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Marriage is an Event which brings together two Families, to create a third new Family, while yet remaining as a part of the Originals. The Occasion of a Marriage can bring out the Best in the hobbits involved--and it can bring out the Worst, as well.
One would think that the Bride and Groom are the ones who would be most Concerned with the Planning of a Wedding. However, this is not so. Weddings are the Province, most of all, of Mothers, but also of Grandmothers, Aunts, Sisters, and Senior Female Cousins! The Bride and the Groom are only considered as a Necessary Means towards the holding of the Wedding. As for Fathers, Grandfathers, Brothers and Uncles, they exist for the holding of the Pocketbook and the moving of Tables and other Furniture, and a few other such Practical Duties.
When the young Couple decides to bring their Courtship to a close with a Betrothal, it is then that the Wedding Plans begin.
THE BETROTHAL ANNOUNCEMENT
Generally speaking, when a young Couple has been Courting for a while, their Family and Friends will know that such an Announcement is in the Making, and will be anticipating such. However, for those who are mere Acquaintances, and are not so close, a formal Announcement is needed.
Most often, the Family of the Bride will hold a Party, at which the Betrothal is made Official. If there is a distance of several days between the home of the Bride and that of the Groom, the Groom’s family may also choose to hold a Party as well, for the benefit of those Kin and Friends who could not Travel so far.
Often the Occasion will be Marked by the Groom giving his Betrothed a Gift to signify their relationship. A small Feast, preceded by an Announcement and a Toast, usually given by the Father of the Bride, marks the opening of the Festivities. At this time it is usually the Done Thing to also Announce the Wedding Date. Depending on the Age of the Couple, and the length of their Courtship, a period of between Six Months and One Year is normal.
It is Wise to begin sending out Invitations to the Wedding about Six Months in Advance. When writing out the Guest List, a Good Idea is to put it in Order by Distance from the Wedding Site. Those Guests who live furthest away should receive the First of the Invitations, while the last of them should go to those Guests living in the Immediate Vicinity. This not only gives Allowance for the Vagaries of the Post, but also gives plenty of time for the Guests to make Travel Arrangements.
It is usual for the Mother, Sisters and Aunts of the Bride to undertake the task of Writing out the Invitations. However, in the case of Special Guests, the Bride herself may wish to do the Inviting.
An Invitation is not the Place for a chatty bit of Gossip. It should contain Exactly the information Needed, neither more nor less.
Here is an example of such an Invitation:
Dear Mungo and Photinia,
You, and your son Mondo and daughter Blossom, are hereby cordially invited to attend the Wedding of your Niece, Larkspur Banks, and her Betrothed, Carlo Goodbody.
The Wedding will take place at Noon, on the fourth day of Forelithe, at the home of the Bride’s Parents, Tollo and Hollyhock Banks in Hobbiton.
Please let us know as soon as possible if you will be attending.
Lettice Banks, Aunt of the Bride
A letter of Acceptance should follow quickly, and should be addressed, not to the Writer of the Invitation (unless it was the Bride) but to the Bride herself:
We are very pleased to hear of your upcoming wedding, and will be happy to attend.
Please accept our heartiest best wishes upon your impending nuptials, and we look forward to seeing you at the ceremony.
Uncle Mungo and Aunt Photinia
Likewise, Regrets should also be sent Promptly, and in the same way:
We are very happy for your future marriage. However, it is unfortunate that we will not be able to attend your wedding upon that date. We unfortunately already have a prior engagement for the Coming of Age Party of Mungo’s cousin Longo.
We do hope to call upon you prior to the wedding to present our gifts and felicitations to you and your intended.
Uncle Mungo and Aunt Photinia
Of course, one would alter the wording to suit the Circumstances of Declining the Invitation.
Once the Initial Letter Accepting or Declining has been sent, it is acceptable to also send another, more Personal and less formal letter to the Bride, detailing a bit more Information.
THE MOTHER OF THE BRIDE
It is the Fond Duty, and oft-times Long and Eagerly Awaited Duty, of the Bride’s Mother to see to the Planning of the Wedding.
The wise Mother will sit down with her newly Betrothed Daughter, and consult with her at once as to her Wishes: does she want a small or a large Wedding? Should it take place in her home or that of her Groom? What sorts of Flowers and Colors does she prefer? Does she have any special Preference for an Artist to make the Wedding Document?
