Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Original or Kitsch?

I just read an argument against trying to personalize your wedding with new traditions and self-written vows over at Double X (thanks, Jessica, for sharing!). There's a whole lot of judgment (both in the piece and in the comments), so be forewarned that it's a bit of a Debbie Downer.

And as a couple who wrote their own vows and wedding ceremony and choreographed a first dance with our entire wedding party, Matt and I clearly don't agree with the author. Writing our own ceremony and vows helped us connect more deeply with our commitment. As for the dance, it was just a way to have fun and celebrate our love with our friends and family. One of my favorite wedding weekend memories was practicing the dance with our closet friends (and I love the look of shock on my grandma's face--see below--when we performed).

I do think it's good to expose oneself to different opinions as a way to help you clarify your own. It's definitely worth a read.

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Unknown said...

Good for you for doing what you thought best for you own wedding. What's the point in even getting married if not to celebrate how much you love each other? Rite of passage? What a terribly depressing way to look at a wedding.

the Lady said...

I popped over there and was refreshed to read a lot of comments disagreeing with the author. What a joyless ass. Whoops, did I say that out loud?

megan said...

i read a lot of disagreeing comments, as well. what is interesting to me is that he says that the basic wedding vows are so important to say because you're lucky enough to say them, that taking on traditional vows shows how you are part of something bigger and that saying them to your partner is the ultimate promise.

is that why there are so many divorces? because people say "the ultimate promise" to gain "a right of passage?"

To each his own, but the author doesn't need to act like sayin gtraditional wedding vows makes him holier-than-thou and more committed to his betrothed.

we're saying our own vows and closing with the traditional ones. i want to hear him say "i do" and "until death to us part"...and i want to say it, too.

megan said...

** "until death do us part." -oops! :)

Sarah said...


I do sort of agree with the writer, to a point. We are planning our wedding, and while we want it to be "us," we are also not going to the ends of the earth to ensure it reflects us. I for one don't really care if cooing guests say "oh, this wedding was so them!" because who cares? Granted, because we are planning it, it will likely reflect us, but it's not any sort of conscious I-have-to-have-candy-centerpieces-because-they-reflect-my-love-of-candy-and-everyone-will-know-it. I also don't feel like our wedding has to feel "authentic" or "real" as if weddings of the past or even weddings brought to you by the WIC(TM) were just so wrapped up in tradition and pomp and tulle that they were somehow fake. I think that photobooths or moustaches or those balloon engagement photos are no more "authentic" than traditional elements like a bouquet toss or a receiving line or a first dance. I dunno. It's all pendulum swings, I guess is what I'm trying to say.

Then again, I also don't necessarily agree with her in the sense that the power of a wedding is that it is traditional and she will not write her vows because they were not meant to be personalized-- the power behind a wedding (or committment ceremony) is the committment itself, however you decide to do it.

Kaitlin Wainwright said...

the problem with a myth, a tradition or a symbol is that it has to start somewhere. and chance are that intial somewhere hosted that myth as counter-culture.

dancing down the aisle was, until last week "counter-culture". i think the author is merely arguing that the wedding industry loves to take things by the hand and lead it into the mainstream.

so, six months from now, we may be seeing wedding choreographers. not dance teachers for ballroom dancing at weddings. nope. wedding choreographers.

i danced back up the aisle at my wedding on saturday. but not because it was planned or because i thought that martha stewart would have approved. no, folks. i danced because i was so freaking happy.

SingColleen said...

Thank you for posting this, Sara. You're right: the article and the comments are good to read, especially if you disagree, because you get to hear both sides. (And sometimes, they're even well-thought-out and -worded arguments!)
That said, I wish the article was a bit less snarky. I think the author has some good sentiments, but he presents them in such a judgmental way that it makes me want to put my hands over my ears and ignore him altogether. "Lalalalala..."

jenifriend said...

i can agree with the author that the wedding industry complex is going to take this and bolt into publishing it in every magazine and producing it on every reality bride show, turning something that was special for this couple into the new "it" thing. i think what's important to remember that whatever is the most important thing between the two partners is what makes the wedding day special. if traditional vows are what's important to them, so be it. if creating their own tradition by writing their own vows is what's important to them, so be it. that really should be the end of all this. to judge anyone in any particular direction is offensive and completely demoralizing to the entire aspect of what a wedding day should be about - what the two partners want. if they want it to be about them, who are we to judge? if they want it to be about family and community, who are we to judge? while our choices may have been different, it doesn't make what they did any less important to them.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the author does explain their thoughts well - if a bit on the angry side. I also think its a bit of a pendulum, to each his/her own, sort of decision as well.

I do plan to do a choreographed wedding dance (a dance I have been dreaming about since I saw Muppets Take Manhattan when I was 5) - and yet I don't plan on writing my own vows. Not because I think original vows are bad or good - just because I really don't think I'm going to be able to speak through my tearful happiness let alone remember my own vows. I'm also making a concerted effort to ensure the wedding is a combination of the two of us, not just what the Bride wants or what the WIC wants.

