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After the engagement and wedding plans, comes the bridal shower, bachelor party, rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and the actual wedding! There are many customs and traditions surrounding all of these aspects of the engagement and wedding. Unfortunately I won’t be able to cover all of them in depth in one post.
In rural America (and Europe) extended family and friends from the community all gave gifts to help the couple set up their home. Around the turn of the century these traditional ties began to break down. Though traditional ties had been lessening to provide these thoughtful gifts, the engaged woman’s friends stepped in to “shower” the bride-to be. This practice evolved into a type of party in which friends would buy small items needed to start a household that would have been really expensive if they all had to be bought at once.
The bachelor party is supposed to be the groom’s last night with his friends as a single man. The bachelor party is often hosted by the best man, but the groomsmen may also all plan it together. Today it is even acceptable for the groom to plan and host this party himself. When the groom hosts the party himself he will often distribute small gifts to his groomsmen and finalize responsibilities and last minute plans. The groom will also traditionally make a toast to his bride. In older times, the groom would make a toast to the bride and then smash his glass. Each of the groomsmen would, in turn also toast the bride and smash their glasses. It was believed that a glass used to toast the bride should never be used for a less worthy purpose. Smashing the glasses made sure the glass had fulfilled it’s highest purpose.
Some couples also choose to have bridesmaid party as well. The bride may distribute gifts to her bridesmaids at this time. The bride may also discuss any last minute plans or details. This party, though, is to focus on the bridesmaids and thank them for their involvement in the wedding.
The wedding rehearsal usually happens a few days before the wedding and is just what it sounds like it is. It is a time for all the participants to practice their movements and positions. It is usually pretty light hearted and fun for all involved. Traditionally there will be a rehearsal dinner following the rehearsal. The rehearsal dinner is a time for bonding as well as a time to discuss last minute details. Often this dinner is when gifts to the wedding party are distributed, especially if couples have omitted the bachelor’s party and/or bridesmaid party.
Books I’ve relied on heavily for this post are:
What traditional aspects were (or will be) included in your wedding plans? Did you add or omit any of the traditional steps to getting married?