Alexandria, VA – At Tisara Photography, Steven, Lynn, and I photographed many weddings. On some long weekends, we photographed four and even five weddings. And for the most part, I loved the work.
When I started writing this I thought I would talk about the things I loved about photographing wedding ceremonies, and I will, but as I began writing and musing about some customs, I found it had morphed into Wedding Ceremonies 101. At some point, there may be a column on Wedding Reception Traditions.
First, some of the things I loved…
It’s no surprise that I loved the family altars, the display of the parents’ wedding portraits and photographs of the bride and groom as children and young adults.
I loved the music, particularly Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. To this day, when I hear it, I stop to savor its peaceful beauty. Except if I’m driving,
And I loved the pageantry, the seating of grandparents and parents, the slow, deliberate march of the wedding party climaxed by the arrival of the bride, usually on the arm of her father or sometimes accompanied by both her mother and father. It is more than the pageantry though. It is the powerful symbolism, the statement made by intentionally walking from one place to another.
I do not love the symbolism of “giving the bride away.”
I loved the exchange of rings. These days it is often an exchange, groom to bride and bride to groom. Curiosity about the symbolism of wedding rings inspired a Google search. I have just finished Nefertiti by Michelle Moran and remembered the mention of wedding rings being exchanged so I searched and found:
“Ancient Egyptians are said to have been the first to use rings in a wedding ceremony, as early as 3000 BC. Rings were made of braided hemp or reeds formed into a circle—the symbol of eternity, not only for the Egyptians, but many other ancient cultures. The hole in the ring’s center represented a gateway or door leading to future events.” (1)
I very much like the notion of a gateway to future events!
I also found: “Although most people trace the origin of wedding rings to the Egyptians, there is evidence that cavemen (and women) exchanged rings made of plant materials. It appears that Neanderthals tied “rings” made of twigs and reeds around their fingers to symbolize their commitments.” (2)
The entry doesn’t specify what the evidence is.
I loved the earnest vows, especially those that had been thoughtfully crafted by the bridal couple. And I loved the recessional, the happy relief of the bride and groom, their wide,1000 watt smiles of “we made it!”
A bit more that I learned from Googling wedding ceremony traditions:
“Although some sources suggest that the ‘flower girl’ owes her start to British custom, some say young attendants made their first appearances at weddings in ancient Rome. During that time, they carried sheaves of wheat and herbs to ensure blessings of prosperity and fertility.…” (3)
And the ring bearer?
“…Some say this wedding custom dates far back to the Ancient Egyptians. However the trend of a ring bearer began in Victorian England and spread
throughout the world. Though during medieval times, Northern Europeans presented the ring to the bride on the tip of a sword.…” (4)
Clearly, there are lots of traditions and meanings to ponder in June, a traditional high wedding month, which leads me to yet another question, why is June such a popular wedding month? Here’s one explanation:
“The goddess Juno (for whom June is named) was the protector of women in all aspects of life, but especially in marriage and childbearing, so a wedding in Juno’s month was considered most auspicious….” (5)
Wishing continuing blessings to all the wedding couples. May you stay best friends.
Mosaic Artist-Photographer is founder of Living Legends of Alexandria
(1) Liz Leafloor, Author
(4) Kelsey Bowen, Little Things Favor/history-of-the-ring