Weddings from a sociological point of view
Weddings are highly ritualized events that give a start to the institution of marriage between two persons. Technically is the legally recognized social contract traditionally based on a sexual relationship and implying a permanence of the union. Idealistically, getting married is supposed to be the long live union with you one and only lover, that one special person with whom you are entirely compatible, a person whom you have fallen in love with, and without whom you cannot imagine living the rest of your life. Then you marry this person and form a family, that is how it is supposed to be, how society accepts it.
This essay will analyse the event of a wedding from a sociological point of view. Firstly a analysis will be made regarding gender and sexist roles. Secondly the analysis will be made regarding traditions, symbols and rituals. Thirdly the essay will focus on social class, social norms, functions and institutions.
To begin with, based on the fact that we live in a patriarchal society, so this means that patriarchy is present in this events as well, gender inequality plays an important role in such events. From a feminist point of view, traditional weddings are seen as the event that declares the submission of one women to one men. This voluntary submission starts in a really young age, when a little girl starts to be socialized, and starts dreaming of her wedding day, the most important day in her life in which she will be the only star and the focus of all attention ( that’s why it’s not well seen to wear white in a wedding if you are not the bride). It all starts with Disney princess movies, and the dolls girls get, and all the tales with the happily ever-afters. Women are taught to aspire to marriage above everything else, more than intellectual success. They are taught to see themselves as princesses who have to be rescued by a prince. This early socialization contributes to maintaining the traditional gender roles.
After a certain age, men who remain single are seen as independent, cool and even bachelors, meanwhile a single women is assumed to be desperate, to be waiting to find the right man, because without him she must is feel incomplete. Women are taught to always look pretty in order to find a men who like them. To take care of their image, wear heels, makeup and many other symbols of oppression. But, obviously, the bridesmaids are supposed to be unmarried women who fight to catch the bouquet and become the next bride.
A wedding is supposed to be something that only interests women, it’s the biggest especial day of the bride and everything else in comparison doesn’t matter. The whole wedding thing is automatically assumed to be the woman’s domain, they are supposed to plan everything themselves, because men have no idea about flowers or dresses and how to make everything look pretty, because that’s only what women have been raised to do , and they only ask the groom for his opinion occasionally, just to make him feel involved. That is incredibly sexist, also, a men who shows interest in this kind of things will automatically be labelled as gay.
The wedding ceremony is itself sexist without limits. The bride wears a white dress that is mistakenly thought to symbolize virtue and virginity ( The white wedding dress only became popular after Queen Victoria opted to wear it when she married Prince Albert ) and everyone turns around to look at her while she walks down the aisle from the hand of her father ( who technically has her daughter as a propriety) in order to give her to another men, as a commercial transaction, she passes, like property, from one man to another. The minister, traditionally a man, gives the groom permission to kiss the bride, as if that is in his authority and the woman can’t decide by herself when to kiss or be kissed.
Afterwards, the woman will adopt the man’s family name, which erases her identity as a separate individual. The whole ceremony aim is to have the social approve of either the church or the state. That is a weapon of social control that the state has in order to keep creating monogamy and patriarchy while devaluing other forms of living.
A bride’s engagement ring is a symbol of ownership, and is the men who is supposed to ask her father for her hand in marriage, the girl is supposed to wait patiently for the men to pop out the big question, forbidding them to take the next step, because that would be like stealing part of men’s masculinity, because they are the ones supposed to be decisive and women only submissive.
To follow with, weddings are full of traditions, rituals and symbolism. There are a lot of traditional practices such as: walking down an aisle, wearing a bridal gown, giving wedding rings, exchanging vows, a wedding kiss, cutting a magnificent cake, flowers in abundance, a reception with speeches etc. The bride usually has something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, to symbolize her past and the couple’s happy future. The bride is supposed to get her “something borrowed” from someone who is happily married, and the “Something blue” denotes fidelity and love. Another tradition may be the one of the groom carrying the bride into their new home. There are many traditions, passed down from generation to generation, a set of charming antique practices from which the bride might select those that suits her best. Rituals are the mechanism that bind a society together and determine how an individual should behave in the presence of sacred objects. The rings would be considered sacred objects in the wedding ceremony. Thus, wearing a wedding ring informs other individuals that you are married, and it reminds you and others of the proper way to behave. There is also an etiquette to follow in weddings and there exists a rehearsal dinner the day before just to make sure everything will go according to the plan.
To end up with, Weddings are big productions which often take months of planning and are clearly social performances, where everyone has a certain role. For example invitations are often given in exchange for a gift that the recently married couple is supposed to receive for their new life together, and some times they even send a list of what they want to their guests. This may also be a way to demonstrate the family’s wealth or prestige. Guests often play roles , sometimes having an emotional experience when the couple says “I do” even tough they are not that close to the couple, because it is socially accepted to do so. Guests also use this kind of events to create good impressions on others.
Every aspect of an engagement and wedding has been commercialized. Weddings, in our culture, are extremely significant, this significance is shown by examining the cost of an average wedding, because we believe that a good weeding has to be an expensive and fancy one.
Weddings are highly ritualized events, not only in terms of the activity or behaviour of the participants, but also in terms of the emotions that accompany them. how heterosexuality is institutionalized and gender roles are reinforced as well as how the wedding culture reinforces white, middle class consumerism. Weddings are a $50-70 billion dollar annual industry. It normally determines social class and prestige depending on how big the wedding is and the number of guests. For example there is no comparison between Meghan and prince harry wedding and some of the gypsies
weddings that appear on tv shows or people who gets married in Las Vegas.
For example, the phrase “Till death do us part” affects the way people think about the institution of marriage and divorce. Weddings are also about propriety, nowadays is not that usual, but the prenuptial agreement exists for a reason. Functionally the wedding can be seen as a form of redistribution, it has an economic function of pooling together resources into one unit.
The engaged couple often make as a dinner to prepare so everything goes perfect during the wedding and everyone plays their role as they have to.
Weddings define what is determined as a socially acceptable union , however marriage can lead to the social isolation of an individual and believing they only need each other, can make both parts of the couple to disattend their relationships with friends and family, in order to be fully dedicated to the spouse.
Marriage gives to the state the power and control over the private lives of the citizens. The terms derived from the principles of institutionalized marriage represent the interests of the governments, which are to keep promoting patriarchy and monogamy.
This institution is historically based on control, domination and possession, and it still is nowadays in some countries. Its difficult for people to come up with a clear and neutral image about marriage because we are brainwashed from an early age, into believing marriage is necessary and desirable. Children capacity to imagine is limited by what their culture allows them to, and mostly kids imitate what they see. During the socialization process they are taught to learn the relevance of having a couple, of how to express their sexuality and how not to, and how to become consumers participating in this ritual. No one is born a bride, we learn how to comply with the social and cultural demanding of the wedding ritual. Wanting to be a bride doesn’t come with the two x chromosomes.