Customs and Traditions

Culture shock??

So we've all seen the question of how to combine the cultures, traditions, and customs of a couple, but I'm having the opposite problem! Neither of us are religious, neither of us have strong cultural backgrounds, and neither of our parents' weddings had any distinguishing features we can reflect on... we're a vibrant, fun loving, exciting couple, but in the sense of a traditional wedding I think we're going to be awfully boring! We have no trouble throwing a party but we want our wedding to be vibrant, memorable, and meaningful (but formal, which is where this gets tough)! Without traditions and customs, we're concerned that it might just feel a bit empty. And we do NOT want a drab ceremony. SO we're having troubles deciding what kind of special features to incorporate into our ceremony, ie. sand, candle lighting, etc. Neither of our families have done these, so is it strange to take part in a ceremony that isn't "traditional" for you? I don't want it to feel phony, we're just looking to add some substance and depth to the ceremony since there won't be a religious service. Are there meaningful "ceremonies" that aren't strictly cultural or religious? Or should we just accept that we don't have traditions and plan for things that are specific to just us?

Re: Culture shock??

  • You know, it's OK to do traditional! I love that--I'm all about protocols and such.  For a ceremony, that would be fine, as the ceremony itself is your uniting thing--you don't need the sand ceremony, candle ceremony, etc.  You could just write special vows to one another if you feel so compelled. And as far as a memorable reception, The Knot tends to be a bit more conservative than some of the other websites. is better for ideas that are more reflective of couples who are not in the mainstream--look at that site and see if you would want to incorporate any of those ideas. 
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  • Meaningful is not about being traditional it is about being meaningful to the couple. So what aspects of other weddings have strong meaning for you? What aspects have strong meaning for FI?Think about the songs readings actions that show symbolicly what the unity of the two of you is and why that is significant and wonderful
  • Have you considered the ceremony of the hands? I had never seen this before and went to a friend's wedding where they did it as a compromise and it was really nice. He is Catholic (wanted something really formal) and she's not religious so felt like she should not be making a vow to God when she doesn't believe he exists. Maybe you should talk to your officiant and see what they have done in the past. But also, just because your parents didn't do the unity ceremony doesn't mean that you can't (unless you don't want to). It's just a ceremony symbolizing the joining of two families, IMO. Also, the Bible verse that is often read about the definition of love (Corinthians - Love is patient, love is kind... you know) is nice but if you aren't religious you could still write your own definition of love to be read. That way it's kind of like borrowing a tradition but with your own spin on it so it's meaningful to you.
  • Find something you like!  If you find it meaningful, than it has meaning.  I love Ayn Rand and I have necklace that has the "sign of the dollar" which looks like $, to me after reading her books means a great deal to me anyone else is going to see a dollar sign.  I personally love the sand ceremony... check out sand ceremony for a history of sand ceremonies.
  • We had a non-religious outdoor ceremony that was wonderful.  We did a sand ceremony and presented roses to our moms/hugged parents as well.  Our officiant had us face our guests so they could see us and hear everything instead of just watching our backs.  Those things with his ceremony really made it so special, even though neither of us are religious or followed any family customs.If you want to read our ceremony, it's in my married bio.  Scroll to the bottom and click Helpful Sites, it's in there.Pics of our ceremony in bio as well.The main thing with any wedding is to make sure if reflects the two of you as a couple, not to just follow customs and traditions.
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  • I am completely intrigued by the wedding traditions of other cultures. To this end, I am incorporating some traditions that are not traditions in my family or his. Some are traditions of heritage that either one or the other of us is and some are traditions that neither of us are at all. I am mostly German and we will be honoring this heritage by using a Nuremberg Wedding Cup instead of the champagne flutes for our toast as well as honoring both our Irish heritages by incorporating the bell tradition, just to name a few. Even though these are traditions in our heritage, they were not used in any of our family's weddings. So I think you can make your own traditions either from historical ones or just from what is special to you.
  • We're in the same sort of boat.  My fiance and I are agnostic.  So we didn't want a ceremony with any mention of any god.  We were trying to figure out who we could get to do the ceremony to make it beautiful and meaningful but very 'us' at the same time.  We have a friend who is going to be ordained so he can do our ceremony.  I think that will make it special for us and I know he will make it beautiful and exactly what we want.  His only condition was that we not expect him to do it with out crying! hahaDefinitely look around to see what you guys like and don't like.  Even before we were engaged Heith would tell me at weddings we went to what he didn't want us to do at our wedding.  But take the things you do like and make them your own!  Or make up something completely new! and maybe in a few years everyone will be doing what you guys did!Good Luck!
  • Oh My Gosh, you could have so much fun with this! Think of it as having total free regin to express your vibrant, funny, exciting selves, without meeting anyone else's expectations. Think of things from your own families or lives that have meaning and then create new traditions around them. For example, my grandfather used to sneak us hostess cupcakes when my Mom wasn't looking... I'm having little hostess cupcake style cakes made up in honor of him. Or, think of using photos that hold special meaning from your childhood/family for inspiration. Maybe you have a favorite photo of each of you learning to ride a bike as kids.... make them a focal point and depart on a bycicle built for two. You could do anything at all! Traditions don't have to be religious or cultural. Read something by a favorite author, find a creative way to honor family members, or start an entirely new and formal tradition and explain it in your program. Good Luck!
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