This History of Marriage
Getting married is a long-standing tradition and many people consider it to be one of the most important days of their lives. What marriage is and how it is recognized and symbolized varies greatly based on a point in history, religion, culture, and location. Some weddings are glorious and beautiful affairs of expressing love and romantic truths while others are life-altering business transactions. The main definition that has always rung true about marriage is that it is the recognized union of two people’s lives coming together. Whether that means physically, emotionally, spiritually or financially can vary greatly.
For example, for most of history in Europe, marriage was considered to be more of a business transaction than an expression of love and commitment. Many sources indicate that marriage was mostly started as a way of assuring land ownership stayed within male bloodlines. Later in European history, parents of daughters would have to set aside a dowry, or a large sum of money, which would be given to their daughter’s betrothed once they were wed. If you lived in a farming village your dowry might be a small herd of sheep! It sounds unimaginable when you think of weddings of the modern-day, to have your worth compared to a number of livestock. Rather than contemplating how to plan a small outdoor wedding, you would be contemplating spending your life as the wife of a shepherd.
The idea of marrying for love didn’t even start to become a commonplace way of thinking until the late eighteenth, early nineteenth centuries. This was due to the rise of Enlightenment philosophical thinking, which championed things like the right to personal happiness. The fine arts style that came out in the latter half of this century was even referred to as Romanticism, coming off of neoclassical trends from the last century. But marrying for love still took some time to catch on, as marriage was still often done for financial or political gain throughout the century. Even romanticism, the art style, had a lot more to do with love and respect of nature and the grandeur of the outdoors than it did the love of romance and the grandeur of a magnificent wedding. But it could help to serve as inspiration for when you’re getting married. Perhaps you’re wondering how to plan a small outdoor wedding with a Romanticism Revivalist theme.
Love in Modern Day
Even into the twentieth century, as marrying for love became the norm, marriage customs were not much like they are today. Marriage was expected, even demanded and though no one would call you a spinster, like in the victorian era, you were certainly looked down upon for staying single. On top of that marriage was expected to result in having children, couples were always of the opposite sex and supposed to be each other’s, only sexual partners. And for most of the twentieth century, no one went into a marriage worried about the cost of divorce lawyer. Through the century people started to be disillusioned with the picturesque fairytale of marriage and understood that humans may not be well designed for monogamy. By the end of the century, the divorce rate was 50% and jokes about cheating husbands and nagging wives were a cultural norm. Now in 2020 people don’t even know if they want to get married.
Commitment is expected less and spending your youth single is pretty common these days. Making sure to speak with a lawyer before you actually get married is considered common sense for many people. Even googling your fiancee to make sure they haven’t been accused of a sex crime or are catfishing someone is not considered weird by 2020 standards. On top of that, the structure of marriage is very different as many couples feel they can’t afford to have children or simply don’t feel a desire to rear them.
This may sound a little disheartening to some but despite modern trends towards a disillusionment of marriage, the marriage rate is still pretty high and plenty of couples are still having kids. No matter how bitter one might get about the institution of marriage and cultural expectations for your gender, people can’t help but still fall in love. And for most people, all that history and society stuff tends to pale in comparison when that happens. So the institution of marriage will continue on throughout human history, it may just look a little different than it used to.
The Aesthetics of Weddings
There is a lot of iconography related to marriage. Especially in the western world. Most of us can relate to the image of a beautiful bride in a giant tulle-filled-Princess-Diana style wedding gown with a train and a veil, and a bouquet. We think of the groom, in a full tuxedo, arm in arm with his bride, as they exit the church and are welcomed by their cheering family. We think of the ticker-tape parade, and church bells clinging, maybe there are even some doves who knows! But there’s always their family and friends, kissing, hugging and walking them to their personal stretch limousine as they drive to the reception.
While the image of this type of wedding is beautiful, and maybe even sounds like a dream come true to some of us, it is also incredibly expensive. In this day and age, to put on an extravagant wedding could cost you tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Between booking a wedding venue, buying a dress and getting revisions made, getting wedding catering, buying a wedding cake, flowers, decorations, booking a reception venue, and getting catering for the reception too, and planning hotels and accommodations for guests, well, it can end up being very costly. These days young couples don’t often have that kind of money to spend. And if they have to choose between an extravagant wedding and a down payment on a house, in a nice neighborhood with good schools and a kids dentists, most would probably choose the latter. Especially if having kids is important to the couple.
But people still want to get married as in many countries it benefits them legally, financially and more. But beyond that, the social ritual of two people declaring their love for each other to their friends and families, is fun and beautiful. And with that in mind, there are compromises being made. Because of this many couples are thinking about a very different aesthetic for their wedding. One that’s, frankly, a lot less eighties. But being cost-effective is usually more of the goal. With that in mind, modern couples will be a lot more selective about what they spend their money on.
How to Plan a Small Outdoor Wedding
The big-budget cutter people usually focus on is the venue. Millennials are more secular than any previous generation and getting married in some big old church is not really their style. While plenty of young couples do it with a religious intention in mind, marriage exists outside of faith. So scaling back on the venue is a really keen way to keep the elements of a wedding that are more important to the couple. Perhaps a couple got together over the shared love of a certain genre of music and wanted that played at their wedding. They might decide to spend the money on a wedding band rather than the church venue. Perhaps you’re marrying an Italian man who grew up with an accordionist for a father. It would be very important to find an amazing accordionist to play at your wedding (since his dad probably died in the war and all). It could give your wedding a fun romantic twist.
When it comes to designing things, you’ll be hard-pressed to find stuff as beautiful in its poetic honesty as nature. So let her take over the decor and venue. So many couples are asking themselves how to plan a small outdoor wedding rather than which venue to choose. Their own backyard could be the perfect venue. If you’re deciding on how to plan a small outdoor wedding and want to make sure your backyard is magical enough, perhaps budgeting for custom gazebos will make all the difference. Focusing on getting your backyard into the tip-top shade and considering the season of where you live is important when you’re thinking about how to plan a small outdoor wedding. It’s also smart to consider seating, and perhaps contacting a chair rental place would be a smart move when thinking about how to plan a small outdoor wedding.
For other couples the food might be the most important thing. Maybe they decide to have the wedding catered at their home by their favorite restaurant. Other couples may not be so concerned and are even doing things like potluck weddings, or family-style dishes. Perhaps spending the money on an extravagant cake with big sugar flowers for wedding cakes all over it is important for you. Or perhaps you’d rather just have ice cream and pizza. Maybe having the most beautiful and high-fashion wedding gown is most important to the bride and her groom doesn’t mind letting the budget go to that. Or maybe you decided to go thrifting for a gown or wore your great grandmothers. Perhaps the dress that was made of the lace your mother wore, but redesigned to fit you, would mean a lot more than a Vera Wang. Or maybe you just really want the Vera Wang dress and don’t care about sentimentality. All flowers are beautiful and the flowers that grow in your backyard will make a beautiful bouquet. Marriage is so special and sacred.
Ultimately the important part of the wedding most people want is having a big party with all your friends and family, together celebrating your love. That is the part of the ritual that mattered the most anyways. These days weddings are as varied in aesthetics as there are variations of people. Don’t let changing times and clashing aesthetics decide how you celebrate your big day or who you do it with. Culture has changed marriage to be more accommodating to the ways that people really love. Love exists outside of and intertwined with finances and business and politics and bloodlines. It exists outside of history and of time. And being in love never goes out of style on top of it all. But it’s still probably smart to consult legal help before you sign the dotted line these days. Just sayin’.