Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Sticky Situation

After fretting for weeks about the who-walks-Jules-down-the-aisle conversations, they went great. Mr. Mama, with whom I lived growing up, was more than happy to share the honor(duty?) with Pop. And Pop graciously did the same, with nary a ruffled feather or word of complaint. Whew!

Then I started thinking about what would happen when we got down to the altar. The officiant usually says something like, “Who gives this woman to be married to this man?”

The tradition of giving the bride away apparently came from the days when marriage was as fiscal a transaction as a relational one. One set of parents was giving money to the other set, and the act of giving the bride away signified that the arrangements were complete. It also meant that the bride was no longer financially dependent on her parents, and was now dependent on the groom.

I am a feminist. And by that I mean that I try to differentiate the position of women from that of a doormat, to paraphrase Rebecca West. So I gave no small measure of thought to the idea of nixing the “Who gives this woman” part of the ceremony. First of all, I’m not a possession to be given away. I’m a person, for heaven’s sake! Second, to the extent I “belong” to my parents, they’re not giving me away--they can’t get rid of me that easily! They’re just marring me off. (Wink.) Finally, I’m not going to be dependent on my groom! I don’t like being dependent on anybody. (Does anyone else have trouble clicking on the “Submit” button on internet forms? Can’t the button say, “OK” or “Enter” or something?! I do NOT want to submit! (I guess that makes it clear whether we’re going to say “obey” in our vows.) Humph.)


But the Mister is nothing if he’s not traditional, and if I wasn’t going to say “obey,” he wanted the “who gives this woman” yadda yadda yadda in the ceremony. I do like tradition as much as the next gal . . . so I agreed.

But I wanted to change the response! “I give myself freely!” seemed just about right to me. It effectively says, “I own myself!” Mama and Pop were horrified. Horr. If. Fied! Apparently, the idea of a ukulele band was more palatable to them than me giving my own self away. They might not agree on much, but they backed each other up on this one. Who am I to fight this kind of parental unity?

Besides, I realized that this is their one really active role in the ceremony. I’m not doin’ the unity candle. If I take their speaking part, they might feel compelled to speak now rather than forever hold their peace, if you know what I mean.

OK. So what WAS the response going to be? I didn’t want to leave anyone out of the equation, so the usual, “Her mother and I do,” wasn’t going to cut it. I belong to Mr. Mama and Mrs. Pop as much as I do to Mama and Pop! If I’ve done nothing else in this blog, I hope I've made is abundantly clear. I also wanted to avoid the dads talking over each other or murmuring different things. So, with the help of Mama, I came up with a two main options:

Pop and Mr. Mama: We do.

Pop and Mr. Mama: Her parents do.

I pitched these to Pop, who murmured something about it not sounding very official. He doesn’t get to be too involved in the wedding planning. And this is his speaking part! He’s not the type to come up with ceremony wording, but he does like to vote on the options. So I called Mama to brainstorm. And she came up with a winner! Without further ado . . .

Officiant: Pop, do you and Mrs. Pop give this woman to be married to this man?
Pop: We do.
Officiant: Mr. Mama, do you and Mama give this woman to be married to this man?
Mr. Mama: We do.

Sticky situation . . . well . . . unstuck.


Anonymous said...

sounds like a GREAT outcome! You are lucky to have so many people who love you and want you to have a great day.


p.s. I also love the "I give myself freely" idea... love what it means...

Blind, Irish Pirate said...

I'm la late responder, but I, too, did not want to be "given" because I'm not an object.

My pastor (a fellow feminist) recommended, instead, that she say:

Something about parents supporting us in our childhood and now, do you support them in this marriage? "We Do"