Weddings are on my mind at the moment. My handsome son, Andrew, is due to marry the beautiful Caroline in early August, and plans are well on their way. Their plans, that is, not mine.
I had planned to start looking for an outfit months ago, but I had also planned to lose some weight first. I know what colours I want, and I've got an idea of the style. In the few catalogues and shops I have browsed, they have one or the other, not both. Someone suggested I make the outfit myself. Well, unless I want a long, sleeveless, shapeless bag of a dress, I don't think that's a good idea. Me and my sewing machine and curves just don't get on. Anyway, my sewing machine needs fixing - something else I had planned to do. I was starting to get a bit down about this, when I thought of all the hard work everyone else was doing, and my thoughts turned to Andy and Caroline, and how hard they are working towards making this the very special day that they want it to be. I got into traditional mode, forgot about my outfit and immediately offered to pay for the flowers.
It was then I got to thinking about customs and traditions surrounding the marriage ceremony. Especially the one where the bride incorporates "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" into her wedding ensemble. I was about to ask Caroline if she had got that sorted out, when I realised I didn't know the origin of the custom. The good old Internet came to my rescue.
I found that to wear something old is to respect the bride's family ties and is an indication that she will not be leaving those behind when she embarks on her new life. The new item is an acknowledgement that things will change, and also shows that she expects success and good luck in her future. Borrowing something, usually from a friend or relation, to carry with her on her special day might indicate that she will not forget the support and love she has had until now, and that she will repay it. Lastly, the blue has a more spiritual connection to the ceremony and the forthcoming marriage, being the customary colour of purity and fidelity.
My research turned up other traditions. This one is new to me. Apparently the bride is given an old silver sixpence to put in her left shoe to bring her wealth, health and happiness. I like the symbolism, but it sounds a bit uncomfortable to me. But if it's lucky, what's a bit of discomfort?
The origin of the ring seems to be lost in the mists of time, and there is some debate about on which finger and indeed which hand, it belongs. I like the Egyptian belief that the vein of love runs from the third finger directly to the heart.
There is so much written about the flowers at a wedding that it would be best to consult libraries and the Internet to get the big picture, but initially they were worn to deter evil spirits and at the same time were a symbol of fertility and fruitfulness, whether carried as a bouquet or worn as garlands.
The bride's veil, too, has many explanations. It is another means of keeping out evil spirits until the vows have been taken and the bride officially has a man to protect her (apologies to fellow "liberated" women, but this is the myth). Also, on the lifting of the veil, the bride demonstrates her willingness to hide nothing from her groom from that moment.
There are more - most of them probably dating back hundreds, even thousands, of years - who knows? In the light of that, suddenly my outfit has taken a less selfish position on my list of priorities.
I am still left with the same dilemma. What to get, and where to get it; will I be lucky and find they have the colours I want, and in my size?
The day will come, and it will be "all over like a wedding" as they say. My son and his fiancee will be starting their new life together, and possibly some new traditions of their own, and I will come home and hang up my new outfit.
But I will remember that what this wedding is all about is two people making a future for themselves, showing their commitment to one another through time honoured ways, and beginning the whole thing with a celebration of their love.In accordance with tradition, and from my heart, I wish them luck.