How to choose which ones are right for you.
As you may have worked out by now, I’m pretty big on breaking traditions, although I prefer to look at it as creating traditions – traditions that are actually relevant in today’s modern society and even more importantly – traditions that are relevant to you.
In order to truly create new traditions, I also think it’s important that we understand exactly where the old ones came from and exactly why we feel the need to break them. In this post I’ll be looking specifically at the traditions of some prenuptial events, ‘bridal showers’, ‘stag dos’, ‘hen’s parties’ – where they came from, what they represent and a few alternatives you may want to consider if they’re all starting to sound a little inappropriate, or a touch out-of-date…
To say I got a little lost looking up these particular traditions in the depths of google would be a bit of an understatement. They’ve all been altered and updated again and again by cultures, religions and of course, in the name of modernisation. It’s good to see that creating and modifying old traditions isn’t a new concept! – Times change, and it’s totally normal for traditions to change too. Let me just start by saying please take this post with a grain of salt, who knows what story holds the real truth, and by all means, if you’ve heard a different version of events please do let me know! I find this stuff absolutely fascinating and I’d love to hear more!
Let’s start by taking a look at the ‘bridal shower’:
It seems that across several cultures the bridal shower originated as a kind of alternative to the dowry, an offering that the bride and her family bring to the groom and his family to ‘pay’ for the marriage. It can also be considered as the ‘proof’ that the bride is worthy of marriage and is willing and able to contribute to the marriage in her own right. We’ve barely even gotten started and it’s already dripping with strongly defined gender roles. Just wait until I tell you that those gifts are also supposed to be cooking, cleaning or otherwise ‘housework’ related…
In the Netherlands they tell a story of a young bride who wanted to marry a man of her choosing however her Father didn’t approve and had instead picked out another, richer and higher status man for his daughter. Hearing about the disagreement the daughter’s friends all surprised her by showering her with gifts that she could use as her dowry – thus no longer requiring the money of her Father to enter into the marriage. The Father, finding out about the gifts, was so touched by the friends’ generosity that he caved, giving his daughter permission to marry whomever she wished.
Need I say more?
So then, what’s a stag do?
Probably the most obvious of them all, and perhaps the party that has changed the least over the years – the stag do seems to have pretty much always been about the groom having one last hoorah before settling down to married life.
It also appears to have always had a focus on being the ‘last night of freedom’ … hmm… anyone else hear those alarm bells ringing???
And what about a hens night?
Well, if we go waaaay back to the start, the night before the wedding the bride, her mother and any other women of the house (possibly the slaves too) would sit together and give offerings or pray to Artemis – the Greek God of the hunt, the wilderness, wild animals, the moon aaaaand there it is – chastity. This was to thank Artemis for bringing her safely to the end of her ‘childhood’ and to request the blessing of Artemis for the beginning of her ‘childbearing’ days. Obviously, I’d like to think that marriage is now about a lot more than just finding a man suitable of fathering your children…
Skip forward a wee bit and hen’s parties were thrown in the bride’s place of work. A farewell party of sorts as she left her job to become the woman of the house. Again, these parties were attended by only women – probably because women and men worked different jobs rather than as a intentionally exclusive act. Either way, it was once again, all about the bride now starting her new ‘adult’ life as a housewife and mother.
To put it all rather bluntly, the Stag Do traditionally focuses on a ‘loss of freedom’ and a Hen’s Do traditionally focuses on the beginning of the brides life as a housewife and mother. There’s a strong suggestion that men’s free lives are over when they get married and that women’s lives are just beginning… perhaps not such a brilliant mindset to start a marriage with…
And while I clearly don’t agree with these old fashioned and incredibly outdated traditions I’m absolutely not saying you shouldn’t have any of these prenuptial events. Throwing a few pre-wedding parties is an awesome way to celebrate your upcoming wedding, make the most of that dreamy engaged feeling, and just really take it all in with your closest friends and family.
What I am suggesting however is that you get out there, get creative and throw the party that you want. Prenuptial events can also be a great way for family members to meet so they know each other a little better before the wedding and if you aren’t too keen on organising, perhaps you can delegate to a family member or friend who’d love the opportunity to help you out and be a part of everything.
Maybe you’d rather celebrate together and have a joint party with all your friends and family. Or perhaps, one party for your friends and another for your families? (Any excuse for a party, am I right?). You might still love the idea of celebrating separately from your partner, a chance to each hang out with your closest of friends and family, or maybe, like some couples’ you’ll choose to do a bit of both – starting the day or weekend off separately and coming together for a larger party toward the end of the night or weekend.
Some couples are even choosing to have ‘pre-moons’ – much like a honeymoon, only before the wedding. A getaway just for the two of you where you can let go of all the stress of wedding planning, embrace the engaged feeling for just a little bit longer and have some one-on-one time to really connect. Sounds like the perfect personalised vow-writing scenario to me! ! Nothing like a romantic weekend away to get you both reflecting on what it is you love about each other most.
There are absolutely no limits on what you can do – have some fun, attach your own meaning to a party (or just throw one for the hell of it!) and invite whomever you want to be there. And if you’re after a little assistance, well, let’s just say I’d love to help you plan it all out!
What prenuptial events will you be having?
I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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Emerald and Ebony – Planning Eco-friendly weddings in Taranaki and beyond.