Last weekend I went to a local production of Fiddler on the Roof. We managed to get tickets on the last day of its run, and I’m so grateful we did. If you’re local to CT check out the Clay & Wattles Theater Company; they were amazing!! For me, FOTR is a true classic and one I’ve always loved. The story, the music, the humor! I’ll never tire of it. I won’t go into much detail about the play but it’s a story about love, family, and home. What it also does so well, hence the title song, is impress upon you the value of traditions. And as you can guess was the spark for today’s post!
Weddings in and of themselves are rooted in tradition. The who, where, when and how’s of weddings are constantly changing but the ‘why’, the very heart of weddings will never change. That is a tradition. While there’s so much I could get into about all kinds of wedding traditions, I want to structure this post in particular around physical stationery and wording it. Along the way, we’ll get into how it relates to our four pillars of our ethos; love, honesty, commitment, and generosity.
I’ve broken this blog post up for fear it would get too lengthy. This first part will go into the ‘why’ of honoring traditions and part two next week will give examples of how to include and break traditions with the wording and tone your wedding invitations.
Why do we honor traditions?
Traditions are the basis for common ground. My viewpoint for understanding wedding traditions comes from our history in England. The traditions I observe have come from the common ground developed by my family. It’s important to note that every culture is going to gather traditions from its past and develop new ones along the way. I will try to express any opinions here in the broadest sense while honoring wedding traditions I am familiar with.
When you sit and actually read the definition of tradition, it feels majestically beautiful. It’s not something rooted in facts and figures but rather rooted in emotion, connection, and history.
Frank Sonnenberg’s book Follow Your Conscience eloquently describes the seven ways that traditions shape us. As I read them I’m reminded of how weddings can and should do all of these things.
- Tradition contributes a sense of comfort and belonging. It brings families together and enables people to reconnect with friends.
- Tradition reinforces values such as freedom, faith, integrity, a good education, personal responsibility, a strong work ethic, and the value of being selfless.
- Tradition provides a forum to showcase role models and celebrate the things that really matter in life.
- Tradition offers a chance to say “thank you” for the contribution that someone has made.
- Tradition enables us to showcase the principles of our Founding Fathers, celebrate diversity, and unite as a country.
- Tradition serves as an avenue for creating lasting memories for our families and friends.
- Tradition offers an excellent context for meaningful pause and reflection.
Your friends and family are breaking from their everyday routine to spend a few hours (or days in some case) together to celebrate love, your love. If that isn’t the most comforting way to feel included into a family, I don’t know what is! The connection of people is what these events are really for. The connection of one to their spouse and the connection of your families. The earliest formal weddings were announced in the town square. Since most patrons of the 1400s were illiterate, spoken word was the best way to communicate. They were announced to bring everyone together and instruction was given in a place where they gathered. Unity is at the heart of it.
All of the conditions tradition serves here, require honesty towards yourself, your society, your beliefs, and in your work among other things. Your integrity, responsibility, and values that you bring to your marriage are what should be celebrated on your wedding day. Wedding traditions honor the contributions to your happiness your family and friends have made to your lives as a couple and individually. Honoring them with your invitation is a symbol of gratitude for the impact they’ve made. Monks were the earliest calligraphers and often incorporated the family crest into the invitation to identify and respect them.
Although Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press was invented in 1447, it wasn’t refined enough to print quality documents, but newspapers were regularly printed by the 1600s. So around this time weddings were announced in the paper. Metal plate engraving was invented in 1642 where the text would be reverse engraved onto a metal plate, and stamped onto paper. This allowed for finer detail leading the way to the formal wedding invitations we see today.
In the early 1800s, the invention of lithography, printing from a smooth stone or metal plate on which the image to be printed is ink-receptive and the blank area ink-repellent. Made printing crisper, faster and more economical for the masses. And photothermography in the 1900s used heat to create raised lettering. Emulating the look of metal engraving at a fraction of the cost. After World War II, almost all engaged couples began sending formal invitations. It was no longer reserved for society’s elite.
The brief history of printing here isn’t here to bore you but show the dedication that’s been given to communicate through art. The traditions of printing have united us as a country and made information accessible to all. They’ve been executed in a way that involved, handwork albeit through lettering, engraving, printing. Things we often take for granted in this digital age. But the work that paved the way for modern printing is similar to the work we put in to honoring traditions. The dedication, the attention to detail the time and effort are what propel traditions forward.
The last point of Sonnenberg’s list here really hits home because as you put together the details of your day, simply pausing to observe the path you took to get here, puts that tradition and the heart at the focus. It becomes more than just a piece of paper but an invitation to all that is to come. Every part of the process are symbols of your commitment to each other and your future. But the traditions you should most be focused on are the ones that celebrate the things in life that really matter. Your time with those you love, building a life of kindness and putting out into the world the gifts you were meant to give.
Your stationery can be an expression all that matters and more. The follow-up post will show you how!