20 Classic Wedding Traditions Now Considered Outdated or Offensive

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A wedding is a big moment in everyone’s life and holds great significance for various cultures and groups. There are many celebrations and ceremonies which are conducted during the marriage traditions. However, some rituals haven’t aged well and would be considered outdated or offensive today.

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Dowry

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Dowry has long been rooted in people’s mindsets worldwide and has faced severe criticism for ages. People have criticized it for commodifying women and perpetuating financial inequality in society. However, there are still places where people demand dowry from the bride’s family, which puts significant financial burdens on them while reinforcing harmful gender norms.

White Bridal Dress

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Picture a wedding scene. What do you see? Probably the groom dressed up in a suit and the bride wearing a white gown. However, that might not be the case now. Today, brides have moved on from ‘only’ wearing white on their wedding day and instead explored more colors. Additionally, white symbolizes purity, which has come under heavy scrutiny in recent years in terms of women’s choices.

Bride Kidnapping

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It’s much more terrifying than it sounds. It was practiced in Central Asia and Eastern Europe and occasionally in a few parts of the world. A groom would kidnap the bride he liked, or his family would hire people to do the job if he wasn’t getting a suitable bride. Many governments have banned this tradition for violating the rights of the women involved while objectifying them as property who have no freedom of choice.

Polygamy

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Polygamous marriages are those where a man can marry as many women as he wants. While this was widely practiced back then in Africa and the Middle East, people in today’s generation criticize it for reinforcing gender inequality and setting unhealthy relationship standards. They feel that such traditions do not hold any value for women and see them as ‘toys’ to be played with.

Bride’s Family Paying

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A standard wedding practice was for the bride’s family to bear all wedding expenses. Whether it was the floor or the wedding hall, the groom’s side got a free ride. People today feel that the practice is very unfair and outdated. They believe that both families should contribute to the wedding.

Smashing Cake

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Smashing Cake into each other’s faces is not only practiced during weddings but has also been popularized at birthday parties. However, since many awareness campaigns have been run recently, this practice is considered disrespectful. Couples opt for a gentler moment of cake-feeding rather than the dangerous and waste-causing smashing one.

Changing Last Name

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A common practice worldwide is changing the bride’s last name to her husband’s after marriage. This practice has been criticized for being too patriarchal and changing one’s identity. Today, people choose to keep their last name the same or blend both of their partner’s surnames.

No Engagement Ring for the Groom

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Traditionally, after exchanging the engagement rings and the wedding, men didn’t need to keep their rings on. However, this has come under severe scrutiny in recent years, and couples have decided that both partners should wear engagement rings as they symbolize mutual commitment and equality in the relationship.

Slapping the Bride

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While it may seem erratic, many Romani communities used to practice back in the day when the mother-in-law would slap her newlywed bride to symbolize her transition into married life and her new family. In the eyes of today’s people, it seems offensive and harmful, as it perpetuates the ideas of violence and subservience.

Bride’s and Groom’s Families sitting on Opposite Sides

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Traditionally, looking at this arrangement, family members of the bride and groom are required to sit on opposite sides of the aisle. However, many couples don’t find this tradition inclusive as it creates a sense of division rather than unity in the big moment. Now, people opt to feature more open-sitting areas and mixed sitting instead of going the traditional way.

Bride Price

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Certain Ethnic Groups in Africa and the Pacific Islands used to do this when marrying their children off. They would quote the bride’s price and negotiate with her father for the same. It’s like what happens in the dowry system but switched genders. People criticize it for being demeaning and reducing a woman’s worth to a monetary value.

Vows

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Wedding vows are meant to be upheld by both partners and play a crucial role in the ceremony. However, some people have one common problem with one of the vows: only the bride has to ‘obey’ her husband’s decisions and follow them. People criticize this practice for not promoting an equal relationship rather than a hierarchical partnership. They believe that vows should foster mutual respect and equality.

Racial Segregation

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Earlier, many interracial marriages, along with inter-caste marriages, were forbidden and led to segregated wedding ceremonies. However, times have changed, and people have started to embrace such marriages with open arms. It has also been abolished legally, and people feel that such traditions not only disrespect diversity but also perpetuate racial divisions.

Child Marriage

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Child marriages have been practiced for ages in numerous parts of the world, especially in South Asia and the Middle East. Children are married off at a young age, which prevents them from enjoying their childhood and the ability to make their own life choices. Such practices harm an individual and take society backward on a larger scale.

No Meeting Before Wedding

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It was a bad omen if the bride and groom saw each other before the ceremony. However, today’s modern couples feel it’s outdated and makes no sense. They say meeting before the wedding allows them to share an intimate moment before the ceremony to help reduce stress and capture some memories.

1The Unity Candle

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This practice symbolizes the union of two families before the ceremony, particularly of those belonging to the Christian community. However, in recent times, people have felt that this practice is exclusionary. Alternatives like sand ceremonies, handfasting, or planting a tree are gaining more popularity today.

The Bride Standing on the Left Side of the Altar

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When we view it through the lens of history, we can see that the bride had to stand on the left side of the altar while the groom stood on the right to keep his sword arm free and attack potential attackers. Today, people call this tradition irrelevant and outdated and choose to stand in whatever arrangement they feel is most comfortable and meaningful.

Child Betrothal

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Certain ethnic groups in Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan would do a child betrothal practice where children were promised to each other in marriage from a young age. However, today’s generation feels that it is exploitative as they have no right to autonomy and consent of their own. They feel that such practices perpetuate harmful gender norms and may lead to early and forced marriages.

Procreative Ability of the Bride

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Some communities in Nigeria and West Africa used to make their prospective brides undergo fertility tests to ensure that they could bear children. People criticize such things a lot in today’s time as they feel that they’re invasive and discriminatory, which places pressure on women and reduces their value to their ability to reproduce.

Cleansing Rituals

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Earlier, single girls had to undergo a cleansing ceremony before the wedding. People criticize those ceremonies a lot as they not only perpetuate gender inequality but also diminish the rights and dignity of women.

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