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Wedding belles new

TRADITIONAL CEREMONIES GIVING up ground to modern life, but still popular with many new brides.
Friday, June 02, 2006
The Express-Times

Wedding festivities and ceremonies, as described in the Old and New Testaments, began in the home of the bride and were concluded at the home of the bridegroom, where the marriage contract was read and blessings were pronounced by parents and friends. The couple then went to their private room, offered prayers, and sexually consummated their relationship.

Fast forward to wedding festivities and ceremonies in 2006, and changing times.

Robert Beaver of High Bridge, an award-winning photographer, has seen many changes when it comes to wedding photography, including the transformation from black and white film to digital color.

Capturing the moment

Beaver says brides today like to see what happens at their weddings. "They want a more journalistic type of photo today versus candid photographs. Those days are long gone."

In spite of these changes and this new philosophy, tradition is still important for many brides, says Beaver. "Brides still want family shots, close relatives. What they don't want are the pictures with the garter and throwing of the bouquet."

In comparing weddings then and now, Danielle Badiali, owner and chief executive officer of Full Circle Bridal and Events Counseling based in Clinton (, says weddings are a huge financial and personal investment.

"There are many considerations, especially when it comes to families. Many brides work full time. There are second marriages, extended families, fusion families and children to be considered. I see more fathers of the brides and bridegrooms becoming involved as well."

Keeping it simple

Though not much has really changed in the way of tradition, there are some new trends.

"Brides want simple, elegant, small and intimate," notes Badiali. "Flowers, for example, have much more to do with etiquette. Low-level bowls or black wrought-iron candleholders are used for centerpieces rather than something extravagant."

Weddings do not always happen close to home these days. "Things are broadening. Destinations are a hot spin right now," says Badiali. Her business handles about 25 weddings annually throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. That amounts to a wedding about every other weekend.

Badiali also identifies weddings as becoming more thematic.

Getting personal

Having a theme for a wedding also permits room for personalization. For example, brides and bridegrooms like the idea of having signature drinks, says Badiali. "One drink is named after the bride and another after the bridegroom."

She remembers another wedding in which the theme was an English garden -- lots of lemons and limes. Each table, for instance, was named after a flower, such as sweet pea or Queen Anne's lace, instead of the traditional place cards with the table number on it.

Building a theme

"Everyone wants something different," Badiali says.The Rev. Frances Merkel, pastor of Christ United Church in Bath, has also seen more of an increase in theme weddings. There was a country style wedding, for example, where everyone rode on a hayride, followed by a western-style buffet. The women wore black dresses with white lace collars; the men wore black jeans, black vests and cord ties.

Merkel doesn't have a problem with trends or themes. It is appropriate for weddings to have themes or for the couple to be married outdoors, but the ceremony "needs to be in the faith," says Merkel.

Unique locales

The Rev. Glenn Waskow, pastor of St. John's Lutheran Church in Phillipsburg, has seen more weddings taking place in locations other than the church.

Waskow has united couples in marriage at a fire hall, in a garden, the patio of a restaurant and at the beach with the waves crashing in the background.

It is not just the location of the wedding that breaks tradition. The style of music has also changed, Merkel says, to include more modem songs.

"Many times, however, these selections are not in the faith tradition."

The lighting of the unity candle is another aspect Merkel considers when preparing couples for their big day.

"For couples who have lived together, the unity candle does not have the same meaning," Merkel explains.

She offers an alternative.

Instead of lighting the candle, the ring bearer will bring up an empty brandy snifter and place it where the unity candle would be. The bride and bridegroom have small flasks of colored sand -- each one with a different color. At the right moment, the couple will pour the sand simultaneously into the large snifter, blending the colors together, signifying their oneness.

Sharing the ceremony

To start their life together, Karen Barger and Jeff Rose exchanged their wedding vows May 21 during the regular Sunday morning service at Wesley United Methodist Church in Bethlehem.

"When trying to contemplate what to do," says Barger, "we decided that 90 percent of the people we wanted to share our day with us were in the church."

Barger and Rose are active church members and both sing in the choir.

"Since we were going to get married during the Sunday worship service, it was advantageous because we could select the date by looking at the lectionary. It was quite appropriate that the scripture reading was John 15," Barger says.

The 12th verse of that reading says, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

2006  The Express Times
2006 All Rights Reserved.

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