On Wedding Traditions

There was a really good discussion going on over at A Practical Wedding today about whether a wedding could shape a marriage. I believe that it can, due to the fact that depending upon the situation it can cause you and your intended spouse  to come  together as you make critical decisions about a wedding that will in turn, teach you both how to make  decisions that you will need to make as a new family.

The comment thread that ensued was chock full of good thoughts as usual but as comment sections are wont to do, it turned into a discussion about traditions. Meg, who is the blog author,  mentioned that it may be offensive to the Jewish community if non-Jews use a chuppah (a canopy that symbolizes the home that the couple will build together) in a wedding ceremony. I then commented how I felt the same way about the jumping the broom tradition that slaves used to signify that they had gotten married.

This is what I said:

It’s interesting that you would write about about the chuppah and it’s good to know that it could potentially offend members of the Jewish community. I guess I kind of feel the same way about the tradition of “jumping the broom” that is used in many African American wedding ceremonies. On some of the wedding boards I frequent, I have seen non-blacks incorporating it into their ceremonies. And while on the surface it IS a good thing, it’s bothersome in a way too that goes into my soul. I am the descendant of slaves, and as such jumping the broom was sometimes the only tangible symbol of marriage that they had and even that could be destroyed with the stroke of a pen if one spouse was sold away. And so I seek to honor those before me, who wanted to marry and couldn’t. And with the state of black marriage/family being what it is today anyway, the tradition takes on even more meaning, at least to me personally.

If you have read anything about jumping the broom, you should know that there are some non-black ethnic groups that have a variation of a broom jumping tradition and I fully acknowledge that black folks don’t have a lock on this, but the notion of folks just doing it because they think it’s cute and different and would make “their” wedding different does not sit well with me at all.  I love the idea of a tea ceremony but I am not Chinese so I wouldn’t dream to incorporate  that into our wedding. It just seems disrespectful and fraudulent.

At any rate, what kinds of traditions either cultural and familial traditions have you seen incorporated into a wedding? Did you have traditions in your wedding??


9 thoughts on “On Wedding Traditions

  1. We jumped the broom at our wedding. The photographer caught us both in the air. It’s one of my favorite pics!

    I know that other groups jump the broom. I just say that it doesn’t mean the same thing to them that it means to me. So, in that sense, it’s really not the same.

    We also lit the unity candle.

  2. I do give the side eye to non-African Americans broom jumping but then I just shake my head and give no more thought to it. As for the chuppah, I consider them sometimes-fancier versions of arches, trellises, gazebos moreso than a religious tradition unless pple have them carried by family members.

  3. We’re folding 1001 origami cranes, and we’re not Japanese. We’re doing it because we like the symbolism, and also because we have a very long wait until the wedding. The act of folding cranes is supposed to teach patience, which I think our long engagement needs. It is also something that we can do together, and that my daughter can help with.

    I hope that it’s not offensive, but I honestly do not know if anyone would be particularly offended by our folding the cranes. I have seen places online that are offering 1000 cranes for sale, which I frankly DO find offensive since it is the act of folding them that is supposed to bring the good luck and teach patience.

  4. whoops – hit “submit” too early – meant to add:

    I think adding things like this just because I think they’re cool kind of chips away from the real meaning of the actions. I don’t take communion in church anymore because I have doubts about the modern church. Sure I could walk up there & get it, but it would cheapen the meaning for those people who take it much more seriously.

  5. I agree. I’m often confused at non-jewish receptions when guests lift the bride & groom up onto chairs on the dance floor. The Mr. & I always look at e/o like “Ummm, he’s Irish & she’s French, WTF?” I also LUUV the tradition at Greek weddings where the bride & groom walk around the alter together, “taking their first steps as husband and wife”. But it’s not something I would incorporate into our wedding. It’s not a part of our heritage, it’s has no significance to our ancestors. It doesn’t make sense for us to do it.

  6. I’ve seen the unity cords. Three (representing God, bride & groom) cords that were braided together and wrapped around the couple while the officiant spoke. The display drove home that your marriage is not about two, but three.

  7. We decided to incorporate the unity sand into our ceremony. I wanted it to stand as a memorial for my deceased father, and because my brother was giving me away I felt like it was a sign of my brother continuing my father’s legacy. We used three different color sands. The white sand represented my family, the blue sand represented Bernard’s family, and the gray sand represented my father the late Bobby Baker. My brother Jamal poured the gray sand in honor of my father, and which symbolized his blessing our marriage and the unity of our two families into one.

    Code to copy n paste

    Our Unity Sand Ceremony

  8. We didn’t do any of that stuff at my wedding, actually. No broom jumping or candlelighting or sand pouring or whatever. We also didn’t use “traditional” vows and though my father walked me down the aisle, when the pastor asked “who gives this bride” my whole family stood up and said “WE DO!” (we do this at all our family weddings and people always laugh) Admittedly, I didn’t jump the broom because Mr. SLS did that with his first wife. That was the only reason. LOL!

    The sand pouring/candle lighting stuff we didn’t do because Mr. SLS’ parents are deceased and I didn’t want to highlight that they weren’t there because it is/was sad for him that they never got to meet me. Also didn’t do the father/daughter dance and all that for the same reason.

    But then, we also didn’t have a wedding party. We didn’t have any traditional wedding music either. Mr. SLS said he had played in 10000+ weddings and people always do the same.damn.songs and he never wanted to hear that music again.

    I think if people are respectful and at least try to understand the origin of the tradition it’s OK.

  9. I’m never offended when any ethnic group performs another ethnic tradition, as long as it is done correctly and given the respect it should be. Because of the types of work my sister did, I have probably been to more Jewish weddings than Black weddings. I have every intention of getting married under a chuppah. I guess some Jewish people might take offense, but all of the Jewish folk that I know didn’t seem to have a problem.

    Sometimes imitation is a form of flattery.

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