What Traditions Are Holding You Back?

In 1959, when my mom and dad got married, Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best were the popular TV shows, Hawaii had just become the 50th state, and The Sound of Music opened on Broadway. My mom wore white gloves, a tiara crown with a tulle veil, and layers of petticoat crinoline and slips under her white wedding dress skirt. My dad wore a tux with a white jacket and black bow tie. At the end of the wedding reception, after dancing to doo-wop and big band songs, the ceremonial cake cutting, and the bouquet toss, my grandmother removed my mom’s veil to symbolize the end of innocence and tied an apron around her waist to symbolize the beginning of wifely duties. My mom said she remembers fondly beaming with pride wearing the lacy apron with delicate flowers her mother hand-made for her when she became Mrs. Carl Swiger.

On hearing my mom tell this story, my 30-year-old daughter’s eyes widened, and her jaw dropped with repulse. “Grandma, that is an incredibly sexist tradition. It’s like saying a woman’s sole worth, purpose and importance are to take care of her husband, children, and house,” she exclaimed.

“Oh, that’s just the way things were back then,” my mom replied still with a little twinkle in her eye remembering the good ol’ days.

My daughter just shook her head in disgust unable to wrap her head around the fact that a woman would lower herself to be a servant to her husband and children. (You’re correct, she’s not married and doesn’t have kids, so that explains part of it 😊.)

But she’s right, times have changed. Women and men have many more opportunities now than they did 60 years ago. Some men choose to stay home to raise the kids or become flight attendants, nurses, or grade-school teachers, which were considered women’s jobs 60 years ago.

Some women are CEOs and business owners, politicians, or professional athletes, which were considered men’s jobs 60 years ago.

And couples are mixing it up with wedding traditions too. They’re taking a look at each wedding tradition and deciding which ones fit their beliefs and style and which ones should be changed or thrown out.

Recently I saw an Instagram reel of a grandfather and grandmother being the ring bearer and flower girl. The grandma wore a raspberry pink, ankle-length dress, and a flower crown. She carried a basket full of rose petals that she scattered as the pair processed down the aisle. It was cute … not creepy.

I’ve also seen a flower girl and ring bearer drive down the aisle in a Powerwheel. It worked out well and was very cute, but that one could have ended disastrously. Or, how about the dog carrying the ring pillow on his back trotting down the aisle? Or the wedding party who dances down the aisle. I love these fun twists. It shows personality and creativity. And, really, what was lost by not following the tradition strictly?

But, then, tell me this – why do 70% of women still drop their names and take on the guy’s name while only 3% of men make some kind of change to their name? In the 1970s — when state laws still required a woman to use her husband’s name to vote, do banking or get a passport — keeping her maiden name became a principle of the women’s movement. But, there are no laws holding women, and men, back from doing almost anything they want with their married names. Let’s shake it up a little. What do you think about creating a new name for your marriage? Maybe you met on the winter solstice, and you celebrate that day each year. You could memorialize that day by each of you changing your last name to Solstice, or Winter. Or, maybe you both love Harry Potter movies. You could make your last name Potter, Hedwig, or Ravenclaw.

One couple chose the name Mente, the Spanish word for “mind” as their last name. Her name was Peláez and his was Schneider. They chose this name to reflect their commitment to mindfulness and their admiration of each other’s intellect while honoring the bride’s Colombian roots.

Another couple chose their last name because of their love of nature and their affinity for the symbolism of the clover. They wanted their union to represent each person’s individuality and that their bond would create a third energy.

If you were to change your name, what would it be?

Peace, Love, and Choices!

Melanie Joy

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