Weddings, in the large scheme of things, are big celebrations for the joining of the bride and groom along with their family and friends. Gifts are the symbols of the love and support from those surrounding loved ones. Though the tradition is centuries old, the custom has transformed into new rules and etiquettes which are sometimes open secrets to the guests. The history and sociology along with the emotional value to these gifts are diverse and meaningful. So, let’s delve into the workings of wedding gifts to the bride now.
History Behind the Custom
The story behind the romantic wedding and lovely gift-giving wasn’t as much romantic as it was socially economic. Primarily, most of the weddings were arranged marriages. So, the groom and his family had the responsibility for the security of the bride. Therefore, seven hundred years ago, those gifts were given to be used in a dire condition like being a widow. As women, unfortunately, could not work, the widowed bride would have to depend on the rich gifts from her in-laws for her livelihood.
Then came the Renaissance period where instead of new beginnings, things took a few steps back. As we all know, the gifts became a symbol of social status. In some cultures, the groom’s side would make demands to the bride’s side under the mask of giving gifts. Wedding gifts used to come in a wooden chest, richly ornate as per their means. They were kept with the bride’s things for years to show her social status in her family and in the so-called society too.
Evolving Rituals in America
History revolved itself again and in America. The wooden chests became leather boxes to contain the keys to the cupboards, the chests in her new home to represent her status as the “mistress” of the household.
Nowadays, gift-giving has turned into following a lot of etiquettes. Though the pressure of dowry is eliminated, the superficiality of wedding gift givings still haunts us.
- The guests could get gifts related to bed, bath and other necessary marital things. We have to remember that along with their going on a new journey but also building a home. Therefore, spa tickets, hand mixers, bedding sets are suitable gifts for the bride.
- Giving gifts as a group is not derogatory but extremely smart and useful. In the wedding registry of the bride and groom, there must be something that they can’t afford alone. However, if you with a couple of other guests can pitch in and make their dream come true.
- If you give them gifts from the registry, that does not devalue your wedding presents. They had made the registry list for that purpose. But, if you’re still having second thoughts, you can use the items on the registry as a guideline to select your gift.
Changing custom in India
It is quite ironic to see that the ritual of giving money as wedding gifts have travelled and continued to the southeast side of the world too. Traditionally, they are called “Shagun” where flows of cash have been given to both bride and groom. The money has to end with one such as 101 rupees, 301 rupees etc. The meaning behind this ceremony says that ending with zero defines the end of the marriage while one symbolizes a new beginning.
Indian culture is vast and diverse. Each state has its way to celebrate the love and happiness of the pairing, without including religious marital rituals. And that’s what the cash giving is, a blessing of fortune and good luck for the new couple. It’s an ancient ritual that has to withstand the demands of centuries, even in the modern world where the archaic culture of the transaction of dowry has mostly left its impious shadows.
In recent economic times, wedding gifts have become more budget-friendly and less traditional. The first thought that comes to our mind is if the bride will be able to use this gift. So, from kitchenware, household things, gift cards to phone cases and flowers have become the new custom for wedding gifts to give to the bride. Here, at least for some instances, the ancient convention has sustained without its profanity and the modern economy-friendly presents without the shallowness of maintaining status. They have merged into a new custom and reestablished the saying, “it’s the thought that counts”.