Monday, May 21, 2007

Non Traditional Weddings

Alex and Erin cross the swinging bridge into matrimony at Point Bonita Lighthouse
The thing about tradition is that it gives you a go by, or in other words it has its own infrastructure and there is a certain safety in that. No where is tradition more honored in our culture than the wedding ceremony. As Americans we tend to be less tied down to tradition than other societies, but we still hold onto it when it comes to weddings. With good reason. When you are trying to meld two families together in one ceremonial gesture to support the bride and groom, it can become complicated.

The day before my daughter was married in San Francisco, she took us to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. I thought coming out there a few days before the wedding, we might help her with a few errands, but she seemed to have everything under control, and just wanted to spend some time with us.

Wouldn't you know it, we ran into a couple there that was posing for wedding pictures. The bride looked stunning in that delicious traditional gown that made her look like she was swathed in butter cream wedding cake. I might have felt sorry at that point that my daughter wasn't going to be wearing a "traditional" wedding gown, but I wasn't. That had already passed, and I was just delighted to be with her in such a comforting and beautiful place as the Japanese Tea Garden.

Erin had found her own silk designer gown months before in the Haight that everyone knows as the Hippie District of the '60s, but today is a thriving retail district with designer boutiques.

I was sad the day she called and told me she had purchased her wedding dress, because I hadn't been there with her. I don't think she understood that I would have lept at the chance to jump on a plane to go shopping with her just for one day, if that was what she wanted, but she seemed reticent to have my input. I struggled with that, but the good news is that I came to accept it.

I remember when my husband and I went with my daughter, Cecelia, to talk to our spiritual guide when she was planning her wedding. He had some astounding wisdom to share with us. He looked at Cecelia, and told her, "you are happily planning your wedding and you have probably been thinking about it since you were a little girl, but your mother has been planning your wedding, since the day you were born."

Now I never was too much of a "cheerleader mom," as you might suspect is a term we use that has close meaning to the term "stage mom," one of those smothering mothers that is way to involved in their daughter's lives, but I had to admit that Henry was right. Even though I myself had never felt as a little girl that as a "given," I would someday marry, I had indulged in thinking that my daughter would find happiness in such an arrangment because I had.

Two of my daughter's have opted for smaller, intimate weddings, but Erin's was by far the most non-traditional wedding I have experienced, including my own that wasn't very traditional.

Our church for the ceremony was the Point Bonita Lighthouse, a stunning place that like the Japanese Tea Garden, I also had never visited. The weather cooperated for us, we didn't get fogged in, and while the wind was blowing like crazy, it was somewhat sheltered where the ceremony took place. The Golden Gate Bridge served as a backdrop. Alex and Erin wrote their own vows, and various people had been selected as officiants and speakers. It was a very touching ceremony I will not soon forget.

Earlier that morning, the bride had asked us to assist her in selecting flowers from the flower shops in her neighborhood. We walked for blocks and blocks, and finally gathered a bundle of Cala Lilies. Rather than the bride carrying flowers, the single stemmed lilies were handed out to the guests before the ceremony, and then at the end of the ceremony given to the bride and groom and bundled in a beautiful ribbon that was folded into Alex's pocket like a boutinere.
The reception was at a nearby youth hostel, and the young people stayed the night in an all night camp out. Our beautiful meal was catered by a restaurant that cooked shish-cabobs on an open grill. Cabobs have always been one of Erin's favorites. We finished with a wonderful Princess cake that Erin would not cut with her groom in the traditional manner because that would be too trite.

More and more brides are having weddings their way, and I think that is grand. If we place so much expectation on the opening ceremony, and rely purely on tradition without using our own creative input, how will we handle those tough times when tradition fails us?--Ruth Mitchell


PeopleGeekTV said...

Thank you so much for submitting this to my Blog Carnival, !Visualize Possibilities!. I love that your daughter wouldn't cut the cake with her sweetie because it was too trite. Ha! I like her and I haven't even met her. Google peoplegeek and wedding and you can see a cute video I did a while back on weddings and cliches.

Great work, Mom!

Heather Flanagan
Cultural Visionary said...

Thanks Heather for your kind words. I know of no finer people than my own daughters. Truly. But you might assume I am a little biased.