Out-of-the-Box Wedding

By now, most people have experienced or at least heard of wedding ceremonies that jump the track of tradition and try for something unique. Couples may employ elaborate themes, travel to exotic locations, or attempt to recreate whole fantasy worlds in an effort to create an unforgettable event. It may be surprising to some, however, that this trend did not begin with reality television or the current rise of the celebrity. According to a recent report by National Public Radio, Americans have been blazing their own paths to the altar throughout the past century. Breaks from tradition may be nothing new, and just like today, may have been motivated by:

  • The desire to make a statement of identity as a couple
  • A wish to create an indelible memory
  • The urge to be a little bit outlandish

The following are a few examples of the creative ways Americans have said "I do" throughout history.

And They Rode off Into the Sunset

In 1887, the wedding log reported a couple getting married while on horseback. The officiant and several witnesses stood on the front porch while the two people exchanged their vows. A reporter for the Rockingham, N.C., Rocket wrote, "Is it proper to call the horseback ride that so appropriately succeeded the marriage ceremony a bridle tour?"

In the Lion's Den

In a Boston zoo in 1895, 5,000 spectators served as witnesses to the nuptials of Charlotte Wiberg and Arthur St. Andrassy. The couple tied the knot from within a lion's cage, accompanied by a trainer armed with a sharp stick. A boys' choir performed from a safe distance outside the cage.

On the Road

In 1937, a couple who claimed to originally hail from Iowa chose to hitchhike across the country into Missouri to take their vows. The open road-loving vagabonds stated that they planned to thumb it together to Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes, to spend their honeymoon.

Watery Wedding

One bride and groom in 1953 decided to be married while engaged in their favorite pastime, waterskiing. The officiant stood on the back of a boat off the coast of Miami and competed with the sound of the ocean and of the outboard motor to perform the ceremony for the happy couple.

Fully Immersed in Marriage

In 1954, two people who worked as performers in a San Marcos, Texas, underwater theater decided to make it official by exchanging their vows under the sea. The wedding ceremony was the first such event at the aquarena, although the idea would catch on later in California and in southern Florida.

Say No to the Dress

One joyful bride and groom planned a big wedding in the spring of 1964 complete with all the traditional accoutrements. The event included over 200 guests, along with flower girls, bridesmaids and an 86-year-old best man. What took this event off the list of ordinary services? There were no frou frou dresses and no tuxedos. In fact, no one wore any clothes of any kind, as the ceremony was hosted at a South Florida nudist camp.

Circle of Life

Alan and Marilyn McConnell got married while riding an old-fashioned carousel during the Los Angeles State Fair of 1969. As it turns out, a ceremony aboard a merry-go-round was not simply a quirky one-time choice for the McConnells, but an enduring symbolic act. Every year on their wedding anniversary since that first ride, the couple has renewed their vows to one another while the painted ponies go up and down.

When one looks at the history of American marriage ceremonies, it may become increasingly clear that one of the strongest American traditions may be to break with tradition. It may be an enduring piece of a national identity that many couples feel the need to strike out on uncharted territory as a way to acknowledge their new lives together.

Category: Get Ordained Wedding Planning

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