Thursday, 14 January 2016

Thoughts on Tradition (from a non-traditional couple)

When I would dream of my wedding as a little girl, I could see everything perfectly clear - my dress, the outdoor ceremony, my bouquet, my beautiful bridesmaids, the delicate decorations - everything except the person I was marrying. At 10 years old that makes perfect sense, why should I be able to perfectly envision who I would marry 13 years later? However, now happily married to my wife, I'm left wondering if part of the reason why I couldn't seem to get even a body shape to come in clear during my wedding dreams is because I was trying so hard to picture a man.

Side bit of information - I didn't know I was, hmm let's say not straight, until my mid/late-teens, and I didn't know I would marry a woman until I met my wife. So all I'm getting at really, is that maybe my subconscious was more open to the idea of a non-traditional marriage than my 10 year-old conscious was.

When it was time to start planning my real life wedding, I began to experience a lot of (what felt like at least) déjà vu; I couldn't for the life of me seem to get a clear image of what my big day would look like. This time though, unlike at 10 years old, I had my partner; Maeghan's bright, beautiful smiling face was always in my imagination. What was different now, was that I couldn't seem to picture small things, like me walking down the aisle, the bouquet toss, cutting the cake, father daughter dances, and all other really big iconic wedding moments. I'd flip through wedding magazines given to me as engagement gifts and end up tossing them aside feeling very discouraged. No, my groom couldn't do this or wear that...I DON'T HAVE A GROOM. So I'd open up my laptop and Google "lesbian wedding" hoping to find some clarity. None. No clarity. What I would find, were endless pages dedicated to "how to plan a non-traditional wedding". Now, I did refer to my marriage as non-traditional, but why does that have to mean that my wedding should be non-traditional too? I was beginning to feel ostracized by both wedding communities...

Maeghan and I knew we wanted to get married outside from the get go. A few weeks (okay fine days) after we were engaged, we started to browse popular venues online. Not only did the venues not feel right, but it didn't seem to make sense for us to get married in Ottawa when it had only been our home for two years. When Maeghan came up with the genius idea to have the entire wedding on her parent's property, everything began to fall into place. From the moment we secured our [relatively] non-traditional venue, Maeghan and I decided to capitalize on all of the flexibility that comes with not having a "booked venue", and to distance ourselves from all expectations; we decided to put away the heteronormative magazines and stop reading the non-traditional wedding blogs, and just make our day our day. 

So let's get down to it, what are my thoughts on tradition? Why did we have such a traditional wedding when we as a couple are quite non-traditional? And when we are expected to help break down [somewhat] archaic traditions rather than reinforce them? To answer that question in the simplest way possible, Maeghan and I had the wedding we wanted regardless of what's traditional and what's not.

If you're married you know this already, and if you're not...sorry to break it to you, but weddings come with a ton of expectations. Some of those expectations are cultural, some are just preferences of those around you (i.e: parents), but most are deeply rooted in longstanding tradition. Now it's up to you, the couple the day is all about, to decide what you wish to do with all of those expectations.

While trying to piece together what we wanted our day to look like, Maeghan and I turned back to those heteronormative wedding magazines to get an idea of what a typical traditional wedding looks like from start to finish. From there, we scratched out bits that didn't make sense to us (like the garter toss...I have so many questions about that tradition), we kept what did make sense, and we altered things we were on the fence about so that they did make sense to us. While doing this, we didn't think much about where the tradition stems from or what society thinks it means, we thought more of what it meant to us.  


Some examples of traditions we kept or altered:

I chose to wear a long white dress because when will I ever do that again? And Maeghan and I chose  for my "reveal" to remain a surprise until the day since there are few great surprises left in life. 

We both chose to be escorted down the aisle by both of our parents. This had nothing to do with our fathers (or our mothers for that matter) "giving us away", but rather them showing their support. 

I wanted to throw my bouquet but thought everyone should participate, so I had a gender-free bouquet toss. 

We both had father daughter dances simply because we couldn't imagine not. It's not creepy and it's not symbolic of your father's last dance with his little girl. It's a chance to share in a "time stands still" moment with one of the most important people in your life.
(If that person isn't your father, why not have a special dance with whoever it is?)

We chose who we wanted in our wedding parties, regardless of their gender. And we allowed them to pick their attire because who are we to tell them what they look best in. 


Looking back on our wedding day, I suppose it may have fallen closer to the traditional side. But not without careful consideration. So I guess in short, my thoughts on wedding traditions are to take them at face value and make what you will of them; build the day - from start to finish - that you want, that fits your style, and that you want to remember for the rest of your life. If that means you wear a white dress, great. If it means you wear a black one, awesome. As long as you end the day with a smile on your face and a heart full of love, you've done it right.