Friend, get settled in - this is a long one!
Today, on our 2nd anniversary, Kurtis (the husband - although even after 2 years it still feels weird calling him that!) and I were reflecting on our wedding day. And the thing we’re most proud of is that during the wedding planning process every decision we made, we made for ourselves.
I appreciate that we managed this because we were in the privileged position of being able to do so. And in general, we have both marched to our drums and, together as a couple, we have found ways to make decisions based largely on whether or not they will make us happy.
This meant we didn’t come up against much resistance from our families regarding our wedding day decisions and they just let us get on with it. From our point of view, our wedding wasn’t crazy! But we did make some decisions that, in general, were still seen as being out of the box, like having a pagan handfasting ceremony, being cheeky enough to ask our guests to bring the dessert, me giving the speech (shock, horror - the bride speaks!) and, of course, having a non-white wedding cake!
Aaaah the non-white wedding cake! The cake always seems to be the last thing that clings on to tradition even though I think it's one of the easiest things to personalise.
I’ve been a supplier a few wedding fairs now, where I’ve had a lovely time meeting other suppliers and giving out cake to lots of lovely couples and their families. And I'm really grateful that I have definitely found some of my people there and have worked with some gorgeouse couples. But it really surprised me the amount of time the word ‘proper’ was used.
I took decorated cakes that were deliberately a bit different and it was great engaging with people about what they would have on their version, which Pokémon/Superhero/Gaming character they would choose for their cake and which their partner would like. But in the end, the overriding feeling of the day was that the cakes were great but they just weren’t ‘proper’… That it would be fine for a birthday cake but not for a wedding.
Maybe, in the end, it just wasn’t the right arena for the work I took. But it still got me thinking - what is proper anyway? Is a proper wedding cake not just a cake you have at your wedding?
If we're going to get all dictionary about this, proper is defined as something that is seen as appropriate and/or socially acceptable and I think that’s the crux of the thing. We've become so familiar with these traditional elements that they've become the accepted way to do things. For example, the idea of a white wedding cake is a Victorian one. When sugar was an expensive commodity, having a white wedding cake was the mark of belonging to wealth and status. And although this hardly seems relevant to today’s society, like most traditions, the idea of the white wedding cake has just become the norm and therefore seen as the proper thing to do.
And although it's definitely getting better, with so many great resources out there for people who are wanting to think outside the box, there still seems to be the need to extend permission to couples do whatever feels rights for them.
If they want a 4 tier white wedding cake with beautifully crafted sugar flowers because they want it to look elegant at the beautiful venue – that is a proper wedding cake.
If they want 3 tiers of naked Victoria Sponge, covered with fresh berries because they don't like icing – proper wedding cake
If they want colourful tiers filled with characters and ideas that have chosen because they tell a story about the couple – also a proper wedding cake.
How can you tell someone their cake isn’t ‘proper’? Fair enough, it might not be what, up until now, has been traditionally accepted but it’s right for them and therefore, surely, is proper! Just because it’s not traditional doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for it in their day. It is THEIR day after all..isn't it?!
At their basic forms, the wedding traditions are really good focus points for your day; they keep the day moving and they form anchors for you and your new spouse to come together. But how about thinking them of a suggestion rather than a rule?
I think this is even more important now. Weddings are really having to be stripped back and couples are having to make really tricky decisions about how they move forward. There's a lot of practical and admin decisions to be made, which suppliers can help with, plus tricky financial decisions to weigh up. But, as much as possible, the root of those decisions need to come from the heart.
Want to go ahead with 15 people? Fine.
Want to wait 2 years to have the big bash you've always dreamed of? Fine.
(Just make sure you stick to the guidelines, y'all!)
If you have been thinking of doing something a little different on your wedding day then take this as your little nudge. Do the things you love, that will make your day memorable and that will make you happy, however that looks for you. And do it safely in the knowledge that whatever you do, it will most certainly be proper.
Loads of love