September 28, 2016

{Wedding Vows}

My article “Wedding Vows” just published in the fall issue of SEASON magazine! It shares how Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981 signaled changes in the world of weddings, including the promises a couple makes during their ceremony. (‘Tis based on excerpts from my book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.) Enjoy!

Wedding Vows

 The bride’s entrance into the majesty of St. Paul’s was announced by a fanfare from trumpeters high inside the cathedral’s celebrated dome. Perhaps they were not only announcing a princess bride, but prophetically heralding in, for better or worse, a new era! Thirty-five years ago Lady Diana Spencer’s charismatic appeal as a bride, combined with the grand splendor of the British monarchy, resurrected the “great white wedding”—helped along with society’s need for order and tradition, a little Reaganomics, plus a dash of glam and glitter!

Or as author Maria McBride-Mellinger described changes following the royal wedding in 1981:  “After a decade of swinging singles and disco infernos, suddenly everyone wanted to be married and every bride wanted a gown fit for a queen: regal and ornate, with a lengthy train, and a jeweled veil. The big white wedding was back in style and no expense seemed too great.”Signaling another change of the times, the bride and groom made royal history that day with a break in tradition even before becoming husband and wife. Removing some outdated words from the Church of England’s 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer, as the couple stood before the archbishop of Canterbury, and witnessed by nearly a million-fold television audience, the bride’s marriage vows did not include the promise “to obey.”
A London byline in The Washington Post a few days before the wedding reported that the archbishop of Canterbury revealed “the decision to drop this vow was made very quickly in his discussion of the service with Charles and Diana and that he told them, the usual clergyman’s joke. ‘It’s a bad thing to start your marriage off with a downright lie.’ He told reporters that many couples now omit the vow, which was a remnant from the Middle Ages, when a wife would pledge ‘to be bonny and buxom in bed and board.’”

I don’t doubt the archbishop’s knowledge of history regarding marriage vows including “to love, cherish and obey.” However, my understanding of the Latin meaning of the word “obey” as used in the old marriage text is “to hear, to deeply listen”—a promise that would be beneficial, even essential, to any marriage, no? If that’s the case, my only complaint with the original marriage vows is that the pledge “to obey” (i.e., “to listen”) was in the woman’s declaration but not in the man’s. Is the promise “to love and cherish” really possible without “deep listening”?

Some wedding “traditions”—royal or otherwise—are indeed outdated and need tossing aside; others are keepers in their own right. Then there are those traditions that simply need the wisdom of a woman’s touch! □

September 16, 2016

{The un-Fashion of Weddings}

When I worked at Vogue in the 1970s, you would have never seen a headline in the magazine like these that I’ve recently read online at Vogue Daily: “Dream Wedding Inspiration” or “The 41 Most Memorable Model Weddings” or “How To Surprise Your Groom on the Wedding Day” or “Is It Ever Okay to Tell A Bride You Don’t Like Her Dress?” or any number of Vogue’s image-rich reports of beautiful weddings and their fanciful designer gowns. Weddings were simply not fashionable news in the 1970s! (And if you’ve read my latest book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, you’ll know why—plus learn lots of fascinating bits of bridal history!)

However, since the 1980s (since Lady Diana Spencer’s royal nuptials as well as Martha Stewart’s reinvention of entertaining) weddings have been back in the news—fashion, society, even business news! And the trend is even more ubiquitous today. Perhaps it’s part of our modern “media culture” and its penchant for broadcasting all things personal: our ‘need’ to be seen, to be known, to be in the spotlight—our selfie-ness.

If you’ve been involved in planning a wedding in the last three decades or so, then you’ve been part of this “fashion”—designer gowns, designer cakes, designer favors. Nonetheless, ‘tis important to remember that weddings are about relationships. So in an attempt to be “fashionable,” let’s not forget the things that never go out of fashion! Like kindness. As the Persian poet Rumi shared long ago: “Your acts of kindness are iridescent wings.” (Très chic!) ~

[Photograph courtesy of Vogue Daily]