Once all these things have been Arrived at, then the wise Mother will keep all these things in mind as she plans her Daughter’s Nuptials. Mother should not constantly question the Bride, nor should she Disregard her Child’s wishes in the Planning. She has enough to Consider at this time, and her Mother should see to it that the Burden of the Work is lifted from her Child’s Shoulders.
It is a good idea to Consult as well with the Mother of the Groom--if not previously Acquainted, this is a good time to form a Firm Friendship with this future Connection. Most especially if the Groom should hale from Another Part of the Shire, there may be certain Customs to be Observed.
The Mother of the Bride then should make use of all available Female Kin in putting the Plans into place. Grandmothers, Aunts, Cousins and Sisters all should have their Part to Play. Even the very youngest of Lass Cousins may make Flower Chains or Nosegays, or carry Messages. No willing hands should be Disdained.
Some of the things that need to be done: the Guest List and Invitations, the Planning of the Feast, the Planning and Making of the Bridal Dress (unless there is already an Appropriate Garment in the Bride’s Wardrobe), the Preparation of the Document, the making of the Bridal Wreath for the Bride’s Hair, seeing to the Cooking and Setting Out of the Wedding Feast, and seeing to the Music for after the Wedding Ceremony. All of these Tasks may be Given to Other Hands, but it is the Duty of the Bride’s Mother to see that they are Completed.
THE FATHERS OF THE BRIDE AND GROOM
There is far less to be done by the Fathers when a Wedding is in the Offing, yet those Duties which they *do* Need to Undertake are Quite Important.
First and foremost is the Wedding Document. While the Mother of the Bride may choose a Scrivener to write the Document out, and an Artist to Illuminate it, it is up to the Fathers of the Couple to see to the Proper Legalities. Both Fathers should visit with the Lawyer, and explain any Special Concerns or Circumstances that may need to be Addressed in the Contract: for example, if the Bride and or the Groom is Under Age, then the Fathers will need to Attest to their Signatures. If the Groom should be Heir to the Head of the Family, then there are likely to be Special Considerations. Remember that Marriage is First and Foremost about Family--the Union of Two Families, and the Creation of a New Family.
In Addition, the hobbit who Stands with the Groom will likely Consult the Fathers about arranging for the Seven Witnesses to the Signing at the Ceremony.
A Custom frequently observed is The Talk. The Groom will have a Talk with his own Father and the Father of the Bride, and the Bride with her own Mother and the Mother of the Groom, and they will advise the Betrothed Couple in what it takes to make a Happy Marriage. This is usually done about three days prior to the Wedding.
This Talk is not about what may take place in the Conjugal Chamber (which indeed is a matter that should have been discussed years before) but should concern the matters of Day to Day living with another Person, and how to avoid Quarrels and Hurt Feelings.
STANDING WITH THE BRIDE
Once the Wedding Date has been set, and the Invitations are being written, it is time for the Bride to choose the lass who will Stand by her at the Wedding.
Being Chosen is both an Honor and a Duty. The Bride will choose one who has been a close friend, one who knows her well. It frequently falls out that the Person so Chosen is a Relation, but this is not Required. All that is Required is that the Person take seriously her Station as the Bride’s Witness.
Of course, that it is the first and main Duty of Standing with the Bride--to bear Witness to her Character, and to Testify that she is Of Age and has no Impediments to her Marriage. (Or, in the rare case of an Underage Bride, to Testify that she has the blessing of her Parents in Marrying.)
Yet there are several other Traditional duties of Standing with the Bride. First and foremost is to be available when the Inevitable Nerves strike, and the Bride begins to worry about whether to Go Through With It, or starts to fret over the Details of the Wedding. A Bride should not need to concern herself with the Wedding Feast, or how many Guests are attending, or any of the other myriad necessities which arise in the course of Planning a Wedding. She should be reminded that all those things must rest upon the shoulders of her Mother, and of her Female Kin, and such should ease her mind. But the lass who Stands With her must recall these things, and should check to make certain that they are all being tended to.
The morning of the Wedding, the Attendant should waken the Bride, and help her to see to her Toilet and to getting Dressed, and to Dressing her Hair, and so forth. Since the Bride is likely to be too Nervous to eat Properly, her Friend should make certain that she has Adequate Sustenance before the Wedding.
Should any gifts arrive the day of the Wedding, it is her duty to Intercept them before the Bride sees them, and to put them aside for later Consideration.
