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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » The All-American Wedding

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Author Topic: The All-American Wedding
Irm
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So... Very recently, I attended my first ever all American, traditional Christian wedding, complete with a white gown and a cake-cutting ceremony. I've only been to two weddings in the past: one, I was ten, and it was in a nice stone Cathederal with two hours of Latin that I didn't understand. The second was a beautiful BDSM wedding/collaring ceremony where Love Song for a Vampire was played in place of Here Comes the Bride. (If I could take the second ritual and put it in the first location, I'd have my own peronal drool-all-over-my-shirt type of wedding. But that's beside the point...)

In the movies, they usually cut ahead to either the "through sickness and health" vows, or just the "I do/will"s.

Sitting through the whole thing in real life, there was QUITE a section before that, and I hope to dear Goddess that this isn't the norm!!!

At first, the pastor said something about marriage being a union between two people who love each other, and I nodded quietly to myself, smiling, indulging in the romantic occation yadda yadda. THEN... There came this big "BUT!" from the pastor, who then elaborated that more than a marriage was a union of love, it was really a "contract with God" according to his "original design of male and female" to be "entered into soberly". He went on about how God had created marriage for a special type of union between males and females, and how both should go into it with an attitude of servitude, because above and beyond dedicating themselves to each other, they were really dedicating themselves to God's plan, which utalized the brilliant union of--again--male/female, because of their ability to produce children. He talked about how this was an agreement with the community, to carry on the great heterosexual tradition (though not in those terms--I'd just feel redundant repeating "holy union of man and woman" as many times as he did), and he then turned to Antera (my friend, the bride) and proceeded to tell her how she was responsible to her husband and how she must always serve, love, protect, stand by him, et cetera, while giving no such speech to Anthony (the groom). I was practically falling out of my seat!!!

I made no comments of any sort while I was there, and just congratulated my friend and joined in the buquet tossing et cetera. But after we left, geez, I was spilling it all over the place to my mom in the car.

This CANNOT be a normal, traditional wedding. Seriously. This CANNOT be the groundwork of the cookie-cutter ritual that most average Xian Americans choose to indulge in. But then the more I think about it, the more all of the pastor's words line up with the Gay/Les-haters who use terms like "protecting the institution of marriage" and "this is not how God designed it". WOW. PLEASE tell me that I am mistaken here--that this was a unique case. PLEASE don't tell me this is ACTUALLY the common view of marriage and that the majority of people in the US actually wed under words like that. I had always thought that marriage was simply a union between two persons in love, and had always thought of the terms I heard in the news speaking otherwise as being fancy but empty terms invented by desperate people.

If this truly is the tradition under which so many people get married, I can actually see how so many people feel like their marriage is "threatened" by homosexuality, as the groundwork of their bonding ritual isn't love, but the church. (Seriously, it was an awful ritual! It emphasized downplaying all of the ardor and passion that Antera and Anthony were feeling and telling them that they should suppress those feelings in place of humility for the "design of man and woman" they were entering into.) However, I severely, severely hope that I am just imagining things and that this was an isolated incident with a particularly prejudiced priest who just wanted to rub his views into the occation.

Can anyone else here who has been to more weddings than me shed some hope-inspiring light?!?!

[ 03-29-2006, 01:39 PM: Message edited by: RedGoddess ]

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Beppie
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I've been to a couple of weddings of Christian friends, and all the "male and female according to God's design for the correct use of sex" thing is pretty standard for a Christian wedding. However, the Christian weddings that I've been to have required both the bride and the groom to serve and protect each other etc, and neither service used the old fashioned "love, honour and obey."

So, a lot of what was in the wedding you went to is quite common, but not all of them are quite that bad.

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DarkChild717
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I think the first wedding you described is closer to a Catholic wedding, which yes, stereotypically can take eons.

Remember, the vows are most often decided on the by the couple being married. My mother refused to have the word "obey" in her vows, for either her or my father. Likewise, I don't want them in mine. I do want things like cherish, love, protect, and so forth. I don't want an overly religious ceremony, and you can bypass that quite easily. The last wedding I attended, the bride and groom wrote the whole ceremony. I particularly liked the candle lighting. My boyfriend jokes that he's going to use a blowtorch to make sure the thing lights. [Wink]

It's fairly easy to get around the religious stuff. As long as there's someone to officiate, the vows, I think, should come from the heart. [Smile]

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kitka
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One of my Catholic friends had a less than traditional wedding last year. Other Christian friends of mine also happen to be forward-thinking people, and are planning weddings with few religious overtones... just enough to satisfy their families.

