About this time last year, I wrote a Flashback Friday post about weddings and memory. That week was my second wedding anniversary and a few days later we would be attending the wedding of a couple who were involved in ours. I wrote about a different mindset of memorials last week, but on the occasion of my third anniversary, I want to bring up the idea of memorials again. Last year I wrote:
During the ceremony itself, you’re also conscious of making memories for your family. We want to remember the little details so that we can pass them on to our children on the day of their marriage. We also want to remember sharing the happy day with people we know might not be here for much longer. A number of our friends lost parents and grandparents not long after our weddings. Some friends lost a parents a few years before their wedding, and those memories play a precious role throughout the day.
This year I want to bring up a related element to this memory of family at the wedding ceremony by relating it to immigration. If weddings are about families, then how much more poignant is it when the wedding might be a first for that family in their new home country? What does it mean when families from different cultural backgrounds merge their memories?
Probably every single one of us who have attended a wedding in the US can recall a ceremony where the couple performed a homage to their parents, grandparents, or even great parents and the traditions of their homeland. I can remember a Jewish wedding I attended where artefacts that a grandparent had brought with them in their flight from persecution played a role in the ceremony. Others put up photos of the family from weddings that took place “back home”.
The English language Latino and Hispanic blog Mamiverse has a list of 10 different traditions from the old country that they “should never lose”. The list includes favours and rituals from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Argentina. Those traditions themselves can probably even be traced back to a mixing of European colonial and indigenous practices.
Mixed culture weddings also contain a lot of these traditions brought over by a previous generation and mould them into something new to suit the era and the partners. A Kerala Christian friend of mine getting married to a nice Irish Catholic boy decided she would have two dresses: one traditional to the culture of her parents, and one more modern she would don at the reception. If you peruse THE go-to web resource for weddings on Pinterest for other mixed couples, you’ll find tons of photos where one partner adopts the costume of the other or adapts it in some way. The “alternative” wedding resource Offbeat Bride features such couples, with very adorable modern thematic twists.
But its not just about different ethnicities getting married, its also about different religious traditions merging. A 2015 Pew Research study demonstrated that Americans today are more likely to marry outside of their faith than they were ten or even twenty years ago. Another trip into the wedding blog-o-sphere provides us with more evidence that there is a demand for mixed ceremonies. We take another trip over to Offbeat Bride and see they have a special tag for “Interfaith” which features quite a variety of combinations.
My husband’s family is Catholic Italian-Puerto Rican, centred in New Jersey. My family is Scotch-Irish Protestant Southern American. We had little elements that alluded to each of our backgrounds and religious origins, but (much my to chagrin) NEW JERSEY was the predominant cultural theme. But even then, look at what that Jersey identity means and it’s quite the blend of various immigrant communities. One day, all these traditions from the old country become a natural part of the new country. In twenty or thirty years, maybe sooner!, Asian, Hispanic, Filipino, traditions will be indistinguishable from “American”.
So that’s my short tour into the world of wedding blogs and postmodern traditions. Share in the comments memories from weddings you’ve attended with similar styles!