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Photography:
Laura Hunt


Weddings Now - Changing Customs


Johanna Kaestner
Photography: Meg and Michael Weddings

We are approaching the end of the year, the favorite time to pop the question. No, it no longer needs to be the man anymore who makes the first move; it can be the woman, or both, like Monica and Alex who created their own marriage proposal.

With the proposal comes the engagement ring, the beautiful diamond solitaire almost every girl dreams about. Did you know that diamond engagement rings are an invention of the 20th Century? But with the beginning of a new millennium and the more streamlined budgets of many grooms, a family ring or a vintage ring bought at an estate sale, are definitely acceptable.

 
After all the excitement of the engagement, wedding plans are made, often during the same night, laid out on paper napkins or scrap paper. Now comes the important question: Who pays for it?

After all the excitement of the engagement, wedding plans are made, often during the same night, laid out on paper napkins or scrap paper. Now comes the important question: Who pays for it?

Parents of the bride used to foot the bill, while the parents of the groom paid for his education. Now it often is the case that both bride and groom have completed their educations and have jobs, and the wedding expenses typically are met by whoever has the means. Many parents of brides still feel obliged to take over the lion's share, but the number of couples who pay for their own wedding, with or without the participation of their parents, increases constantly. It also is not unusual for the groom's parents to finance the wedding. Remember, whoever pays has the say in the invitation list. As they take on their share of financing the wedding, more grooms start to participate in the planning process, too. This can be a good entrance exam for the give and take of married life. See: Relationship Guide and Romance and Money

The white wedding gown, symbolizing virginity dates back to the time of Queen Victoria. Today the tradition of the bride's gorgeous white gown remains, and the white wedding color symbolizes joy. However, if you don't like white, other color choices are available and are widely used.

The wording on the invitation changes if the couple pays for their own wedding. The invitations sent today are almost comparable to small seminar packages, complete with directions and itineraries. A no-no is the announcement of the couple's registry; friends and relatives have to make sure that information is spread by word-of-mouth. Save-the-date-cards have become more and more popular, particularly if there is an expectation that guests will have to travel a significant distance to the wedding.

Traditionally, a bride's best friend is chosen as maid/matron of honor, and the groom's best friend is the best man. They help their friends during the planning stage and serve as witnesses who co-sign the marriage license. If the dearest friend of a groom is his sister or another female, modern custom allows him to choose her to be his best woman, and the bride's choice can be a friend of honor. The couple can follow the old rule of one attendant for every 50 guests, or they can select more groomsmen or bridesmaids; they even can choose not to have attendants at all.
 
The walk down the aisle doesn't depend on strict tradition anymore. The bride is encouraged to invite whoever was the most important person in her life to walk with her. A bride might choose both of her parents, her children, her brother, as in the picture, or she might want to walk alone.

The walk down the aisle doesn't depend on strict tradition anymore. The bride is encouraged to invite whoever was the most important person in her life to walk with her. A bride might choose both of her parents, her children, or she might want to walk alone.

There are many second marriages with many children involved. Our neighbor lost his first wife to cancer. At the wedding ceremony with his second wife, he and his two year old son waited at the altar for the new bride/mother. The three held hands during the whole ceremony. I felt this was very touching. Older kids might be embarrassed, particularly if the other parent is still alive. Give children a choice, and make sure they feel comfortable.
 
Another custom that is about to be left by the wayside is the removing of the garter, which actually used to symbolize the groom's right to his wife's body. By the same token, bouquets are thrown less frequently; instead the bouquet is presented to a person the newlyweds want to honor.

After the roaring nineties, the more frugal millennium marks the return of the smaller wedding. According to consultants about 80 to 100 guests are the perfect number for an intimate and personal wedding which celebrates the beginning of your life together.

Reading this article you should feel encouraged to bring as much personal, meaningful input to your wedding celebrations as possible, blending in old family customs and creating your own personal tradition. Just keep in mind that it should be tasteful.

For more inspiration, please go to Great Ideas.




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