That being said, there's a large movement among conservative Christians to codify marriage in very specific terms... in Oklahoma, there's a state-funded program aimed at creating "lasting marriages" through initiatives in conjunction with Christian churches.

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Irm
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I'm confused, if ceremonies really are this flexible even WITHIN the Christian traidition of things. My friend Antara, the bride, is a bisexual, far from traditional, WICCAN, and... well... just about as far from the conservative, traditional Xian you can get. If she had a say in it, I can't comprehend why she would agree to such a ceremony. I know that the groom is a very harsh, strict, and Christian individual. Perhaps he insisted...? ?:(?
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Beppie
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It depends on the minister conducting the service as well. I know that at one of the Christian weddings, the minister refused to remove one line from the traditional wedding prayer at the request of the bride (which the groom supported), though he did modify it slightly.

However, it also does seem a little unusual for a liberal minded Wiccan to marry a conservative Christian-- I guess you'd have to ask your friend to know for sure why things were the way they were.

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bluefreak44
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One of my liberal agnostic friends had her wedding performed by a conservative Pentecostal preacher. They basically chose him because they wanted to get married quickly (they had talked about marriage for a long time, but just finally went through with it after she became pregnant) and neither of them knew a minister. The groom's mother asked her pastor to perform the ceremony, and he did. The vows were even more "conservative" I guess than mine were (I was also married by a Pentecostal minister). However, I don't think they talked about them beforehand, and she just kinda looked at us and rolled her eyes during the "obey" part.

Sometimes the minister comes with the location, and the minister wants to use certain vows, so the couple has to do decide whether to choose another location or just go along with traditional vows.

Our minister actually let us pick out our vows--I went on the Internet and found some nice ones (still pretty traditional), asked him what he thought, and he thought it sounded good. We also had several meetings before the wedding though, to work that out. My above-mentioned friend met her officiator on the day of her ceremony, so she didn't have much time to discuss the issue with him.

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Djynnjah
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I've been to quite a few weddings in my life, about half of them of some Protestant variety and I have NEVER seen that happen. I'm tentatively planning my own wedding so that's highly disturbing. One of the things I like about the Christian ceremony is that, as I know it, everybody takes the same vows and nobody gets officially assigned roles at the altar. Actual practice may turn out to be something else, but at least the spirit of the thing is equality.

While there is sometimes a little preacherly speechifying, I can really only recall it being about love in general or the virtue of sticking by each other through the hard times, basically decent guidelines directed equally at both bride and groom. I really can't explain what happened at your friend's wedding. It's probably a matter of denomination and what they managed to work out with the pastor, if there was anything worked out at all.

I personally lean away from HINDU marriage ceremonies for the very reasons outlined by some of what happened there. The woman gets a much longer list of vows and basically gets a bucketload of duties while the husband gets the rights. And on a practical level, it takes forever (up to a week) and I don't wear a sari elegantly enough to be comfortable near the fire with it.

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Heather
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Personally, having also been at a lot of weddings, I have to say (sadly) that of the church-weddings I have been to (most of which have been of some Christian denomination) I'd say at least half of them had very overt sexism in the vows, and some ad-libbed sermons which very clearly put the onus of maintaining the tougher aspects of the marriage on the woman.

Those which did NOT have either or both of these things generally did not because the couple in question made very clear, in adavnce, that those things were completely unacceptable to them.

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Gumdrop Girl
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I've been to a few "typical American weddings" (I was at one last night, and it was lovely) and none of them are as you described, Red.

While I agree that I would find the content of the oratory to be repugnant, I think it's self-righteous to assume that everybody's standards of morality must match your own.

When a couple chooses a person to officiate the wedding, it is up to them to discuss the subject matter of the mini-sermon (or full-on MASS if you're really Catholic). There is a chance that the bride and groom A-OK'd the homophobia in the wedding speech. Heck, there are even some people who are so bigoted as to request it be included. But frankly, it's the day for the couple, and you can either bite your tongue and deal for the time being (reserving vitriol for the ride home, as was in Red's case), you can leave the room, or you can call out objection before the swapping of rings.

