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There is a mild discussion on our local radio at the moment about modern marriage.

A good percentage of marriages in Ireland still take place in Church during a religious service. Others take place in a registry office, and a growing number of couples just 'shack up'.

I'm aware of the problems attached to  'gender' these days, so I stick to the traditional terms.

Some of the questions raised are whether the man still should ask the girl's father for his permission to marry his daughter as has been the tradition. Does the father still walk his daughter up the aisle to 'give her away'. Is it still the girl's poor father who has to foot the bill for the celebration?  Does the ring and promise of fidelity still mean anything?


i just logged on and here you are
can't go by me for modern marriage - we will be married 49 years this March
i had been living away from home and at a distance when i met my husband - i brought him home for the parents to see

marriage is no longer between families
it is no longer the man "taking possession" of the woman from her father - which is what the "asking" and "giving away" were all about
they were (are?) remnants of a time when women were the objects in barter to seal the deal -medieval politics was played that way
i'm not sure peasants ever bothered with asking/giving
but the rise of a middle class "aped their betters" lol

here in the US weddings are an industry - and a competition
i find it very sad that the celebration has become the focus - the party aspect
of course, not every wedding is like that but the publicity given celebrity weddings and the tv programs about weddings create the impression that an over the top celebration is the ideal

i married in the simple 60s - my own might have been just a little too bare bones but it was what we were then - and it has lasted!
Congrats on the anniversary.
thank you
marrying was the best thing both of ever did
along with having our son
Our son-in-law did ask our permission. This was about six years ago. I was touched, and a little startled. We told him, "Yes, you have our blessing, but you know it's her opinion that matters, right?"

And my husband did walk our daughter down the aisle, which was fine for our family because they have a great relationship. I can see why some brides would not want that, if their relationship with their father had been bad (or absent), or if they wanted to emphasize their own independence.
We celebrate eleven years in April (25 years together in September).

There was no father to 'give me away' as he rejected me years ago, not that it would have been any of his business who I chose to marry anyway, so in these liberated days, I just gave myself away although I did go as far in tradition as a maid of honour!

We'd been together for thirteen years at that point anyway which is longer than a good many marriages last :o)

As for white, forget it- with my complexion I'd have been in there somewhere! I got married in teal blue.

And we paid our own way!
Again, Congrats on the anniversary.
My husband did ask my father for permission to marry me, but it was more a formality, a kindness to him. We had already been living together for more than three years. Come September we'll have been married for 38 years.

Dad did walk me up the aisle, although I got married outside and by a judge, not in a religious ceremony.

I'm a firm believer in enjoying one's wedding ceremony and subsequent celebratory party. If the marriage is a success, it's really the only major life-changing party that each party is a functional part of. We're dead for our wakes and we're too young to enjoy our baptism or other ceremony celebrating our birth. The only major milestone we're around for is our marriage, so party on, baby!!!

My parents did pay for the wedding, but we had a strict budget and Mom was great at cutting corners and finding bargains. I've never been fond of frippery, so my dress was quite sleek and I found it on sale for less than $300 with my bridesmaid's dress in a similar patterning for less than $150. Not too shabby!

- Erulisse (one L)
Well done! Glad you have found happiness in your marriage. It is so sad to hear of so many marriages breaking up because of infidelity, drink, gambling, violence, etc.
Married, in church, in 1980, so we're heading for our fortieth. My dad walked me down the aisle, but I asked him because he was my dad, not because he had permission to sell me for a bride price. (I paid for my own wedding.)

The meaning of marriage has changed quite a bit over the years, as have the outer symbols. Women are no longer sold to men to seal deals by those with the wherewithal to do so. (Commoners' marriages had a lot more variety in form from what I've read. Sometimes within church, sometimes not.)
I notice everyone else replying here is talking about having been married for decades. If you want a viewpoint from the younger generation... well, you'll have to keep waiting, but here's one from someone at the threshold of middle age who hopes to marry one day.

Some of the questions raised are whether the man still should ask the girl's father for his permission to marry his daughter as has been the tradition.

I agree with everyone else who pointed out that this is a relic of past society. It would be great for the couple's parents to give their blessing, but ultimately, it's got to be a decision for the couple themselves.

Does the father still walk his daughter up the aisle to 'give her away'.

OTOH, that I see as a harmless custom; if it gives him and her pleasure to go through with it, then why not?

Is it still the girl's poor father who has to foot the bill for the celebration?

Traditionally, people got married young, when they did not have a vast amount of money yet saved, so the parents would pay for the wedding. Today, people get married at a later age, but the parents still tend to have more money. In the end, it's got to be a matter of negotiation; there's a balance to be struck between the gain of having the financial burden taken off your shoulders and the loss of say-so in how the event is carried out. Of course, ideally the parents would consent to the couple's decisions in this regard, but that can't be taken as a given.

Does the ring and promise of fidelity still mean anything?

