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As the big day draws closer it’s starting to hit me that I’m going to be married in about a month — eek!  

Venue, booked! Cake, check! Dress, yes! While we’re super excited, there has also been a lot to organize. Even though we’re having a small wedding made up of close friends and family, it’s been a lot and the to-do list never seems to end.  

Felina Martinez News-Bulletin Writer

Felina Martinez
News-Bulletin staff writer

While the logistics have occupied my thoughts plenty, planning a wedding also got me thinking a lot about tradition.  

Most of everything that takes place at weddings after all are traditions incarnate. Everything from the bridesmaids and groomsmen, to rings and the bouquet toss are all customs that have been commonplace in weddings for a long time. 

It’s thought white wedding dresses, for example, came to be the mainstay following Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s wedding in 1840 when she wore an extravagant white, lacy gown. White is also significant because it’s a clothing color that is hard to keep clean and wear regularly, so historically it was associated with wealth and also purity.  

Another one I came across recently in my research I thought was particularly intriguing is the origin of bridesmaids. Way back when, the bridesmaids and bride all dressed alike as the bridesmaids main purpose was to serve as a decoy to confuse evil spirits and/or jealous suitors in order to protect the bride as she made her way to the wedding destination.  

It’s interesting to see how these traditions originated and evolved over time and how customs from long ago continue into the modern era. Having a foundation composed of all these traditions as a guide was definitely helpful in giving us some starting points for the wedding, but my fiancé and I definitely knew we wanted to put our own spin on things even if it raised a few eyebrows deviating from the norm.   

There are certain traditions we just didn’t really jive with and didn’t feel genuine to us as a couple, especially when considering the “why” behind these traditions a lot of us follow without really second guessing for the sake of its tradition.  

For example, the whole tradition of a father giving away a bride. This stems from eras where women were considered property of men and marriage was considered to be more like a business transaction. The “giving away” referred to a transfer of property from the bride’s father to her new “owner.” Ick. The whole idea of it bothers me even more so because mothers traditionally aren’t given a role in the ceremony while the father is.  

Many people don’t consider the past behind it though, they just appreciate it as tradition, so it’s not like I look down on other people for doing it, especially because nowadays it’s evolved to be simply a sweet moment between father and daughter. However, I’ve always been keen on the “why” behind why we do things, and we figured it just didn’t make sense for us as a couple.  

Instead, we brainstormed with family that we could have both parents walk us down the aisle that way both mother and father are involved and we get to have that sweet moment with both of them because our moms play just as important of a role in our life as our dads and we wanted to recognize that.  

That’s not to say we’ve rooted out tradition entirely. For example, we are still having bridesmaids and groomsmen because we like the idea of giving close friends and family a special role because they’ve played such a special role in our lives.  

I still got a white dress because I like the idea of wearing a color I usually don’t wear to mark a special occasion, but I got one with pops of vivid, colorful flowers because I thought it was more representative of me.  

Like many people, I believe traditions do have their place and are important to have in our lives. I treasure my heritage and those who paved the way forward for us and I think traditions are (usually) a fun way to honor that, and we should never lose sight of where we came from and how far we’ve come.  

At the same time, I also deeply believe that while we should acknowledge and learn from the past, that doesn’t mean we should live there and be restricted by archaic customs of a time that doesn’t exist anymore. While we continue certain traditions, let’s not be afraid to build upon them and make new ones while we’re at it.  

Everything has to start somewhere after all, and we shouldn’t shy away from change because life is nothing but change.  

So it’s a real balancing act, but I think balance is a divine concept. While we all may have different ideas of tradition and the role it plays in society, I think we can all agree that reflecting on why we follow the traditions we do helps us to learn more about ourselves and our values.  

I know planning a wedding with my fiancé and family and evaluating which traditions stay, go or are modified has definitely done that for us. 

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Felina Martinez was born and raised in Valencia County. She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2021. During her time at UNM, she studied interdisciplinary film, digital media and journalism. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, the School of Dreams Academy and the town of Peralta.