My question to Red, how well did you know the bride that this kind of speech would surprise you. Could it be that she goes to a homophobic church? Maybe her new husband is really old-fashioned like that?

Last night, I attended the wedding of a friend I've known since first grade. It was lovely. The vows were modern, yet had a traditional feel. Nothing heterosexist was said during the ceremony (or reception, for that matter). And my friend's dress was beautiful. The only problems were: 1. It was hot and there were small biting bugs about 2. My camera crapped out and I got no photos!

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daria319
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This is yet another reason why I find myself so comfortable with formal handfasting rites --whether it be from Gardner, Buckland, or ones written by the couple themselves. Personally, since it IS a day for the couple, I'm kind of shocked that more couples don't write their own vows -- or rewrite the entire ceremony!

Of course, with the kind of environment we're seeing lately in the States, I can see where pressure from the community as well as fear of Fundie protests(rare, but scary) would cause people to choose more traditional weddings.

However, if one person does not agree with the vows, but the other does -- there's a BIG problem going on there, and marriage might not be the wisest idea..

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makenzie
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whoes to say that being a christian makes you a gay/lesbian hater? im a christian and i have both gay and lesbian friends. i personaly dont agree with it but gosh i dont hate them in the slightest. they know where i stand, and dont hate me (in the slightest). we have diferent opinions but i respect and love them just the same.... (A few of my aunts are also lesbians and i still love them dearly)
and if your friends were male and female then why would it be wrong for them to have marriage vows that feflect on that fact?

it may not have been YOUR perfect wedding but theres nothing wrong with traditional wedding vows if thats what the couple decideds... but than again ive never been to a wedding like that... to me it just seems old school. a little quirky but hey its a free country right? the couple can go somewhere else if they dont approve of the vows, because thats what they believe in (they have the freedom of choice); and in the same way if its a big deal to the pastor then who are we to force him to go against his beliefs? (he should also have the freedom of choice.) although i do agree with you on the fact that it shouldent be so one sided with everything directed at the female.. their both getting married and have equal responibility in the relationship...

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-Lauren-
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To throw a little twist into this thread..

I really have been wanting to bring this up for awhile, but it would be useless to start a new thread when there's a perfectly fine one right here. [Smile]

What I think I want to address (forgive my jumbled thoughts) is the financial direction the traditional wedding has gone. Weddings in the days of yore were humble, family-orientated affairs for most common folks, and costed a lot less.

Now? Flowers. Bridesmaids. Multi-thousand dollar dress. String quartet. Mansion rental. The list could go on and on, and I think you get my drift. To me, it seems that the commercial, material state that we are delving deeper into is manifesting in what is usually considered a solemn event. I wonder why some women feel the need to have such a grandiose display, which is clearly a symbol of status, and for the ooh-ing and ahh-ing of the guests.

I've noted that some of you have stated that you take offense to the words of a traditional ceremony. I, myself, take offense to the actions of some traditional ceremonies; especially when it is clear that the socioeconomic status of a young couple is suffering just to pull what I see as a "lookit our splendor!" ceremony that is commonly symbolizing the start of their life together.

Any thoughts?

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wobblyheadedjane
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Miss Lauren, you make a pretty good point, in that all of these bridal 'traditions' that are tossed around are pretty recent if we look at actually historical timelines. The traditional white dress was started by Queen Victoria, who wore a white gown to her marriage - and it didn't symbolize purity, but rather poverty. To show off elaborate splendour, gowns were often the darkest, richest colour possible because the family could afford the expensive dyes. But this was just for royalty, aye? Usually, women were married in their best dress, and men in their best shirt.

It's hard to plan a wedding, and explain to people why you aren't going to the traditional route a lot. Throwing the bouquet, getting the garter (yikes, no thanks!), spending an arm and a leg on food and booze for 300 people, only a 1/3 of whom one actually knows, are seen as the standard, so that couples who choose not to go that route find it difficult, because the wedding industry is massively influential.

Like avoiding the TV influence, my fiance and I choose to turn off the wedding industry as much as we can. I'm taking a pattern of gown I like, and having it made instead of buying it at a bridal shop, we have friends doing our invites, photography and video, we're renting a restaurant rather than a hall, or hotel, a close personal friend is performing the wedding, I'm making my own 'flowers' instead of buying fresh. The stuff the media is telling me we 'need' for our wedding is hogwash, and I can choose simply to not buy into it.

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