For those of you who watched the Grammy’s a couple weeks ago, you may have witnessed a moment of music history. The music industry has often been a proponent of social change throughout the years. As Queen Latifah noted, “music has the power to bring people together.” This was certainly no understatement. If you missed this event, this was the performance by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis with their Award Winning Song – Same Love – and a wedding of thirty three couples of all different races, ages, creeds, and genders.
This past week in wedding class at the International School of Hospitality, we talked about how culture plays a huge role in weddings. This mass wedding showcased the emotional power of the experience offered a glimpse into a bigger picture of what Wedding Planners do on a regular basis. It was a powerful message that we have the unique opportunity to be a part of one of the most wonderful days of a couple’s lives as they begin their journey united together.
In the wedding class, we talked about how some of the underlying factors pushing for same sex marriage are not just about this celebration, but also related to taxation, inheritance, and recognition under the law. Each state has laws regarding who can be married and when. Did you know that the State of Alabama did not overturn their ban on interracial marriage until 2000? That seems ridiculous that such a law would have ever existed forbidding a couple to be legally married and to be still on the books until just fourteen years ago. Today, the movement for same sex marriages faces the same hurdles.
In most ways, a wedding with a same sex couple is really no different than any other wedding. There is the chance that families may not participate for disapproval, which is hurtful no matter who is involved. There are also differing opinions for how to celebrate traditions or which colors to select. There are discussions of how to arrange the ceremony, what to serve for the reception, and the music.
If you study the marriage traditions from around the world, you will find that while some cultures have very unique and beautiful traditions, most of the underlying elements are really the same. There are the basic steps in preparing for the wedding with the families meeting and the couples selecting a date. Couples are nervous as they get dressed in their perspective ceremonial attire. At times, the person presiding over the ceremony will add a little levity to lighten the mood, or there are playful traditions such as in Persian weddings where the bride is asked three times if she is willing to enter into the marriage before saying yes. At the reception there are also a variety of traditions with special dances and exchanges of gifts.
An interesting fact is that many of the traditions that we celebrate today are all based around superstition and what is considered good or bad luck, and to protect the bride from would-be assailants. Some cultures have long parades to the ceremony location, playing music and making loud noises to scare away evil spirits. The veil, the wedding party in similar attire, a piece of iron, and carrying the bride over the threshold – these are all to protect the bride from would-be assailants or spirits who would whisk her away. Apparently, getting married thousands of years ago was a risky proposition and brides were a commodity to be safely guarded. Some cultures actually embrace this with a tradition of stealing of "kidnapping" the bride as a game for the groom to find her.
Today, as transportation and communication make the world a smaller place, we have a greater opportunity to find a mate outside of our culture. It is an opportunity to share a bit of our traditions and cultural heritage. Wedding professionals are needed even more - offering creative suggestions to incorporate different traditions and understanding the importance of both perspectives. And while there are sometimes differing opinions as to what traditions should be honored, in the end, it is a day to celebrate the love for a couple as they begin their lives together with their closest friends and families to witness the event. As wedding professionals, it is our opportunity to help the couple develop their inspiration and make sure everything runs smoothly so they can enjoy the day.
What the Grammy performance really showcased was the despite differences in race, creed, age and a variety of other preconceived notions and factors, it really comes down to just one thing – two people who love each other. After all, weddings are a day of celebration – with an anthem that is a Love Song for All of Us.