When it is time for the Ceremony to take place, the Attendant will escort her to the Officiator, and recite the Traditional Introduction. Once the Ceremony has been Completed, and the Wedding Lines are signed, then it is time for the one who Stood with the Bride to check on the Feast.
Throughout the Day, the Attendant should continue to Watch Over the Bride, and to Anticipate any Needs that might arise, and when the Newlyweds have been seen off, then she should make certain that the Clearing Up takes place--this is not something she need do personally, but she should have Persons designated to that duty. Only once all these things have been Taken Care Of is she then free to seek her own rest.
STANDING WITH THE GROOM
The Hobbit who is Chosen to Stand with the Groom also has a number of Duties, many of which are the same: to Witness to the Groom’s Character and Eligibility to Wed, and to be of Support to him in the Nervous Time leading up to the Ceremony.
Before the Ceremony, he should Awaken the Groom. If (as too often happens) the Groom has made a bit too Merry with his friends the night before, he should see to Remedying the Groom’s Sore Head. (It should go without saying that if the Attendant is with the Groom the night before, he should be Abstemious in his own Imbibing!) He should also assist the Groom in getting dressed for the Occasion, and escort him to wait with the Officiator for the Bride’s Arrival.
Usually the Attendant is among those who sign the Marriage Document as one of the Witnesses. Afterward, he should take the Document into his Safekeeping.
Once the Ceremony has ended, he then should see to escorting the Couple to the Wedding Feast, and it is his duty to raise the first Toast to the New Couple.
After the Feast, he should see to any problems that might arise during the Party afterwards, and he should be Chief among those who see the Couple off.
SITTING FOR THE GIFTS
As has been mentioned before, it is the Custom for the Bride and Groom to spend Afternoons of the week before the Wedding at the Bride’s home, in order to receive their Gifts.
Usually the Couple will await their Callers in a Sitting Room. They should maintain the Proprieties while they wait. The Bride’s Mother or Sister, or another Female Relative, will Receive the Callers and escort them to the room. Of course, Refreshments should be offered--Tea and Cakes are the Usual thing.
Gifts are to be Opened and Admired, and the Givers Thanked then and there. Gifts which arrive by Post may be presented to the Couple by the Bride’s parents at this time, and the Bride and Groom should at once write Notes of Thanks.
If the Wedding is being held far from the Bride’s home, at the home of the Groom instead, then it may be that the Sitting will have to take place there.
A WORD TO GUESTS
When the Wedding has ended and the Couple has been seen off, it is Courteous to seek out the Parents of the Bride and Groom, to offer Thanks for the Hospitality, and tender an Offer of Help in the Clearing Up. It may be that the Offer is unnecessary--some Families will have Servants to see to it, and others will possibly have made arrangements with the Tweens in the Family. Nevertheless, the Offer should be made, and if one is given a task, then one should undertake it Pleasantly and with Alacrity.
QUESTIONS OFTEN ASKED ABOUT WEDDINGS
What if one should not arrive in time to present one’s gift before the Wedding?
Do not under any Circumstances attempt to present the Gift to the Bride and Groom. Seek out instead one of their Attendants or a close Family Member, with an Explanation and an Apology.
It is not Unknown--though Extremely Rare--that the Presentation of a Gift at the Wedding itself to the Couple results in Offense being taken. The Families of the Bride and Groom are within their rights to consider such a thing as an unforgivable Insult, fully as Rude as Refusing a Gift.
What if one should Receive two or more identical gifts?
This is a thing that happens from time to time. If one should receive two or more Presents, Identical in Nature, then one should Put Aside the extras for a later time. If nothing else, one may later make a Gift of the said Item to another. But one should keep note of who gave the Gift, so that one might not give it back to the same Person.
What if a Wedding is Called Off at the Last Minute?
This is, once more, and Exceedingly Rare happening, though Not Entirely Unknown. It is, after all, better that the Bride and Groom discover they are Unsuited *Before* the Wedding rather than *After*.
More often, some untoward Happenstance may result in a Delay of the Wedding--an Unexpected Illness or Death in the Family. In which case, the Invited Guests should lend their support, and what Help they may, to the Afflicted Family.
In either Circumstance, it is best to put the Kindest Possible face on the events, and to avoid Tittle-tattle.
A Wedding is among the Happiest of Events, and one which gives Pleasure to all who Participate, as they share in the Joy of the Couple. It is worthwhile to spend as much time as is Necessary to help the Joyous Occasion run smoothly.
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