Dear Thriving Bride,
It is 64 days before my wedding and I am thinking about what I will wear on that day to go with my lovely gown. We all know how it goes: something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. It is a true and tried tradition and a pretty good one in my opinion. I love the idea of adorning myself with special items from the women I respect and love. It is a way to carry history forward and to remember the past. But, for you “different kind of bride”, the past might be a very difficult place to go now that you are about to embark on such a happy day. When I think about the past, I think about the things that I will miss most on my wedding day: My younger brother’s beautiful smile and how his death will always make me remember to live this life fully, my parents inability to take care of their children during childhood and into adulthood, my family traditions from our small Nigerian village that don’t include dresses, veils, rings or jewelry of any kind ever being passed down, and how I wonder what I will do for these 4 bridal traditions. So, here are my rules for dealing with them:
Rule #1: Decide if this tradition is important to you!
Just because your parents may be absent, dead, dismissive or just do not have these items in their family history does not mean you cannot start the tradition in yours. Yes, you are having a “different kind of wedding”, but different does not have to mean non-traditional. For most modern brides, it takes mixing traditions (letting go of some and embracing others) to decide what it is you want. If it isn’t important to you, then let it go. And if your friends are in shock that you didn’t do it, giving them a fine Mexican tequila will usually calm them down.
Rule #2: If it is important, do it!
And doing it has nothing to do with your family of origin. The tradition does not say something old from your grandma and something blue from your aunt. Actually, in my opinion, it’s pretty modern that this wedding day tradition does not say this. So, the important thing is to get creative and I’m here to help you!
Rule #3: Get Creative!
Anything essential to you should be part of your wedding. After all, you are stripping down what is unimportant and putting up (and out there) those things that make your heart sing. And especially for my brides who might be going through an additional roller coaster of emotions due to the absence of blood relatives in some way, creativity has got to be your mojo.
Rule #4: Don’t forget to look and see what’s around you!
I will tell you a lovely story about a women I know who sells produce in our local market.
I have known her since I first came to this town, and she was really my first female older friend. She also really cared about me even though she did not know me well, and we developed a friendship that is very important to me today. She is not my biological female relative, but she loves me with her actions and that is most important. I decided recently that I want to have items from the women I love on my body on the day of the wedding. These are items for me to borrow and to use for this tradition, but it is also a way for me to wrap myself in the presence of generations of women who come from varying ethnic, age and geographical backgrounds.
Yesterday I went to the local market to buy a few things, and I sat down to tell her how the wedding planning was coming along. Then I realized that I was not being honest. I was not telling her what was really affecting me lately. So, I just started talking. I told her about the many years I endured with an abusive father and an enabling mother and abusive siblings. I told her about how the past would never really be the past until my parents stopped the cycle of abuse that continues today. I told her all of this, and then I let her know that I wanted these 4 items to come from women I loved dearly.
What happened next is both exhilarating and breathtaking. It is hard to describe the emotions, but I will do my best.
She looked at me, lifted a gold ring with diamonds and ruby stones off of her hand and said, “take this and wear it for your wedding.” I explained that I would return it, and she said it was a gift from her children and she wanted to now gift it to me.
I need to take one deep breath here. This was a moment of grace: those times in life when despite your desire to keep going forward without taking notice, you are forced to notice and to give thanks. So, I have my something old if I want to use that ring. She is the woman at the market who I call a friend and she has no blood relation to me.
Sometimes, generosity of spirit is more enduring than blood ties. You might be feeling shy, but reach out and don’t be surprised at the generosity that abounds!
Rule #5: Be able to receive!
After my background of abuse and feeling like I could not trust the people I thought I should be able to trust the most, I spent many years being unable to receive gifts of any and every kind. I felt a little suspect, and wondered what the person wanted from me. Well, several years later I am pretty good at receiving but I still have a few bumps in the road every now and then. Once your realize how much people want to support you at this time, do your best to accept that support and to cherish and honor it. If you are finding it difficult to do, here are some tips:
- Whatever is being given to you is there to show you that you can trust the love that is showing up in your life.
- You did not have that trust with your blood family, so you get to have it now. And what better time than when you are about to get married!
- You don’t have to say yes to everything, but just know the difference between when you are denying your need for this show of support and when you truly would prefer not to have a specific thing from a specific person.
- You got to that place where you were able to receive your partner’s love, so this is the easy part–Right?
So, who says you can’t have your something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue? You can have every and anything you want to have. You just may have to ask for it, then sit back and see how much love and support comes pouring in.