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Today’s post is by Caroline Rankin, who is actually one of the women featured in our film. Thank you for joining us all week for our blog hop! Join us next week as we launch our Seed & Spark crowdfunding campaign. Help us finish The Ritual!
My experience with the ritual of being a bridesmaid has been atypical. This is for the simple fact that my family and friends are atypical. Nontraditional, nonconformist, creative people who have navigated their way through their wedding rituals on their own terms.
My first brush with wedding rituals came when my best female friend from high school eloped (in her 20s) with her husband in Hawaii, where they were moving for work. She’s always been bothered by big showy displays, and wore a simple sundress on the beach at sunset. The pictures were gorgeous. I felt a twinge of remorse that I wasn’t there, but didn’t dwell on it. I didn’t realize how much I, and her other friends, missed being involved in her wedding ritual until we came out to visit her a few months later for a New Year’s celebration. As she was driving us around the island, she casually waved her hand to the right “Oh that’s the beach we got married on….” The scrambling of shoes and knees over to the right side of the car cut her off. Something about seeing the spot where she wed was important to us. We couldn’t be at her wedding, but I bet we were all imagining it taking place again as we scanned that spot on the beach.
My second brush with wedding rituals came when my brother married. Again, nonconformist and nontraditional just like his bride, they had no formal wedding party. As far as I could tell, this only became an issue when the officiant of the ceremony asked for rings to be exchanged. After a few awkward moments, their best friends scrambled up “on stage” beside them, and then quickly passed the rings off. It was a brief reminder that the wedding party has roles, and those roles are helpful to carrying off a wedding. Before the ceremony, I did get to be privy to some of the bridesmaids’ world. As my sister in law finished getting ready before the ceremony, she had gathered her closest friends, her mother, and I got invited into the room as well. There was a lot of bustling about and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself. At one point the bride, in her bare feet, jumped up and down a few times, childlike joy beaming from her face. As her dress billowed out around her I realized that she was so excited to get married that she was literally jumping for joy. At the time I was stuck on the idea that she was so excited to be marrying my brother (my brother!?!). Everyone paused a moment to soak in the bigger picture she had reminded us of: the joining of two souls in life’s journey. Then we went back to the details of getting her ready to do this thing- to get married.
I wasn’t a bridesmaid until I was in my 30s and my lady friends from grad school started getting married. I took my role very seriously, to be a bride’s maid. I tried to embody that role in its best sense: to be helpful, supportive, encouraging, and distracting with laughter when things got too tense. I was privy to some of the decision making processes that went in to making these wedding unique, meaningful, and devoid of any sexist and heterosexist assumptions that highly traditional wedding rituals are replete with. On the day of their weddings I helped guide their dresses onto their bodies, careful not to catch fabric or rip seams. Brides really do need maids, if their dresses are fancy enough. I made sure that straws were available for water, diet coke, or Prosecco (preferred over Champagne) so as not to ruin carefully applied make up. I helped set up flowers, directed caterers, and set tables. All during the day, I scanned the faces of the brides for signs of stress, ready to help when I could.
I loved being on the inside of the special circle that delineates the wedding party from wedding attendee. The route from “that guy she’s dating who has some promise” to “that wonderful man that makes my friend so happy” is a long and winding one. I was so, so pleased to be standing up there with my ladies as they were publicly bonded with their respective men. Their marriages have been happy ones. I have never attended a wedding with a date, and a wedding provides ample opportunities to contemplate just how green that grass is on the other side. Pangs of remorse over my comparative loneliness were relatively easy to push aside during the celebrations, though.
As I inch closer to my 40s, I wonder what a wedding of my own might look like, what rituals will become important to me and which will be scratched. Still single, which makes these musings all the more fanciful. I would, of course, have many of these discussions with Mr. x, and we would work it out together. I do know, that should the day ever come when I’m ready and able to take part in the wedding ritual, my friends and family will be an integral part of that ceremony.
The rituals around death, birth, and romantic pairings are the most important to humans, and have been for a very long time across cultures. They mark key points in our life cycles. That so many mark these events with rituals helps me feel connected to humanity and the human experience. I try, and would hope others do too, to take from these rituals what is useful: a sense of comfort in the familiar. Its easy to think that more is better, especially when there are so many opportunists looking to cash in on the strong emotional ties we have to rituals, especially wedding rituals. More isn’t better though; more is just more expensive. The key, in my opinion, is to find what is most personally meaningful in the rituals. This is probably why I most enjoy atypical rituals.
Today we take a trip to Salon.com and writer, Anna Pulley’s post, “I Used to Love the Bride”
Ellie looked stunning in her white strapless dress, yellow sash hugging her waist, which was her small rebellion against the traditional wedding gown. “Dance with me,” she said, her face radiating a hue that can only be described as pure joy. As she held me in the silky glow of the lodge where she’d recently said, “I do,” all I could think was: This was supposed to be our wedding
Read more at Salon.com
Welcome back! This week we are talking about weddings and bridal culture! Today’s guest blogger is GingerSass who talks about the First Time I Was a Bridesmaid
In the months that led up to her wedding, my Aunt was a pretty cool bride-to-be. She wanted all of the bridesmaids to wear black, floor length dresses. I remember taking monthly shopping trips for fittings for her, my mom and other aunt (her matrons of honor), and the dresses for me and my sister. I was only 10 at the time of her wedding, and I remember playing hide and seek in the racks of dresses at wedding boutiques with my then five-year-old sister. It was tough to find a dress that fit me, was elegant, and was appropriate for a ten-year-old. I was always a tall kid so I had the body of a 12 year old at the start of puberty.
Read more of The First Time I Was a Bridesmaid at GingerSass.com
Welcome to the first day of The Ritual blog hop, a week-long discussion about wedding/bridesmaid rituals! Today’s blogger is Abbie Gale of All That Makes You. She was posed with the question, “The Ritual itself – what are your thoughts about it?”
Here is The Kiss
Join us all week!
We would love to hear your thoughts as well! Jump in to the blog hop below!
Join us starting Monday, July 1st for a blog hop celebrating the launch of The Ritual’s crowdfunding campaign on Seed and Spark. We will follow the stories of the wedding ritual across the blogosphere throughout the week.
Want to share your story with us? You will have the opportunity to do so each day on the blog hop!
Monday, July 1st
Topic: The Ritual itself – what are your thoughts about it?
Guest Blogger: Abbie of All That Makes You
Tuesday, July 2nd
Topic: The First Time I was a Bridesmaid
Guest Blogger:GingerSass of Ginger Sass
Wednesday, July 3rd
Topic: I Used to Love the Bride
Guest Blogger: Anna Pulley (cross-posted from Salon.com
Thursday, July 4th
Topic: The Bridesmaid in Popular Film
Guest Blogger: Keidra of The Learned Fangirl
Friday, July 5th
Topic: Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.
Special Guest: Caroline (one of the subjects of The Ritual!) on http://theritualmovie.com