Redefining roles and rules


Your attendants can be whoever you want them to be. (Photo Credit: Lisa Rhinehart)

Couples sometimes wonder if the have to do ‘this or that’ for their wedding. I always assure them that for the ceremony there are only three things I consider necessary: that they exchange vows in some way, that I ‘pronounce them’ as married, and that the license is properly signed and sent. Other than that – while there are many traditions and customs – its’ really all up for grabs.

Today many couples are redefining their wedding rituals, especially when it comes to gender roles.

One of the biggest changes I’ve seen is the flexibility of the bridal party or attendants. It is no longer necessary for the bride to have bridesmaids and the groom to have groomsmen.  And for same-sex couples these ‘rules’ go out the window as well. The people who stand up with you for your ceremony should be those who mean the most to you. They are literally standing by you as well as symbolically. I’m hearing terms like ‘best woman’ and ‘best person,’ instead of Maid or Matron of Honor, or Best Man.

The walk down the aisle has new variations. Many women have both their parents escort them and ‘present’ them, not ‘give them away.’ Interestingly this has always been the Jewish custom. Some woman chose to walk alone. More adventurous couples I’ve worked with entered together, and if there are children involved, walking with them is very meaningful.

Some other customs being rethought are: the groom can’t see the bride before the ceremony; the rehearsal dinner; bride’s side/groom’s side seating. And do you have to leave from the wedding directly to go on your honeymoon? I don’t think so.

Many heterosexual couples are learning from same-sex couples how to use more inclusive or gender-neutral language, for their invitations, and especially their ceremony.

Women who don’t like a girly-girl look or care to wear a frilly gown often agonize over the limited choices of bridal looks. Don’t despair. Being comfortable and being yourself is what matters most.  You dress does not define you. And don’t get an ‘up-do’ if it’s not you! Who made the rule that you have to go to the hair salon because you’re getting married? If you love your hair the way you wear it everyday, then wear it that way!

They say that rules are made to be broken, so if you are going to break some of the traditional rules, do it for a good reason, and you’ll be glad you did.

Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for the wonderful photograph

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