Hoopfulbride's Blog

Planning a wedding in a place called The Hope

On choosing and promising 26 October 2009

Filed under: Engagement story,Things I love,traditions,Uncategorized — hoopfulbride @ 12:26 pm

The erudite A at Accordions and Lace has (yet again… jeepers that girl’s clever) sparked some internet conversations with her post on the power of choosing your spouse.

For Rooster and I the idea of choice was always at the heart of our marriage. It was reflected in the reading (by CS Lewis) that was read by my LongLostFriend ar our ceremony:

“The idea that “being in love” is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract or promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. Those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion’s own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion of itself impels them to do.
And, of course, the promise, made when I am in love and because I am in love, to be true to the beloved as long as I live, commits me to being true even if I cease to be in love. A promise must be about things that I can do, about actions: no one can promise to go on feeling in a certain way. He might as well promise never to have a headache or always to feel hungry.”

We loved this reading because it summed up our deeply held belief that a wedding is not about the way we feel right now – of course we are deeply in love, passionately entwined and so full of hope – but about how we choose to link ourselves. In my previous post on pre-nups and divorce, I postulated how I believe that one must enter into marriage (surely the most important contract ever) with the seriousness and knowledge of what might lie ahead. And then, despite having thought about the better and worse and sickness and health, to nevertheless voluntarily and in the fullness of knowledge bind yourselves to each other. That is where the power of marriage lies: in chosing the good and the bad… Of course our wish is that there will be more goodness than badness, that the laughter will outweigh the tears, that we will continue to gaze at each other though the “rose-tinted” glasses. But if those wishes don’t work out, we have still chosen to walk our path together.

Our pastor-officiant suggested an interesting addition to our service: he asked us three questions before we said our vows to which Rooster and I gave prepared, but not shared responses. I’ll write a full post on the questions later, but for now I must highlight that in response to the third question “What promise, over and above your vows, do you make to each other?” both Rooster and I (in our different ways) promised to continue to choose each other as each other’s partner. It is an enormously powerful promise…

Rooster and I compiled our vows from a variety of sources (mainly inspired by ThePilatesMentor’s vows at her wedding in Feb), but it was important that it was clear that our vows, and our ceremony as a whole, had “weight” because of the public choice we were making. As a friend commented to Rooster during the reception party (half-jokingly, but I love the truth in jest) “We’re so glad your ceremony was so original and heartfelt – it makes it so much easier for all of us to police!”

Herewith, our vows:

I, [Saartjie/Rooster] choose you, [Rooster/ Saartjie] before our community and before God, to be my [husband/wife]. 


I pledge to be your loving friend and committed partner: To talk and to listen; to trust and appreciate you; to respect and cherish your uniqueness; to laugh with you in good times and struggle with you in bad times.


I promise to share my hopes, thoughts and dreams with you as we build our lives together.


We will build a home that is compassionate to all, full of respect and honour for others and for each other.


May we have many adventures, experience joy, sorrow and grow old together.


On being a strong woman and getting married 7 July 2009

Filed under: traditions — hoopfulbride @ 11:52 am

I dislike using the word “feminist” to describe myself for all its negative connotations. I have enormous respect for feminists and for the trailblazing role many self-described feminists have played, but i hesitate before labelling myself a feminist.

I think it has a lot to do with having attended an all-girls school where we were taught that women are as capable of completing any (at least intellectual or philosphical) task as a man: that there is no need to compete on any level other than as an individual with other persons – be they of another gender or not (thank-you mother feminists!). The term “feminist” therefore seems a tad contrived in the role I perceive myself to play.  I am a woman, and many of my personal traits are influenced by my femininity and my experiences as a woman, but I do not need to define myself as such.

Similarly, Rooster and I view our partnership as the coming together of two strong persons to form a unit that will (hopefully) produce a loving legacy. Although we are *man* and *woman*, our sex does not define our relationship and our coming nuptials. For this reason I cannot but support the right of every willing adult to marry – regardless of their gender or sexuality.

But weddings (and marriage) are full of all manner of traditions which have their roots in hectically sexist practices. As much as Rooster and I disagree with the premise on which they were once based, we don’t always wish to reject those customs out of hand: traditions (wedding traditions) are often fun or can have meaning other than the sexist past. For our marriage we wish to incorporate these.

Some of these not-so-feminist traditions include:

  1. Being walked down the aisle. Except I will be walked by both my parents. Both Rooster’s parent’s will wait with him at the top of the aisle. The symbolism for us is that our union is also a union between our families and that both families bless and affirm that union.
  2. The bouquet/garter toss: because it’s silly and fun. We will ask whoever jolly well wants to participate, but encourage anyone who isn’t married (be they engaged to tie the knot the following week, 78 and widowed or 6 years old). No symbolism, just fun.
  3. Surname change: I’m slowly going to take Rooster’s surname. At first I will just add it to the end of my name and I will use my current last name  professionally, but when i change professions, so will the surname. The symbolism is a coming together of two to form one unit and we believe in the importance and power of naming. I don’t feel too sentimental about this as our surnames are fairly similar in that they both have an anglo-saxon heritage. But it’s not that easy! As an exchange, we will adopt my “family crest” (ironically, given that Rooster’s nickname came about completely separately to this deal): the cockerel. As a result, the cockerel will be a very present symbol at our nuptials!
  4. Honeymoon: Rooster is organising to take me away as a surprise. This is unusual for our relationship as I am usually a bit of a planning freak and Rooster is not always very well organised. I was, however, more than to give up the control of one aspect of the wedding…

What is unusual, perhaps, about my position (as I have come to realise after reading this post at accordions and lace and the comments thereto), is that at times I feel a tad embarrassed about the traditions we are hanging onto. Rather than be criticised for bucking the system (as it seems most brides are), my colleagues and some women-friends seem to think i am a tad backward for, for example, taking Rooster’s surname: that I am not feminist enough! Of course, I can only approach these attitudes with the same countenance that all brides/grooms feeling criticised must adopt: it is our union and we must find the steps that are right for us.

Traditions are a fine line for a strong woman to walk (especially given the root of many wedding traditions): symbolism is important as it sends off many messages. But I believe that each couple can and must debate and adopt each tradition they believe will add to their marriage celebration.