Not so long ago I was privileged enough to act as best-man for my brother. The twist was that the wedding was to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana. Now aside from the logistical horrors of carting two young children around the globe and dealing with thirteen hours of flying, I was naturally honoured and excited.
As the event drew closer I started thinking of questions about what I’d need to do and say etc, all the normal stuff. This was probably just a formality, as after all I’ve been to enough weddings to know who does what and when, surely? Er no. Herein start the differences.
The North American tradition of a rehearsal dinner is the bride and grooms opportunity to thanks everyone that has helped in the wedding preparations. It is held after the wedding rehearsal (something that in itself is not common in the UK) and commonly involves toasts, roasts and speeches. So I found myself having to prepare my big best man speech for the day before the wedding and not for the wedding itself. The differences didn’t stop there; the actual ceremony was a lot more involved in terms of movement, placement and involvement than a traditional UK affair would entail. There were definitely elements that I thought could be introduced across the pond to enhance what we traditionally have in the UK, and of course visa-versa.
This got me thinking. What does the perfect wedding look like? I mean, if you cherry-picked all of the best elements of global traditions and combined them into one ‘super event’. Similar to motorsport, where pundits may combine the fastest parts of the lap from various drivers and declare that the fastest possible lap time achievable is ‘X’. For this mental exercise to work you need to forget tradition to a certain extent. By importing the traditions of others and potentially discarding elements of your own traditions, you are essentially turning your back on tradition as a complete package.
The thing I hear the most from couples planning a wedding is that they want something ‘different’. This desire is either borne out of the need to personalise every element of the event, or simply to ensure that the guests aren’t reliving something they’ve seen over and over again but maybe with a different colour scheme. I’m all up for different; variety is the spice of life after all. My own wedding (many moons ago) was a very traditional, almost a painting-by-numbers type of event. Was is a great day?, Of course it was, it was magical in every sense. Would we do it differently many years down the line now that we’ve gained some years and experience of such things? Of course we would. Our own wedding photos were also a great example of this; they were technically correct and nicely posed. Traditional. They didn’t set the world alight in terms of style or energy, but they were ours so we cherish them.
Every couple I speak with now that has a desire to do something different, I encourage to look at other cultures and traditions. To pick the elements that strike a chord with their own sense of style, family and values. There will always be family politics and others urging them to go in different directions. A happy medium needs to be found where the majority of wishes can be accommodated without losing the identity of what makes a couple themselves. It’s a difficult job, but don’t ever be afraid of being different.
Full Size Photo: Pirate Alley, French Quarter, New Orleans. Louisiana. USA.