Article by Pam Black, owner of Celebration House. First appeared in Die Beeld/Die Burger newspaper.
A look back at the changes in wedding traditions over the past fifty years.
Fifty years ago, weddings, although being fairly large affairs, were in many ways I think, a lot easier to plan as choices were extremely limited. As function coordinators were virtually unheard of, it was up to the mother of the bride to coordinate the event. No time was spent dithering over colour schemes or themes, as weddings were well weddings – elegant and always white in colour. Plain white tablecloths, white flowers, white cake, pure white wedding dress! The only addition of colour was in the identical dresses worn by the bridesmaids and the traditional something blue, which was usually the ribbon on the bride’s garter.
A professional photographer well versed in weddings (there weren’t too many of them so the choice was easy) would be booked and a family member or reliable seamstress would be called upon to make the white wedding gown or you would pay a visit to the only wedding dress shop in town. Grooms wore black suits, tuxedos or top hat and tails with grey ties and most were happy not to be involved too much in any of the organising of the day. Fathers of the bride, gave the bride away, made a speech and paid for the event.
The wedding ceremony generally took place early in the afternoon in doors at a place of worship and was followed by a high tea with champagne and later cocktails and dancing (to a band) at a hotel or hall and would end around 8 pm. The bride by then would have changed into her smart going away outfit, (complete with matching gloves and hat) and the couple would leave in their decorated car for their honeymoon at a local destination.
AND NOW …
If we fast-forward through the years it is abundantly clear that by contrast couples marrying in 2012 have so many choices that wedding planning can be both mind-boggling and time consuming.
In addition to all the information available on internet websites, there are wedding shows to attend, wedding magazines, both local and international, to pour over and with a click of a ‘send’ button one is able to obtain quotes from a host of different service providers as well as shop on line for any items required. Indeed there are oh so many more services available now to choose from that weren’t heard of fifty years ago! Even the choice of venue is huge and couples can marry on the beach, on a boat, in a garden, at a wine-farm, underwater or on top of a mountain – the sky really is the limit!
A recent survey in the UK revealed that one tradition that hasn’t changed over the years is the colour of the wedding dress and the full length all white wedding dress is still the most popular choice. Well-known dress designer Vera Wang recently included black wedding dresses in her Fall 2012 collection at New York’s bridal fashion week, but I doubt very much that many brides will be brave enough to go this route. Unlike before, it’s great to see bridesmaids are finally being allowed more leeway in choosing styles to suit their figures and personality. Largely thanks to the royal wedding last year it is now not unknown for bridesmaids to also dress in white, something that was previously taboo. White bridal shoes are giving way to colourful ones and the tradition of ‘wearing something blue’, is often incorporated by wearing blue shoes.
Much time is spent now by couples pondering what colour scheme, flowers and theme to choose and at the same time having regard for the environment.
The average age for couples to marry has increased from the early twenties to early thirties and the cost of the wedding is now more likely to be shared between both sets of parents and the couple. It’s refreshing to see more grooms are getting involved in the planning of their wedding and they are definitely having a greater say in what they wear with many opting for more casual clothing and
A word of warning: Make sure you are not too casually dressed. I’ve heard a wedding guests remark that they had difficulty in working out who the groom was because he just blended in. Another train of thought is that if the bride is dressed formally for the occasion then the groom should be as well.
What would have been unheard of fifty years ago are themed weddings – think chic rustic woodland, seaside, festival, Hollywood glamour, vintage –and these are popular today as they offer couples the chance to personalise their weddings and at the same time provide an opportunity to incorporate an element of fun and surprise for their guests. This is often done with the addition of photo booths, sweet tables, food stations, garden games, etc.
Wedding have certainly changed a lot and become more colourful in the past fifty years and it is going to be interesting to see how many more changes are yet to come. If you have any thoughts on this please drop us a line – we’d love to hear from you.