a wedding service. It was believed that the consequences of this act would cause barrenness in the bride or impotence in the groom. In contrast, it is traditional in some churches for the priest to knot his stole around the hands of a couple once they have made their vows. Whatever the origin of the expression, one wonders how many other traditions remain and how they began.

Although many brides and their grooms are choosing smaller and more intimate gatherings in celebration of their marriages, rather than the elaborate affairs which were common a few years ago, a number of traditions are still adhered to.

The traditional kitchen tea has been adapted in many instances. Since many brides already have established homes, a `pantry party`, `linen party` or something similar is more appropriate. The groom seems to have sensibly followed in that the bachelor party (or brawl as was usually the case), may now be a `cellar party` where guests bring a bottle of good wine, or even a `workshop party`, his guests giving the necessary hardware for his toolroom or workshop. Practicality is, thankfully, more the order of the day.

The wedding dress, some say the most important factor in any wedding, still remains romantic and elegant, though the styles may vary to suit the individual bride`s taste and figure. White, a sign of purity, is still a favourite, but many brides choose alternative colours such as gold, yellow or even green, which signifies youth, hope and happiness. Many black South African brides, who always look particularly stunning in white, choose to marry in small and private traditional African ceremonies, which may then be followed by a more formal `western style` wedding.

Rings are almost always exchanged; gold bands are still traditional, the ring representing eternity and never-ending love, the gold representing purity of intent. In the Jewish tradition, the wedding band should be simple, with no details, no stones and no engraving.

This symbolises the love which will remain true and eternal, with nothing to distinguish the beginning and the end and won`t lose any value (there is no risk of losing a stone).

More and more couples are adopting the Jewish tradition of having the bride escorted down the aisle by both her mother and father. This certainly gives Mom a more special role, which she surely appreciates. Some brides include both mothers in other ways. A particularly novel idea is to include two extra roses in the bride`s bouquet. One she hands to her mother on entering the church and the other she hands to her new mother in law upon exiting.
Confetti is the Italian word for confectionery, and is a watered down version of an ancient fertility rite. Some prefer the more eco-friendly coloured rice or petals with which to be showered after the ceremony. More enterprising brides collect and dry the petals of all the roses given by their grooms during their courtship and use these in lieu of confetti. Another trend, which is growing in popularity, is the use of tiny bells tied with tulle and entwined with flowers. The guests ring the bells as the couple exits the church, a symbolic `ringing-in` of their new life together.

Dealing with the wedding budget is changing. Traditionally the bride`s family pays for the press announcements, stationery, photographer, the bride`s dress, the bridesmaid`s dresses, the flowers for the service and the reception. The groom pays the church fees, buys bouquets for the bride and her bridesmaids and flowers for the mothers as well as buttonholes for himself, his best man, the fathers and ushers.

Expenses are more commonly shared today, the bride and groom being more able to contribute. This brings much relief to parents of two or more daughters. Many couples divide expenses according to their own and their parents` resources. June has always been a popular month for marriage, which dates back to ancient Roman times. Juno, the goddess of marriage, was believed to bring prosperity and happiness to all who married in her month. Practically, this also meant that the bride would be likely to bear her first child in the spring, and allow her to recover in time for the next harvest. South African brides often choose the opposite of their Northern cousins because of the seasonal difference.

June, September and December are the most popular months to marry in South Africa. The tradition of giving all the guests sugared almonds is increasingly being replaced by newer trends. One couple opted for giving an evergreen tree seedling instead. They felt that this would be more symbolic, as the tree was nurtured by family and friends, so would be their marriage.

It is becoming trendy these days to include all the guests more intimately in the ceremony, rather than just the family and the retinue. There are many ways of doing this. For example, one modern couple invited guests to bring with them a framed photograph of their own wedding day. These were displayed at the reception, allowing their guests to share more fully in their own special day, also adding a romantic and timeless touch to their wedding. In a ceremony which includes the lighting of a `unity candle`, all the guests can join the wedding couple in the tradition by lighting miniature candles. In the same way, the couple`s parents and step-parents can light the wedding table and guest`s candles as a symbol of `parents of the union` now being celebrated.

The wedding cake still remains a tradition; this dates back to ancient Rome where marriages were followed by a feast of various symbolic dishes. The cake, usually made with flour, salt and water was by far the most important and was often broken over the bride`s head to assure good fortune and fertility. The ancient tradition of the wedding cake says that no bride shall be happily married if she makes her own wedding cake, this will commit her to a life of drudgery; and that she must be the first to cut the cake to avoid unhappiness.

The usual fruitcake, baked months in advance is no longer a necessity and there is absolutely no reason why you should not explore other recipes for what is regarded as your `centrepiece`. Remember however that the bottom layer of the wedding cake still represents the couple as a family and the top represents them as a couple. The tiers or layers in-between represents the children the couple hope to have.

Of course, few weddings are complete without Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something Blue and this is a ritual that seems to elude few brides indeed. The superstition is said to have originated in England although many other cultures have similar customs. All these traditions, however seem to stem from the belief that luck may be passed from one happy woman to another. Wearing something old is said to give good luck, something borrowed to bring happiness, something new symbolises the new life created by marriage and something blue, which upholders of the superstition insist should be sky blue, shows trueness and fidelity. Somehow the `blue` tradition has been furthered; the blue should not be apparent nor in contrast with the white of the bride`s attire, and this has given us the modern custom of wearing a blue garter. Whichever you choose - traditional or modern innovation - with a little imagination and the help of your family and friends, you are guaranteed to have a unique and memorable wedding. Try to enjoy your special day and above all - try to remember each moment.

Article source: LifeWorld



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