With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is in the air.
When the chocolate is unwrapped and the roses put in water, what comes next can often be a diamond ring and a proposal.
According to www.womangettingmarried.com, Valentine’s Day is second to only Christmas as the most popular day to pop the question. The period from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day is the most traditional time of year for marriage proposals.
So once that question is out and the big answer is “yes,” it’s a mad dash to those “I do’s.” The planning starts fast and furious as the bride-to-be and potential groom sit down to put pencil to paper and make some decisions for their big day.
Among the first orders of business are to choose a date and a venue. Sometimes the first is dependent upon the availability of the latter. Venues book up months, sometimes years, in advance and can cost thousands of dollars. Setting a budget that includes a potentially costly venue is also top of the wedding “to-do” list.
Choosing the venue also depends upon the guest list. If you are inviting 300 people, then the family church may not cut it.
Popular in recent years has been a destination wedding. The couple, bridal party and immediate family travel to a destination such as Hawaii or Jamaica for the nuptials and plan a separate reception for a later date back home.
Other items of importance that must be addressed pretty quickly include choosing the wedding party and then deciding on whether the couple is feeding the guests or if they will get a cupcake and glass of punch.
While working out other logistics such as wedding invitations, flowers, the wedding dress, bridal party attire, honeymoon, a party bus, the minister, DJs and the wedding music, photographers, cakes, caterers – the list goes on and on – along the way come some thoughts about traditions.
While there are some old and steadfast traditions, many couples make their own or follow along with traditions that have become commonplace in their families.
According to www.brides.com, the following are six of the most popular wedding traditions in America:
1. A white wedding dress – When a girl is little, dreaming of a wedding typically involves picturing herself as a woman in a white wedding dress. While this vision may change a little over the years, it is still one of the most popular traditions in America, even though it originated in England with Queen Victoria in the mid-1800s.
2. The wedding party – Regardless of where the happy couple is from, the tradition of having a wedding party that includes a best man, matron or maid of honor, bridesmaids and groomsmen has held steady over the years. The choice belongs to the couple nowadays, but back in ancient Roman times, 10 witnesses were required by law and dressed similarly to the bride and groom to confuse evil spirits.
3. The wedding processional – The wedding processional is the song to which the bride is walked down the aisle by someone of her choosing to meet her soon-to-be spouse. The minister enters first and stands at the altar with the groom and groomsmen while the ring bearer, flower girl and bridesmaids precede the bride down the aisle to music. Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” is one of the most popular wedding processional songs, as is “Canon in D Major” by Pachelbel. The ultimate favorite wedding processional song is Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus,” more popularly known as “Here Comes the Bride.” The processional was another tradition started at a royal wedding in England.
4. The first dance – At most weddings, the first dance is a highly anticipated event. It’s where the couple makes a grand entrance. Traditional first dances are slow and romantic, however, some modern couples pick an upbeat dance tune. The crowd doesn’t join in until asked to do so. Other popular traditional dances include the bride with her father and the groom with his mother.
5. The wedding cake – Guests always are intrigued by the theme and wedding decor. However, one of the biggest attractions to view at a wedding is the cake. The first cut is traditionally done by the recently wedded couple and they subsequently feed each other a bite. This is followed by a toast of the two and they drift off for visits or dancing while friends and family finish the cutting and serving of the rest of the cake. In modern times, often there is a small cake for the couple to cut and potentially save for later, while a variety of cupcakes are available for the guests.
The wedding cake is a tradition that dates back to ancient Rome, where guests would crumble a small cake made of barley on a bride’s head. This may not bode well with a bride’s perfectly coiffed hair in modern times, but back then it was a blessing of fertility and good fortune.
A popular tradition in modern times has been a “doughnut wall” instead of a cake, where a variety of doughnuts are arranged on a wall of hooks or a display on a table. Cupcakes are also commonplace in modern weddings.
6. Throwing rice – Throwing rice while the newlyweds exit the church or another venue has been a popular tradition that also dates back to ancient Rome, where guests threw wheat on the couple as a blessing of fertility. Nowadays, rice has been replaced with more environmentally friendly birdseed or bubbles to celebrate as the couple jumps in a limo or party bus for a cruise and photos before the reception begins.
Couples incorporate many other traditions into their wedding day to make it special. Weddings aren’t one-size-fits-all. It’s all about them and their day.