One would hope so. For all your disparagement of young, secular people, lack of religion should not mean unethical behaviour.
Interested - what form and customs do modern Jewish marriages take?
Assuming by "marriages" you mean weddings, the Jewish wedding has both similarities and differences to the Anglican and civil ceremonies. (Catholic I assume based on no evidence whatsoever is similar to Anglican; if not, please put me right. (Orthodox I know is not.))

For a start, the gateholder to the state of being married (or not) is not, as in Christian and post-Christian secular society, the church or state. Getting married is rather a private contract between two individuals; the purpose of the rabbi at the ceremony is not to actually carry out the wedding but to ensure it's done in accordance with Jewish law.

The ceremony starts with the badecken, in which the groom veils the bride in a private ritual away from the main venue. This is held to be so that no bride-swapping happens as happened to the Biblical patriarch Jacob.

The main ceremony happens under a canopy called a ḥuppa, symbolising the household that the couple will build together. Sometimes this is located in a synagogue; but my grandmother got remarried in a relative's garden, and my brother in a park.

The bride is normally walked down the aisle to the ḥuppa by her father, as in Christian/secular ceremonies; she then walks seven times around her groom, often to the accompaniment of the last half-chapter of the Book of Proverbs ("A woman of worth, who can find?"). Egalitarian rituals may split the circuits between the bride and groom.

There are actually two separate ceremonies carried out under the ḥuppa: the betrothal and wedding ceremonies. These were originally separate, but because betrothal in Jewish law bears almost all the weight of marriage (it requires a divorce to undo), the two are usually done together back to back—though my father has the betrothal certificates (his and hers copies) of his grandparents, dating from two years before the wedding.

The betrothal ceremony consists of two benedictions and a sip of wine; this is also the point when the ring is given, by the groom to the bride. The groom says "Behold, you are consecrated to me with this ring according to the law of Moses and Israel." Egalitarian rituals may also involve the bride giving the groom a ring.

There is then a reading of the ketuba, the marriage contract, written in a standard format in Aramaic, the vernacular of most Jews at the time it was devised. Jewish weddings involve no ritual of the groom or bride promising to treat the other fairly, as in the Anglican ritual; this is all promised already in writing in the ketuba, which is signed by witnesses. Many ketubot today are beautifully decorated and displayed prominently in the couple's home afterwards.

After the reading of the ketuba, the wedding ceremony proper takes place. This consists of seven benedictions (Heb. Sheva Berachot), culminating with that over wine, which the bride and groom then drink. These benedictions are also recited during Grace After Meals* at the end of the wedding feast after the ceremony. It is traditional for the bride and groom to attend a (smaller) feast, also called Sheva Berachot, hosted by a different friend each day of the following week, during the Grace After Meals of which these benedictions are also recited; the custom is to invite at least one person to each of these who was not at the wedding, so no one gets left out.

* A conventional translation; "grace" is a Christian concept, and the Hebrew name actually means benediction over the nourishment.

At the end of the wedding ceremony, the groom breaks a glass by stamping on it; this is in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70; from the traditional perspective, the rebuilding of Jerusalem remains incomplete while the Temple is not yet rebuilt (which won't be any time soon, given that (a) the Dome of the Rock stands where it stood, and (b) after the Israelis took the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War, they immediately gave the keys to the Temple Mount back to the Waqf, the Islamic authority that had had jurisdiction over it beforehand).

With this, the wedding ceremony is complete; the guests cry "Mazel tov!" (congratulations), and everyone proceeds to the wedding reception, involving dancing, and subsequently the wedding feast. (According to tradition, the groom (and possibly the bride; I don't know about this) has been fasting until this point.)

In traditional Orthodoxy, the bride and the groom are absent for the start of this, being secluded in a room together (yiḥud); in traditional Orthodoxy, a man and woman may not be alone together when unmarried. This is observed only by the devout today, but this doesn't just mean the ultra-Orthodox: I had female Modern Orthodox friends at university who would stick the bin in my room's door to keep it ajar when visiting me, to prevent the room becoming a private place.

I hope this satisfies your curiosity; if you have any further questions, feel free to ask!
I must admit I was really surprised that my niece's then boyfriend asked my brother-in-law's permission to ask Em to marry him - that was about 4 years ago. After a conversation with my daughter at that time, if she and her nice young man decide to wed I would expect them to tell us of their decision rather than ask us about it. But if he feels he has to stick to tradition my husband promises not to laugh, just to tell him to ask her and if she's happy we will be!

I think my daughter would want her Dad to walk her down the aisle - her cousin had her dad.

My own father died young and so Mum was a widow when I married nearly 32 years ago - so Mum walked me down the aisle.

My husband and I paid for our wedding in large part, although Mum insisted on paying a good chunk towards the reception. We are likely to give them a good amount of money towards the wedding if they do marry, and they can decide on how to use it, and whether they want to add more to it.
Thank you all for your interesting reflections on your own experiences of marriage. I wish you many more years of bliss!