Z. Wurtz – Week three – Description of a Ritual

Section 1:

The most recent ritual that I have observed is a wedding. The wedding took place in an old church and was for the marriage of the daughter of a family friend. There was about a 100 people, all related to and friends to the families of those getting married, in total gathering in the church, and all were dressed formally with the men in suits and women in dresses. Everyone is happy and talkative as they know this is a big day for the soon to be married couple. There is a piano being played as the guests, meet up with relatives and make acquaintance to people related to the other family, and begin to take their seats in the pews. There are flowers everywhere and the interior has a fancy atmosphere, and it feels like no expenses were spared for this joyous ceremony. Once the ceremony begins, the music from the piano changes to the traditional “Here comes the bride” as the bride is escorted to the front by her father, where she meets up with her soon the be husband. They walk down the middle aisle that is covered in flower petals laid down by two little girls related to the bride. The ceremony was conducted by a minister who makes the marriage between the bride and groom official. During this, the bride and groom have bridesmaids and groomsmen standing up front with them. These are their close relatives or best friends that were picked to be up front with them during the ceremony. Both the bride and groom say their vows to each other, and the groom places the ring on the bride’s finger. After the ceremony a reception took place with an abundance of food, a tiered cake, and music with a dance floor.

Section 2:

The music played at the beginning is just for a relaxing, happy atmosphere, while the “Here comes the bride” on the piano signals for the people seated to turn around to watch the bride walk down the aisle, thus beginning the ritual. The point of this ritual is to further strengthen the bond between two partners, and to be legally recognized as married. The families of each partner are brought closer together as they can now consider one another family, and gain the term “in-law”. Typically, weddings have a form of ritual within, one of which is for the groom to not see the bride in the wedding dress until the ceremony because it is seen as bad luck. A marriage is considered a rite of passage because the couple goes from being in a basic relationship to having their relationship bound by law, and will be together till death. Within a wedding, there are many signs of rites of deference. One example of this is when everyone in the room stands and watches the bride walk down the aisle. Another case of this is when the newly married couple get the dance floor to themselves for the first dance. A wedding is a common ritual performed throughout the world, yet the way it is performed differs from one culture to another.

3 thoughts on “Z. Wurtz – Week three – Description of a Ritual

  1. I agree with the wedding being a rite of passage type ritual, due to it marking a change of status for the two individuals involved from single to married. I like how you made note of the fact that within the large scale ritual there are also smaller rituals and traditions. Weddings have all kinds of special traditions that differ from culture to culture, such as the western “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”. Items for the bride to have with her as she becomes married to her groom. Interesting how you also claim that weddings are also rites of deference. At first I questioned the connection but now I agree with your point that on that day the bride and groom are of a different status than their friends and family, as it is there special day. Weddings also follow Van Gennep’s stages of rituals. Separation from their friends and family by having everyone pay attention and celebrate them, costumes in the dresses and tuxedos, and reintegration into society as a married couple.

  2. Great post! I’ve never been to a traditional church wedding, but I thought this was a great description of one. I found your classification of the different rites very interesting yet accurate all the same. A marriage is definitely a rite of passage as the two people being wed undergo a transformative type experience together. It’s a promotion of familiarity, as the two different families come together, some meeting others for only the first time but have already become family. I thought your examples supporting certain practices being rites of deference to be quite interesting. The instances that are classified as rites of deference are things I had totally taken for granted in the cultural sense, and forgot that they have deeper roots that date back to practices that definitely were indicators of rites of deference. I would argue that this marriage, in perhaps a more diluted sense, could also be a rite of intensification. The wedding of two people is as much the wedding of two families coming together. The subsequent reception if further proof of that, I think. As the families celebrate the wedding together, the new in-laws are seen equally as part of the family than they might’ve been before.

  3. I like how you broke the two parts up for understanding. I also like how you described how the wedding ritual is a rite of passage but how it is kind of also so for the families as they are now related. I think that was a spot on description. I also like how you discussed the ritual of it being bad luck to see the bride before the wedding. I think it is interesting that even though this ritual completely revolves around the bride and groom they still have duties and rituals to perform themselves. My favorite ritual is how the clinking of glasses means the couples has to kiss. I think that while you mention the importance of different cultures having different wedding rituals, time is also important. A hundred years ago in America the bride would be required to wear white on her wedding to show her sexual virtue. While many brides still choose to wear white on their wedding this meaning behind it is not as important as it once was.

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