I've been talking about personal rituals for awhile, and living my best chakra-focused life this month, but I've been reticent to talk about wedding rituals because I want to make sure I'm coming at it educated, and that I hit the right note.
There are some wedding traditions that cross cultural boundaries – kneeling to propose, the speeches, the first dance… And there are religious traditions too, whose meaning might seem archaic to us, that are somehow crazy important to our parents and grandparents. And then... there are the magical, truly foreign traditions, the ones we get to partake in when we're lucky enough to attend (or plan - *swoon*) the weddings of friends from different cultures.
My interest lies in the religious, cultural, and mystical traditions, and the historical or romantic reasons behind them. I'm curious to see what traditions match up across cultures, and I want a guide handy in case I get invited anywhere cool.
So I decided to do a series on wedding rituals and traditions for my blog. Will it be good for SEO? Who knows? But it interests me, and we're still in a pandemic, and I'm thirsty for wedding talk.
Interests me might not be the right expression. More accurate: traditions baffle me.
For example, even though my husband and I would have described ourselves as atheist at the time of our wedding, and I was furious that the rabbi mentioned God during our ceremony (eleven times, a friend laughingly pointed out afterward), my devout Catholic grandmother was delighted that we had “chosen” to include God in our ceremony. (Take note: remind your officiant of the important details a few days before their wedding, including your names and their pronunciation!)
I thought of this again the other night when I watched the 2011 movie Jumping the Broom. The tradition the movie is named for is one I’ve heard of but never witnessed, and while I vaguely knew the meaning behind it, it was hard to wrap my head around why Loretta Devine’s character felt it was so important. It was hard to wrap my head around the Jewish traditions that I had in my own wedding, so of course I don’t truly understand Black American traditions.
And that’s the issue I keep coming up against. I’ve been planning to write about wedding rituals and traditions for awhile now, but I have some concerns.
First, am I the right person to be writing about this?
I can talk about Jewish and Catholic wedding traditions, because those are both part of my heritage. I’ll have to do some research, but I’m confident that I won’t risk offending anyone by sharing what I learn. I’m also confident that… those traditions won’t be that interesting, as pervasive as they are in pop culture. What would be far more interesting is to research the religious and cultural traditions that are lesser known, but steeped in just as much meaning.
While I want to learn about and share what I learn about cultural and religious wedding traditions, I want to be careful to fall on the side of cultural appreciation rather than cultural appropriation. You probably know exactly what I mean, but here’s the definition so we can get on the same page:
Pulled from this awesome article, which you should totally read.
Look. I might get it wrong. I implore you to call me out or call me in when that happens. But I don’t think operating from a place of fear is going to teach me, or you, about the beautiful, romantic, deeply magical traditions that make wedding days meaningful around the world.
Whatever you've been planning or dreaming, whatever gets you excited, that's absolutely a tradition that you get to include in your wedding. I hope the blog posts in this series will inspire you to learn more about the spirit of the rituals and the meaning behind them for the couple. And if you would love to write about your cultural traditions, I would be honoured to host your work on my website. Please send me an email below, or DM me on Instagram!