Dictionaries are in a constant state of flux, adjusting word entries and definitions to reflect modern usage. But what about the examples given to illustrate those entries and definitions?
According to the online Webster’s dictionary, the definition of the word “ceremony” is “a formal act or series of acts prescribed by ritual, protocol or convention.”
And the example given? The “marriage ceremony.”
Is that really a good example anymore? When a wedding takes place, is that an act characterized by ritual, protocol or convention?
Well, yes and no. Yes in the broader sense, but no in the details.
You know how when you walk into a room with a movie playing on the TV, it can be immediately evident either when the movie was made or what time period is being portrayed — based on hair and clothing styles? Well, the same is true when that movie features a wedding.
My husband was watching a movie the other day and, when I happened to walk past and glance at the TV, I did a double take. There, on the screen, was a kid holding a ring pillow.
A ring pillow! Can a person even buy a ring pillow anymore? Well, yes, but Amazon shows only seven pages’ worth — compared to 20 pages of iPhone covers. And some of those ring pillows on the seven Amazon pages are not even the items used at a wedding; rather, they are the inflatable rings used to sit on when recuperating from hemorrhoids or a broken tailbone (so, we can only hope that the bride and groom don’t need that kind of ring pillow).
The ring pillow is not the only wedding ritual that has been put to bed. The cake topper is another example. Whatever happened to the cake topper? Probably it disappeared because there’s no real use for a cake topper without a cake.
Whatever happened to the cake? It used to be unimaginable that a wedding could take place without a cake. Now, “wedding” cake is often served at birthdays, and weddings feature gourmet cupcakes or ice-cream-and-topping bars instead.
Recently, a slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana’s wedding cake sold for more than $2,500. That might seem extravagant, but maybe it was a good investment. Maybe the investment was less about a piece of royal history and more about wedding history in general. Someday that cake slice might end up in a museum, and children will marvel that married couples saved the top layer of their cake to enjoy on their first anniversary.
Freezers no longer contain top layers of cakes that no longer exist — and scrapbooks no longer contain printed napkins.
Whatever happened to napkins printed with the names of the bride and groom and the date of their nuptials? Apparently, that’s not really a thing anymore.
And neither is the engraved invite. Media reports are full of bad news about whole industries that have become defunct due to technology or regulatory mandates, but no one really talks about the economic effect of wedding trend changes. Surely, stationery engravers have been greatly affected by the move toward self-made photo-card invites.
Another industry affected by wedding trend changes surely is the dress industry. Dress industry moguls are undoubtedly asking, “Whatever happened to matching bridesmaids dresses that can’t be worn for anything else ever again?” Bridesmaids now rarely wear identical dresses, and the dresses that they do wear can actually be worn again for some other occasion.
Only time will tell what other supposed “conventions” will fall into the “Whatever happened to . . . ?” category.
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