Norman Lemcke at the Essex Room, the North Shore’s premier wedding venue, discusses both old and new wedding traditions and what to consider for your nuptials.
Common Wedding Traditions Still in Use Today
John: So, Norman, what are some common wedding traditions that some couples are still using in their weddings today?
Norman: The common traditions are [the] father walking the bride down the aisle, cake cutting, [the] garter toss, [the] bouquet toss, first dances, [and] anything related to family tradition.
Wedding Traditions to Say Goodbye To
John: Are there some wedding traditions that you think should probably end now and really never be used again?
Norman: Well, John, that’s a tough question because I’ll probably get into a lot of trouble, because I think and from my perspective now as a man, I could get into some trouble. I think that not seeing each other before the wedding is kind of outdated. Mostly because couples live together and they’ve seen each other. It’s not necessarily a big thing, to me anyway. The other one is smashing the cake into the bride and groom’s face and that’s just a mess.
John: I don’t know where that came from.
Norman: I don’t know where that came from either, because it’s just, brides do it and they are always like leaning forward because they do not want to get anything on their dresses, because it stains.
John: Right, that’s true.
Norman: We haven’t seen that a lot in the past season.
John: I think maybe it started by accident, you know, somebody slipped one time and it happened and then everybody thought that [it] was funny and then everybody started doing it on purpose.
Norman: Possibly. I can tell you right now, when we do cake cuttings at The Essex Room, you can always hear people who will encourage them to do that and the bride will always give them the look, “Don’t you dare.” The other thing is throwing rice. I don’t think people actually throw rice anymore because, ages ago that was determined to not be healthy for birds, so they throw bird seed now or they do bubbles or something like [that].
John: Yes, I’ve seen bubbles. I was at one wedding where they handed out little boxes that had butterflies in them and they’d be like “Release the butterflies.” That was kind of nice.
Norman: Yes, I’d never seen that. They keep them frozen.
Norman: Yes, I like that.
John: They like hatch the day of the wedding. They time it in some way.
Norman: It’s very cool. The other thing I would say is the bridal parties. The gender-specific bridal parties, I think is probably something that’s going to be in the past because we’ve had weddings where they have gentlemen on the bride’s side. I don’t know what you call them.They mix it up. It’s not always all men or all women.
John: There’s no groomsmen and bridesmaids.
Norman: Right, exactly.
John: Sometimes there’s a mix, because people now have friends of the opposite sex that they knew from college. My best friend from college was the opposite sex.
Norman: Exactly, I think that’s fun. Seeing the new traditions come kind of update the old traditions are nice. The other thing I have noticed is that we don’t have as far as the sitting, there’s not a groom’s side and a bride’s side. There is for family members, but as far as the rest of the guests, they sit wherever they want.
John: So many people are friends of the couple. Like you said, it used to be you might go to the wedding and you have never met the other person, either the bride or the groom before. Now it’s pretty rare that you won’t know both of the people and be friends with both of them.
Norman: Right, plus it’s just one less thing to worry about. We have some of the older generation who still follow that rule.
John: “What? I can sit anywhere well, what do you mean?”
Norman: “But I’m on the bride’s side.” That’s one. The other thing that I personally think needs to go is the Dollar Dance.
John: Yes, I don’t even know that much about that one.
Norman: The dollar dance is very popular in the Midwest, but it’s when male guests pay to dance briefly with the bride. Sometimes the music stops and female guests pay to dance with the groom. It’s very complicated. So if you have a dollar, they pick you or something.
John: So, you like put a dollar in a hat or something like that and it wins you a chance to dance with the bride or something?
Norman: I guess. It’s just kind of silly to me, honestly. It just holds up the reception to be honest with you, because it does [take a lot of time].
John: Everybody in the whole reception is going to dance with the bride.
Planning for the Plus-One
Norman: Right, they have to pass a dollar or do something then, what’s the other one? The plus-one, which is a really hard decision to make when you’re planning a wedding.
John: You’re supposed to be inviting somebody.
Norman: Inviting someone.
John: “You can bring a guest.”
Norman: Right, a plus-one. It gets crazy, because if you are inviting someone, you think they’re going to invite their boyfriend at the time, but then they break up. It’s like it just gets crazy [to plan].
John: Then all of a sudden they’re bringing somebody that you maybe don’t even know.
Norman: Right, when you’re paying for it too, don’t forget, you’re paying for someone, you’re paying for the plus-one. I don’t think it’s necessary.
John: Just expect that if you’re a single person, you might be invited to the wedding, just you and that’s okay.
Norman: That’s okay, absolutely.
John: You are a friend of the bride and groom, you should be there and have a good time and there’s other people there that you can [talk to].
Norman: Unless you’ve been in a long-term relationship, then you’re not really a plus-one. You’re invited as a couple.
Traditions to Keep
John: As a couple, right, what about some traditions that you think are really great and that you want to see brides and grooms continue to keep?
Norman: I like the family traditions. I like the giving away of the bride. I think that’s just a nice kind of touching moment.
John: The father walks the bride, hands her off to the groom.
Norman: The father walking the daughter. When the father hands off the bride to the groom, it’s just, it’s a weird kind of dynamic. It’s almost like, “Yay.” But he’s like, “Oh my God, my baby is going.”
John: Yes, I’ve seen them cry.
Norman: Yes, it’s very emotional. I also like the whole something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue idea. I think that’s just kind of sweet. It’s not a big deal. It’s just something you have, a pearl necklace [or something].
John: Most of the times people don’t even know that that happened. There’s no like you’re making a big announcement to everybody, it’s sort of a personal thing.
Norman: Right and it would be something from your grandmother or something. I just think those old school kind of traditions that are very simple, personal [are cool].
John: Like you said, it’s about the family, it’s about carrying on some sort of tradition from the past.
Norman: Exactly. I just like that. I think it’s not a big show, it’s just something that’s kind of private and personal to the bride and I like that. The garter toss and the bouquet toss, I know I mentioned before that, I don’t necessarily think it’s necessary, it depends on who you talk to. Almost every couple does it.
John: I’ve seen the bouquet toss a lot and the garter not as much anymore.
Norman: The garter I think is kind of being phased out. It really just depends. It’s all a matter of taste and how much you want to delay the party, because basically when all this stuff happens, you have to kind of stop the reception.
John: Right, Everybody off the dance floor.
Norman: Everybody off the dance floor.
John: We’re doing this now.
Norman: What’s fun is, in Jewish ceremonies, when they do the Hora, the chair dance and stuff like that. That’s fun, because that brings everybody. Everybody participates. The more participation with the guests and everybody, the better.
John: All right, that’s great advice. Thanks again for speaking with me today Norman.
Norman: Thank you for having me.
John: For more information, you can visit The Essex Room website at essexroom.com or call 978-768-7335.