HAPPY CELEBRATIONS ALL AROUND OR SOCIAL MINEFIELD?
The mayhem all starts with deciding on the month to marry. June is the most popular month, followed by August, July, May and September. Why? The Roman goddess Juno was the protector of women in all aspects of life but especially in marriage and childbearing, so a wedding in Juno's month was considered not only an appropriate manner to honour the goddess but also most auspicious. However, historically the reason was more one of cleanliness and practicality. Long, long ago a person's annual bath (yes yuk, ONE, incredible isn't it?!) took place in May or June, meaning that in June the brides (and groom for that matter) still smelled relatively fresh. And to be on the safe side the brides carried a bouquet of flowers down the aisle to mask the smell (charming!). On a more practical note, marrying in June meant that births wouldn't interfere with harvest work.
So the date has been set and then the planning takes over your life. Endless lists of decisions to be made, from the venue and invitations to the catering and music, to the decor and the dress and anything in between... It's enough to send any couple to the doctor for some happy pills - ha! ha!
But what about the guests? You'd think they have nothing to worry about, but oddly enough (aside from what to wear, loosing weight and spending too much money) 24% of guests stress about what gifts to buy. "Huh?!", you say... "Why!? What ever for?!"
However, if you stop and think about it for a minute, it's not that strange. Nowadays, many couples have lived together before tying the knot and actually already have most household essentials. So the traditional presents are no longer very relevant. Additionally, we now live in a culturally diverse society in which there is every chance of being invited to a Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or even Buddhist wedding.
This brings a whole new set of challenges since each culture brings different wedding traditions and wedding gift etiquette.
You may give your European British Christian couple a unique natural cowhide or leather-bound journal for their new home and adventure, yet this would be a big faux-pas for your Hindu couple where the skin of a dead animal, particularly a cow, is considered sacrilegious. In the same vein, giving an vintage wooden (wine)bottle box may be an unusual, thoughtful gift for your French-Christian-wine-loving couple yet for a Muslim couple any alcohol related gift is frowned upon.
So what do you get the happy couple? Often couples now have a gift registry and although in the past it was considered rude to give money, it is now acceptable. However, even the latter is cause for stress because what is an acceptable amount? At a Jewish wedding it is common to give money in multiples of the number 18, which is the numerical equivalent to the Hebrew word chai, meaning "life" in English. Money is also common for Hindus, but these are given in denominations ending in one. And then, when choosing a monetary gift for the Chinese, go for an amount containing the lucky number "8" as this means "get rich", but avoid the number "4", which means "die".
Yet for some resorting to the wedding gift list or the monetary "fund" is a bit dull. Maybe you are a couple who likes the idea of unusual wedding gifts - perhaps a Rajasthani Room Divider or a Rajasthani Chakki Coffee Table?
Maybe you are one of the lucky stress-free guests who would thoroughly enjoy finding that one unusual and more inspiring wedding gift - an Asian Vintage Umbrella Rising Sun or a Vintage Asian Copper Candle Holder?
Choices and options in abundance! Whatever you decide, with a little research, it can be happy (practically) stress-free celebrations all around for all!