I think the author is confusing their own feelings about doing original vows with the way they wanted their own wedding. It reminds me of the people who say allowing same-sex couples to marry ruins the concept of marriage...it just seems too much of a blanket statement to me.

I think its also rather rude of the author to assume that if someone has made original vows, that they are going to end in divorce.

Kate said...

I'm sorry, but that writer is full of shite. That article got me incredibly riled up, so forgive the upcoming rant...

A marriage is not a rite of passage. Joining your mom's sorority is a rite of passage. Passing along a family heirloom from father to son is a rite of passage. Getting piss drunk on your 21st birthday is a rite of passage. A marriage is a committment to another human being to share your life and your love with them.

And it should be done in whatever way will make you the happiest, whether that be in an Episcopal church with your lifelong pastor using word-for-word traditional vows, or on the beach with your best friend using vows and readings that you wrote yourself. My marriage will not be any less meaningful, any less valid, or any less beautiful just because I don't do what dipshits like that author says I should do. It's not about him, or the wedding industry, or an organized religion - it's about me and my future husband.

Author needs to get the stick out of his bum, if you ask me...

Carolyn said...

Maybe I'm not seeing this so black and white. It seems to me the author is cautioning that a couples chosen gestures to represent themselves as utterly unique (and this includes you and me) may come off as looking contrived, cheeky, or commonplace (i.e. the dance down the aisle.) I agree that the overall tone of the piece was judgmental and unfair to suggest that these gestures are therefore unnecessary or inappropriate. Perhaps then in an effort to buck the WIC trends, forward thinking couples then fall into a new column B set of pseudo-traditions. Things that we see as being totally un-WIC are just fads and traditions waiting to happen. I see some truth, but no harm, in this.

I think we generally all agree that each couple is entitled to celebrate their commitment in their own way, and we have no reason to judge them for whatever that entails.

Diana said...

First of all, I think the author had a difficult time making a clear point, and seemed to just rag on the couple for doing something different. I agree with the comment left that traditions started somewhere, and that initially it was probably something counter-culture.

It's also a shame that the WIC will turn one couple's wedding into something that they can profit from on other couple's weddings, without necessarily asking the couple what is meaningful to them, but portraying it as "the thing to do".

To speak to the comment the author made about writing your own ceremony and vows...

How many of our parents said the traditional vows to each other on their special day, only to get divorced? I think that the wedding day is your chance, as two people who want to spend their lives together, to make the promises that are right for each individual and each couple. A wedding is not one size fits all. Marriage is not one size fits all. A wedding is a couple's opportunity, before their loved ones, to tell why they love each other, why they want to spend their lives together, and what they are going to do to try and make that happen. No one has the right to judge other couples. In a society with an enormous divorce rate, people should relish in the opportunity that it is not unheard off to stray from the "til death do us part" vows and traditions of previous generations' weddings, and to say vows and do things that have meaning to them as a couple. No matter what those are. For many people, especially for some growing up with divorced parents, those words and traditions don't have the same meaning.

I know that vows don't make a marriage work or not work, it is love, communication, and a lot of hard work. But I think that it's important to question the traditions and vows. It's important to ask why those vows, why those traditions? Who are we as a couple? What do we want to promise to each other? What is important to us as a couple, that will help us see each other through the rest of our lives?

I won't be dancing down the aisle. But I am writing a ceremony that reflects the commitment that my fiance and I are making to each other. We are individuals and our relationship is not the same as other couples'. We are saying the traditional "in sickness and in health" vows that our parents and grandparents spoke. But in addition, we are also speaking our own vows to each other. We are making our own promises to each other. We are using our wedding day as an avenue to share with each other and our loved ones what it is we love about each other and what it is we believe will help support us in our journey through life together.

love-v said...

The first impression I got when I read the article was the author calling out the WIC and couples who do something that isn't authentic. I don't agree with her overall stance, but I do believe she has a point. One reason I was glad to find this blog is because of the constant message to be authentic and to do something because it is what you want, not because someone else tells you that it is tradition or that you have to.

The sad fact is that many brides are planning a ceremony for an audience that neglects the true purpose of a wedding. Half of me loved looking at wedding blogs for pretty pictures and good ideas. Half of me cringed because the purpose behind many of these displays was not about the couple and their love - it was about products and money. The overall message I read in the article was not to do something because it was the next big fad.

I'm all for a choreographed dance if it represents the couple authentically. I am against a new fad of dancing down the aisle because it is the trendy and hip thing to do. If more authentic aisle dancers spring up because they now realize their dream can be done, fantastic.

Emily said...

This article really made me think about the growing trend among many couples to try and infuse as many special, unique, "never seen that before" elements into their wedding as humanly possible, as if their creativity is a reflection of their commitment to one another. Producing a unique, DIY wedding does not mean that a couple is any more in love or committed than a couple who chooses to skip the headache of making and writing and crafting every element of their wedding day. Every moment of the wedding doesn't have to be original or scream "you." If it is a wedding between two people who are truly committed, that will be obvious no matter what kind of dancing, decorations, or details there are. Friction arises, though, when people feel like the validity of their wedding is being questioned in comparison to another one.

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